What Makes an F&I Director
"Congratulations, you are getting a great deal!" says the salesperson
to the customer (says the spider to the fly). "All you need to do now is sign the paperwork". This is usually
how our customer / client is introduced to the Finance Manager.
Many survey's clearly show our customers believe the Finance
Manager is the man / lady in the suit behind the desk that works his "magic" to dazzle them with the figures as
they bump the monthly payment.
Recently www.edmunds.com had an article titled "Confessions of an Auto Finance Manager"; it was an update from the first article published
back in 2008. While the article appears to be right on reviewing some of the practices we have all witnessed in the F&I
department, it also gave the impression that the F&I Manager and the Dealership was out to rob the customer. The man
/ woman in the back office is the closer or heavy hitter that will work the "magic". I do not believe in it and
I believe the days of pack payments, playing with the information on credit applications and playing the shell game is gone.
In today's market,
we all know that the only way to stay in business is to work with the customer / client. To provide honest information and
answer their questions while providing options. The F&I Managers play a very important role in all of this. It is the
F&I Manager that has the duty and responsibility to review the numbers of the purchase, review the information that
will be used to complete the documents and inform the customer / client on all the warranties/services offered by the factory
When we say the F&I Manager is the ultimate closer, what we mean is that this individual has the ability, talent,
and knowledge to confirm the information, complete all the paperwork, protect the interest of the customer / client and
the dealership. This person has to do all of this as well as handle any fears or concerns the customer / client might have.
For the privilege of doing all of this compliance, the F&I Manager are given a very slight opportunity to promote the
services of the department and to make a decent profit for the dealership.
The truth is preparing contracts and arranging financing
is a job for a financial expert. With reduced profit margins, the F&I department is indeed, a "stand alone profit
center" designed to provide several F&I related products and services for a slight profit. This concept benefits
the customer / client as well as the dealership. Without this department many of our customers /clients could never receive
the "discounted deals" they enjoy so much when selecting a car or truck. The F&I Manager is an important part
of the entire process and holding this position requires a great deal of knowledge, talent, and ability.
The F&I Manager
and F&I Director in our industry today are true professionals! They are a student of the industry, they are aware of
all the latest trends in the financial community as well as in the automotive industry. This individual works the longest
hours in the store, has nerves of steel and the ability (actually the love) to work in a high stress environment. But the
rewards are great! For a proven F&I Manager, they are rewarded with one of the highest paying jobs in the dealership.
That is why only your brightest and most proactive individuals should ever be in that office.
As we view the importance of the F&I
Department, we also need to review the talent we currently have
John Williams the founder of Key Royal Automotive - A Great Group!!
This bio was featured in the UA News (The University of Alabama) sometime
ago, All credit of this bio goes to the UA News
Williamson, by his own admission, was a risk taker, a characteristic which, as he wrote in his book, "would stand me
in good stead in the Pacific."
Williamson was born in Brighton
and moved to Birmingham at age 2. He attended Hemphill School skipping several grades, and starting at Ensley High School
a year and a half younger than his classmates. He graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 1939 with a degree in mathematics
and a minor in English.
He began his professional career selling
Chevrolets for Drennen Motor Co., but World War II was brewing and Williamson joined the Navy, eating extra heavily in order
to gain the needed weight to be accepted. He was a Navy veteran of both World War II and the Korean conflict and was decorated
for bravery and leadership. Mr. Williamson commanded a subchaser in the Caribbean and a destroyer escort in the Pacific during
World War II. As executive officer of the Destroyer Escort, USS England, he directed his ship in attacks that sank six Japanese
submarines in 12 days. His ship was credited with materially impacting the course of the Pacific campaign, and he received
the Presidential Unit Citation.
Williamson also held the Legion
of Merit for Combat and the Silver Star Medal for Combat in the Pacific Area. While serving as an instructor in the Anti-Submarine
Warfare and Seamanship in the Subchaser Training Center in Miami, he developed a man overboard recovery procedure that was
later named the "Williamson Turn," which is still used in the U.S. Navy, as well as in other navies and the merchants
marine, and is credited with saving countless lives at sea.
his military service, Williamson returned to Birmingham and worked as a car salesman with Don Drennen and later as a district
manager with General Motors. Williamson became prominent in American automotive affairs through his consulting and training
activities, which developed into a life long mission of developing businesses based on finding and filling customers' needs
with high levels of professionalism and integrity. These activities led to the creation of several allied business firms,
including his career-long core consulting firm, John Williamson & Associates, later known as Williamson, Merrill, Taylor,
& Darling and then Vantage Associates. He was founder and chairman of Key-Royal Automotive, whose mission was to increase
professionalism in the automobile business and to increase success of automobile retailers. Key-Royal sought to attract bright
young people into the retail automobile field, teach them the business, and help them to become independent dealers. Key-Royal
grew to over 25 retail dealerships throughout the United States and operated a training arm that worked with automobile manufacturers
and dealers around the world. Williamson was also a founder of Birmingham-based CARS Inc., which was an early pioneer in the
integration of computers and technology in the automotive business. CARS eventually became publicly-traded DYATRON which later
merged into SunGard Data Systems, a specialty company in the operations of computers and computing systems with products utilized
in the automobile, banking, personnel, brokerage and mortgage banking industries. John Williamson founded each of these firms
and served each as perpetual advocate, board member and, from time-to-time, chairman.
John Williamson received the National Freedom Foundation Award for his open address to Congress, "After 200
Years, A Citizen Speaks to Congress," published July 4, 1976.
1999 he was presented the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest medal that can be bestowed
on a civilian. Williamson is well known in the Defense Department establishment and has lectured military students on numerous
occasions, including at the War College. He served on the boards of numerous defense-related organizations. Williamson also
was extremely active in religious and civic affairs, serving on and often chairing the boards of numerous organizations. It
was once said that he was such a prolific and determined fundraiser for charity that people would hide behind a tree when
they saw him coming down the street. In addition to his business career, he tirelessly sought to help others, both directly
and through charitable and civic endeavors, devoting particular attention to the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Boy Scouts, IMPACT
Family Counseling, Re-Entry and KAIROS prison ministries and the Rotary Club.
"The Key Royal Automotive Group launched so many careers in our industry. I am proud to say I got my start with
Royal Oldsmobile so many years ago." - Rick Wise