Author Archives | Staff-Writer

An Interview with Rich Moore

An Interview with Rich Moore

After more than 30 years in the automotive industry, Protective Asset Protection’s Rich Moore has reached the upper echelon of F&I trainers. He maintains a full training schedule while contributing articles to industry publications and speaking at events such as Industry Summit, Agent Summit and, most recently, Compliance Summit in his native Texas. AE caught up with Moore to learn how he broke into the industry and what the future holds.

How did you get your start in the auto industry and how did you become a trainer?

I got started in the industry in 1984 at Rod East Volkswagen in San Antonio, Texas, which really had nothing to do with my background and education in professional photography. I had a brother-in-law who was a wholesaler, and he suggested that car sales would be a good place for me. I was reasonably fresh out of the Navy, and it seemed like a good challenge.

I found I was a good salesperson but a better sales manager. I really liked teaching and seeing my team succeed with the techniques on which they had been trained. Moving into training was a natural step for me since my last duty station in the Navy had been as a senior trainer in the Navy Leadership and Development Program.

What areas in F&I do you focus on with your training?

Our courses pretty much run the gamut from why F&I is important to the dealership to how to build a great relationship with sales and, most importantly, the F&I sales process. In fact, we created an accelerated course based on input from the field that is nothing but two-and-a-half days of interview, menu, objection handling and closing.

Why should an agent call you for a training assignment?

Our team trainers are still active in the dealerships they service and will sub for vacationing F&I managers. That means they are current on what is really happening in dealerships across the nation. So when we train for an agent or dealership, they get real-world tools and techniques, not theories.

What are the top three messages you try to give at each of your training sessions?

First and foremost for me is to practice, drill and rehearse! F&I managers and salespeople in general tend to practice on their customers. That’s too late. Imagine if any major sports team waited until the game started to practice! It would be a disaster.

Second, learn to tell great stories — real ones — about the value of your products and how your customers have benefited in the past. People can relate to real-world situations that have happened to others, and people buy on emotions and justify with logic.

Third, don’t be greedy. Listen to your customers. If you present what will benefit them, you’ll have a much better chance of selling at least one product with every deal. Over the long run, when added to the sales from the folks who buy everything, that extra product per deal produces more sales than you would think. It’s a much better way to make your numbers than being greedy and trying to force a home run from every customer.

What changes in the industry do you foresee that will impact your training the most over the next few years?

Not so much changes in the industry as changes in how our customers will interact with our industry. Millennials and the generation after them, now being tagged “iGen,” won’t take time or have the tolerance for our traditional sales processes. They want it now and on their devices. That means that, as trainers, we need to stay on top of customers’ habits so we can train F&I managers to be responsive rather than reactive.

The other change I see on the horizon is the need for F&I managers to move away from relying on making money on rate and instead learning how to build irresistible value in their products. If our customers see great value first, price becomes less of an objection.

Tell us about yourself and the kind of activities, hobbies, interests you pursue outside of training.

As I mentioned earlier, photography has always been and still is a passion. Internet marketing — specifically, using live, interactive webcasting — is a major interest now. I think it’s the future of online marketing. And we can’t forget getting on the Harley with my wife and taking a long weekend ride somewhere.

Posted in Meet the Executive0 Comments

An Interview with John Pappanastos

An Interview with John Pappanastos

When he joined EFG Companies’ board of directors in 2006, John Pappanastos found a willing partner in his quest to drive innovation in an industry that rewards hard work and creative thinking. Today, as the company’s chief executive, he continues that mission with the help of his coworkers and partners — including a dedicated group of agents.

Tell me a little bit about your company and its place in the industry.

EFG is a 40-year-old national innovator and administrator of F&I products. Our portfolio ranges from repair and maintenance to debt protection, aftermarket, security and traffic-driving programs, with more than 2,200 accounts selling our products last month.

Our most powerful asset is EFG’s engagement model that requires uniquely qualified and motivated professionals. I truly believe it is unmatched in terms of sales and servicing support in the field, agile product innovation and customization, and a suite of technology capabilities that improve agents’ productivity and ability to service their clients.

