As a finance and insurance person, are you an asset or a liability to the dealership sales staff?

It is easy for you to become a liability that they don't want to deal with — and don't want their customers dealing with either.

But if you make the effort, it's not that difficult to become an asset, wherein everyone wins: you, the sales people, the customer and the dealership.

Life in the finance office can be lonely, especially when times get slow.

It's easy to forget about the sales staff struggling to put deals together.

This can also lead you to feel insensitive to the plight of other staffers. When that happens, it is a train wreck leaving the station.

The less approachable you become, the less likely a salesperson will give you a quality turnover.

There are some sales people who also lose sight of their job responsibility and display contempt towards you. There are steps you can take to deal with this, including informing their managers.

But ultimately you control your attitude and reaction to these types. Whether we like to admit it, much of our success depends on working with them.

Like many of you, I've done my share of shouting and screaming at sales people. That not only made the situation worse, it created ill will for days or weeks. While more mature sales people can endure bad behavior like this, it isn't a motivator, especially to novices.

Sales people often are emotional when dealing with their customers, as though they have personal ownership to the point of protecting them from the big, bad F&I guy.

Don't be that guy. Be professional; the type of person you would want to deal with if you were the customer.

“Our sales staff just doesn't get it. Customers are always walking in with checks without a proper turnover.”

I hear this occasionally from other F&I managers. I've said it myself. It must be remembered that sales people don't readily care about your penetration ratios or your pay plan.

In most cases, they don't care if the customer buys a vehicle service contract. They may think you will irk the customer by even offering one. So they let the situation get out of control.

The truth is, they're just trying to get another car over the curb to feed their families, and if it happens to be a cash sale, then so be it.

Stay close to your sales managers to know what's going on. Read the “up” log. Ask to be involved in the sale early on. Sit in at the desk from time to time.

If you work at a store that has a split location like mine, hike across the street to pay frequent visits. Be visible. It might pay off for you.

Moreover, become an asset to the sales staff so they're comfortable with you. Don't become a liability whom they begrudge and try to avoid.

Marv Eleazer has served in many positions, most notably finance manager and director, during 30 years in auto retailing. He is with Langdale Ford in Valdosta GA. Contact him at fordpantera@yahoo.com

Questions or comments about this column? Send us an e-mail at Dealers@wardsauto.com.