Automotive Careers: What It Takes to Move Up the Ladder

by Justin Gasman

F&I is a position in the dealership that provides excellent opportunities, but it is a career that comes with extremely high expectations and demands. In traditional thinking, the lot attendant might aspire to selling cars someday. While the salesman who has either started a while back or is a new hire is already thinking, someday I want to be a sales manager. There is always the desk manager who never worked in F&I and wants to grow. What about the F&I pro who might want the opportunity to run a store and serve in a GM position? And finally, there's the GM who wants to buy in and become a partner or a dealer in the end. 

We are all trying to advance ourselves and our careers, and that is a good thing. And then there are some people who realize they are better at some things than others. This means it's okay to "stay" in sales or "stay in F&I." This is a GOOD thing! I am not trying to discourage anyone from following their dreams or pursuing their goals. I am however, encouraging those who have a passion to learn more about F&I to take a moment and think hard about the requirements and skillsets needed to perform the tasks, execute the responsibilities of that role and perform them at the highest levels of excellence. 

The key to greatness is the business office is twofold. The first is being really proficient with paperwork, filling it out neatly and completely. Having an eye for mistakes while still being able to move quickly is paramount. You have to be the person who sweats the details inherently. This is one of the more important qualities to hone as a strategy in the world of F&I for moving up and getting promoted into a manager position within that department. 

The second skillset you must possess is the ability to gain common ground quickly, establish trust and credibility, and being viewed as authoritative and consultative while not coming across as arrogant or 'salesy'. This is imperative so you can present and gain acceptance of participation for your products and services. Typically, salespeople are either really good at filling out paperwork, but they can't sell or close a deal. Or you can't read their handwriting (when it's present), but they can outsell the whole floor. It is much rarer to find an individual who possesses BOTH qualities and executes at the highest levels. Those are the people, who with the right guidance and proper training and development, can be molded into high revenue producers with great CSI and 5-Star online reviews - the ultimate in "more winning!"

Salespeople who are just selling cars because it's a "job" or they are doing it until something "better" comes along need not apply. Those that fear being rejected and have the inability to move forward definitely can't stomach the life of an F&I professional. You must be a great listener who asks all the right questions and remembers that everyone is a prospect for something we have to offer in order to be excellent in this profession. The appeal of the warm office on a cold day, waiting for salespeople to bring you closed deals, comes at a price. That price is: you have to be the best closer in the store, who can break down a deal, check it for errors, fill in all the blanks, submit and electronically digitize the various components of the deal with all the different portals and logins, and then present the options and contract the deal – quickly, effectively, compliantly, and profitably – all at the same time, while remembering to smile! When you can do this and still keep a positive attitude even when you run into mistakes constantly, you know you might have a chance to make this a career and start your climb! #bing #morewinning #noextrachargeforapositiveattitude


Justin Gasman

Justin grew up in the car business and officially began his automotive industry career in 2003. In 2014, he joined the staff of McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC in Boulder, CO as the dealership’s sole full-time F&I professional. That year, he won first place in F&I and Showroom’s F&Idol contest and helped McCaddon earn F&I Pacesetter status. Justin is AFIP Master-certified and is dedicated to conducting every transaction legally, ethically and professionally.


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