BMO hosts national F&I conference


By Daniel Moher

Business office managers should look at F&I not as a sale but rather an opportunity to inform the customer on the ins and outs of what they want to know about the vehicle they’ve purchased.

So said George Angus to the collection of hundreds of dealers and business office managers at BMO Bank of Montreal’s first national F&I conference.

Angus, from TeamOne Research and Training, was a keynote speaker at the event centred in Toronto’s BMO Institute for Learning, but broadcast nationally through video web-conferencing technology on May 19th.

“If the right social conducts are employed at the right times, the customer may buy more than initially expected, and do so in a more content mindset without feeling as though they’ve been taken advantage of,” he told the national audience.

Broadcast in 13 host locations throughout Canada, over 300 F&I business managers had the opportunity to engage with and learn from some of the most influential people in the auto finance industry.

Mark Moffatt, BMO senior sales manager of Retail Dealer Finance, noted the importance of such a gathering calling BMO’s lunch and learn one of the first of its kind in the auto finance industry. Web-conferencing technology allowed speakers to be projected on-screen in every province along with any supporting information they had in their presentation, such as PowerPoint slides.

Raymond O’Kane, national director of Retail Dealer Finance at BMO noted that expanding dealer knowledge, and stressing the importance of a streamlined F&I process were the orders of the day.

“Knowing the right techniques with respect to dealing with customers is essential to F&I managers and to dealerships as a whole,” he said. “If a buyer is satisfied with the way they’ve been treated by an F&I manager, it will often mean that they are happy with the way they’ve been financed. Information of this sort is very relevant in helping dealers improve their businesses and allows them to succeed by retaining customers that like and trust the F&I representatives of that given dealership.”

Angus spoke about helping F&I managers close more deals and described the negative connotations associated with the “salesmen’s mentality.”

Customers have become progressively critical of what business managers have to offer when they are trying to finance a car, he said. The integration of disclosure and honesty as key concepts will help the customer feel at ease in an “always-be-closing” environment.

He stressed the implementation of such principles as a way to melt away the tension that the car-buyer and F&I manager have when they are trying to finance the car.

“The automatic response to you being sold something is ‘no,’ so being open and honest with the customer goes a lot further than any sales pitch.”

BMO RDF, which was recently named the number one bank in the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Dealer Satisfaction Survey, said it is imperative that financial institutions come up with new ways to appeal to their dealers besides just offering standard banking services, competitive rates and dedicated sales teams. O’Kane emphasized BMO’s commitment to continually putting the customer (the dealer) at the center of everything BMO does in the industry.

“The communication of knowledge to dealers can easily contribute to the strengthening of dealer-funder relationships, and establish a feeling of trust between both parties,” the company said.

“BMO sees the value in helping their dealers succeed, and in doing so, they can assist them in turning their potential into performance.”