Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2006, 08:00 PM UPDATED 11:59 AMBy Nick Zulovich
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Automotive Dealers Institute announced it is expanding its traditional classroom to include an online program, which is designed to meet the needs of busy dealership professionals. After two years in development, the program now gives students the option to complete the entire program online or to focus on specific portions based on their needs and interests.
Executives said each course can be completed at an individual's own pace at any location, as long as there is Internet access.
"Many dealers can't afford to send employees away during business hours, so this is a great alternative," said Alan Algan, ADI's chief executive officer. "If a dealer thinks his employees need to improve their legal compliance, credit bureau analysis, menu presentation skills or objection handing, etc., an online course is an effective way to develop these skills while still being available in the dealership."
ADI's course modules include interactive elements and filmed examples of real-life situations that dealer managers face on a daily basis, executives explained. Additionally, all chapter tests and the final examination are completed and submitted electronically, with results returned immediately.
Through the program, students can print their transcripts at any time and calculate the amount of credit earned, ADI highlighted.
"Our program is very different from the seminars commonly used to train dealership personnel," noted Arzu Algan, ADI's dean of education. "It's more interactive and uses multimedia, including video, voiceover, graphics and hands-on practices. Most importantly, the courses require a certain level of proficiency to earn credit."
ADI noted that all of its classes, whether online or in the classroom, are a government-approved college course, which is something the dealership can use to build confidence with its consumers.
Students can earn up to 32 credits, which are transferable to Northwood University, according to ADI. ADI is licensed by the State of Arizona Board for Private Postsecondary Education and approved by the Department of Education. This designation allows ADI to offer federal government-backed student loans.
ADI Joins Forces with Dealership for Life
This summer, ADI announced it joined forces with Dealership for Life, a nationwide dealership customer loyalty and retention program. DFL offers processes and services designed to drive sales, customer retention, employee retention and more.
Executives said Dealership for Life representatives will now offer all or portions of ADI's auto finance management and service advisor training courses to its dealership partners.
"ADI's courses complement Dealership for Life customer reward and retention programs," explained Jeff Buchanan, Dealership for Life chief executive officer. "Dealership for Life was created to provide a comprehensive turnkey approach to the ultimate customer loyalty program for automotive dealerships. Training is an essential aspect of that philosophy because it benefits both the dealership and the consumer."
Alan Algan, added, "The concept of customer loyalty and retention is one that we stress in our classes. Referral and repeat businesses are fundamental building blocks and are key factors in the growth and success of any dealership. By learning with Dealership for Life, we can help spread that message to progressive dealerships that understand and appreciate the value of a professional automotive education."
ADI executives said their four-week auto finance management program was developed by Arzu Algan. It includes legal compliance certification by the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals, as well as Ethics Certification for Automotive Finance Professionals by the Institute of Ethical Behavior.
Other topics covered by ADI's courses include credit bureau analysis, deal structuring, subprime financing and product presentation/objection handling. Executives also said ADI offers a two-week service advisor program designed to teach students the nuts and bolts of the profession, including how to interact with customers and keep customer satisfaction at high levels.
"ADI's curriculum is world class, as are its facilities in Scottsdale," Buchanan said. "The professors are well-schooled industry professionals, and their approach is hands-on and student-oriented. I believe that DFL dealerships that take advantage of ADI's programs will improve their bottom line and increase customer loyalty. That's what we're all about."
Keith Tuber, ADI president, chimed in, saying, "Our message revolves around the concept of providing exceptional customer service. Dealership for Life shares that same passion. By joining forces, we can achieve a higher degree of professionalism in the automotive industry and improve the image and conception of the dealership experience to the general public."
Behind the Doors of ADI
ADI offers F&I management and service advisor courses, in addition to providing job placement services for its students.
In the auto finance management course, students learn the skills necessary to become a successful F&I manager, Internet sales manager, dealer representative for aftermarket manufacturers or banks, or loan officer for a financial institution, according to executives. Courses require no previous auto experience for enrollment, they added.
ADI also offers an auto service advisor course, which is designed to train students to become expert service advisors for either franchised or independent stores, executives said.
For more information, call (877) 998-7200, or visit .
ADI Releases F&I Encyclopedia
In addition to these educational opportunities, ADI also released an Encyclopedia of Finance and Insurance Management in August. The book comes in at more than 1,000 pages, and has been in development since January 2005.
"The publication of the Encyclopedia of Finance and Insurance Management is an industry event," said Alan Algan. "There have never been any F&I-related publications of this magnitude. Our contributors are renowned for their reputations and expertise. I can't imagine any dealership without a copy of it for reference purposes."
Leading industry experts from ADI, Northwood University, the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals, the Institute of Ethical Behavior and CreditRe, all came together to contribute information and create the encyclopedia.
Some of the topics covered in the book include:
—F&I, prime and nonprime
—F&I menu presentation process
—Creation and management of the dealership Internet department
—Retail installment sales contracts
—Consumer leasing, lease agreements
—Collecting, analyzing and evaluating credit information
—Legal compliance, including privacy rule, safeguards rule and cash purchases
—Credit insurance and related products
—Ethics for automotive financial professionals
"Education is an important factor in the success of any dealership, as changing regulations and technologies continue to mold the automotive industry," said Robert Serum, vice president of academics and international programs for Northwood University.
"Having a single-volume resource guide is an indispensable tool that will be utilized over and over again by F&I personnel and upper management," he added.
The encyclopedia retails for $795 and is distributed domestically by Idealergroup, according to ADI. It is also available through Northwood University bookstores in Michigan, Florida and Texas.
Other sources to purchase the book include the Association of Finance and Insurance Professional's Web site (), , the ADI Web site () and other retailers.
"There has been a basic shift in the car-buying experience from a product-oriented market to a credit-oriented market," noted David Robertson, executive director of the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals.
"Accordingly, the F&I process is afforded much greater attention, not only as a process, but as an academic endeavor," he continued. "This isn't something that few people do, it's something everybody does, and consequently, the emphasis on the F&I process has greatly increased."
David Long, chancellor and chief operating officer of Northwood University, added, "The Encyclopedia of Finance and Insurance Management is destined to become the bible of the automotive industry. It contains a wealth of information on all aspects of F&I management, including ethics. I see it evolving with the industry, making it and future editions a dynamic, practical resource guide. It is a book written by professionals, for professionals."