Tag Archive | "Agent Summit"

Agent Summit V Wrap Up

To all who attended – thank you for making Agent Summit V the best yet. Since its inception, the number of attendees has increased with each passing year – and with close to 900 attendees, this year was no exception. Agent Summit was launched in 2010 and was designed to provide Independent Agents, who serve as an extension of F&I product providers, with a forum to come together to network, share and learn. Today, many now regard Agent Summit as the one must-attend industry event of the year. This year’s show highlighted the latest training techniques and addressed the newest trends and most pressing challenges that Agents face as they serve their dealer clients.

Attendees were welcomed to the show’s upscale new location at the Venetian Palazzo. Complete with cobblestone streets, footbridges over canals, blue skies, and gondolas, attendees couldn’t help but feel as if they had just stepped off the plane in Venice, Italy. Jaws dropped as Agents who had taken advantage of the Agent Summit room block entered their stunning suites. Words like “lavish” and “spectacular” were heard describing the Palazzo as Agents arriving on Sunday evening gathered for welcoming cocktails.

Much like the Palazzo’s five star reputation, show sessions featured “five star” industry experts with every detail of the show sessions ultimately spelling “Profit!”

The third annual Reinsurance Symposium once again preceded Agent Summit; this year featuring two expert speakers. Greg Petrowski, senior vice president, GPW and Associates Inc., and a veteran speaker at Agent Summit, returned to the stage, and was followed by Brian Feldman, executive vice president, Spencer Re – a seasoned executive who has been a part of just about every facet of the reinsurance space.

With more than 20 years of industry experience each, Petrowski and Feldman shed light on the often confusing benefits of controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) and non-controlled foreign corporations (NCFCs).

At the conclusion of the half-day Reinsurance Symposium, Randy Crisorio, president and CEO, United Development Systems Inc. (UDS), and returning advisory board chair, got the show underway with the official opening address.

This year’s show focused on four major areas, 1) Selling to dealers; 2) Training; 3) Coaching and development; and 4) Technology. Each topic was explored first in an individual feature presentation, and was then followed by a panel session.

Morning presentations featured strategies for closing more business and practical steps for getting in front of dealers. Jimmy Atkinson, COO, AUL Corp, stated, “You have to look at a dealer’s DNA – ‘Dealership Needs Analysis’ so you can provide them with products and solutions to meet those needs. This requires pre-call planning and a targeted presentation.” His mantra for agents was “Be prepared. Be flexible. Be confident.” AE readers can look forward to Atkinson’s further expansion of this topic in an upcoming issue.

Days one and two closed with a cocktail reception in the Expo Hall. Throughout the show, crowds filled the expansive Expo area as agents took advantage of the buffet of networking opportunities. With more than 75 tabletop exhibitors and just shy of a hundred sponsors, the exhibit hall was full to overflowing. Exquisite breakfasts and lunch were served alongside the Expo Hall, thanks to show sponsors.

Known as the “World Greatest Closer,” keynote George Dans jump-started day two out with a bang. Dans was a whirlwind of energy, as he crossed the stage, leaving a flurry of excitement and emotion in his wake. He shared personal stories of both success and failure. In his fast paced, energetic address, Dans got the audience pumped up with a revitalized enthusiasm for closing every single deal. He encouraged attendees to be at the top of their game, “We become what we think about all day. You need to say to yourself, ‘I’m good. I’m gifted. I’m talented. Fear, doubt and worry are behind me.’” Dans urged attendees to step out of their comfort zone and to change their way of thinking so they could come out not just ahead, but at the front of the pack. After his presentation, Dans signed hundreds of copies of his book, Just Close It… Ask and You Shall Receive, which were available to all attendees.

Day two also featured two sessions on training, which emphasized the foundational importance of establishing good relationships in order to get buy in from all parties. The sessions covered themes, frequency, and the needs of retail personnel in service, sales, desking and F&I management.

“As an agency,” stated Ron Reahard, president, Reahard & Associates Inc., “you have to help your F&I managers address the challenges they face on a daily basis, and give them the skills, the knowledge, and the confidence to be successful… Performance doesn’t improve because you or a dealer demands it, it gets better because you put a plan in place to ensure it happens.”

