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  1. Analysis
January 1, 2009

Andy Tong: At the sharp end

Being an independent training company has its advantages and disadvantages compared with other training providers, owned by banks, finance houses and vehicle manufacturers.

By Verdict Staff

Acting on what you know

Being an independent training company has its advantages and disadvantages compared with other training providers, owned by banks, finance houses and vehicle manufacturers. The disadvantages are very clear. There are no guarantees as to where your next deal, job or client is coming from, and you have no captive audience compelled to use you.

One advantage, however, is the ability to offer unbiased recommendations without evasion or reservation of any kind. We can guarantee our dealer clients that any recommendations made or advice given is delivered without any politics or third-party agenda.

We aim to improve their business’s profitability, and to ensure that everybody in their sales function has a clear understanding of the business’s objectives, aims and aspirations. We tend to summarise this process with two important key words: ‘confident competence’.

Way too many trainers deliver training courses to dealer delegates which only transfer knowledge. The vast majority of these training providers are manufacturer or finance-house linked – for example, a manufacturer running a training course on a particular model, or a dealer group buying half a dozen CD-ROMs to ensure that staff have provable technical competence within the guidelines of the FSA to sell general insurance products.

The section that is missing from most of these training courses is confidence, and sadly all-too-many delegates leave training courses with new knowledge, skills, or abilities that through a lack of confidence they will never use, and thus never profit from.

Proactive F&I sales

It is no coincidence that the dealerships or dealer groups that are most profitable have a clear focus on delivering professional, independent training to their selling teams, ensuring that all delegates that attend regular training programmes are confidently competent in the areas in which they are expected to sell.

We have recently worked with dealers whose staff know their stuff, but lacking confidence, they take no action, and they just aren’t sharing what they learned with customers. The impact on the business’s F&I profitability is clear to see. What’s important is to enthuse, energise and encourage the sales teams to use their knowledge to sell products, and improve F&I income for themselves and their employers.

I remember when I first came into the motor industry, and F&I profits were often considered to be the icing on the cake – but we live in a different world now, and this revenue stream is no longer merely an option, but rather a must-have to ensure business viability and business profitability. The inordinate amount of regulation has all but suffocated our traditional add-on revenue streams. But those motor businesses which understand and value professional independent training are enjoying a healthy return, good finance profitability, FSA compliance and happy F&I provider partners.

To summarise, after Christmas dinner this year, we had 16 people who all KNEW how to wash the pots, but only two of us actually ended up doing them. Now, where’s my Marigolds?

The author is director of Profit Training Ltd,

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