Our professionals literally operate as an extension of our agents’ teams to target, profile and win new business, and we offer a highly collaborative contract administration model that places our agents in a position of control and importance with their clients.

We thrive on measurement, and we compete to win.

Are there any recent or future developments within your company that you would like to tell us about?

I’m especially proud of the fact that EFG has received nine national awards in 12 months, including being named to the Dallas Top 100 most recently. It is one thing for a company to talk about itself. It is entirely another when an industry recognizes them for excellence and vision. The Top 100 recognition, in particular, is meaningful because it indicates that our people understand their individual roles in creating a customer engagement model that is incredibly difficult to replicate. We operate in a “culture of initiative” that focuses entirely on the interests of our partners and their customers in a values-driven manner.

I’m also very proud of our product innovation, which is actually led by a council of our top agents who meet twice a year to discuss industry trends, dealer challenges, and building profitable businesses while keeping an eye on the horizon.

In terms of products, we offer some of the most effective powertrain contracts in the market. We recently launched the market’s first mileage-only (i.e., no monthly term) vehicle service contract. In terms of technological innovation, we’ve built highly dynamic client portals that provide our partners with access to contract production by account and allow them to review, reconcile and pay bills, to cancel contracts or simply receive a cancelation quote, to review underwriting results and reinsurance cession statements, and to review claims status 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

How did you (personally) get started? What caused you to choose this career path?

I worked for two and a half decades in the telecom industry prior to joining EFG’s board of directors in 2006. I was asked to join the board to provide strategic and financial planning based on the changing dynamic of the retail automotive industry — and the need for dealers to increase focus and investment in business planning and analytics. After working closely with EFG’s executive team, clients and business partners for a year, I accepted the position of president and CEO.

In EFG, I found a values-driven company bringing expertise to a function within the dealership that generates about 40% of the average dealership’s gross profit. It was a company with a proven operating platform and a rich heritage of customer service. All we had to do to create something very special was invest in our people and instill process execution discipline.

What are your outside interests / what do you like to do on your days off? What activities / sports are you passionate about?

Although all of my five children are grown and out of the house, my kids remain the highest priority in my personal life. I also enjoy weightlifting and cardio workouts, personal investing, skiing and traveling. And I love football, especially Crimson Tide football.

What are the biggest issues you see facing the industry today and in the future?

Most people are concerned about continued dealership consolidation, about the potential demise of the franchise model, about increasing regulatory oversight that is disconnected from market demand, and about the challenges associated with employing and selling to Millennials.

While all of these issues are very real, I believe that the biggest challenge facing today’s auto dealer relates to building customer loyalty. While this is not a new problem, it has clearly been exacerbated by the proliferation of the Internet and the growth of the Millennial segment.

The fact is that customers do business with companies that they trust, with companies that share similar values, with companies that transact business the way they want to transact. At a minimum, the industry’s employee and customer engagement models must become more flexible and more transparent (or at least more respectful and direct). We have to learn to engage with employees and customers in the way they want to be engaged with. And the key will lie in building the right team and managing a disciplined model to build relationships with customers over the life of their vehicle ownership.

The industry is in serious need of new employee talent. The best dealers spend an inordinate amount of time identifying, hiring, developing and retaining personnel. They avoid industry “retreads” and instead focus their energy on bringing in young talent that they can develop organically into future leadership. By doing so, they create a team with shared values, especially with respect to integrity, work ethic and a customer-first mindset.

What advice would you give to someone new to this industry?

I think the auto industry provides a great place to make a living and build personal wealth. Few industries reward entrepreneurial initiative and hard work as well as our industry, and the career path to grow in terms of personal responsibility and compensation is almost codified. As employees grow and mature, they learn to manage all elements of a P&L, from employees to suppliers to inventory to customers. Few industries offer such an opportunity so quickly.

So, my advice would be fourfold: Believe in yourself, be willing to pay your dues, embrace technology and develop a thirst for learning.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I think few business people actually take the time to calculate what an underperforming partner is costing them. While they may be able to quantify the amount of money they are literally paying their partner for service, they fail to quantify the true costs associated with the partner’s underperformance in terms of market share and margin per retail unit sold, and also in terms of employee development and morale.