A panelist urged, “Make sure the dealer and GM see you as a partner, and know that you are there to make them better.”

Joe St. John, director of training, Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS), and seasoned academic, delivered the feature presentation on coaching and development titled, “Xs and Os – Brain Science for Better Coaching.” This dynamic presentation was definitely an audience favorite. St. John’s unconventional yet proven approach focused on the “why” that drives a customer’s decision to make a purchase. He used a lively combination of humor, experience, and science to demonstrate how to reframe common scenarios for success and forge a unique roadmap for the road to the sale.

The coaching and development panel session explored topics ranging from dealing with underperforming veteran F&I managers, strategies for facilitating collaboration between the sales department and F&I, and how agents can ensure their efforts are recognized by dealers. ”Communication,” urged panelists, “is key.”

After a lunch that rivaled any Vegas hot spot, names were drawn for two $500 gift cards, courtesy of Old Republic Insured Automotive Services, and two weeklong deep-sea fishing trips, thanks to Performance Automotive Management. The lucky recipients of the gift cards were Glen Tuscan, president, Dealer Commitment Services, and Greg Liverett, vice president of marketing, SGI Services. William Kelly, partner, Automotive Development Group, and Anna McMillan, president, The Milby Group, were thrilled to win the fishing trip prizes.

Jim Maxim Jr., president, MaximTrak, showed agents how to use cutting edge technology to set themselves apart from the competition, increase profits and operate more easily and efficiently. In addition to examining today’s technology landscape in industries across the board, he presented innovative technology solutions for agents and explained how they could be integrated into everyday business.

The technology panel session dissected topics ranging from the impact of compliance on menu usage, to data analytics, and the increasingly popular move towards customer driven presentations in F&I. Panel members were in agreement that in any type of business, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

The day concluded with a drawing for a Surface Pro 3 sponsored by Endurance Dealer Services. Tom Clark, the owner of Prosperity Dealer Services, was named the prizewinner.

Day three of Agent Summit ushered in the second annual agent principal only session, featuring round table discussions during a sponsored breakfast. The new format was informative and engaging with top agents brainstorming solutions for common issues agents face in their day-to-day business operation. Agents entered the room on high alert as they scanned topics by table to decide which one was most relevant to them. After thoughtful collaboration, each table captain shared their group’s recommendations for making the most of the given challenges. Discussion topics included selling in the service drive, provider relations, dealer expectations, effectively managing a remote sales force, staffing, competition and more. As one table captain took the podium, he pointed out the vast amount of wisdom and experience in the room, stating that his table alone represented more than 81 years of collective industry experience.

Show sponsor, ECP, ended the third day by sending several attendees home with new timepieces. Tension filled the room when names were drawn for the recipients of a Tissot Sailing Touch watch, a Luminox Deep Dive watch, and a Rolex Explorer II. Derek Doberstein, account executive, Back End Builders, took home the Tissot; Brian LoBaugh, partner, Auto Group Services pocketed the Luminox; and Mark Swannie, president, Karbiz took home the grand prize Rolex.

At the end of the show, Crisorio shared his thoughts on Agent Summit V with AE, “The feedback I’ve received is scary. We’ve set the bar so high that future Summit planning will be challenging. Nonetheless, I was told over and over again that Agent Summit V was the best industry event EVER! That says it all and is a credit to the industry professionals that left their knowledge and talent on stage.”

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Competitive Targets

Steve Pearl, Bruce Osborne, Randall Rabbitt and Jay Sharpnack dissect the competition and give advice on how to win when it comes to reinsurance

During one of the sessions at Agent Summit 2014, an expert panel explored what moderator Steve Pearl, president & managing principal, The Oak Group described as the “opaque” topic of reinsurance. Pearl, who has a background as a CPA, auto retailer, and options trader opened the session by promising the panel would go after the competition and shed light on the complicated topic of reinsurance. “I have a pretty good financial background,” stated Pearl, “but every time I think I really understand reinsurance, I read a new prospectus or new offering circular and realize someone else has got a sharper pencil than me.”

The panel narrowed the discussion into three areas:

1. How do you find out what information a competitor is bringing to a dealership – what questions do you ask and where do you look?

