Hi, everybody. It’s Amy and Shirley here from Think Creative.
And we’re here today with Chris from Flagstaff Buick GMC. He’s the F&I manager here. Welcome.
Hello, everyone. Thank you.
Thanks for joining us today. So first of all, let’s start. What is an F&I manager?
So I’m basically the backstop of the dealership. Whenever a customer comes in– basically, you pick out your perfect vehicle, you and your salesman negotiate your terms, then the deal comes to me. And that’s when I just verify everything, make sure everything’s correct for the bank, make sure everything is correct on our end. Again, just the backstop. Make sure everything’s good and ready to go.
So pretty much your job is to ensure that whoever’s financing their vehicle or paying cash that you ensure that the deal is being done. You help them get finance. You help them protect their vehicle. And you’re pretty much the backstop for making sure that everything is solidified, correct?
Correct. Absolutely. Yes.
Nice job. So tell us a little bit about yourself personally. And how you kind of got started in this whole industry?
So I’ve been in the car business basically since I turned 18. I worked for a company by the name of Oil Can Henry’s as a lube technician. I made a decision very early in my life that I did not want to turn wrenches. But I also made a decision that the car business was for me. And in order to move up in the car business, you have to know how everything works from service to sales to finance, all general daily stuff. So I spent, actually, three years in the service department – service advisor, service manager, parts manager – then made the move to sales. And have just worked my way up since.
That’s excellent. You said you made an early decision that you wanted to be in the car industry. What about the car industry–
–appeals to you? Yeah.
So when I left Oil Can Henry’s– I was an area manager for Oil Can Henry’s. I had five stores at 18 years old. And–
Wow, that’s very impressing.
Thank you I appreciate it. Basically what happened is Mr. Lamb called me. He owns a dealership in Prescott, which is where I’m from. And he said, “I’m opening a new– I’m opening a new store with an independent lube shop. I’d like for you to come run it for me.” So I went to work for him. And I spent the next two years running his lube shop for him. And basically, just looking at the sales guys and becoming friends with them. And learning about the other side of the business is what made me decide that that’s where I want to go, that’s where I want to be.
How’d you do over on the sales side? Because you said that you were selling cars, correct?
Yep. I sold cars for approximately four years before I moved into management. I was never a lead-the-board guy. I was always a standard 12 to 15 cars a month. It just–
That’s impressive. Standard 12 to 15 a month, that’s good.
Yeah. It made for a good living. And basically, they came to me one day and said, “Hey, we need you to fill in in finance. Do you think you could do it?” And I said, “Yes. Of course.” I fumbled through it for about a month and then never looked back.
Did you go through financial– as far as go to school for it? Accounting? Is that something that– when you say finance, is that something that you had to go to school for?
I’ve been to a lot of different trainings. I’m a firm believer that the day you stop learning is the day it’s time to move on.
Wow. I love that.
–I learned something new every day whether it’s from a brand new green car salesman or from a customer or something I see online. So lots and lots of training. But lots of hands-on training. I’m a very fast learner. I’m very, very good with people. I can take a customer who’s so mad that their head’s ready to pop and completely turn them around and just make them happy.
Wow. That’s great. That’s good service.
Oh, wow. And sure it’s probably your experience over at the service department having to deal with the customer as well as on the sale side. So you probably implemented over on the finance side, correct?
Absolutely. Yes. Yeah. A lot of implementation of just again, basically, taking care of people. Nobody likes to go buy a car. It’s become a very negative type thing whereas it should be a very positive thing.
Right. Right. Just exciting.
It should be exciting for people. So I just try to implement that excitement with folks. And just try to make it as easy and seamless as possible.
So do you–
I love that.
–probably implement that at Flagstaff Buick GMC insists with the customers here while they– after where they’re buying the vehicle and you help them make this seamlessly, correct?
Absolutely. Yes. One of the reasons that I came to work for Flagstaff Buick GMC is Trampus and Mr. Martin – the owners of this auto group – wonderful, wonderful people. They take very good care of us. And they care about how their customers are treated which is – I’m sad to say – kind of a rare thing in the car business. They really care about people, and integrity is very important at Flagstaff Buick GMC. I actually still live in Prescott and commute here every day. So I commute 200 miles a day to come to work here.
