September 30, 2020

F&I classrooms changing under COVID-19

Finance and insurance training companies working on getting back in front of dealership employees again say safety is their top concern. To that end, classes won’t look the same as they did before the coronavirus pandemic.

F&I product and training company EFG Cos. resumed dealership visits last week and expects classes at the group’s Dallas training center to be back in session the week of June 15.

No more than six students will attend a class at any given time, according to Eric Fifield, the company’s chief revenue officer.

Students will remain at least 6 feet apart in both classroom and dealership settings. Classes won’t break into one-on-one practice sessions. Handshakes aren’t allowed. Signing ceremonies now include the added step of the F&I professional sterilizing the pen in front of the customer.

Similar practices can be expected at JM&A Group dealership training sessions, which are slated to resume next week. Chris May, director of JM&A’s Performance Development Center, said the safety measures imposed in the classes aren’t negotiable. The company’s training center in Deerfield Beach, Fla., remains closed.

“It’s a great reminder to the F&I managers that these adjustments are preparing them for the world they’re re-entering,” May said. “They’re not gonna be able to control a customers’ willingness to sit with them in an office.”

Many F&I principles remain the same, yet trainers recognize the need to focus on topics timely to the pandemic. In addition to physical changes, some of the content covered in F&I training sessions is changing, Fifield said.

“We’re spending more time on the digital process; we’re spending more time on the nontouch delivery process. We used to touch on those techniques before, but it’s become an increasingly prevalent piece,” he said.

Dealerships seeking in-person training should be prepared to follow a variety of safety precautions imposed by the F&I training companies. For those unwilling to travel for face-to-face training, companies offering digital platforms may be an alternative.