2. What are the idiosyncrasies to look for? How do you compare your products to a competitor’s? What can you do to win the business from the current provider?

3. The income development piece – what do you need to do as an agent to develop the income within a dealership – on an income per retail basis.

Panelists agreed that the first step in the process is to ask questions to determine the type of program a dealer is currently in; is it a participation program or a reinsurance program? And did they form a CFC or a NCFC? With some dealers being savvier than others, agents must exercise care when seeking this information so as not embarrass an uninformed dealer. “Often, the dealer doesn’t know. There is an alphabet soup out there – CFC, NCFC, DOWC, PORC – and a lot of times, the dealer just doesn’t understand – it’s not what they do everyday. It doesn’t mean they are ignorant, they just aren’t informed.” said Randall Rabbitt, national sales director/executive vice president, United States Warranty Corp.“

So how do you obtain the information? According to Rabbitt, you get the dealer’s agreements, remittances, session statements, and offerings circular and then do a side-by-side comparison. Rabbitt explained that the process may take days to complete and is certainly not any fun, however, it may result in some surprises that you can use to your advantage. “There may be things the agent and the CFO did not know; bring these issues to light, then show the dealer the solution. No one wants to talk badly about the competition but this is the time to show the dealer the things that are wrong. Everybody wants to be politically correct but I think it’s more important to be correct.”

Often, Sharpnack explained, a company does a great job selling the concept, but doesn’t do so well explaining where the dollars go and how they get there. If you ask the dealer who named their company – the answer will usually reveal whether they are a NCFC or a CFC. If they named their own company, chances are they are a CFC, if the name was given to them, they are more likely a NCFC or they could be in a retro without even knowing it. The best answer from a dealer, however, is “I don’t know” because then you can sit down and figure it out together.

Rabbit shared a story about a competitor in Florida whose standard practice is to take all initial agreements, once signed, back to the office in order to execute them – but they consistently neglect to send a copies back to the dealer who signed. Eventually, when that dealer requests a copy of the agreement, the company is alerted to the fact that the dealer is probably talking to someone else. The result? Rabbit said at this point, the Florida company “sends in the suits!”

Bruce Osborne, national sales manager, Allstate Dealer Services, pointed out that an agent should look at the reinsurance treaty and determine how the money flows and whether or not it can be tracked. “The typical rep for the big box companies is basically doing F&I training and development and that’s it. The difference an agent can make is in coaching the dealer and looking at everything else that is involved. There is a lot you can do to add value to the F&I training development piece that the typical big box rep isn’t qualified to do, and frankly, is discouraged from doing. Tracking the money on a per contract basis and doing things on the back side can really make a difference.”

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

When the big box companies sit down with a map and make a list of dealers for their reps to call on, the best way to prevent them from ever getting traction in a store is to be there before they are and have the same discussions they are going to have. Jay Sharpnack, national sales manager, CNA National Warranty Corporation said, “They come into the store and they do a blueprint or an analysis – they are going to talk to the dealer about every department in the store and find out what your agent is not doing right. Then they will come back in with a PowerPoint and people in suits explaining how they will fix everything – and they sound pretty darn good. They are pretty convincing. The problem is, we need to be looking at all the things they are saying they can do better than we can – the numbers, the losses, the income development, the service departments and the headaches they have, the income trends, the turn over from the sales office to F&I – and we need to be out ahead of it, having those same discussions well in advance. The problem with these guys coming after your store is that they are really good – they’ve got word tracks and so much paper that it looks like they have chopped down a whole forest. And they have hired people who are really good at what they do. They are gunning for you. They sit around and talk about the fact that agents aren’t good – agents are old school. The key is getting as much information as you can in advance, so you can control your store and protect your turf.”

Beating the Competition

In addition to requesting information from the dealer, everyone agreed on the importance of an agent leaning on his or her supplier. “Your supplier will tell you what to get,” advised Pearl, “Then once you have the session reports, annual reports, tax returns, etc., you call them and say ‘Geez- now what do I do with all this information?’ because you are not an accountant or CPA. But if you don’t lean on your suppliers and the experts who work with them to help you through this, then you are going to have a lot of trouble combating a reinsurance account. The bad guys have these people on their payroll as back up. You have back up too, but you may have to ask for it.”

