How to Set Your Auto Finance Manager up for Success

By Canada Drives Newsroom | Dealer Services

In the showroom, the salesperson often gets all the glory when the dotted line is signed. But the hard work is still to come for one person – the F&I Manager. Whether your store calls them finance managers, business managers, or F&I managers, their job remains the same: turn every sold car into a rolled car.

Easier said than done? Definitely. 

A good finance manager can expect 90% F&I penetration on new vehicles and 74% penetration on used cars, according to the 2018 NADA Data report. It also shows that between finance, insurance, service contracts, and extras, roughly 54% of sales gross profit is generated by the back office.

A finance manager, however good they are at their job, is limited in their effectiveness by the team around them. Salespeople and sales managers have the responsibility to set the stage for the finance manager to ensure a smooth, seamless transition and a profitable sale where everyone is concerned. 

Introduce the finance manager early

Imagine you’re negotiating to buy a car for yourself. You’ve come to an agreement with the salesperson, shaken hands, signed the agreement, and left a deposit. Then, you’re ushered into an office with a stranger who proceeds to ask for sensitive credit history details, then pitch protection products, GAP insurance, and life insurance for your loan. Who is this person? You have no cause to trust them, so you say ‘no’ to anything you haven’t already agreed to in your payment. 

This is what it’s like for a customer who’s walked into ‘the Box’ cold. They’re anxious, unsure, and they have their backs up. 

Now, imagine that the finance manager is introduced during the discussion on payments and terms:

“Folks, this is Bruce. He’s going to help us get the financing arranged and ensure you’ve got the right coverage for your needs.”

A quick smile, handshake, and a “talk soon,” from Bruce, and the F&I manager is no longer a stranger. When the customers go into his office, they’re more confident and open to talking. There’s no better way to start the F&I product discussion. 

What is a proper introduction?

The meet-and-greet with Mister and Missus Customer is only a first impression. It’s meant to prevent the lamb-to-the-slaughter feeling when they’re ushered into the office. It’s the right time to say hello, praise their vehicle choice, and mention that you hope to see them momentarily. 

The F&I manager doesn’t need to be introduced before a soft commitment is made. Otherwise, it can seem like there’s a manager checking in on or undermining a salesperson, and they lose some of the credibility and trust they’ve already earned. 

Unless they directly ask, it’s not the right time to mention products or prices. While that may seem to contradict transparency, the intention is to keep the discussion with the salesperson focused, not muddied with adding costs to payments. One decision at a time. 

Keep the finance manager in the loop

You need to feed the finance manager. No, we’re not talking about sandwiches or snacks! The finance manager should be fed details about the customer between the early intro and the finance office visit. This is where a great salesperson makes a great teammate as far as the F&I manager is concerned. 

The salesperson should communicate what they’ve discovered in the needs-and-wants assessment. How is the customer using their vehicle, and how many kilometres will they rack up annually? How much are they planning to use as a down payment? Do they have children or grandchildren, and how well did they take care of their trade-in? These can be clues to direct the F&I manager’s discussion regarding protection packages, service contracts, insurance, and more. 

Going into the discussion with a customer without any of these details will only irritate the customer. They feel like they’re starting the sales process all over again. It’s much easier to continue a budding relationship. 

Keep the customer engaged during the wait

In many cases, there’s a wait before the F&I manager is ready for the customer. It’s tempting to sit the customer in the lounge with a soda or coffee and move onto the next prospect. If there’s an opportunity for the customer to get cold feet, this is it. 

Do not leave the customer alone at this point. Instead, use it as an opportunity to build rapport, creating trust in your dealership’s team even further. 

  • Take the customer on a tour of your service department. 
  • Visit the parts and accessories desk.
  • Introduce your customer to a service advisor who can congratulate them on their fine choice of vehicle.
  • Grab a coffee and discuss a common interest you’ve discovered.
  • Pick up lunch with them in the vehicle they just bought. 
  • Ask if their previous vehicle was undercoated or rust-proofed to plant the seed in their heads. 

When the finance manager is ready for them, they haven’t become lost in their own thoughts and second-guessed their decision. 

The F&I department grosses more than the vehicle sale, on average. Yet, there’s an opportunity for more penetration and better gross profit when the sales team sets them up for success. It boosts the bottom line, gets more vehicles down the road, and results in more satisfied, trusting customers.

In need of car buyer leads?

Canada Drives is the nation’s premier auto lead generation company. With our sales-savvy methods and digital knowhow, we set salespeople and finance managers up for success.

One of Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies, we deliver a steady lead flow to hundreds of certified dealerships nationwide. And we’re always looking to expand our network!

Reach out and speak with one of our regional sales managers. A consistent stream of high-intent car-buyers is just a phone call away.

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