Managing your F&I managers

Understanding the mentality and process of how F&I managers approach getting deals financed will help you understand how to lead them to embrace new technologies

When implementing any change, you have to really assess the people that are being impacted by the change. 

It seems obvious enough, but surprisingly it’s often overlooked, particularly as companies get excited about implementing new technologies—and particularly software or tech implementations. 

Even if the processes and systems being implemented are great for the business, they aren’t immediately viewed through that lens by the people who are expected to use them! After all, they are human! 

What we’ve witnessed when implementing new AI-based platforms for helping dealers finance consumer credit applications, is a range of different and unexpected resistance among F&I managers. 

Of course, many feel the immediate risk and threat from any AI or machine-learning tool that can do something they are paid to do—but it does it more systematically, more quickly, and by assessing thousands of data points simultaneously that no F&I Manager could possibly keep in their head at once. 

Imagine your own role in the company if someone more senior showed up with a powerful new tool that was faster, smarter and more reliable than you? 

While the reference above is obviously the wrong way to introduce machine-learning platforms and AI tools to your dealership, it is very likely how those on the receiving end of the change will hear and view it. Even if you are saying all the right things.

The key will be to proactively mention some of their fears and proactively redirect their fears. When people are confident, they will be less fearful of change.

So, a best practice is to work to make your F&I managers aware that you are bringing in the automated platform to “assist—not replace” them.

The key will be to proactively mention some of their fears and proactively redirect their fears. When people are confident, they will be less fearful of change. 

You can use an example some of your older team members might relate to, referencing that credit apps used to be faxed one at a time to each lender to help find one to finance a deal. That was ultimately replaced by a portal technology for getting deals financed. I don’t think many F&I managers long for the days of faxing multi-paged credit apps and collecting the replies! 

It’s a simple example, but can get your team understanding that new technology is about speed, efficiency, an improved customer experience, but perhaps most importantly, a tool to make their jobs more enjoyable. They now can embrace digital assistants and can focus on building rapport with their customers or talking to them about a whole host of other F&I products and services that aren’t related to just who is going to finance their purchase. 

Again, though, it’s never that easy. A lot of F&I managers get paid very well, and they are able to perform a set of tasks that keep deals flowing through the dealership, and the more specialized, and “special” they are, the more they feel secure in their jobs. 

For the rare F&I managers with a deep understanding of the non-prime market, they truly are more special and some won’t be receptive to new tools showing up that automate things they took years to learn.

So, you have to consider all of that, and make sure that you build them up as still being the special ones that you appreciate, that you need them in your business, but you are just trying to give them new tools to make them even better. 

Make sure to allow time for their feedback, and let them air their concerns. If you beat down the resistance too forcefully, it could backfire. There’s nothing worse than everyone agreeing to implement and use the technology in the kickoff meeting, but then doing everything in their power never to adopt it. 

So, be transparent, up front, but firm in your resolve to adopt new technologies. Not just for AI platforms for financing car deals, but throughout your business. 

If you tie it to an improved customer experience, that is the differentiator that all dealerships are fighting for, it will be even easier to have them understand it’s not really about them and their discomfort with new tools and processes. 

Good luck!

Related Articles
Share via
Copy link