Some auto dealerships, hoping to ease customer resistance and prevent cash-buyer confusion, are changing the finance and insurance manager's title.
For stores considering such a change, dealer lawyer Leonard Bellavia suggests client coordinator or delivery manager — shifts that are nonconfrontational and won't mislead customers.
F&I trainer George Angus prefers the term business manager to avoid confusion, especially among cash or credit union customers who may not understand why they are being sent to a finance manager.
"We have always used the title business manager to refer to the F&I manager simply because it doesn't create a sales-resistant response and also lends a little more importance to the position," Angus wrote in an email to Automotive News.
Meanwhile, David Lewis, an independent dealership trainer in Pittsburgh, says lending importance to the role is the opposite of what will increase sales. He suggests referring to F&I managers as billing clerks would boost sales and isn't necessarily deceptive.
"Besides selling the products, what else is the job of an F&I manager? Contracts, paperwork — billing clerk," Lewis says.
About 70 percent of his dealership clients buy into the idea, Lewis says, and the percentage would be higher if F&I managers could let go of the status symbol of having manager in their title.
But Bellavia says clerk is pointlessly deceptive. Once in the F&I office, customers would realize they've been misled, he says.
"It reminds me of people who tell their pets they're taking them to the park just to take them to the vet," says Bellavia, founding partner of Bellavia Blatt & Crossett in Mineola, N.Y. "It works in terms of getting them in the car, but you have a pretty angry pet on the way home."
Another problem: Billing clerk is already a title in many dealerships, says Angus, president of F&I consulting firm Team One Group. Billing clerks do administrative work such as handling paperwork from the department of motor vehicles, and don't sell F&I products to customers.