Training others in F&I skills

After a number of years selling retail vehicles, I wanted to be a sales manager. I went to my dealer to seek this new opportunity and found that he had a slightly different plan for my future. My dealer insisted that I would never make a “great” sales manager unless I understood F&I. He said that F&I was a prerequisite to sales management because it taught the inner workings of a deal.
I was impatient and didn’t really want the detour. However, I had no choice. So, off to F&I school I went.
Well, you already know my story if you have been reading these columns for awhile. Even though I became a decent business manager, I knew I wasn’t a career F&I professional like Steve, the man who ran the F&I operation at our dealership, and the person who taught me most of what I know about F&I. I still had aspirations of being a sales manager.
A couple of years later I felt confident that I had become a proficient business manager. So, I went to my dealer and once again made my case for sales management. I’ll never forget his response: “Sorry, Gart, I don’t have a replacement for you. I need you in that job. I’d be a fool to remove you and leave a vacancy in the Business Office.”
You should have seen the look on my face. My heart had sunk into my stomach. I was distraught. I had worked so hard…and this was my reward?
After a few moments of watching my discomfort, my dealer said, “That’s right, Gart, I’m going to leave you in the Business Office forever. Of course, I may reconsider if you can find and train a replacement.”
Once again I got the old fire back. Happily, I began my search for my replacement. I knew I was only months away from a possible promotion to sales management.
By that time, I had been transferred away from being Steve’s assistant to another facility. I had taken over the F&I position at another one of our dealerships. At the dealership, we had a salesperson with a unique, low-key style. I immediately knew that he had the ability to grasp F&I. His name was Scott.
I approached Scott with a proposition. I asked him if he had aspirations of someday going into management, and he said, “Yes.” I begin to sell him on how Finance & Insurance was an important learning position and that it could really teach him the “inner workings of a deal.”
Scott went for it, so we developed a plan. I asked him if he would stick around after his shift and observe me working some F&I deals. He was to sit over on the side of my office and say nothing… just observe. I introduced him to my customers as my new assistant who was learning the ropes.
Scott watched me close and contract a ton of customers. After observing me, I taught him some specific F&I product knowledge and showed him how to operate the computer. Before long, he was ready to handle his own first customer (under my watchful eye).
Scott was a natural. I quickly found that he had the potential to become another Steve. Since he was willing to stick with it, I began keeping a separate F&I log of his results.
One day I approached my dealer with some really good news. I told him I had found and trained my future replacement. When he heard about Scott’s on-the-job training and saw the results on his own F&I log, my sales management promotion was imminent.
It wasn’t long until an opening came about and I was promoted. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. I had sold vehicles, worked F&I and now I had my reward. Maybe the most exciting part of my story is that I was able to take all the valuable training that Steve gave me and transfer it on to Scott.

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