F&I Products

Take Me to Your Leader

How do you handle unhappy guests who want to speak to the boss?

May 2016, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by G.P. Anderson

What do you say to a sold customer who says they won’t sign the paperwork unless they can meet the dealer? You might ask yourself, “Was it me?” You might think, “Did I say or do something to offend them?” You might wonder, “Do I still have lunch in my teeth?”

You might. But the real reason can often be discerned from the heat and tone of the question asked. Is the customer acting defensive, happy or celebratory? Always clarify the question. 

A recent guest declined the service contract. I reiterated why I thought it was a great deal and tried to reach a state of acceptance. They had other thoughts and asked for the dealer. “No problem,” I said. “Let me see if he’s in.” I paged the receptionist. No luck. So I asked if I could be of assistance. The guest proceeded to explain what happened the last time they bought the service contract.

It was a horror story. Not only did it not cover as promised, leaving the guest to foot the bill, but the provider went bankrupt and the dealership closed its doors!

This guest was not reacting to something I did or said or ate for lunch. They just wanted someone to assure them the service contract was legit. I am prepared for these instances. I was able to offer real testimonials from satisfied guests, more information about the provider and a personal assurance that our happy, prosperous store won’t be departing Park Rapids anytime soon.

Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot. As F&I professionals, we are, on occasion, told by guests that the salesperson did something wrong. In such cases, I get the salesperson involved immediately. Why do we have “we-owes”? To keep all parties on the same page. You can work 100,000 deals and make an error on the next one.

Cash down, rebates, bad VIN, out-of-state tax, license fees, book values, local city, county or state tax, bad addresses, spelling errors and Red Flags are among the usual suspects. It may also be a case of he said/she said or a simple misunderstanding. “There’s a flag on the field and I’m not going to lose a timeout!” Either way, I get it handled, now.

Whether you are selling a vehicle or financing a service contract, GAP or credit life and disability product, compliance is a key consideration. Regulators challenge us by constantly changing their minds and requiring us to adapt. We must feel comfortable responding to those challenges, and we must respond in a way that causes the least disruption to our guests as well as our service advisors, technicians and other coworkers.

We are in a unique position to do exactly that. Guests come to F&I for peace of mind. When we can really, truly understand what it is they are trying to accomplish, we can satisfy their needs, priorities and concerns. We get to put guests at ease, on a regular basis, simply by letting them know they have done what they needed to do to secure their investment.

Popular culture vilifies the automotive industry at times, and I think that’s very unfortunate. I think the outside media sees us as an easy target. They tend to describe a very simplistic and often exaggerated picture of what happens in our industry. We have to stay centered and focused on what it is our guests need from us and want from us.

The next time a guest of yours asks to see the boss or levels a complaint against the showroom, don’t let your heart sink. Handle the situation in a transparent way and demonstrate a willingness to handle every situation with unflappable confidence. At the end of the day, the only standards you have to live up to are your own.

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. GPAnderson@AutoDealerMonthly.com


  1. 1. MF Anthony [ June 01, 2016 @ 08:24PM ]

    Solid article. It is funny how a lot of dealership personnel will avoid a customer confrontation or hope the other guy will step in. Love your articles GP! Keep them coming. I had a scheduling conflict to hear your presentation at Dealer Summit in Tampa, FL. May 3rd. Will you be speaking at the Industry Summit in Las Vegas 2016? I hope you are. I look forward to seeing and hearing you in person.

  2. 2. J Jett [ June 02, 2016 @ 09:52AM ]

    Brother man GP, I saw, "GP Pulls Rank" on this magazine at a car dealership and thought there is only one GP that I know. I'm on summer tour currently. Remember WE love Rock and Roll. Rockin it 2016.

  3. 3. Leigh Anne Thompson [ June 03, 2016 @ 09:36AM ]

    It was a pleasure meeting and getting to know you at the Dealer Summit in Tampa, FL. May 2016. Thanks for imparting your words of wisdom to my eager ears. LOVED your, "Entering The House of Happiness" session. I appreciated you taking time to spend with Charity and myself. I had a great trip and learned a lot. I now am able to hear your voice, personality and distinctive character when I read your articles.

  4. 4. Jamie Lee [ June 07, 2016 @ 09:06PM ]

    Hey GP,
    I truly enjoy reading your articles. I am in the car business currently working finance in Los Angles, CA. over 20+ years. You take the chaos making it free from difficulties with your words. I hope to have the opportunity to hear you speak as people who make a living in the box verses trainers or agents, offer a different take on what we do. Not saying negative opinions about them, however I wished our dealer group would have allowed me to attend Dealer Summit in Tampa to hear, "Entering The House of Happiness." Perhaps another time. To your next piece... Cheers!

  5. 5. Andy E. [ June 09, 2016 @ 08:21AM ]

    "Popular culture vilifies the automotive industry at times, and I think that’s very unfortunate," you are right on GP. From the CFPB, disparate impact, etc., the theory that government promotes grow is absurd. The wildly unreasonable expectations placed on us the lenders, you the dealers and a uncontrolled government agency, gets in the way of free enterprise. The difference being you at a consumers level can resolve situations immediately, we on the other hand must deal with bureaucracy. Enjoy your helpful articles benefitting our industry.

  6. 6. Francisco B [ June 10, 2016 @ 10:34AM ]

    Working in Texas, language gets miss interrupted. Complaint's get handled with communication so all parties remain happy. Keep writing GP. Your articles are the first I read.

  7. 7. L.W. Trushel [ June 10, 2016 @ 02:18PM ]

    Nice to meet you at The Dealer Summit in Tampa, FL. May 3rd, 2016. I attended your session and wanted to thank you personally. Fantastic material, energy, knowledge and cutting edge. GP, you need to go to dealer 20 groups as they do not have what you bring to the table. Are you speaking any time soon? Truly a session I will not forget. Bobit Media did themselves proud to find you and change it up. Good luck until we meet again.

  8. 8. Kashani Liam [ June 16, 2016 @ 07:40AM ]

    Good day Mr. Anderson from Australia,
    We Aussie's follow American idea's regarding the automobile business and I must say, your literature, in its broadest sense, contains well written artistic and intellectual value. You and Mr. Georg Angus are our favorites. The best to you. When are you coming to Australia to speak? Cheers mate.


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