Long-term relationships with people you like are wonderful things and often merit a premium price. However, I would encourage business leaders to fully understand the premium being paid as a result of long-term relationships. Strategic partners are those that engage as if they have an ownership interest in your business to help you grow your business and execute at your highest level.

 

Posted in Meet the Executive0 Comments

Meet the Trainer: Rick McCormick

Meet the Trainer: Rick McCormick

From his days as a full-time, ordained minister to a second career as one of the nation’s leading F&I trainers, Rick McCormick has succeeded by always doing “the right thing the right way.” Agent Entrepreneur sat down with McCormick to learn more about his life and career and the moment he fell in love with the automotive industry.

How did you get your start in the auto industry and why did you specialize as a trainer?

I came from a diverse background and entered the auto industry almost 16 years ago. I served as an ordained minister full-time for 20 years, and for most of those years, I worked another “full-time” job to afford to be able to do that! I always gravitated to selling and/or training in each position. After multiple family moves, we determined in order to stay in one place long-term and I would serve in ministry part time and then find stable employment.

So I walked into a car dealership to find a temporary position. I fell in love with the challenge of helping customers. Then I was provided the opportunity to move into the F&I office. This story resonates with so many others I have met around the country. It’s easy to get into this business. And once you do, you fall in love with helping people and knowing the more you do, the more money you make! So I have been on this “temporary” job for 16 years now.

After spending five years in the F&I office, the only thing I could think of that would be more enjoyable would be helping others develop their skills and being part of their success. After a timely meeting with Ron Reahard, I knew not only that training was a place I wanted to serve but the core principles of his perspective on this business were aligned with mine. Simply put, always do the right thing the right way. I have had the privilege of working across the country with F&I managers to assist them in growing their skills and abilities, and I have seen many grow to places of influence and income levels they never thought possible. Nothing could be more fun than that!

What areas in F&I do you focus on with your training?

The focus is on results and growth. In the results arena, all a dealer has to do is look at the financial statement each month to see if the training is having an effect. However, placing the emphasis on results alone is not conducive to a long-term growth trend. The month-to-month activities of an F&I manager putting forth consistent efforts to increase skill sets and abilities will determine the results.

Focusing our efforts on their growth as a professional increases their product knowledge and confidence levels. Those are the roots that deliver a flourishing professional who offers a customer focused and comfortable process, making it easy for customers to buy the products available. The F&I process must add value to the customer’s purchase experience. It should be based on a needs-based approach that positions the F&I manager as a trusted advisor who provides consistent results. We work extensively to build that kind of process and that kind of F&I manager.

Why should an agent call you for a training assignment?

We become a trusted partner in the agent’s success. We are uniquely positioned in the industry because we don’t sell any F&I products. So we have the same agenda as our clients: to help F&I managers help more customers. This has allowed Reahard & Associates to work with agents, finance companies, product vendors, vehicle manufacturers, dealer associations and individual dealers, as well as some of the largest dealer groups in the country. We provide cutting-edge techniques and a growth-based effort that will make each F&I professional more effective.

What are the top three messages you try to give at each of your training sessions?

First, we challenge F&I professionals to work on developing and improving their individual skills. Great F&I professionals consistently look for areas where they can improve. You never graduate from the school of growth. My goal is to ensure that every training session is a growth session.

Second, we work to ensure a consistent process is used that builds trust with every customer. Techniques that don’t build trust must be altered. The level of profit and customer satisfaction rise and fall on the level of trust built with each customer.

Finally, each F&I professional should be a team builder. F&I managers are in a strategic position and have been entrusted with the opportunity to interact with almost every part of the dealership experience. We work on their interaction with other departments and how to positively impact the overall process in the store. Great F&I managers help build great teams!

What changes in the industry do you foresee that will impact your training the most over the next few years?

A huge shift will come from more of the selling process moving to an online format. We must embrace the technology that can provide a quicker and more efficient process. Embracing technology necessitates we engage the customer online with F&I information concerning financing, products, and pricing. We are developing tools to enable this transition as we speak.