Every day? Wow.
Every day. Yeah. And I love it. I mean I wouldn’t–
It’s worth it.
Yeah, it’s worth it. I would not want to be anywhere else. Flagstaff Buick GMC is my home. And I just love it.
Right. And then I’m sure that the community knows who you are. You’ve been here for a very long time. So integrity, honesty is definitely the key.
So what does a regular day look like for you? What is your day-to-day duties? What does that look like?
So again, one of the things I really love about being in finance is I have days where I will literally do absolutely nothing [laughter]. But I also have days that are–
That’s funny. That’s good. [inaudible].
But I also have days, most of my days, that are very, very intense from the time I hit the door to the time I leave. I typically get here about 7:00 in the morning, and I typically don’t leave until 8, 9 o’clock at night. Again, as the backstop, you have to make sure everything’s right. Everything has to match.
Do you do the paperwork back here? Is that what you do?
Absolutely. Yes. Yeah. I do all the paperwork.
I’m the guy that is going to go over protecting your investment, GAP insurance, service contracts. All of those kind of things I go over and explain what they are, the benefits of them. And process all the paperwork. Sign all the legal documents, federal and state legal documents. And finalize everything. When you come into my office, you’re in here for half hour probably on average. And as a customer I would think, “Oh, well, he’s all done.” That is not the case. My job actually starts when the customer leaves my office. At that point, it’s breaking down the deal, putting together the bank paperwork, my title paperwork, the office paperwork. Breaking all of that down. Making sure everything’s right. And getting all of that to the appropriate places. And then if there’s any kind of stipulations that the bank wants, of course, I’m spending time chasing that and getting that stuff into them so that we can get funded and your loan actually goes through.
Wow. So your job is pretty important job, for sure.
I like to think so. Yeah.
Because if it wasn’t for you then you wouldn’t be– help the customers get their vehicle pretty much.
Get them funded and insured to– and to make sure their investment– whatever they’re investing in.
So what can a customer do if they’re coming in to buy a vehicle? What can they do to prepare for the whole process?
Obviously, most everyone out there has the internet at this point. Do your research. Go online, find the vehicle that you want. If it’s multiple vehicles, great, come in. We’re happy to assist and do side by side comparisons. Things like that. For me, there’s nothing better than an educated customer. Someone that kind of has an idea, this is what they want, this is where they want to go, this is what they’re willing to do. If I can give anybody any piece of advice, just do your research. Do your homework.
That’s a rarity to hear– employees in the car industry to tell you– tend to reverse and say to do your research. That’s definitely different.
It is. And again, it comes back to honesty and integrity. We’re not here to get over on anyone. We’re all here to make a living. We’re all here to put food on the table. I have a family to feed as do 90% of my employees here. And the customers do as well. And so at the end of the day, it’s our job to make sure they get a fair deal, a good deal, and that they’re well taken care of throughout their buying and owning process. I always tell my guys– whenever I’m doing training with my salespeople, I always– one of my big things is it’s not about selling the customer a car today. It’s about selling the customer the car today but also selling their friends and their parents and their neighbors and their kids. and taking care of all of them and making sure that it’s all– throughout the whole ownership process that they are taken care of [inaudible].
Right. It’s not just a car deal. You just want to make sure you take care of their friends and family.
Absolutely. And them in the future.
And the future.
Now you did mention a GAP, you said, correct?
Right. GAP insurance.
What is that?
Okay. So GAP insurance is basically– most folks when they purchase a vehicle– if they’re not putting down a cash down payment. So they’re going to finance not only the vehicle but they’re going to finance the tax title and license, the doc fee, all of that stuff, okay? So your vehicle has what’s called an ACV, an actual cash value to the vehicle. And if you were to, say, get in an accident your insurance company is only going to cover the actual cash value of the vehicle. So let’s say, for example, you owe $20,000 on your vehicle and your vehicle gets totaled. Then your insurance company comes in and says, “Well, the actual cash value of your vehicle is 15,000. So we’re going to pay the bank 15,000 and you have to come out-of-pocket not only your deductible but the other $5,000.”