Rabbitt added, “You have the right to call your provider and hold them liable. If you see something wrong, you can call BS on us. We are in the age now where everything is exposed. We all know all the programs that are out there and their weaknesses and strengths.”

So what do you do if a manufacturer promises more vehicles in return for selling their products, or they say they will only let you fund their contracts? In these scenarios, the panel said it boils down to having a strong dealer, which is going to be born from having done the side-by-side comparison with him or her. You need to advise your dealer to get promises in writing – which is not likely to happen – and show them just how much money it is going to cost them to get that extra allocation.

Rabbit urged agents to stand strong, “Stand up and say ‘this is my business and I am not going to put up with it.’ There are people out there who will help you – FADAs and NADAs – and there are people to help the dealer combat this. There are reasons why we are going after these guys. This has to stop. They don’t own that dealership. The only way this is going to happen is – if collectively – strong dealers fight this! And we are strong. All of us are part of the Service Contract Industry Council. The more you convince a dealer that the manufacturer is not their friend, the better off they are going to be. And dealers know that.”

The True Cost of Doing Business

Many companies are not price-competitive in anything. It is important for agents to work with dealers to look at the overall package. In some cases, an agent might have to spell things out for the dealer so they can see where the money really goes. But in order to have all the information this involves, an agent must have earned the dealer’s trust.

Sharpnack said, “The reality is you guys are as capable from a F&I training and development standpoint [as the big box providers]… Why wouldn’t the dealer want to do business with you, when you are more competitive from an administrative perspective and ceding fee standpoint, and you have the same kind of training and development that the big box companies do!”

When it comes to ceding fees, Rabbit used the analogy of a bank telling a customer they were going to put the customer’s own money in an account for them – and that the bank would charge them for doing this. No one would put up with this, yet reinsurance programs with the same basic scenario are rampant.

Another company collects $60 for what they refer to as “promotional budget.” Sharpnack described the process. “They use this money, collected from all of their clients, to buy up other dealers. If by the end of the year, they haven’t spent it all, their sales people run around throwing money at certain dealers before year-end. The irony for the dealer is that their money is being used to buy other dealers. Talk to a dealer who isn’t being offered that!”

In some cases, Rabbitt said even reps are happily ignorant. “There are hidden fees that they don’t even know about. One had a $5500 administrative fee and yet claimed to have no hidden fees.”

Pearl closed the session with a review, reiterating the importance of finding out information about the competitor by obtaining session reports, annual reports, tax returns, etc. from the dealer. Regarding the idiosyncrasies of competitors’ programs, Pearl advised agents to be on the lookout for loss adjustment fees where they have a low admin fee, or low ceding fees when they are charging on every single claim they adjudicate.

Regarding the income development piece, Pearl said, “First, go in and show the dealer blueprints for how you are going to earn them money. But don’t be afraid to go in and ask that dealer, “How often does your current provider come in and review your loss ratios with you?” Its important when you are servicing this account on a reinsurance side that you are controlling the losses.

At the end of the day, the consensus from the panel was the strong recommendation for agents to take advantage of the resources that are available and call their providers to stay apprised of any challenges that are trending across the country. This is the sort of thing providers are aware of and can share with their agents. If an agent is taking advantage of the relationship they have with a provider, then the provider can – and should be – a great resource to them. Rabbit concluded, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Whatever we can do collectively to make ourselves stronger, will make those guys weaker. We aren’t smarter or better looking, but the advantage we do have is we are national and we see a bigger picture. We see things occurring across the country and can share them with you. Call us anytime. We are always available to help.”

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Get Your Badge Early and Avoid the Crowd!

LAS VEGAS – Show organizers announced pre-registration badge pick-up will be available from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 1, 2015. Get your show badge early and avoid the crowd on Monday!

Start your networking and relax after your flight with a cocktail courtesy of Warranty Solutions, this year’s Welcome Reception Sponsor. The registration area is located in the Agent Summit conference hallway.

Stop by the Welcome Reception and pick-up your badge and an Agent Summit souvenir mug before they are all gone!

