Tag Archives: F&I Success

The Seat Behind You


A note handed to NFL wide receiver Mohamed Sanu proves that people notice your good work — even when you don’t realize they are watching.

Mohamed Sanu is a wide receiver for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and one of their most celebrated stars. After sitting in coach during a recent airline flight, he was handed a note as he was departing the plane. The family sitting behind him had recognized him but did not bother him for autographs or a story to share with their friends. They just watched! Here is what the handwritten note said, as posted on his Twitter page:

Hi, you don’t know us, but we wanted to thank you. Our son sat behind you on this flight and watched you. He saw you studying your plays, watched you make healthy choices with your snacks, food and drink. He watched how polite you were to everyone. He is only 10, but just made an elite hockey team and we are on our way to training in [Connecticut]. You are an inspiration to children and for that you should be proud! Thank you and best of luck.

You Never Know Who Is Watching!

It is always refreshing to hear such a heartwarming story about a public figure, particularly in light of the current political climate. Being in the car business, I too have witnessed some behavior from my “back seat.” I have traveled the country for over a decade, working in dealerships and working hand-in-hand with independent agents to grow the skills and income levels of their F&I departments. On many occasions, I have become privy to supposedly “secret” actions, which in reality are a regular part of how they do business.

Independent agents are called on regularly to do things that have nothing to do directly with making a profit for your agencies. I have known of many agents who have driven hours out of their way in an attempt to help a small dealership, which will never be able to provide much profit to them personally, simply because a dealer asked them to help a friend. More times than I can count, I have watched them become an HR consultant when someone needs a job or someone needs an employee. I have seen significant financial contributions made to charities that an employee is personally connected to with the caveat that the donation remain anonymous.

Succeed by Making a Difference!

I know every independent agent reading this is in business to make a profit and to enhance their financial situation. However, having worked with many of you, it is obvious that the driving force behind your long days is to make a difference! The financial benefits are the reward you receive for helping as many people as you can as often as you can. It is no mistake that those who focus on making a difference are usually the most financially successful.

I have been sitting in the “seat behind you,” watching your efforts, and it has created in me the highest respect for many that fill this role in the automotive business. This is my note to you to say “Thank you!” The note that Mohamed Sanu received that day accomplished one thing: It made him more determined to continue the behavior that was secretly observed because it is simply who he is. So continue your efforts and know that many are watching and noticing your efforts, even if you don’t see them.

Create a Lombardi Culture

I just returned from Green Bay, Wis. Like most visitors, I drove by and took pictures of the Vince Lombardi statue in front of Lambeau Field.

The Green Bay Packers’ stadium is built right on the highway with residential houses just across the street. The reason they do not relocate the stadium is that, since legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi came to town in 1959, Lambeau Field has been hallowed ground. This is supported by a 30-year waiting list to buy season tickets!

Vince Lombardi made champions of the Green Bay Packers by creating a winning culture and chasing perfection in the pursuit of excellence.

Let’s look at two lessons on how Lombardi turned one of the worst teams in professional football into a dynasty:

1. He Created a Winning Culture.

When Lombardi took over in Green Bay, he didn’t create a bold new strategy. He didn’t change the people. He didn’t come up with a magic fix. He changed the organization’s culture.

Culture is “the way we do things around here.” Culture is the sum of the key values of an organization, expressed in behavior. Vince Lombardi wanted the Green Bay Packers to have a culture of excellence. The natural results were championship teams.

2. He Chased Perfection.

One of Lombardi’s most powerful quotes reveals his culture statement:

Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence. I am not remotely interested in just being good.

As independent agents, our goal should be to create a culture of excellence in our team that will be duplicated in the dealerships we serve. Lombardi knew that, to make a culture change, you have to determine the behaviors that demonstrate them. You also must articulate those values and model the behavior you want from others.

Lombardi produced excellence because he demanded it from everyone and, most importantly, from himself. I know I am speaking to independent agents that are not remotely interested in just being good. So let’s make excellence the theme in 2017!

Speak with the Loudest Voice!

I looked into the face of a top-performing F&I professional and said,

Your potential is furious with your performance!

After the initial shock, he realized it was a valuable challenge. As independent agents, we meet regularly with great F&I managers who are producing at the best levels they have seen in their career. A simple request to keep improving performance sounds hollow unless it is shared in contrast to potential.

Agents have a more powerful voice in dealership F&I departments than you might think. You just have to be willing to use it.

Here are two principals that can enable us to become the “screaming potential voice” to the managers with whom we work:

1. People Will Rise or Fall Based on Your Expectations.

As independent agents, we have tremendous power simply by being in a position of authority; as a result, we can use our words to influence how others view themselves. Expressing belief in your team of F&I professionals and focusing on setting high — but achievable — standards for them will have real repercussions.