However, the products must still be sold and the customer’s need for them must still be uncovered. As a result, the focus will continue to be helping the customer get the products they need and the financing that is most beneficial for them. Customers have always driven change in our methods. We will lead F&I managers to embrace the change and continue growing their skills.

Tell us about yourself and the kind of activities, hobbies, interests you pursue outside of training.

My free time is spent with my family. From the patient wife who embraces my frequent travel to pursue my passion to the five grandchildren who challenge me for more ways to have fun with them. Whatever interests them, interests me! My most enduring memories have come from time with them. I also enjoy reading autobiographies and personal growth books. And if the Atlanta Braves are televised or the Tennessee Volunteers football team is winning, I can probably be found in front of the big screen watching.

This industry has been good to me and provides great opportunities daily. And when I come home, I have a great family to spend time with. What else could a man ask for? Here’s to a great finish to the year!

Posted in Meet the Trainer0 Comments

An Interview with Mike Melby

An Interview with Mike Melby

Mike Melby wears his passion for the vehicle service contract segment on his sleeve. Read on to learn how Melby strives to fulfill his company’s mission to protect car buyers and be a true partner to agents and dealers.

Tell me a little bit about your company and its place in the industry.

Here at GWC, we view ourselves as the best-in-class vehicle service contract provider for used cars in the automotive industry. We’ve been in business for 20 years, paid over $350 million in claims and helped protect more than 1.5 million drivers during that time. We’re A+ rated by the BBB and all our products are backed by American Bankers Insurance Company, an Assurant Solutions company, which is rated A “Excellent” by AM Best.

I tell you all this because these numbers and accolades are the results of a simple mission to help dealers sell more cars by giving car shoppers the confidence to become car buyers. We firmly believe that, when a customer has a great experience with GWC, they improve the dealer’s CSI, generate strong referrals and become repeat buyers for dealers — all of which equates to added vehicle service contract business for agents. And while we do maintain an employee-based sales force, we remain respectful of the businesses our agents operate and have a history of safely and successfully coexisting in markets across the country.

How do we do it? Simply put, it’s the only thing we do. We’re not like some F&I product or warranty providers that dabble in several different industries with a wide array of products. At GWC, we specialize only in the service contract space and only on used vehicles. It’s a conscious decision to focus on this niche, and one that has benefited us and our dealer and agent partners greatly.

Specifically for our agents, it starts with personalized attention. I am hands-on with every one of our agents to make sure their needs are addressed in a timely and effective manner. It’s important to note, too, that we understand the needs of agents vary from business to business. We stay flexible to ensure we’re providing solutions tailored to each agent’s business.

Are there any recent or future developments within your company that you would like to tell us about?

In today’s marketplace, it’s all about service and technology. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve the way we work with agents, dealers and drivers to make sure we’re creating a best-in-class experience. In terms of service, we employ ASE-certified claims adjusters who have decades of experience in keeping drivers on the road.

When it comes to technology, the industry is quickly moving to more and more paperwork being done electronically. Because 60% of service contract business is now filed electronically, we are working with DMS providers all over the country to integrate our products onto their systems, and we’ve even created our own econtracting tool in the past year: the Dealer Portal.

We’ve been busy with even more technology offerings in 2015 too. We just introduced GWC Virtual Training — a free online, interactive training tool with content for every employee in a dealership — as well Covideo, which integrates video into a customized email template to help streamline walkarounds, lead conversion and post-sale follow-up. GWC is sharing the cost of Covideo with dealers and agents to offer an exclusive rate unavailable anywhere else.

How did you (personally) get started? What caused you to choose this career path?

I’ve known nothing but the auto industry throughout my entire career. I’ve spent almost 30 years in the automotive industry. I started at GMAC, working throughout the company in sales, credit and operations. After that, I moved on to AutoNation, where I was the director of F&I product development. Working for some of the biggest players in the automotive industry was the perfect way for me to blend my passion for business with what’s now a deeply rooted connection to the auto industry.

What are your outside interests / what do you like to do on your days off? What activities/sports are you passionate about?

