"If they buy the payment, they'll buy what's in the payment."
For Marv Eleazar, finance and insurance manager at Langdale Ford Co. in Valdosta, Ga., the sour note produced by this advice, often passed along in F&I training schools decades ago, still rings in his ear.
It refers to payment packing, a practice whereby an F&I manager would pad a customer's monthly payment quote by adding F&I products without the customer's knowledge. It's the kind of advice once regularly taught in F&I training, which came into popularity in the 1960s with the creation of the F&I office.
After decades of increasing regulatory oversight of the F&I office, as well as the rise of Internet-driven pricing and product transparency, times have changed.
Payment packing has long been considered deceptive and unfair. Consumer protection laws mean it's also illegal now. Today, says Eleazar, "I don't think any trainer in their right mind would say something so stupid, or even infer it."
In the early days, F&I training programs varied considerably. Some would strive to show F&I managers how to do business the right way, while others would disclose the loopholes managers could exploit to their advantage.
In the past two decades, regulations aimed at curbing bad practices, technological advancements inside and outside the dealership, and the vehicles themselves have substantially altered processes in the F&I office. As a result of these changes, customers entering the F&I office today expect a fast, smooth, transparent and personalized process. And F&I training companies have pivoted to meet those expectations.
The modern F&I curriculum focuses more on social and emotional intelligence and building value in F&I products, industry insiders say. Motivational malarkey and shady sales tactics are no longer a part of F&I training.