Instead of praising employees’ talents or brains, praise the efforts and strategies that got them to where they are. When we track effort, we are putting importance in the very thing that creates results. Expect every F&I manager to practice their skills. Expect every F&I manager to grow their knowledge.

Results always follow intentional effort! When we communicate to an employee, we too often leave out the potential we see in them to be even more successful.

2. Every F&I Professional Must Occasionally Be Pushed Out of Their Complacency.

There’s a natural tendency for people to gravitate toward what they’re good at doing. Then they get stuck there and the “comfort zone” lulls their motivation for improvement to sleep. Good leaders push people to try things they have potential for and give them the opportunity to take a risk. They actively look for ways their employees can practice the exact thing they need to do but might be uncomfortable trying.

Why would a top-performing F&I professional aspire to even higher levels of production and customer satisfaction? Because the loud voice of potential is calling them. It drowns out over-confidence, shortens the length of time spent in the comfort zone and makes even the best better.

Be the voice of potential and watch those you have influence over reach record levels in the days ahead. Be an agent of potential!

The Ride Back Home

F&I Success

Walt Disney proved that, with the proper attitude, failure can be a springboard to unbridled success.

During a cross-country rail trip to New York in early 1928, Walt Disney not only lost his cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but half of his animation staff to his film distributor. Before boarding the return train to California, Walt sent his brother, Roy, a telegram: “Don’t worry, everything OK.” On the train home, Walt contemplated a new character — a mouse, which he named Mortimer. His wife, Lillian, had a different idea, and Mickey Mouse was born. What can we learn from Walt’s ride home?

1. Your Attitude Toward Failure Will Determine Your Level of Success.

More important than how much loss you suffered as a result of a failure is what you will do next. You have two choices: You can be brutally honest with yourself, determine what part of the failure you are responsible for and embrace it, and start planning your comeback, or you can blame others, the weather, the economy or multiple things out of your control.

The stark reality is that others have faced similar challenges and have found ways to adjust, change, grow and create overwhelming success going forward. You can too! Failure is a stepping stone to a greater future and provides lessons that can only be learned when you have been knocked down. The correct attitude will assure you get back up and come back stronger than ever!

2. Not Getting the Clients You Want Can Be the Best Thing That Could Happen to You.

Not getting the results you expected is sometimes a stroke of good luck, because it forces you to reevaluate your skills and effort; it can open new opportunities and information you would have otherwise overlooked. Sometimes our efforts fall apart so that better things can fall together.

Failure enables us to see the importance of purging attitudes and techniques that aren’t working and need to be changed. And never forget that, no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying to improve and grow their skills.

I look forward to seeing you on my next post! Please feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas with agents and F&I professionals is my passion!

King of Consistency!

Hank Aaron is NOT the Home Run King. His most significant achievement is that he was great EVERY SINGLE YEAR from 1955 to 1973. That’s 19 consecutive seasons. There really isn’t a record quite like it in baseball history. He was the King of Consistency.

Breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record was merely a side effect of two decades of brilliance. But Aaron was more than a home run hitter. He hit the baseball as hard and for as long as anybody in the game’s history. The balls that went off the fence were doubles. The balls that went over were home runs. It was all the same to Aaron. His saw his job was to hit baseballs hard and whatever followed, followed. Two key commitments were consistent throughout his career and those same commitments will make any career successful.

He arrived at the ball park each day prepared,
with a plan and a purpose.

Hank Aaron focused on the right thing. He admittedly never focused on hitting home runs; instead he spent all of his energy working to make every time at bat a success. He arrived at the ball park each day prepared, with a plan and a purpose.

What is your purpose in the F&I office where you serve? For many F&I Managers their mantra is “I have products, how can I sell them to my customer.” Working with masters of this process for over 10 years I can attest to the fact their focus is completely different. Their mantra is “I have products, how can they help this customer.” A great paradox in F&I is if you focus on producing the highest profits you will do well; but you will never reach your highest level of success until you focus more on helping each customer make the best decisions in connection with their purchase. Just like with Aaron, record numbers will come when you focus on what matters most.

If you want something bad enough, you have to make the necessary sacrifices to get it.  You learn to navigate the circumstances and accept the fact that failure is not an option for you.

Hank Aaron – Commencement Address Marquette University

Hank Aaron was great year after year because he was committed to consistent improvement in his skills and practiced to make that happen. Professionals practice and actors rehearse. It doesn’t matter how successful or famous they are. The truly great ones are always challenging themselves with new goals because they know it will demand working harder than ever and the effort to improve is as rewarding as the end result. Champions are made in the training room! Every great F&I Manager I know is committed to consistent improvement. When I walk into their office I am greeted with “I had a great month; let’s get started, I have a couple of things I need help with.”

The best years in the F&I world are ahead of us, more customers are waiting to be helped and more records are waiting to be set. A great month or a great year is a good thing. A great career will make everyone around you be amazed at how you did it. We don’t need a home run king in F&I. What we need are more consistency kings! – Batter up!