Jun. 14, 2010 – Did F&I make the cut?

SEATTLE — Has a downturn in new unit business and the resulting dealership staff cutbacks made full-time F&I personnel a thing of the past for smaller European dealerships?
Not necessarily.
Ducati Seattle is one European dealership that hired a full-time F&I staff member in 2008 after being advised of the potential sales and profit increases at a 20 group meeting.
Owner David Roosevelt decided at the time to do a 90-day experiment, hiring a full-time F&I person and then reworking a part of the dealership to accommodate the new work area. The move paid off immediately as the store in 2008 more than tripled its year-ago F&I profit.
Ducati Seattle, however, was not immune to the national decrease in new motorcycle sales that started in the fall of 2008 and continues today. So how has the falloff in new unit business affected the store’s F&I business and its relatively new staff position, the full-time F&I staffer?
Roosevelt, speaking with Powersports Business at his downtown Seattle dealership, says the dealership continues to keep a full-time F&I staffer, although that position reflects what has happened on a dealership-wide basis: cross-training.
“Everything has changed,” he said of the economy and its effect on the store’s staff. “So everyone wears an additional hat. There’s no two ways about it.”
The F&I staff member also now helps out with service warranty work and if time allows, on eBay sales.
But that doesn’t mean the potential for F&I revenue has diminished in Roosevelt’s thinking. He said he still strongly believes in the need for a position, noting the advantages it has in simply encouraging and maintaining strong relationships with retail lenders.
“It’s solidified our relationships with our lenders,” he said of the store’s focus on F&I. “So when we put in a loan to (retail lender) FreedomRoad, we get a response quickly. I’ve always believed that when you establish a relationship with a lender, if you don’t put a little personal touch to it, (loan applications) get pushed off.”
The dealership also continues to sell a prepaid maintenance package as well as additional F&I products, like LoJack. PSB

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