Jim Ziegler, an industry veteran, blogger and columnist for Wards and F&I Showroom, believes too many sales managers and F&I personnel don't have the proper training when it comes to the finance department.

Ziegler's Observations

In a recent blog post on WardsAuto, Ziegler estimated that, in his experience, as many as half of the F&I managers working in dealerships have never attended finance and insurance training classes.

Granted, that estimate is based only on his observations, but his experience is plentiful. Ziegler has been working in or with the industry in some capacity since 1986. He's worked with over 15,000 dealerships nationwide, worked in more than 1,000 showrooms in 49 states, and has been teaching F&I for 25 years. He's also an in-demand Certified Speaking Professional on dealership issues.

Ziegler believes that F&I professionals need to continuously study the profession because of all of the constant legal changes. As we all know, regulators have always gone after the car business, and the scrutiny has only intensified in recent years.

Yet despite all of the exposure and liability, dealers continue to let their F&I personnel remain untrained and uncertified. Putting aside legal ramifications, your dealership's reputation and profits are also on the line here.

Ziegler's solution is simple: Get serious about your finance department. Have your F&I professionals, and even sales managers, get certified. Make sure that they are trained so that all of your dealership's practices are transparent and upright going forward.

The Case for Getting Certified

Ziegler wonders why dealers spend so much time, money and effort getting customers in the door, but don't want to spend anything to train the F&I people that play such a critical role in the process.

Getting F&I Certified

Getting your F & I professionals certified by the Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals (AFIP) is a great way to set your dealership apart. AFIP is the sanctioning body for the F&I trade that sets the standard for technical competence and ethical conduct in the field.

The benefits of doing so speak for themselves:

  • F&I Professionals will be taught all of the state and federal laws associated with the F&I profession, as well as best practices and industry-specific ethical considerations.
  • Dealers will have the peace of mind of knowing that their F&I professionals have the resources necessary to meet all regulations and performance thresholds.
  • Consumers will see the AFIP Certified F&I Professional logo on your F&I manager's office wall, desk and/or business card. That should help put them at ease knowing that they are in the hands of a trained professional that will be ethical and knowledgeable throughout the process.
  • Lenders will be pleased to learn that your F&I professionals have the education necessary to perform their duties ethically and legally.

AFIP Certification will require hard work, those who decide to get certified will have to study, and it will cost a little bit of money. But all of that is going to pay off when the diploma comes and your dealership, its customers and your lending partners know that your F&I is in better hands.

You can learn more about getting certified at the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals' website, where they even have a step-by-step guide to certification.

Further Bolstering Your Finance Department

You can never understate how valuable a highly-functional F&I department can be to a dealership. Not only will they contribute to the bottom line, but they will greatly improve your customer's car-buying experience. But a finance department is missing out if it isn't working with subprime consumers.

Auto Credit Express generates more qualified, fresh special finance leads than anybody else in the U.S. or Canada. Hundreds of customers are waiting for you, as are a number of other great dealer products and services to help your special finance department. Learn more by giving us a call at 888-535-2277 now, or fill out and submit our contact form online.