Defining F&I Success
I’m not much for writing self-help sermons, as I’m a firm believer that no amount of outsider input will move you unless you want to improve. Self-motivation is difficult because it requires that you fight complacency.
I often get calls from industry folks in need of advice when things go south. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s definitely easier to see which direction the slumping producer should take, mainly because the person seeking the help is too close to the problem to see the answer. Hey, I’ve experienced that, too. In fact, I wrote about it a couple of months ago (“Strength in Numbers,” October 2016).
Emotions also tend to get in the way, clouding our judgment and making it difficult to resolve an issue we could easily solve for a fellow professional. Personally, I think the reason we seek outside advice is because it’s like a breath of fresh air, breathing new life into our presentations and vigor into our body language.
Hey, success isn’t a straight line angled upward. It’s more jagged like a stock market tracking chart, moving upward albeit slowly at times. With that said, I’ve modified that popular “S.U.C.C.E.S.S.” acronym to relate my message this month to life in the dealership. Hopefully, something in this article will spark that flame and restore the fire you need to finish out this year in style.
See your goal: Like you, I’ve read a lot of self-help books where the author recommends setting goals to motivate your actions. I believe in goal-setting, but since no two stores are exactly alike, this exercise demands a clear understanding of the metrics that govern success at your store and in your market. So in order to formulate a plan to move the needle, you first need to lay the path to success.
Understand your obstacles: Yep, every store has problems and obstacles to overcome. And those which cannot be overcome must be dealt with. Coworkers, showroom politics, difficult customers, financial markets, and other internal and external issues have a tendency to slow us down. So learn to identify your challenges and decide how to manage yourself the next time you run up against one.
Create your own positive mental attitude: Yeah, I know you’ve heard it before, but I’m going to put it out there again: Attitude determines your altitude. Truth is, attitude can’t be taught or bought. You must decide what mindset you’re going to manage during the course of your day. So choose wisely.
Clear your mind of self-doubt: Self-doubt is often brought on when we strike out on a string of deals. But once it sets in, that small rough patch can turn into a rough month. What you have to do is clean out the cobwebs and focus on what made you successful in the first place. As I’ve written before, no deal, week, or month defines an F&I pro. We all suffer periods of self-doubt. I know I do.
Embrace your challenge: What I mean by that is you need to determine how you define success in your store. Forget about all the high-flying tales you see on social media or about some dealer group somewhere killing it. Every store has its own unique challenges. You know what yours are, so own those challenges and press on to hit the mark.
Stay on track: This is no easy task, but achieving success never is. As author Mel Harmon once wrote, “Anything is hard if you work at it easy, and anything is easy if you work at it hard.” Take the design of a locomotive’s wheels. They have a flange on one side to keep the wheels and the train running on the rails. It would seem like anyone could steer it, but train accidents tell us otherwise. Concentration and experience are required to stay the course.
Show that you have what it takes: Nothing is more satisfying than achieving the realistic goals you set for yourself. The pride and accomplishment you feel gives you the courage to raise the bar the next month. And as your confidence grows, so does your success. Hey, confidence leads to positive body language, which leads to positive customer responses.
Listen, there is no magic pill or secret formula for success. If such a thing existed, you probably couldn’t afford it anyway. That’s why we must cherish our victories and lament our defeats. Good luck and keep closing!
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at email@example.com.
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