The Masters, Birdies and F&I

As I write this article, I’m participating in what most golfers would consider the opportunity of a lifetime. I am playing in The Masters.

It was a beautiful, sunny day today. The wind was light, and I was decked out in the latest golf fashions with Ping as my sponsor. I had the best gear money could buy and the attitude to go with it. I just finished my third round, and I am the leader at eight under with an eagle on the first hole today! Pretty impressive, huh?

Let’s talk about how I earned this score. It was not luck. It took a lot of work on different parts of my game. Early on, my coach taught me the importance of tracking the stats of my game so that I would know what to work on. The key indicators that she wanted me to focus on were fairways in regulation (FIR), greens in regulation (GIR), and pars. She said if I could get those stats up, the birdies would come and so would the wins.

She was right, again. I kept a notebook with my FIRs, GIRs and par stats and made sure to write them down on every hole. When I practiced, I concentrated on getting those stats up.

First, I worked on driving the ball down the fairway, but with enough control to land on the short grass consistently. Then, I worked on my short game, and my GIRs improved as I worked to perfect it. Once I was two-putting every green, I began to master the putt, and here I am, one round away from my first green jacket. Only two behind my coach, my 13-year-old daughter.

Yes, this is a Tiger Woods golf game on Playstation 3, but the story and the lesson are still true.

These same lessons can be applied to your F&I performance. If you keep the stats on the different specific components that make up your game, it allows you to focus your practice on the deficiencies and to fine-tune your game. Think of your FIRs as your customer interview. The short game to hit the GIRs is your menu pitch. I consider a deal where we only sold one product a par, an eagle is two or more, and a hole-in-one is a full meal deal with all the products and some reserve. Of course, a bogie is when we as an F&I professional do the paperwork for free.

The first question is, are you keeping up with the stats at all? My caddie is constantly making notes in his little notepad on the specifics of every shot I make, and I can go back and review them after each hole. He makes notes on distances, club choice, conditions, and I think he even writes down what I’m wearing.

Do you keep an up-to-the-minute F&I log with notes on the interview and what you could have done differently to improve your game in retrospect? Do you review that log yourself? Do you review it with someone who can coach you on what they see in your numbers? Are you willing to do the work to track those things? Are you open-minded and willing to accept coaching?

The drive off the tee is the beginning of everybody’s game. Everybody wants to knock the heck out of the ball and put it 300 yards down range, but that doesn’t help if it’s out of bounds when it lands. Your customer interview is your opportunity to set yourself up for an easier approach to the green by getting information out of the customer that makes selling them something easier. Take the time and concentrate when you step up to the customer and consider where you want them to land. Pay attention to the conditions and ask questions accordingly. When you do a customer interview, do you consistently walk away with information that will help you convince them to take advantage of one of your offerings?

Every hole in golf is designed to be a two-putt for par, so reaching the hole with an opportunity for a two-putt par is a GIR. To get there, you have to have a consistently good short game. For us, that’s our menu pitch. It is proven over and over to produce the most consistent positive results. If you are not producing the penetrations you would like on your products, ask yourself these questions: Do you use a menu consistently? Do you use a menu correctly? Do you have a smooth and consistent presentation?

If most golfers could go out and hit a par round consistently, they would be very happy at the end of the day. You should be as well if you can sell at least one product with each deal. From there, you can concentrate on the fine points of your putting (overcoming objections) that will have you scoring a few eagles and hole-in-ones here and there. 

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