“Thank you Warranty Solutions for kicking off Agent Summit 2015,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom. “We are excited to get the event started and share everything that Agent Summit has to offer this year!”

Agent Summit is scheduled for March 2-4, 2015 at the Venetian Palazzo Las Vegas.

Click here to register now!

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Online Registration Closes Soon

Hello, and welcome to Agent Summit V! My name is Kate Spatafora. I’m here to remind you that online registration will be closing shortly!

You can avoid the lines and register online today!

Visit www.AgentSummit.com and click on the Register tab.

Just be sure to register by Friday!

The show begins Monday, March 2, with the third annual Reinsurance Symposium. This year’s Agent Summit will also include sessions on Selling to Dealers, Training, Coaching and Development and Technology.

So visit www.AgentSummit.com today. See you in Vegas!

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Portfolio Celebrates 25 Years of Reinsurance Management for Dealers

IRVINE, Calif. – Portfolio, one of the nation’s leading reinsurance program manager for automotive dealers, is celebrating its 25th year of delivering comprehensive reinsurance products and services to its dealer clients through a network of professional independent agents. The celebration started with a black-tie party for dealers during NADA 2015 at San Francisco’s Julia Morgan Ballroom. Other events are planned for 2015 to honor agents, employees, and other contributors to the company’s long-term growth and success.

“This past year we crossed the 1,000,000 contracts per year threshold, enjoying a 22% overall growth rate over 2013,” observes Brent Griggs, President and CEO. “It was a rewarding milestone to achieve at the quarter-century mark. But more importantly, we see it as evidence of how vital we are to the dealer’s success in the automotive marketplace, so we won’t be resting on our laurels. We continue to develop new and better ways to serve our dealer clients and agents with new products, technology and processes that add to their success, and ours.”

“We founded the company on a very simple concept to help dealers get the most out of their F&I program- true 100% ownership by the dealer, and delivering every benefit possible as part of that ownership,” said Steve Burke, founder and Chief Executive of Sales. “Reinsurance was an unproven business model back in 1990, but we knew its potential as a game-changer for dealers to establish a personal wealth asset outside the dealership. Since then we have seen complete acceptance of the Portfolio concept, and have enjoyed spectacular growth as a result.”

Mr. Burke adds, “I can remember the first business remitted back in early 1990, and the tiny office we worked out of. It was a very humble beginning. So now when I look at the $1.4 Billion earned by our dealers’ reinsurance companies inception-to-date, not to mention far more than that earned in their dealerships, I am grateful to all those who placed their trust and energies into making our mutual success happen.”

To recognize the professional agents who have long been instrumental in Portfolio’s growth, the company is hosting a cocktail reception at Agent Summit in Las Vegas on March 2. To honor its top agents Portfolio is holding the first Portfolio Pacesetters retreat during the IndyCar Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, California in April. Other events will be announced throughout the year, culminating with a December gala for employees in Irvine and Dallas.

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A Look at This Year’s Sponsored Giveaways

LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the fifth annual Agent Summit have announced that there are five possible chances to win prizes at this year’s event. Entire Car Protection (ECP) and Old Republic Insured Automotive Services (ORIAS) will sponsor giveaways for three watches and two $500 gift cards, respectively. The event is scheduled for March 2–4, 2015, at the Venetian Palazzo Las Vegas.

Attendees will have the opportunity to enter a drawing to win one of the three watches, a Tissot Sailing Touch, a Luminox Deep Dive and a Rolex Explorer II, all sponsored by ECP. The watch prize winners will be announced at the Agency Principals Only Breakfast and Roundtable on Wednesday morning between 9:00am and 11:00am. Agency Principals who attend this session will be eligible for the drawing.

Two $500 gift cards sponsored by ORIAS will be announced during lunch in the Expo Area on Tuesday starting at 12:15pm. Attendees registered with a General Agent Pass will automatically be entered into the drawing for these two prizes.

“We are lucky to have such great giveaways available to show attendees this year,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom. “We can’t thank our sponsors enough for their generosity.”

For more information about Agent Summit or to register, visit AgentSummit.com. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact Eric Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 727-612-8826.

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