Excuses Are Like?

Many of the big money, big publicity compliance meltdowns in the auto industry have been the result of vehicle financing issues. Remember the Gunderson Chevrolet news clips showing the management team being convicted and sent to jail? Being a fearless bunch, some F&I folks still walk a fine line when it comes to compliance. Maybe it’s because no one ever showed them a better way?

Becky Chernek of Chernek Consulting, Inc., who is one of the finest F&I trainers in the industry, was kind enough to share some feedback that she received from F&I managers when discussing ethical sales practices in her seminars.

“Never happened before, not going to now.”
“Just a bunch of hype for car dealers to buy into.”
“We love Becky, but don’t pay too much attention to the regulations; she will get to the meat & potatoes.”
“Yeah, the minute we implement that policy you might as well shut our doors.”
“I know you learned it this way…but this is the right way to do it if you want to make some money.”
“Payment packing is legal if you tell the customer afterwards what products they bought.”
“I just tell the customer that the payment to include the service contract is only $ 5.00 difference.”
“Consistent pricing? What about the nonprime customers?”
“What do you mean you can’t backdate a contract, we do it all the time.”
“So what if we give the customer a raise? That’s just how we do it here.”
“We always use in-house rebates – how else do you a get loan bought.”
“Hey, we sell cars here… its up to finance to get them bought… YoYo deals? 50% of our business is that way.”
“No way am I telling the bank this customer is $ 5000 upside down. Itemize what?”
“Base payment is loaded, that’s just how we do it here.”
“I love the idea of getting the customer in the “yes” mode but let’s not do that with confirming the true buying numbers that will only confuse them more.”
“The interview that is just a waste of time and it doesn’t serve any purpose… slows me down.”
“When we cancel a policy I don’t have to give the customer back the profit just the cost?”

Becky went on to say, “Transparent selling is easy… reduces charge backs, keeps the money on the books and a customer coming back for life…what’s so darn hard to understand?”

That’s a great point Becky makes. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned principles like salesmanship and value-building? Do you really think dishonesty is the only way to make a sale?

I was fortunate enough to attend a great seminar given by Jim Ziegler a few years back where he taught ethical F&I selling. To be quite honest, at first I was taken aback. Most of the previous F&I training I was exposed to was the “old school” variety. (Of course, I use the word “training” loosely – most of it was “tribal knowledge” from the old-timers). Jim Z, in his inimitable fashion, taught us how to produce big numbers while doing things the right way. No excuses, just salesmanship. And guess what? It works.

Okay, here’s the part where I piss some people off…

If you feel that you need some help becoming a better, more honest F&I practitioner, I recommend that you contact Becky, Jim or one of the other fine F&I trainers out there. But if, on the other hand, you feel that you need to operate unethically and buy into the lame excuses listed above, maybe you’re in the wrong business. Think about it…