I had lunch today with a couple of great guys who help car dealers build profit in their F&I Departments. They both have extensive retail experience and like all of us in the car business, it’s been a rocky road back from September 2008 here in Southern California. Our car culture is still in tact but we’ve all had to find new ways to service our customers and keep the lights on while we’re doing it.
We got to telling stories today about our respective stints in F&I and I was reminded of a story when my late husband, who was the best car man I knew, was in F&I in the 80’s. He was the consummate sales professional. So much so that at his funeral in 1995, a few of his customers came up and talked about how they loved him. In the 80’s, he worked in Atlanta at a BMW store. Management’s policies back then were, “Whatever It Takes To Make The Deal”. My husband always had a high penetration rate selling every kind of product known to man. He was the type of person who could walk into a room of 100 strangers and have 100 friends within the hour.
In his office, he had a sign behind him that said, “GFP $7.00”. It was hung at eye level to make sure the customers would notice it as they were signing their paperwork. Then, just before they were ready to take delivery, he would say, “Oh, I almost forgot to collect the GFP. Would you like to pay cash for that?”. They would say yes most of the time, he’d collect the $7 bucks and they’d leave happy. When it was time to eat, the sales staff would come to him to get the money. Why? Because GFP stood for GodFather’s Pizza.
Things have changed a lot since those days and as funny and crazy and wrong as that was, it’s a felony in today’s dealerships. We’ve cleaned up our policies and procedures in F&I and figured out there’s a better way to serve the customer and make a profit. Since September 2008, it’s been a struggle here in California to create and retain profit in F&I because frozen credit and high unemployment are making it tricky. There are a lot of great programs and products out there assisting dealers and dealerships are the better for it.
In what ways have you been able to increase F&I profit in your store?