Article

WTF

Whatever beliefs you and your customers may or may not share, politics and religion have no place in F&I.

October 2015, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by G.P. Anderson

Recently I was asked whether it is ever a good idea to talk politics or religion in the finance manager’s office. I responded with, “WTF!” … Before you get too excited, don’t forget, this is a family magazine. “WTF” stands for “We think forward.” What were you thinking?

You were thinking what everyone else thinks. As with politics and religion, that particular initialism can be interpreted in more than one way. Now your thought process will remember “We think forward” whenever you see it. At least I hope so.

Wouldn’t you agree that the automotive finance professional has determined by occupation to be a forward thinker? The world doesn’t care about your outside-the-office pursuits, especially with respect to your deeply held personal beliefs. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status or age.

OK, so what happens when the customer broaches these topics? Well, I’ll share with you some knowledge I gained first as a young lad whose father served as a state senator and deputy chief of staff for the governor of Minnesota and now as the brother of our state representative: Artful deflection is your best friend.

Many a customer walks into my office with full knowledge of my familial ties and a compulsive desire to guess at my political affiliations and opinions on a variety of matters both foreign and domestic. I acknowledge the connection and invoke my right to freely decide upon another topic. When pressed, I frequently use humor. Experienced F&I professionals know the value of a quick wit. A single mother of three once came into my office to finalize the purchase of a used minivan. “I suppose this the part where you bend me over and stick it to me,” she quipped. I stopped writing, looked up and replied, “This isn’t the time for romance. I’m just trying to sell you this van!” She laughed until she cried. Then she signed the paperwork.

The F&I office is a great place to do business. It is a lousy place to discuss just about anything else. Every guest will have their own set of values and viewpoints. I’m just trying to deliver the deal. Change the subject. We think forward.

Who are you voting for? Red flag! What church do you go to? Red flag! You don’t want to tell them and they don’t need to know. Even if your philosophies align, they won’t (or shouldn’t) help move iron over the curb. You distinguish your character through your flawless handling and treatment of guests during your entire time together. Be a professional and expect the same of your managers and coworkers.

With all the various components of a car deal, we are obliged to focus on the task at hand. We need to rehearse it, curse it, nurse it and disburse it. As in any highly skilled professional position, ongoing training, practice and mastery of skills is paramount. Don’t always do what you always did or you will always get what you always got. If it’s to be, it’s up to me.

Your beliefs are your own and your customers need to respect that. We think forward! Now go out there and make me proud.

G.P. Anderson is finance director of Thielen Motors Chevrolet Buick in Park Rapids, Minn., and a 25-year industry veteran. He is AFIP-certified, a 2008 F&I Pacesetter and winner of the inaugural 2011 F&Idol contest. [email protected]

Comment

  1. 1. David Cummings [ October 28, 2015 @ 01:24PM ]

    Dear Mr. Anderson,

    You rock! I look forward to all your articles. Well written, timely and makes me smile. In fact when I receive the Auto Dealer Monthly, you are the first piece I read. Thank you.

  2. 2. Kelsi [ October 28, 2015 @ 06:07PM ]

    Way to go, Dad! Another well articulated article mixed with your sense of humor! So proud of you and thank you for leadership in our lives! xx

  3. 3. Kelly Rostomily [ October 29, 2015 @ 06:47AM ]

    I laughed at the mini van part hahaha! This was really well written, as usual. Fantastic! Keep them coming. :)

  4. 4. Tammy P. [ October 29, 2015 @ 06:59AM ]

    Hey GP - your the man! Of all the media that we are exposed to on a daily basis, your article's make my day. In the negative filled world we live in, it is so refreshing to read this. Thank you and keep up the great work!

  5. 5. Tammy P. [ October 29, 2015 @ 06:59AM ]

    Hey GP - your the man! Of all the media that we are exposed to on a daily basis, your article's make my day. In the negative filled world we live in, it is so refreshing to read this. Thank you and keep up the great work!

  6. 6. Louise L. [ October 29, 2015 @ 07:08AM ]

    Greetings from Canada GP,
    You have a special way of reaching people in all your article's. The "Prescription For Attitude" is framed in my home and work office. I have made numerous copies to hand out to associates that approach me for it. Very well done. We all benefit from your words of wisdom.

  7. 7. JJ [ November 20, 2015 @ 10:32AM ]

    Hey GP,

    Your style, your words are just plain amazing! Please consider your own YouTube channel. Bring your knowledge to the world. Peace out.

    Millennial J

  8. 8. Perry Nelson [ March 22, 2016 @ 02:48PM ]

    "WTF" GP is coming to Tampa, FL. the first week in May 2016. I'm there!!! Looking forward to meeting you and attending your session. Love the articles. Keep 'um coming.

 

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