TORRANCE, Calif. — People and process are the usual ingredients of a top-flight F&I department, but the critical role a dealership’s general agent plays in that success often goes unnoticed. That changes today with the opening of F&I and Showroom’s F&I Dealer of the Year contest.

The search for the 2017 F&I Dealer of the Year begins with a new sponsor, American Financial & Automotive Services Inc., and a new awards webpage that highlights past winners and their stories. The page also houses contest details as well as the 2017 nomination form. The deadline to nominate a deserving dealership is July 10.

“First, I’d like to thank Arden Hetland and his team at American Financial & Automotive Services for sponsoring this year’s contest,” said David Gesualdo, publisher of Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom magazine. “Yes, it’s designed to recognize top-flight F&I departments and their dealerships, but it’s also designed to recognize the people, the trainers and the companies that often drive that success.”

Now in its 16th year, the F&I Dealer of the Year program recognizes operations with highly profitable F&I departments that demonstrate a commitment to regulatory compliance, customer satisfaction, and the communities they serve. Dealership employees, general agents, vendors, and F&I product providers are encourage to nominate their stores and dealer clients for the award.

“American Financial & Automotive Services Inc. is honored to sponsor F&I and Showroom’s F&I Pacesetter and F&I Dealer of the Year awards,” said Arden Hetland, president of American Financial. “With this sponsorship, we are able to help recognize the industry’s top F&I performers who are committed to customer satisfaction and compliance. We look forward to seeing all the finalists, as there are many dealerships that deserve this award. Best of luck to all the applicants and we hope to see you at Industry Summit 2017!”

The magazine will first select six finalists, each of which will be honored as a 2017 F&I Pacesetter. A representative from each organization will be invited to Industry Summit 2017, which is scheduled for Sept. 11–14 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Dallas. A special ceremony will be held the evening of Sept. 13 to recognize this year’s field of F&I Pacesetters and name one as F&I Dealer of the Year.

Representatives from each finalist will receive a three-night stay at the Gaylord Texan and a complimentary full-conference pass. Dealerships selected as F&I Pacesetters will also be profiled in the magazine’s special conference issue and the September edition of F&I and Showroom magazine.

At the conclusion of the special awards ceremony, one F&I Pacesetter will be named the 2017 F&I Dealer of the Year. That dealership will appear on the cover of the magazine’s November issue, which will include a four-page profile on the organization.

Past winners of the F&I Dealer of the Year award include Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford of LewisvilleDavid-Moore AutomotiveVaden Automotive GroupSerpentini Chevrolet of StrongsvilleDick Hannah DealershipsLithia Motors Inc.Riverside Auto GroupThe Suburban Collection, and Tuttle-Click Automotive Group.

To nominate a dealership, click here. For more information, email Gregory Arroyo at [email protected]