I work a lot and travel often, but when I’m home, family is first. I try to spend as much time with my wife and kids as possible. Come wintertime, I enjoy lacing up the skates in a local ice hockey league. In the summer, I try to get on the golf course when I can fit in the time for 18 holes — which is far less often than when I lived in South Florida!

What are the biggest issues you see facing the industry today and in the future?

For VSC providers, it’s always a matter of protecting our reputation. Unfortunately, the VSC industry is an easy one to break into and a difficult one in which to sustain success. One thing we see contribute to this far too often is the mispricing of contracts. At GWC, we have 20 years of underwriting data to draw from so we know exactly how each make and model will perform, what will break down and when. This allows us to price the risk on each vehicle accordingly.

How does this benefit agents and their dealers? First of all, companies without such a history can sometimes charge prices that are insufficient to cover the required reserves. While unsustainably low prices may be appealing to a dealer in the short term, a series of much less pleasing events usually follow: First comes frequent and substantial price increases to correct an under-reserved portfolio, then comes stricter claims approvals. And once all these belt-tightening measures are exhausted, those companies that seemed like a good low-price alternative at the beginning exit the service contract space altogether.

With GWC, those fears don’t exist. Our rock-solid reputation is one that will help an agent or dealer maintain theirs. We have a long history of doing something simple: keeping our promises. It sounds basic, but we pay claims. Aside from that, we invest in talent, training and technology to make sure we’re delivering the best-in-class experience we commit to providing.

By maintaining these principles as a priority throughout our organization, it’s our hope to attract likeminded agents who are looking to join us.

What advice would you give to someone new to this industry?

Simply put, do things the right way. Sometimes we see companies and individuals in this industry looking to get rich overnight. But if you do things the right way and catch on with a company with strong leadership, you can be part of something special that helps consumers hit the road worry-free and businesses continually improve upon themselves.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

For me personally, I have such a strong passion for GWC Warranty. It’s what gets me out of bed each morning. I’m here each day to make this a great company. I would encourage agents and dealers to give us a look to see how this same passion is shared by every GWC employee. Everyone at GWC takes pride in helping our partners succeed, and it’s something that is clearly evident from your first conversation with us.

If I could give any advice to agents and dealers, I would tell them it’s imperative they do their due diligence before selecting a partner. Not all VSC providers are created equally. If you make a decision solely based on price, the consequences could be disastrous. Agents and dealers work too hard to put their reputations and customer satisfaction at risk by partnering with the wrong VSC provider.

Posted in Meet the Executive0 Comments

Meet the Trainer: John Vecchioni

Meet the Trainer: John Vecchioni

Agent Entrepreneur met with John Vecchioni, National Sales Director and Director of Education at United Car Care, to get an in depth look at his approach to training. Learn how he got started in the business, the area he focuses on most in his training and his top three tips for success.

How did you get your start in the auto industry (background/education) and how / why did you specialize as a trainer?

I got my start in the retail automotive industry as a result of a lifestyle and geographic change. I was in the securities and insurance business and lost my partner. We sold the business and moved to Washington. While I was purchasing a vehicle I was approached by the General Manager. After a short a conversation I was offered a sales job.

Because of my sales background I found that selling cars was fun and people would get excited about a new purchase. After a short time I was promoted to finance. I discovered that if sales didn’t happen I would have no opportunity. That’s when I began to close sales and train sales people to close business. It was essential that we increase sales so I could have opportunity in the finance office.

I was promoted to sales management and determined that everyone needs everyday training and support to be successful. Coaching is an everyday thing and results are indicative to time invested. That’s how I got involved in training. It was a necessity to be successful from a management position. The next promotion was to General Manager responsible for three locations. When responsibility encompasses three separate addresses, training to a consistent process duplicated in all the stores, becomes very important.

In 2004 I left the retail business to explore different opportunities. Finding United Car Care allowed me to be involved in all the things I enjoy professionally. I was able to develop business for United Car Care and train professionals to assist them in achieving their goals.

What areas in F&I do you focus on with your training?

Discovery- Everything happens in discovery.

Why should an agent call you for a training assignment?

I indulge in the discovery part of the sales process. Only there will you find the buyer’s real needs (hot buttons) as to why they would ever have a legitimate reason for purchasing your products. I teach “Logical Conversational Selling,” and only when it makes perfect sense to the customer will a sale occur. It always makes sense when we use their words and phrases when discussing protective products.

