By Drew Singer
A Canadian firm said it has cooked-up a whole new method to train F&I staff without taking them out of the office.
The new web-based training company, autoFIsolutions, looks to spin finance training in a whole new direction with the launch of its online platform. As COO Michael Larwood explained, rather than rely on the limited time and resources of an on-site training seminar, autoFI was designed around the duties of an F&I manager, meaning it seeks to allow users the chance to remain in the office and provide instant access to training during their downtime.
“Why not link everybody together to get access to these great ideas all the time, not just when the training is available?” said Larwood.
He explained that autoFIsolutions works differently than seminar training. Rather than a one-way flow of information, from trainer to trainee, autoFI is centred on discussion and feedback.
Users can choose to browse forum posts like, “Common misunderstandings between Western and Asian culture” or “Solving delivery time Issues.”
He said the site currently boasts over 1,000 forum posts with new ones added every day.
The site also offers users access to a section of modules, what the company termed a “best-of-the-best” section of carefully chosen forum contributions.
After users vote on which posts will become modules, the top-voted posts are reworked as in-depth presentations by the site team. After a module is created, it is easily visible and available to all users on the left sidebar of the website.
“We are trying to get some pitches together for people to use that are a combination of the best information, as decided by their peers,” said Larwood.
So far, he said the extended-warranty module is far and away the most popular. Why? It offers F&I managers a highly tailored word-by-word pitch, specifically detailing how to sell extended warranties to customers, he explained.
Beneath each module users can even offer their own tips on how to further strengthen and improve it. For example, the extended-warranty module has been revised over 27 times due to its popularity.
During a part of the warranty pitch that requires F&I managers to list a series of parts, users are even instructed on how to express themselves. “These parts must sound like you rambled them off the top of your head,” the text reads in brackets.
Interaction and Feedback
Peer-to-peer connections are integral to the website’s strategy.
“For some reason (F&I managers) don’t tend to listen to trainers as much as they listen to each other,” he said.
In response, rather than a traditional top-down information flow, nearly all autoFIsolutions’ content is driven and built by users.
Consequently, users don’t have to take tests or even contribute, although posting is encouraged. It offers a train-at-your-own-pace philosophy, with involvement fully driven by the user.
“An F&I manager can go on, find something they like and use it in a real interaction … If it works, then great. But what if it did not work them? Then they can come back to the community, interact with their peers, and find out why,” he added.
This feedback loop is essential to the autoFIsolutions training method. In contrast with seminars that do not provide any ongoing interaction, he said users can re-evaluate their strategies with other F&I managers and eventually find a technique that works for them.
“I like to think of it as a 24/7 training seminar, everyday of the year.”
The company plans to add sales modules and forums in the future.
Once a dealership has signed up, sales and F&I staff each have access to both platforms.
Access to autoFIsolutions.com will cost dealerships $498 per month for the whole store. Even if a dealership can sell one additional warranty, the service pays for itself, said Larwood.
As of mid-January, the site is home to 37 dealerships with most located in B.C and Regina.
Developed only 18 months ago, the company is looking to grow its dealer network across Canada. If it finds success in Canada, the company also plans to enter the U.S. market.