It can be tough to become an F&I Manager when you have no experience. As a general rule, dealerships are looking for candidates who have a proven track record of strong PVR and CSI.
But alas, we have all been there at one point, trying our best to land that first finance gig.
Sometimes, you get lucky – Maybe you know a General Manager at a dealership. Other times, it takes years of work and perseverance.
Here are a few steps you can take to show you are ready for an F&I promotion:
- Take an Online F&I Training course
Programs like FinanceManagerTraining.com offer online F&I school where you can learn nearly everything there is to know about how to become an F&I Manager. It only costs $99 per month and even provides an F&I certificate.
- Have stellar paperwork
Salespeople have a reputation for sloppy paperwork. Make sure your deals are clean and have all the necessary documents ready for the finance office. An F&I Manager routinely juggles up to 10 deals at any one time and needs impeccable paperwork and organizational skills.
- Learn F&I’s product offerings
Take an interest in the products that your dealership offers. You can even ask to go over them with your Finance Manager. With your manager’s permission, try your hand at selling a product or two during the test drive or pencil. Showing that you can sell product while on the sales floor will show management that you are a true closer in multiple sections of the dealership.
- Offer to be a fill-in
Once you have a reputation as a salesperson with strong paperwork and who can sell a product or two, you can offer to be a fill-in for when an F&I manager is sick or busy. This gives you access to further hone your skills.
How to become an F&I Manager in more detail
Finance and Insurance (F&I) managers are one of the most valuable employees in a dealership.
Because of this, Dealerships don’t hire just anyone to take charge of their finance operation.
In most cases, an F&I manager starts as a salesperson and earns a promotion after a few years and a solid track record of sales success. In fact, an F&I manager is essentially a salesperson who deals with F&I products, rather than auto’s, boats, rv’s etc.
We’ve laid out 10 tips for you on how to become an F&I manager.
Aim for proficiency
Maximize your skill sets by getting all the available training related to your desired job title. To climb the ladder, it’s necessary to always be on top of your game and the best at utilizing the tools used in your field. After all, you can’t be the manager if you don’t master the ins and outs of your department.
Be the best at customer service
Don’t be selective when it comes to entertaining customers. Treat customers with respect and courtesy at all times. It also helps to ensure that your customers are at ease, so they’re more likely to express their needs. Facilitate an open dialogue with potential customers to know how you can assist them, as this can help you close a deal.
Improve the flow of conversation
Use available training to your advantage or learn from the best-performing employees on how to improve the flow of conversation. Training can equip you with the information you need to handle objections and other negative scenarios, so you can promote products without appearing too eager or pushy. This can then increase customer satisfaction, and translate into a closed deal.
Maintain a professional persona
Keep your sales talk within the issue at hand and avoid engaging in controversial topics, such as politics. In the workplace in general and when dealing with customers, it’s best if you keep conversations light and professional. You should listen to what your customers have to say, but as much as possible, stay on topic and keep your focus on closing deals.
Enhance your listening skills
As a salesperson, you understand the importance of checking in on your customers, even after the sale. It’s done not simply out of an unwritten protocol, but to make sure that your customers are satisfied. You also get important feedback, and learn about the good and bad things, not only in terms of products and services, but also your performance.
Post-sale follow-ups help you to establish a relationship with your clients that possibly extend beyond the first closed deal.
If you’re determined to climb the corporate ladder, you’ll probably spend many years navigating the same circle, and it’s helpful if your customers remember many good things about you. Remember, loyal customers will help you close more deals with positive feedback and word-of-mouth recommendations.
Modern F&I platforms allow customers to choose products they like, and make adjustments in terms of product options and payments.
Also, note that some products are known to require a lot of trial closes, so don’t give up if the deal isn’t closed with just one try. Be persistent and offer alternatives to effectively close the deal.
Having a degree in accounting or finance is an advantage, but it alone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become an F&I manager. Most dealerships accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree, although some take their chances on applicants with enough grit, persistence, and talent. But classes on business, math, marketing, and technology can help you build more confidence in the long run.
Also, you’re aiming for a highly competitive position, so you should be skilled at F&I processes and products. The more you learn and experience the processes, you get familiar and adept with the business, the factors that influence its success and failure, consumer behaviors, and buying trends.
Use competitive advantage
You can use F&I technologies to give a compelling presentation to your customers. Use strategies to engage your prospective customers and prevent boredom. Once you hold their attention, aim to build trust, as this is the key element to closing the sale.
Prepare for the responsibilities
F&I managers deal with various responsibilities. Some of their day-to-day activities include trying to complete deals, boosting profits, handling customer issues, and doing paperwork. F&I managers are also rated based on their average back-end profits. The job is extremely technical, and success relies on great salesmanship.
Overall, this position is rewarding—financially and professionally—but don’t expect things to be easy. In sales, success isn’t based on seniority. It’s not uncommon for young people to climb the ladder. But the job can be particularly tough if you’re new to it, so it pays to learn from your boss initially.
Take the leap
An F&I manager position isn’t up for grabs to those who simply decide that they want it. Instead, the position is given to the company’s top sellers who have already established their skills.
With enough training, experience, and success in sales, you should take the leap once a financial manager position becomes available.
In some cases, it’s easier to get promoted in the company where you started, but for F&I managers, taking better offers and switching companies aren’t unheard of.
After a couple of years in the position, F&I managers rarely shift or go elsewhere because of the high financial rewards that their job entails. But others consider different tracks, like working as bank representatives, product trainers, and brokers for top companies.
To be an F&I manager, you first need to get your foot in the door and prove your capability as a salesperson. You can increase your chances of getting in the field if you already have sales experience. And usually, the top salespeople are given the position after several years, where they have the choice to stay or move up. Putting in the work and hours is necessary to become an F&I manager.