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Embrace Your Team in F&I

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Article Highlights:

  • Your dealership has many touchpoints with outside organizations during F&I.
  • Think of them as your team members to resolve communication challenges.

As an F&I manager, you might feel like a one-man show. Even if you are one of multiple F&I managers at your dealership, much of your work is done independently.

Flying solo has its perks, but it’s also a lot of pressure. When management comes to you about moving customers through F&I faster, reducing deal inaccuracies, or improving CIT time, you feel the heat. You want to improve efficiency, but it’s overwhelming when it feels like your department’s performance rests solely in your hands.

But the idea that you work in a vacuum is an illusion. In reality, the F&I process is made up of dozens of tiny interactions between your dealership and outside organizations.

You’re probably well aware of some of the more obvious touchpoints your dealership has with third parties, for example, working with lenders to get funded.

But have you really considered every step required to complete a deal?

Take rating aftermarket products for instance. You might not even think of this as an interaction because you do it alone. You’re the one scrambling to determine product pricing and add it to the menu before the customer comes in.

But do you:

  • Make up prices on your own, out of the clear blue sky?
  • Have prices for every product and vehicle combination 100% committed to memory?
  • Use the power of intuition to infer the cost?

I’m guessing none of these situations apply. If they do, I have more questions for you.

All jokes aside though, you’re reliant on various aftermarket providers to get the information you need, whether that’s through their website, a paper pricing manual, or a spreadsheet.

And there are many F&I steps like this – sneaky interactions often left out of the conversation:

  • Reviewing credit decisions from lenders.
  • Booking aftermarket products.
  • Validating contracts.
  • Submitting ancillary documents to your lender.

… The list goes on.

So what?

Inefficiencies lurk at every touchpoint you have with other organizations, no matter how small. The back and forth between these groups is what can make F&I tedious, convoluted, and error prone when communication breaks down.

The good news is you’re not on your own to fix these problems. Communication is a two-way street after all.

Start thinking of the F&I process as a team effort between yourself and all the parties involved in a car deal – credit bureaus, aftermarket providers, lenders, technology providers, and anyone else you work with, no matter how small their role.

Really break down each step of your process from start to finish. Who do you work with? How do you communicate today? Are you using technology to do so?

Then talk to these team members about your partnership. Is there a different way for you to communicate that could be mutually beneficial for both of you? What roadblocks does either party encounter?

Chances are, if you’re feeling pain points in your process, the organizations you work with might be too. For example, many captive lenders are switching to eContracting because it’s a much smoother process for them and the dealers they work with compared to paper contracts.

Opening up a dialogue may even reveal there are already F&I technologies to help you work together more effectively. Swapping out your manual processes for digital ones is often a good place to start.

Seamless communication between the dealership, credit bureaus, aftermarket providers, lenders, and technology providers is key for a cohesive F&I experience. And if you see yourself as a team, you can work together to resolve communication challenges.

Remember: there’s no “I” in team and you don’t have to go at it alone when it comes to improving your process.

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Matt Teeters is a Product Planning Manager for F&I applications at Reynolds and Reynolds. He began his career in the support organization, eventually specializing in F&I. He later moved on to quality assurance, evaluating Reynolds F&I solutions. Much of Matt’s recent work as a Product Planning manager has been in the eContracting space and he is a primary contact for many of the lenders Reynolds partners with. He also works on other solutions including the ERA-IGNITE F&I platform and Product Rating and Booking .

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