What comes naturally can be taught, to some extent.

Dealership F&I managers who “respond out of instinct to a situation” sell more aftermarket products, says Mark Watson, the finance director for the 9-store Van Horn Automotive Group based in Wisconsin.

And although being fast on one’s feet comes more naturally to some people than to others, it is teachable. Watson drills his F&I staff with talking points, so they become almost rote.

“When people have this direction, they’re more positive and energetic, and better prepared to respond positively and proactively to customer objections and other situations that can arise,” he says.

He’s a big believer in word tracks that essentially are scripts of what to say to customers in particular situations. “We drill them until it is overkill and then drill our word tracks again. Being influential and confident is necessary, but you have to know word tracks if you want to be prepared to handle the things that can come up in F&I.”

He shares other tips:

  • Be the best person and best F&I manager you can be, every day. Be yourself, as well as humble, energetic and enthusiastic. “This takes discipline to show up to work at 100% like this, but it inspires others, your customers included.”
  • Share victories. “Recognize those who contribute to your success – let them know the impact they had in that transaction, how their help made your week. “Teammates help you achieve more. That is a guiding principle I share with everyone starting out in this role.”