Tag Archive | "Agent Summit"

Insights From the Front Lines

At the 2012 Agent Summit, I had the opportunity to serve as moderator of a panel called “Five Ways to Take Your Agency From Provider Rep to Partner.” Our goal was to provide a discussion that would highlight effective ways to become a true partner with today’s dealer — and lead them to record profits.

I was joined by Tim Blochowiak of Protective Asset Protection, David Duncan of Safe-Guard Products International, Garrett Lacour of RoadVantage, John Luckett of First Extended Service Corp. and Ricky Wolfe of Interstate National Corp. These five strong voices in the agent arena shared how they are working through a changing market and providing innovative products and creative ways to maximize dealer profitability.

Let’s take a look at some of the many insights they provided:

Agents must offer new ways to present products.

In the F&I office, the presentation must match the changing behavior of customers. As an agent, bringing that kind of creative change will differentiate you from the competition.

The recent recession has made dramatic change in how consumers view their money. They are more resistant than ever to what they perceive as “extras.” Most customers who have bought a vehicle before have already experienced an F&I presentation. If the products and the way they are presented is the same as their last experience, they’re more likely to be resistant.

Great companies have used a changing environment as an opportunity to examine the way they do business and make creative changes that move more customers to buy.
Take Apple Computer, for example. In 1997, everyone was writing the company’s obituary. Then they re-launched their company with creative ideas and products and have since become a leader, and not just in home computing. Apple has become a new standard bearer for designing and marketing products that customers are motivated to buy.

On the flip side, companies like Kodak are going under because of their lack of urgency to change. Kodak introduced us to film photography and remained a market leader for decades. However when the market demanded digital photography, Kodak stalled. Now, they’re in bankruptcy. The message was clearly defined: Change and innovation today will lead to record profits tomorrow.

Adding underperforming dealerships to your roster will not lead to long-term and sustainable growth.

Successful agents have learned that it’s not about adding dealerships; it’s about selling products. Dealers need and demand income development. A well-trained and focused F&I team can change to meet the new perspective of customers and provide record profits in a challenging market. The bad news is that most dealerships cut or even eliminated their training budgets during the recent recession. The good news is that they’re turning to their agents to provide new training.

You have the opportunity to take a hands-on approach to growing the overall skill level of your dealers’ F&I teams. Your toolkit should include role-playing exercises, benchmarking and accountability. Certification through off-site training also will be valued and sought after by dealers.

The next step is establishing a new F&I process that utilizes the finer points of your training. Customers have already seen the high pressure, memorized sales pitch many F&I managers still swear by. Introduce your dealers to a customer-focused process that will provide an environment where customers feel someone is trying to help them make good decisions, rather than just trying to sell them something they don’t want or need.

Also, there is real opportunity to sell service contracts in the service drive. Many dealers have tried and failed in the past. But there are better approaches out there than there were 10 years ago, and it may be worth another shot. Providing your dealers with a new revenue stream will definitely help set you apart.

“How are you different than other agents? What can you provide that they don’t?”

Agents that are in a growth mode today have heard those questions from dealers more than once. Those who have the answer will see their stock soar.

Dealers are possibly the most sophisticated consumer in the market today. They have heard every sales pitch for just about every product on the market. What they really need is a true partner who can provide training, processes and the ability to bring the change needed to their organization to sell those products in today’s market.

There is a shift taking place in the dealerships that survived the downturn. Dealers can no longer afford to have an untrained and unfocused F&I team presenting the products at their stores. Why not take a leadership role? The gentlemen who provided the insights listed above know that the agent segement will see record growth in 2012 and beyond. In other words, our best days are still ahead of us. Let’s help our industry change to see unprecedented growth and profits!

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Twice As Nice

In its second year, Agent Summit doubled in size and attendance.

Agent Summit 2012 closed with a final headcount of 358, more than double the number of attendees the event attracted in its inaugural year. The industry’s only agent-only conference and expo was held at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace and was presented in partnership by Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom magazines.

David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of F&I and Showroom, said he was pleased at the turnout and grateful for the hard work turned in by the speakers and staff. “Agent Summit’s success is no accident,” Gesualdo said. “It’s the result of the years of experience behind it, from those who organized the show to all the speakers and, of course the agents who made the trip.”

The show kicked off on Monday evening with a welcome from Gerry Gould, director of training for United Development Systems (UDS), who served as this year’s master of ceremonies. “I thought this year’s Agent Summit was a slam dunk for having only been in its second year,” Gould said. “The information exchange along with the wealth of knowledge provided by each speaker in just a day and a half was a pleasant surprise!”