What if you just bought the car?
Again, if you’re financing more than 70%– my rule of thumb. If you’re financing more than 70% loan to value, you need GAP insurance. And basically, what GAP insurance at that point does, they come in and they would pay that difference plus your insurance deductible. So you walk away free and clear.
So they pay the extra $5,000 plus the deductible?
Plus, the deductible. Absolutely.
And that’s with the GAP insurance?
That’s what GAP insurance does, yes. And I mean–
Oh my gosh. Is this something expensive? Is it something that’s more feasible for the consumers?
It’s very affordable for what you get. Most insurance companies do offer GAP on top of their regular insurance. However, I’m a firm believer that’s a huge conflict of interest. At the end of the day, the insurance company’s going to do whatever benefits them. But it’s very, very affordable. We could put it right into your monthly payment. Typically–
So that you won’t feel it as much.
You don’t feel it as much, correct. Typically, you’re looking at 10 to 12 dollars a month that it would add to your monthly payment.
Then opposed to $5,000 or $10,000.
And a lot of peace of mind.
Correct. Yeah. It’s all peace of mind. We also sell vehicle service contracts. Obviously, if you buy a new vehicle it does have a, for the most part, a three year 36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, which means you’re covered that three years 36,000 miles. However, what happens after that? Manufacturers are very, very smart and that’s why they put a three year 36,000 mile warranty on these cars. Because typically, you’re not going to have any issue in that amount of time or miles. It’s what happens after. With a vehicle service contract, it’s protecting your investment. If you take a five- or six-year loan on a vehicle you’re only going to be under warranty for three years. It’s worth it to protect your investment. The other side of that is, let’s just say you trade the vehicle in in two years or three years, it’s a cancelable product. So you don’t lose out on that money. That money comes back to you, so.
What do you get with the service contract?
So depending on the service contract– so, for example, I’ll use General Motors’ protection plan. It literally mirrors their bumper to bumper warranty. And I can take that out up to 84 months and 100,000 miles. So you have 100% peace of mind for 100,000 miles on your vehicle.
So depending on the service contract or the service protection, you take your car into the service and depending on the situation of the vehicle, would it be protected? Is there a deductible?
So there’s different deductibles. You can opt for a $0 deductible. You can opt for a vanishing deductible or a disappearing deductible. If I sold you the service contract out of this store and you came back to Flagstaff Buick GMC service department, it would be a $0 deductible. So whatever was wrong, $10 repair, $10,000 repair, it costs you $0.
A $10,000 repair cost you $0?
Absolutely. Cost you $0.
And for a service contract is that something that’s expensive? Do they have to pay money upfront when they purchase a car?
It can be. I mean, again, it’s based– it’s really based off of what vehicle you purchase. Is it expensive? I guess that’s a matter of opinion and how you look at it. I’ve worked in the dealership my whole adult life and I put a service contract on every vehicle I buy. I have technicians in the back that put service contracts on every vehicle they buy. And even if they pull it into the shop and they’re the one personally working on it– parts alone these days are so expensive.
Yeah. Very true.
A regular key fob could be 2, 3 hundred dollars.
Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.
So parts and service, it can be costly. And I would think that to get the protection and return on investment, I would possibly look into doing a service contract.
Absolutely. Yeah. As I said, I highly recommend it to everyone that comes in at least a service contract and GAP insurance. Unless you’re under 70% on the value. And like I said, integrity at Flagstaff Buick GMC is huge to us. I’m never going to offer someone a product that they don’t need.
Well, of course.
It won’t be beneficial.
You are the face here. The back end of it. And of course, integrity and honesty needs to be there.
So thank you very much for everything you shared with us today. So wrapping up – you kind of touched on this just now – but why should customers come to Flagstaff Buick GMC?
Customers should come to Flagstaff Buick GMC because it is our number one goal to take care of your needs. Again, we’re not here to sell you anything. We’re here to take care of what you need and make sure you have a great ownership experience. Again, we’re here for the customer.
Nice. Thank you.
That’s fantastic. Thanks so much for your time today, Chris.
Thank you, girls. Have a good day.