What are the top three messages you try to give at each of your training sessions?

  1. Discover the need- Why would they have a need to do business with you or purchase any of your products?
  2. When presenting, use the customer’s words on the features and benefits they perceive as value in the vehicle they are purchasing. Match your protective products to their words. Ask questions that help impact your presentation. Logical questions revolve around asking, “Who, What, Where, When, Why, How and Did.”
  3. Use Trial Close Questions as often as possible. Have the customer engaged in conversation with you and ensure that you both are on the same page.

What changes in the industry do you foresee that will impact your training the most over the next few years?

Non-Compliant Dealers could force the industry to adjust to fixed pricing on finance products. With the advent of CFPB and the amount other Regulators are policing the business, the possibility of fixing prices could impact sales training as we know it today.

Tell us about yourself and the kind of activities, hobbies, and interests you pursue outside of training.

I enjoy the serenity and happiness of my family. My wife and I have three grown and married children. We are blessed with four wonderful grandchildren. My priority is and always has been spending time with family. I enjoy working with sales people and being involved in their success. I enjoy gardening, golfing and bike riding.

 Is there anything else you would like to add?

Training requires more than just teaching how to sell a product. It involves instilling confidence in the words and product that the sales person uses. It requires a coaching philosophy to evolve and develop the sales person to believe and reach their goals.

Posted in Meet the Trainer0 Comments

Meet the Trainer: Gerry Gould

Meet the Trainer: Gerry Gould

AE met with Gerry Gould to get an in depth look at his approach to training. Learn how he got started in the business, the areas he trains on, and why Gould says he should be an agent’s go-to source for dealership training.

How did you get your start in the auto industry and how/why did you specialize as a trainer?

I had just gotten married and decided that reconditioning cars was not going to give me a bright future, so I went to the dealership my dad was running and said, “Pops, I wanna sell cars.” Thankfully, he gave me a shot and I’ve been in the business ever since. It wasn’t until quite a few years later that I was asked by the dealer principal I was working for to mentor new sales consultants. It was then that I realized I could really get a message across regarding the development of personnel. Soon, I was developing training programs for the dealer group while working as an F&I manager. I eventually took a job with a nationally known F&I training company.

What areas in F&I do you focus on with your training?

We focus on all areas of F&I development from compliance to lender relations. We place a lot of emphasis on presenting a menu/option disclosure in a manner that is telling, rather than selling, and in a manner that is direct and to the point. We leave any type of selling for the end of the menu/option disclosure. Our motivation for telling rather than selling is to keep the customers attention and make an attempt to gain a commitment to purchase when the customer feels less threatened. This way gaining a commitment becomes more conversational, rather than combative.

Why should an agent call you for a training assignment?

There are a lot of training companies and trainers trying to be different – trying to reinvent the wheel and train from a point of theory or what they think will work without having ever tried it. I can say I’ve been there and done that. We understand the business of F&I and our training is always facilitated from a point of reality with proven results. We also train from a point of opportunism, knowing some things work some of the time, but some things work most of the time; we choose the ones that work most of the time.

What are the top three messages you try to give at each of your training sessions?

1.) Knowledge is power and the more you know about our industry, your products, and your customer, the more success you will have.

2.) You need to look at things from the customer’s point of view and sell based on their criteria.

3.) Tell, don’t sell. Save the selling for when you have the customer’s attention.

What changes in the industry do you foresee impacting your training the most over the next few years?

There is a lot of talk about the Internet’s role in the total transaction. Developing a curriculum for an online transaction may be in order. Then there’s all the talk about the CFPB and their influence on the industry. So I guess that could hinder the rate hounds and we’ll be called to duty. After all, it’s product that drives PVR, not rate.

Tell us about yourself and the kind of activities, hobbies, and interests you pursue outside of training.

I am very energetic and get bored quite easily. Outside of training, I like fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, golfing and making leather wrist bands as a hobby.

Posted in Meet the Trainer0 Comments

Page 1 of 14712345...102030...Last »