Gould introduced John Braganini, a veteran “superagent” and founder of Great Lakes Companies, who delivered the event’s evening keynote address. “Outstanding event!” Braganini said. “I’m looking forward to next year!”

The event continued on Tuesday morning, which started with an opening keynote address from trainer Paul Webb, who discussed the three ways people process information — visual, auditory and kinesthetic — and how agents can prepare dealers and F&I managers to connect with customers who favor one approach over the others.

Webb was followed by Safe-Guard Products International’s Luis Garcia, who led a workshop on role-playing in the F&I office. Garcia went the extra mile, setting the stage with a desk and chairs to demonstrate a service-contract close with an audience member.

This year’s luncheon speaker was Ron Reahard of Reahard & Associates, who delivered a stirring presentation on changes taking place in the F&I office and how dealers — and agents — are responding. “This year’s Agent Summit was the best yet,” Reahard said. “More agents, excellent workshops with great topics.”

The Tuesday schedule continued with workshops on selling products in the service drive and boosting product sales through customer-tailored F&I presentations, led by Tom Luzader of Dealership Income Development and GSFSGroup’s Bart Carpenter, respectively. Carpenter was followed by perhaps the most interactive session: a primer on reinsurance that was led by Randy Crisorio of UDS and Greg Petrowski of GPW and Associates. The pair began with a one-on-one interview format before fielding a long list of questions from agents in the crowd.

“Reinsurance is a marketing device that can help capture dealers. If an agent is knowledgeable, that gives them an edge,” Crisorio said. “The topic is always dominant in meetings, and Agent Summit gave us the opportunity to discuss it in an open forum.”

Reahard & Associates’ Rick McCormick closed the Tuesday schedule with “5 Ways to Take Your Agency From Provider Rep to Partner,” a panel discussion that included Protective Asset Protection’s Tim Blochowiak, David Duncan of Safe-Guard Products International, Garret Lacour of RoadVantage, Resource Dealer Group’s John Luckett and Ricky Wolfe of Interstate National Corp.

The show continued with a workshop and a second panel on Wednesday morning. First up was Great Lakes Companies’ director of training, Steve Veldkamp, who stirred the crowd with a pointed and often humorous presentation on identifying low-performing products and improving penetration levels. Veldkamp, a proponent of using video as a training tool, included several examples from his dealer clients.

“I received a lot of positive feedback,” Veldkamp said. “But the most gratifying part was getting the opportunity to take agents inside the F&I office and show them why some customers walk out with the products they need to protect their vehicles while others leave empty-handed.”

Wednesday’s final educational session was led by F&I Administration Solution’s David Trinder, who convened a panel comprised of Patrick DeMarco of Ristken Software Services, Open Dealer Exchange’s Ron Greer, American Guardian Warranty Services’ Daniel Lievrouw and Matt Nowicki of Innovative Aftermarket Solutions. The group tackled the issues affecting connectivity between dealers, lenders and product providers and fielded several pointed questions from the crowd.

The show closed with a moving address from famed NFL referee Jim Tunney, who drew on his experience on the field as well as his career as a high-school principal and volunteer with the Special Olympics.

“Jim Tunney alone made it all worthwhile,” Reahard said. “A great person, amazing life and a truly gifted and inspirational speaker. Thank you, Agent Entreprenuer, for your continued contribution to our industry!”

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1st Quarter 2012

March has flown by and marks the passing of the first quarter of 2012. NADA has come and gone and we just closed out the quarter with the Agent Summit. All indications show that the industry is on an upward swing. There was no better evidence of this than the enthusiam at the Agent Summit. This event was extremely well attended, informative, and provided great networking opportunities.

A familiar face to the Agent Summit is Tariq Kamal and we are pleased to announce that Tariq has been named publisher of P&A and Agent Entrepreneur magazines. He will manage sales, editorial and operations for both titles and play a key role in organizing the annual Agent Summit. Previously, Tariq served as managing editor of F&I and Showroom magazine and is a frequent speaker at industry events.

We want to hear from you – providing readers with valuable and insightful content is always a top priority. Send us you comments and suggestions for this publication and for the 2013 Agent Summit.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Agent Summit – Workshops, Panels and More

It’s here! This year’s Agent Summit will prove to be a wealth of information for anyone attending. The agenda has been set and you won’t be disappointed. Expertise leads the way with this year’s well rounded game plan of workshops and panel discussions


This year’s agenda is made up of the industry’s who’s who. The two-man team of Randy Crisorio founder of United Development Systems and Greg Petrowski principal of GPW and Associates are on tap for the workshop, Reinsurance: Painting the Right Picture for Your Dealers. This workshop has been developed to provide the how-to on the true value proposition of a reinsurance program. Details on how to manage dealer expectations, provide a realistic picture of how reinsurance works and how to determine if a dealer is a good candidate will be covered.

