U.S. automobile dealerships are composed of many different departments, including new and used car sales, service and financing. In order to attract as many customers as possible, most automobile dealers offer to procure or provide financing for their customers. At an automobile dealership, the job of helping customers with their automotive financing needs belongs to its finance manager. At most auto dealerships, finance managers are also known as F&I or finance and insurance managers, and average salaries run from $63,000 to $94,000 annually.
Finance Manager Role
In the automobile dealer industry, customers walking out of showrooms empty-handed are frequently lost to competitor dealers. By being able to not only sell a customer a vehicle but also provide immediate financing options an auto dealer keeps that customer in-house. The job of an automobile dealer's finance manager is to provide financing options germane to each customer's particular situation. Automotive finance managers must be able to quickly and efficiently match up individual customers' credit and payment needs with available financing programs.
Finance Manager Responsibilities
Automotive finance managers are responsible for the performance of their dealerships' in-house financing operations, including building relationships with lenders. Generally, franchise dealerships are best equipped to offer the financing programs of their manufacturers' captive financing arms, but they must also offer several alternatives. Many new and used vehicle buyers may not be able to qualify for manufacturer financing or may need special financing. An automotive finance manager must be able to build solid long-term relationships with many lending institutions to benefit his dealership's customers.
Training Sales Staff
An automotive finance manager must be able to work with a dealership's sales staff to ensure all new sales are referred to the manager for financing options. Good automotive finance managers consistently provide dealership salespeople with up-to-date information on finance and lease programs, for one. Automotive finance managers also regularly meet with dealership sales staff to update them on dealer-specific extended service programs. Additionally, automotive finance managers help train sales staff to consistently convey to their customers the benefits of dealership financing services.
Finance Manager Skills
Like all other departments at an automobile dealership, automotive finance departments must meet dealership performance goals and adequately control expenses. The profitability of an automobile dealership's finance department is important, along with maintaining a quality customer service experience for the dealer's customers. Automotive finance managers must possess strong communications skills to work with dealer customers, employees and financing and insurance vendors. As an automotive finance manager, you also must be able to keep abreast of federal, state and local automotive financing laws and regulations.
Automotive sales are high-paced and high-pressure environments, partly because employee compensation frequently depends on sales commissions. Most managers, sales and service staff in the automotive retail industry work extended hours, evenings and weekends to achieve sales and service goals. Most automotive finance managers must have at least two years' worth of automotive sales experience plus a year in a dealership management position. Contemporary automotive finance managers frequently possess four-year finance degrees or their equivalent, with compensation greatly dependent on sales performance and customer satisfaction.
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Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.