For public dealership groups, F&I training strategies often differ, even though the results are similar.
Each of the six publicly traded new-vehicle retailers boosted average F&I gross profit per vehicle retailed in the first quarter. Despite the across-the-board rise among the public groups, the strategies behind that growth differed.
Sonic Automotive, for example, grew F&I profit per vehicle 4.1 percent to $1,430. The dealership group has over the past few quarters pointed to its relationship with JM&A Group, an F&I training and product company in Deerfield Beach, Fla., as the driver of its F&I success.
"The training, the relationship with JM&A and our F&I team getting behind our playbook is making a big difference in our performance. And we expect that performance to continue to improve," CEO Scott Smith said last week.
Most dealerships work with F&I companies, such as JM&A, to improve their F&I operations. But at least two public retailers, Asbury Automotive and AutoNation, handle F&I training internally. AutoNation even sells its own F&I products.
Asbury increased F&I profit per vehicle 2.9 percent to $1,559. For nearly four years, Asbury has supported internal F&I training, CEO David Hult said last week.
"We have actually written our own curriculum and have our own internal training. So we're self-sufficient and we're pretty wedded to our training that we have and how often we refresh it and implement it in the market," he said.
Asbury's training content is a bit different from the rest of the market, and "that has all played well into our success with F&I," he said.
AutoNation has a similar model. It recorded an F&I profit of $1,779 per unit, an 8.1 percent increase over the year-earlier level. AutoNation supports internal training, while also selling company-branded F&I products. "We specifically have designed them knowing what consumers want," CEO Mike Jackson said Tuesday. "We have priced them very attractively for consumers, and we have a higher percentage of consumers choosing those products than a year ago."
The public groups have determined when to rely on their internal business acumen and when to seek guidance from outside companies. No matter the approach, so far their strategies are paying off.