As we know, the F&I office is an important profit center in a dealership. According to Payscale, the average auto finance manager salary is about $69,000 a year, which is a significant operational expense for small to mid-size dealerships. Considering this investment, it’s imperative that candidates have a thorough understanding of the modern sales process, vehicle financing, auto insurance, and F&I products. If you are about to begin your search, it’s time to change up your recruiting and hiring process. We have a few pointers for you to increase the likelihood of finding the right fit.
Relevant, current knowledge of the online to in-store sales process
F&I manager candidates need to be intimately familiar with the entire vehicle purchasing process. They should be able to explain the buyer’s journey, from online research methods to in-store behaviors and motivators - and how F&I fits into the journey before they enter the F&I office.
Understanding what makes customers happy
In addition to the car buyer journey and F&I product knowledge, candidates should have a knack for reading people. Your auto finance manager should know buyer personas and be able to pick up on body language, attitude, and tone. The ideal candidate will adjust and respond accordingly to build trust quickly - ensuring buyer comfort and a product purchase the buyer feels good about at the end of the F&I process. In fact, creating a “test” situation with a dealership employee as part of the interview process is a great way to see your candidate in action.
Strong adherence to ethics
Auto finance managers don’t just handle products and paperwork. They are also the liaison between the customer and the vehicle financing company. Hiring someone who will cut corners or misrepresent a customer’s options to make a few extra bucks can put your dealership’s reputation at risk, as well as lead to potential lawsuits. Two ways to uncover unethical behavior include reading the candidates online buyer reviews, as well as asking previous employer references for information regarding ethical behavior.
Above all else, the person you hire as your auto finance manager should be a good cultural fit for your dealership. Consider how they will integrate and collaborate with your existing team. One way to approach this is to have your candidate sit with a few of your top salespeople and service department technicians to observe communication skills and rapport.
It may not be easy to find an F&I manager with all of these qualifications right away, but by taking your time with the hiring process and assembling a more modern interview process, you will ultimately improve your dealership’s overall sales and car buyer experience - and at the end of the day - increase your F&I profit center.