Driving better F&I results through training

Better training for your dealership’s F&I teams can improve the department’s profitability — and boost employee retention.

For dealers, the outcomes of customer discussions in their business offices — whether online or in person — have a direct impact on their dealership’s profitability.

So why leave those crucial interactions with your customers to chance?

That’s what many dealerships are doing when they don’t invest enough in training for their F&I Managers and business office teams. “At many dealerships, the customer experience varies dramatically, and can depend on the F&I Manager that a vehicle buyer is dealing with,” said Jake Stacey, Executive Vice President, Sales & Training, LGM Financial Services (LGM) and a frequent speaker at auto industry events. “This lack of consistency in approach and process has a direct impact on profitability.”

To help dealerships improve their performance, LGM developed an entire set of tools, including a comprehensive Performance Enhancement program, facilitated by industry experts.

“It’s designed to elevate the skills and knowledge of F&I professionals,” explained Stacey.

The program is all-encompassing, covering topics such as: financial products, compliance, customer experience, dealership-specific best practices, and even soft-skills, like communication training. In November, the company also announced the official launch of its Financial Services Manager (FSM) Certification Program.

FSM Certification is part of LGM’s broader Learning Journey Program, and consists of a three-phase program designed to empower Financial Services Managers with advanced skills, enhancing dealership performance and customer satisfaction, according to a news release about the new program. “This structured curriculum ensures that professionals excel in their roles, ultimately contributing to the success of their dealership,” said Nathalie Abdallah, Vice President, Sales Effectiveness and Training at LGM.

Each phase of the FSM Certification program focuses on different learning objectives and offers participants the flexibility to access courses online,  through virtual platforms, and  in-person.

If employees aren’t adequately trained, it will impact the experience they are delivering every day to customers. When properly trained, however, they can effortlessly deliver excellent service, address customer questions and provide the right solutions tailored to a customer’s specific needs. This confidence boost can lead directly to more engaged and motivated employees — and improved results in your business office.

“Since implementing LGM’s processes and systems, we’ve seen significant improvement in the performance and efficiency of our business office and a substantial boost in interdepartmental collaboration across our dealership,” said David Deline, General Manager at Port City Kia. “We continue to discover ways that benefit LGM and Port City Kia while providing industry leading protection and peace of mind for our valued customers.”

Pauline Bessada, Financial Services Manager at Bessada Kia also had praise for the performance boost they experienced. “We have been utilizing LGM’s processes and systems for the last two-plus years and have had an impactful improvement in both the efficiency and performance of our business office,” she said. “The tools and training have increased sales, and improved penetration and profitability of the core products. Collaboration among sales and service has improved as a direct result of LGM’s processes as well!”

According to their 2022 Industry Report, a national workforce study released by the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) in 2023, the national average annual salary for F&I Managers in 2022 was $152,511 — with the top quartile earning $184,986. 

But despite the good pay, the same study found that annual turnover rates for F&I Managers was 31 per cent and the average tenure for the position was only 5.6 years. In fact, F&I Managers have the third highest turnover rates of all dealership positions, with Sales Consultants being at 43 per cent and Service Advisor / Writer at 39 per cent, according to the CADA study. 

“If employees aren’t properly trained, they can get frustrated and it creates stress for them when they know they aren’t performing as well as they should,” said Stacey, adding that this can contribute to the already high turnover rates for F&I Managers.

Stacey said she is also a big believer in measuring performance and fine-tuning as needed. “Every month our teams conduct a performance review to see what’s working in certain regions or dealerships,” she said.

By sharing that information with dealers, the company can continuously strengthen team performance even after their formal training. “By building a strong team in all areas of your dealership that fully understand the value of all the F&I products you offer, and by measuring your results, you can close the experience gap and deliver better profitability too. That’s a winning formula for dealerships,” said Stacey.

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