by Alistair Jeff

Another one of those ‘intrigued by the title’ NADA 2022 workshops. I went into this one interested by the potential for Business Managers to be promoting service plans and warranties; this was not the message.

Presenter Joe St. John, SVP of Business Development for StoneEagle, which is a performance building business focused upon the role of metrics and processes, took us on a very different route. At the heart of it was, naturally enough, processes and metrics! What was intriguing was how Joe outlined that what has worked in F&I can work in aftersales.

Over the past thirty years, Joe outlined that the role of F&I has evolved, leading to a continual rise in F&I profitability for dealers. At the heart of F&I’s success has been several key factors, including;

  • Convenience for the customer
  • Secures the sale for the dealer
  • Secure sales department profit
  • Customer retention
  • Cash flow
  • Compliance

Broadly, I would say these factors carry over into the UK, albeit, in light of increasing regulatory focus, I would add Creating Good Customer Outcomes at the top of the list.

To drive performance, Joe identified three critical factors;

  1. Talent development
  2. Process execution
  3. Data-driven accountability

Again to these, I would add; being led by the customers’ needs. I appreciate that this may be covered by process, but I don’t think I can stress enough how vital a customer-centric culture is to success.

While the catchy use of ‘F&I secrets’ in the workshop title was great for grabbing peoples’ attention, what we were really seeing was the importance of rigorous processes, controls and training. This is not to understate Joe’s message, the same principles that drove success in F&I could be applied to enhancing service profit. As he put it;

“When it comes to building dealer profits, there’s no more effective method to leverage as you stay ahead of the new normal of the retail automotive industry.”

To summarise Joe’s key message;

By combining well-trained talent to promote aftersales through a consistent process that places the customer’s needs at its heart and supporting this with data-driven accountability, aftersales can replicate the success of F&I.

I have to agree with most of this, adding the roles of business leadership, the importance of leveraging technology to automate processes wherever possible and the inclusion of metrics that drive positive behaviour and results.

But back to my initial expectation, I still believe that there is a greater role for point of sale and online promotion of aftersales products and services!