Whitney Patton, right, a sales associate at Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford of Lewisville in Texas, explains vehicle options to a customer.
At some dealerships, an invisible wall stands between the sales department and the finance and insurance office.
The two are not only separate, but often bicker, for example, over whether a deal enhanced F&I profit at the expense of sales profit.
But at Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford of Lewisville, in Texas, the sales team takes home 5 percent of F&I income for discussing F&I products with customers before bringing those customers to the F&I office. The team effort between sales and F&I has led to a $200 boost in F&I profit per unit for new and used vehicles since the dealership launched the compensation plan.
Salespeople “are more positive about finance. They have some skin in the game,” said Tom Andrews, finance director. “They are more involved with the customer and with the process.”
At many dealerships, Andrews said, the sales team doesn’t know exactly what the F&I managers do or what products they sell. But at his, the salespeople learn about the value of F&I products at each Saturday sales meeting.
Improved customer service
For example, after one customer got a flat tire and called the dealership in a panic, Andrews told the sales team how much she appreciated having tire and wheel protection — thereby giving the sales team a story to use when explaining the value of tire and wheel protection to customers.
Involving the sales team also benefits the dealership as a whole because it provides a better customer experience, Andrews said.
Because salespeople now have a deeper understanding of F&I products, they can better answer customers’ questions on the showroom floor, get information about customers’ driving habits and mention F&I products that may be useful to them.
Salespeople don’t actively sell the F&I products, but they mention them to customers, provide a brief explanation and let them know that the F&I manager will tell them more. By the time customers visit the F&I office, they likely have heard about many of the products. At that point, the F&I manager can provide more detail.
Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford of Lewisville, which sells 225 new and 150 used vehicles per month on average, implemented the compensation plan last summer.
The dealership’s general manager began requiring that the sales staff give a general explanation of F&I products and warranty coverage during the sales process, but leave the details to the F&I manager.
At Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford of Lewisville, the sales team gets 5 percent of F&I income for alerting customers to products. The result is higher F&I profit per vehicle.
Higher F&I profit
After the salesperson has spent hours with customers on average, the F&I manager typically has only 45 minutes to an hour to get to know the customer, complete financing and sell F&I products, Andrews said. By mentioning F&I products, the salespeople tee up the F&I manager’s presentation.
“The salespeople are the lifeblood of any dealership. They are the ones that are out on the front line,” Andrews said.
“They are a very integral part of the whole wheel moving forward, so why not give them a percentage of finance?”
As a result, F&I profit per vehicle has risen to $2,000 per new vehicle and $1,200 per used vehicle, both $200 increases.
The dealership has been a part of Ford Motor Co.’s Customer Experience Movement since 2012. So the “culture has been there since 2012,” Andrews said, “but this has only enhanced the culture and made them better salespeople.”