February 2014, Auto Dealer Today - Feature
I love finding ways to overcome objections. Every month, I lead a class that includes at least 20 business managers from around the country. We teach a compliant F&I process with a strong focus on handling objections from customers in the finance office.
In addition to the monthly class, I hold at least 20 one-day workshops around the country every year. Each will include between 20 and 50 business managers, and objection handling is the primary focus. Finally, to completely torture myself, I host a workshop at the F&I Conference, part of the annual Industry Summit, called “Stump the Pro,” where attendees throw random objections at me.
I do all this to help prepare, train and teach business managers how to effectively handle objections, and they’re good at it. … maybe too good.
Recently I have been contacted by dealers and general managers looking for objection-handling strategies of their own. They want to help their F&I pros improve their production, but their staffers are reluctant to make changes. With that in mind, let’s work on overcoming objections dealers typically hear from their F&I pros.
Objection No. 1: “What’s in it for me?”
When you suggest a change in process, offer training or introduce a new product or provider, you must explain how it benefits the F&I staff. New processes, for example, can save time and aggravation. Off-site training is a chance to spend some time away from the store and learn new skills. Higher production will help them provide a better life for themselves and their families.
The same rule applies for products and providers. How will this change affect each business manager’s bottom line?
Objection No. 2: “I don’t have the time.”
The primary objections dealers hear from F&I managers who need training is that they can’t spare the time or the store is too busy. But you hear those same objections for conferences, classes and even one-day workshops. So is it really about the time?
I find that many business managers are scared to leave their posts, even for a day. They may fear losing a day’s production or even being replaced. However, in my experience, the real fear is that they will be held responsible for an increase in production after training.
Remember, you must explain the benefit. Training offers opportunities to learn something new or find a new direction for something old. If they come back with new skills that will help them sell more products, great! If they do not find anything that will benefit them, don’t worry about it. At least they got some time away from the store and the chance to commiserate with colleagues.
F&I managers who are unwilling to attend training may be worried they will be held to a higher production standard upon their return if they were to participate. Other F&I producers are just resistant to change.
Objection No. 3: “This is the way we’ve always done it.”
First and foremost, the rules of F&I are going to change. The big question pertains to how dealers are going to be compensated for securing a loan with a finance company. We have been reading about this for some time. As much as our trade associations are trying to fight it off, I suspect change will happen sooner rather than later. We must be prepared.
Since its inception, the finance office has made the majority of its money from finance reserve. When that changes, many business managers will struggle to find a way to maintain production with the possible loss of their primary profit point. I am sure this has been a discussion in your 20 Group meetings.
Find a school that works on presenting a full mix of products rather than focusing on how to justify rate. Your business managers will thank you for the help — if they accept it. Again, as always, explaining the benefits will help overcome any objections.
Objection No. 4: “I have my own way of doing things.”
Much like those who say “This is the way we’ve always done it,” business managers who pride themselves on their own process or “style” may be working against the best interests of their income, your dealership and your customers. Ignorance is no longer an excuse for doing the wrong thing, intentionally or otherwise.
Beyond the new compliance standards we now operate under, we also must consider the fact that the customers themselves have changed. They are better-educated and more demanding. They want greater transparency, more options and an efficient, customer-friendly transaction. That’s good news, because when the customer has a better transaction, they buy more. Many of the forward-thinking dealers I know are proving this on a daily basis.
Objection No. 5: “This is the real world.”
Business managers are quick to question the qualifications of trainers and whether their coursework applies to real life in a real dealership. They’re absolutely right. No one works at Fantasy Motors and fantasy has no place in the F&I office.
Before you ask anyone to attend training, you must be prepared to answer this objection. The trainers you hire should have retail experience and proven success. They should be able to withstand a legal review of their materials, explain how their F&I process works with their sales process and, by the way, when was the last time the trainer took a turn in F&I? Ask the questions your business managers would ask.
All dealers and GMs expect a financial return on their investment in training. You just have to be sure your business managers are aware that your goals are the same as theirs: increase production and protect the dealership. With that in mind, and the proper presentation, you can handle any objection.
Tony Dupaquier is director of F&I training for American Financial & Automotive Services (AFAS)’s Automotive Training Academy and has extensive auto retail and management experience. TDupaquier@AutoDealerMonthly.com