Other training companies have noted a similar division among trainees.
JM&A is seeing two types of dealership clients, May says: "Some are reluctant to spend their cash. There's a whole other segment of the marketplace that thinks this is the time to take a deep breath and re-skill their associates so that they're ready to hit the ground running when we got on the other side of this thing."
Paul McCarthy, senior vice president for agency and dealer sales at AUL Corp. in Napa, Calif., said when the pandemic forced states to close nonessential business operations and institute shelter-in-place orders, AUL saw sharp declines in F&I training requests. But interest rebounded after a few weeks.
"We are seeing an uptick in calls," McCarthy says, particularly about outfitting dealerships with remote operations.
Forrest Heathcott, president of JM&A Group, said in a statement that the company acknowledges dealership employees in shuttered stores may have additional time on their hands as COVID-19 rages across the U.S.
"We therefore want to make our training more accessible than ever before, letting them use this time to sharpen their skills and techniques through our live, customized training experience, which they can participate in from anywhere," he said.
For F&I training companies offering courses virtually, the classes driving the most traffic are those on how to leverage F&I technology and negotiating and closing car sales in virtual environments.
Dealerships nationwide employ people who have a wide range of technological savvy.
For digital leaders and those less experienced, May says creating an environment in which employees can learn and practice their skills will help dealerships survive prolonged shutdowns.
"A crisis always sharpens the mind and makes people focus on how to work their way out of it," McCarthy said.
Dealership participation in digital F&I training has waned amid cost-cutting, but agents are sharpening their skills, preparing for stores to eventually reopen.