Stop Scoreboard Watching
If you aren’t aware, I run Ethical F&I Managers, a closed Facebook group for F&I pros. Look us up or send me an email to join. Keep in mind that this group was created to allow us to speak openly about the challenges we face daily, so I ask every member to keep our discussions private.
Some of the more popular posts involve performance numbers. And I have to tell you, I cringe when I see them. I understand why people do it and I would never ask any member to stop. Heck, sometimes seeing what others are doing is helpful. What bothers me is when other members start to doubt their abilities because someone else’s per-copy average is well north of $1,500.
Look, it really doesn’t matter what the guy down the street or in the next state is doing. All that matters is what you’re doing. And one of the things I’ve learned after 25 years behind the F&I desk is that no two markets are the same. Some stores sell work trucks. Others are big on high-mileage, low-priced cars. And don’t forget that cars that are heavily subsidized by the manufacturer’s leasing arm can also impact production.
And besides, not every store counts green trucks sold on Tuesdays or blue cars sold on Thursdays. Of course, I’m kidding, but you get my point — drop a few lease or cash deals that you never had a chance on and your numbers will look spectacular. So stop beating yourself up because you’re not reaching the levels others are at. You need to focus on yourself and your performance.
So how should you measure yourself? Well, one of the last things I do before I clock out for the night is give my numbers a quick scan. I’m talking about profit per vehicle retailed (PVR), products per retail unit (PPR) and all my product acceptance rates. Hey, you need to make sure you’re tracking toward your monthly goal, right?
So what should your goals be? That is a really good question, because you’re just fooling yourself if you’re aimlessly making up goals every month and hoping to hit them. Figure out where you’ve been and where you’re at right now, then decide where you want to go.
Now, I’m a simple guy, so I apply simple logic to everything I do. These days, when I don’t take that step, my brain gets fried pretty easily. When it comes to production, I try to remember that each month has its own unique characteristics, and they tend to repeat themselves year after year.
So the best way to know what’s happening in your store is to keep and maintain accurate records. First, compile an analysis of exactly what your production is on a monthly basis in the categories I listed. Then compare your current month’s performance with the same month one year ago to see how well you’re doing. Here are the metrics I use to measure success here at Langdale Ford:
- Same-month comparison of total gross and products sold
- Current product penetrations vs. the same period the year prior
- The cumulative percentages (a.k.a. “power rating”) of all products added together as a measurement against the same period the year prior
- The number of working days for a particular month vs. the same month last year
Once you begin analyzing the various categories and isolating them, you’ll be able to see the areas in which you need to improve. This is the first step to understanding what success requires. But you have to be brutally honest with yourself and admit you need help. Then you have to be brave enough to seek it out.
However much you may wish to improve, the first thing you want to do is look at what you’re doing right. Why are you so successful with one product and not another? Applying simple logic, I have discovered that the more I know about a particular product, the more I’m able to share information with my customers to help them make a buying decision. Remember this: An objection is simply the customer’s way of saying he or she doesn’t have enough information to make a qualified decision. So it’s incumbent upon us to have those answers.
One last thing: You’ll be far more successful offering options that address your customers’ needs and letting them decide for themselves than strong-arming them into a purchase. Good luck and keep closing!
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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