Merry said it takes “much longer” to train a new employee for the hybrid role compared with a salesperson, and that person isn’t fully developed for about a year. “There’s a lot of mentoring going on,” she said.
But Merry said Continental streamlines the hybrid staffer’s job from the typical combined duties of a salesperson and F&I manager. The hybrid staffer presents the F&I menu, but the sales manager structures the deal financing and a contract specialist prepares the paperwork. The other two positions work behind the scenes; the interaction with the customer remains the purview of the hybrid staffer.
Merry said the dealership tries to reduce for the hybrid team member “the stuff they’re not good at.” Before, she noted that dealerships typically made an F&I manager out of their top salesperson — who “usually doesn’t know squat” about accounting or paperwork.
Continental also stripped down the deal for its hybrid process. Rather than mark up interest rates, it takes a flat payment for arranging loans. The menu was pared down.
Hybrid staffers at RocketTown receive the proceeds of both a sales and an F&I pay plan, Wilke said. She said RocketTown didn’t change the F&I pay plan, while the sales pay plan received some adjustment. However, it continued to pay a flat amount rather than a percentage per vehicle sold, she said.
Merry said Continental restructured its pay plan to accommodate the hybrid format. Its conditions include a flat amount paid to the hybrid staffer for each vehicle and F&I product, and it contains a bonus related to CSI, she said.
A year and a half later, there are still just the three hybrid team members at RocketTown, Wilke said. She said this is preferable from a managerial perspective as well because a traditional sales staffing ratio leaves personnel sitting idle and “you feel like you’re babysitting.”
The exercise has been such a success that Wilke said she might make future new employees hybrid staffers when the industry’s inventory situation improves.
“It works great,” she said.