3 Immediate Benefits to Cross-Training Sales and F&I
Cross-training in dealerships has never been historically accepted. Each department is siloed into their own unique space for their unique job requirements. Sales only knows how to sell cars, parts personnel only know how to sell parts and so on.
Come to think of it, most industries do the same. One job, one way to be trained for it.
But there are two departments that are equally dependent on each other for their success at dealerships and the argument could be made (as it will here…hint-hint) that the opportunity for cross-training between them is critical now more than ever.
Sales and F&I…BFF’s?
Ok, well maybe that’s a stretch but maybe not. Why can’t sales and F&I be more than adversaries on either side of a deal?
They don’t have to. And one of the best ways to prevent that from happening starts with each department having a deeper understanding of what the other has to deal with on every transaction and the frustrations that come with it.
As in any job, having the insight into what another has to do to be successful in their own position can be made easier by actually seeing what the other does each day….walking a mile in their shoes.
In a perfect world, sales and F&I should be working in concert with each other. The interdependency is highlighted by what each has to do to bring the buyer from the lot, to the sales desk, to the F&I office, and over the curb. You can’t do one without the involvement of the other.
Unfortunately, the decades have not been kind to this relationship. Sales feels like F&I is out to make every deal more difficult to get approved and F&I complains about either missing docs or unrealistic expectations shared on the sales floor. It’s a never-ending cycle that often will be evident to the buyers themselves watching the obvious tension.
How Cross-Training Sales and F&I Will Help…
- Empathy - Having sales people and F&I learn how the other must work each day fosters more empathy right from the start. Each may have little idea how frustrating the other’s day can be. When any of us sees life from the other side of our own experience, it gives us a better perspective that we cannot get through strictly looking through our own lens.
A salesperson who now gets to see all the steps in delivering a vehicle that are controlled by regulatory compliance may not be so quick to complain the next time a deal takes longer to come out of F&I due to a more complex set of circumstances.
Likewise, the F&I manager who gets aggravated with salespeople quoting payment or VSC estimated costs can see that sometimes a difficult buyer might need more information before being willing to move through with the sale. Point is…both jobs have unique stressors and if each are trained in the other, they come with a more informed perspective.
- Better Deals from the Start - Every dealership wants better deals coming from the floor to the F&I office. Airtight deals with all docs and proper financing expectations make for more profit all the way around. If Sales and F&I are cross-trained, it will be easier for those deals to come in the right way first and always be set up for solid PVR.
If Sales understands how F&I products/presentation works, how they must be sold, and the delicate balance in managing the buyer’s payment wishes with the reality behind credit and solid approvals, a better deal is constructed with those products in mind.
Conversely, F&I can be trained in how the sales flow goes from the lot/call-in to the walk around/test drive, through to the price negotiation and competitive nature of simply keeping them on the lot and not going to another dealer in town. It’s no easier now with the lower inventory issues.
Seeing things from the other side makes it easier for sales and F&I to work together for more profitable deals and an easier buyer experience moving from one step to the other.
- Makes Hiring a Breeze - Cross-training the sales and F&I staff has another benefit that may not be so obvious. It helps make it easier to hire from within. You can more easily identify staff that can make the jump from sales to F&I if they successfully completed a cross-training program. They are ready to take that next logical step and their learning curve is greatly improved.
You could also have an F&I manager who wants to transition to sales for better hours and a more dynamic day working with new customers and being out on the lot. Now that transition is easier as they, too, know all that goes into selling a car from beginning to end.
Cross-training here can help HR better prioritize in-house candidates first before looking for outside hires. It’s always better to promote from within for both morale and a more consistent customer experience overall.
In light of the latest moves from the FTC regarding F&I products and what is or is not looked at as a ‘beneficial’ product to sell, dealerships may have to polish their sales skills a bit to make sure customers see the value in every ancillary product you offer.
When times are good as they are now in the market, this is the best time for F&I directors to take the pulse of the department