The workshop, Making Role-Playing an Effective Exercise will be lead by Luis Garcia, Director of Training and Development with Safe-Guard Products. This session features the importance of role-playing in getting to know your dealer clients’ staffs. This drives home the benefits of the products agents represent while having some fun at the same time. Luis Garcia will break down the fundamentals of a constructive role-playing session and explain how a few simple exercises can make you an important and popular member of any dealership team.

The Most Effective Ways to Sell Products in the Service Drive workshop will provide agents with successful strategies for making the service department a key source of F&I product sales. Tom Luzader, President and CEO of Dealership Income Development heads this workshop. He started his career in the service bay, drawing from his knowledge he knows all too well why some strategies never make it to the service drive. Tom shares his recommendations for fine-tuning the process and expanding the role agents can play in making service a key driver of product sales.

Training Director, Steve Veldkamp with Great Lakes Companies discusses the reasons why a product might not be performing well in the workshop, Increasing Penetrations on Low-Performing Products. Low performance can be due to many things including techniques, pay plans, or a product not fitting the market. Using video recordings of real transactions a breakdown of the process will be discussed and what can be done to correct problems through training and setting realistic goals.

Panel Discussions

Panel discussions will comprise another portion of the Agent Summit, providing agents another forum for learning. The discussions on the schedule include, Five Ways to Take Your Agency From Provider Rep to Partner. This intriguing session will be hosted by Rick McCormick and the esteemed panel will be comprised of David Duncan of Safe-Guard Products International, Protective Asset Protection Division’s Tim Blochowiak, RoadVantage’s Garret Lacour, John Luckett of Resource Dealer Group and Interstate National Corp.’s Ricky Wolfe. The critical role agent’s play beyond representing their providers’ products will be discussed. Market trends and how they will impact the agent-provider relationship going forward will also be covered.

Capturing the Electronic Transaction will be a highlight of Wednesday’s agenda. CEO David Trinder of F&I Administration Solutions will moderate the panel of experts that comprise the front lines of e-commerce. Ristken Software Services’ Patrick DeMarco, Ron Greer of Open Dealer Exchange, Daniel Lievrouw of American Guardian Warranty Services and Innovative Aftermarket Services’ Matt Nowicki creating a panel that is uniquely qualified to get agents up to speed on this pressing issue.

Don’t miss out on this agent extravaganza that will begin on Monday, March 12 and conclude on March 14.

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Famed NFL Ref Tapped as Summit Speaker

LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the second annual Agent Summit have announced that Jim Tunney, a former pro football official and highly regarded motivational speaker, will deliver the final keynote address at this year’s show.

Tunney joins an all-star list of speakers for Agent Summit 2012, which is scheduled for March 12–14 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. He will appear courtesy of CNA National.

“Jim Tunney brings a wealth of experience in a competitive field and a passion for inspiring others,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of F&I and Showroom. “We’re lucky to have him.”

Tunney’s 31-year career as an NFL referee and linesman made him an eyewitness to some of the league’s most historically significant moments, including the 1967 “Ice Bowl” championship game, ”The Catch” that sent the San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl in 1982, and the 1988 “Fog Bowl” at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Tunney was named the NFL’s best official by The Sporting News in 1990 and parlayed his on-field success into a second career as an author and speaker.

Agent Summit 2012 is organized by Agent Entrepreneur and presented in partnership with F&I and Showroom. For more information or to register, visit agentsummit.com.

Click here to view a video introduction of Jim Tunney.

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Register For Agent Summit 2012 and Save

LAS VEGAS – Organizers of Agent Summit 2012 announce that attendees who register by Friday, Feb. 10 will receive $100 off their registration fee.

Additionally, early registrants will also be entered to win one of three iPad 2s provided by Old Republic Insured Automotive Services.

“Old Republic is excited to be sponsoring the 2012 Agent Summit and iPad 2 giveaway,” said Rick Malone, vice president of sales and marketing. “We are looking forward to another great show while building on the success of last year’s event.”

The industry’s only event for agents is a joint venture between F&I and Showroom and Agent Entrepreneur magazines.

“I am very excited about Agent Summit,” said Adam Kimber, co-show chair and group publisher of the event’s media sponsor, Agent Entrepreneur. “We have put the agenda in the hands of the agents and our advisory board with the full intention of providing stellar education. Any agent will benefit drastically from this event.”

Agent Summit 2012 is scheduled for March 12–14 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas and is expected to draw hundreds of the nation’s top general agents. The educational agenda will be led by many of the leading trainers in the industry.

Click Here to Register Now!

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