Article

Selecting the Best F&I Employees

May 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Kirk Manzo - Also by this author

When the game is on the line, who must execute the play—the coach (dealer/GM) or the player (F&I manager)? We all know it is the player who must execute. Sure, the coach designs the play and sets up the strategy, but in the end, the player must be able to deliver the results.

Ask yourself this question: How many times have your eyes and/or your ears deceived you in selecting someone new for your store? Did the picture in the interview match the performance you received? For this discussion, let us focus on the last F&I manager you hired.

A common error that occurs when selecting a new manager is to rely too much on just “gut feelings.” By the way, how has that worked out?

However, there is a principle you can apply that will help improve the likelihood of selecting a high-performing player. It begins with an understanding that recent past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior.

Many candidates you interview for positions in F&I present themselves in the most favorable of lights—touting all of their abilities at length and selling you on what a great job they will do for you. The scenario sounds rather appealing. In order for you to identify the best people, focus your attention and questions not on their future, but instead on their past.

Ask the candidate about their relationship with the GM and dealer at their last store. Here are some questions you should pose:

• Tell me about a time when your dealer or general manager implemented a change in procedure that you did not agree with. What was that change in policy? Why did you not agree? Tell me more about that.

• How did you communicate your concerns? How were those concerns received? How did you feel about that? What changes did you need to make to implement this new procedure? What was the final outcome?

• What did you learn as a result? Knowing what you now know, how would you have handled the situation differently?

The above questions, while on the surface may look like an interrogation, are in fact merely designed to uncover very specific details about past behavior. The key is to not allow the candidate in the interview to ramble on about sweeping generalities, but rather to focus them on recounting specific details of exactly what occurred.

This same approach would apply to their handling of past customers who were particularly difficult. Asking questions related to interactions with vendors/suppliers, sales management, salespeople and of course banking/finance relationships provide the insight necessary to select the best candidate.

Since each of us may exhibit some unintended form of bias, make certain that at least one or two other managers interview the candidates as well. There is value in some divergence of viewpoint.

Do you currently test candidates for ability? Interviewing is one tool for evaluating talent. Testing provides another. There are many options available in the market. Companies like Art Niemann and Associates, Predictive Index, and Omnia Group provide simple, cost-effective options to test and evaluate candidates via online solutions. The modest amount of time, effort and money is well worth the investment.

Another element to consider in selecting the best candidates for your F&I department is to examine your current job description. When was the last time it was updated? Does it include specific guidelines about managers getting involved early in the sales process versus waiting for the deals to come to them? Does it address the importance of locking their office upon leaving it, even if just to use the restroom or visit the sales tower? Does it specify performance targets like penetrations for finance or products like vehicle service contracts?

The other variable to update in the quest to attract and select the best players relates to your current compensation strategy. Does the job description correlate 100 percent to the compensation? It has often been said if you want to fully understand a job description, simply look at the pay plan. There is real truth to that statement. So how aligned is your current F&I pay plan with the job description?

With a reasonable amount of effort, the above strategies can be implemented. While defining your sales and F&I processes impacts the store’s success, in the end it will be the people you select who determine your store’s future.

Vol. 8, Issue 3

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