Tag Archive | "ALLSTATE"

PALS Panel on Self-Governance Draws Interest

LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the annual P&A Leadership Summit have announced that “Govern or Be Governed,” a compliance-themed panel staffed by leading executives from the F&I product providers segment, is drawing marked interest among attendees. The event will be held Sept. 9–10 at Paris Las Vegas.

“It’s clear [the topic] has struck a nerve in the industry, where compliance in general and the machinations of the CFPB in particular weigh heavily on the minds of dealers and the directors of the companies that serve them,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of F&I and Showroom and P&A magazines. “The fact that many of the leading minds in the F&I products segment were willing to take on this topic is undoubtedly among the main reasons the panel is generating a high level of intrigue throughout the industry.”

The panel is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 2 p.m. Moderator Tim Meenan, an attorney and managing partner of Meenan PA, will be joined by Steve Amos, president of GSFSGroup; David DeCredico, senior vice president of business development for EasyCare; Doug Frey, Allstate Dealer Services’ executive vice president and COO; Mark Macek, president of United States Warranty Corp.; and Kelly Price, president of National Automotive Experts.

Among other topics, the panel is expected to speculate on what form guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the F&I products arena might take, including price or markup controls; whether product providers can stave off new regulations by preemptively imposing their own rules; and how providers, agents and dealers can work together to ensure that their interests, as well as those of car buyers, can be protected in such a scenario.

Registration for the P&A Leadership Summit is now open. More information, including the full agenda, speakers and hotel room block is available at the event’s website. To inquire about sponsorship or exhibition opportunities, contact David Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 727-947-4027.

Posted in Auto Industry News, Summit UpdatesComments (0)

Allstate Announces Leadership Changes at Allstate Dealer Services

Northbrook, IL – The Allstate Corporation today announced leadership changes at Allstate Dealer Services (ADS). Mark Green, president of Ivantage Select Agency, Inc., will take on a dual role and become president of Allstate Dealer Services. Green replaces Doug Herberger who resigned in March 2014. Douglas Frey, director of the Allstate Auto Dealer Program is promoted to chief operating officer of ADS.

“Allstate Dealer Services is a leading provider of Finance and Insurance (F&I) products and one of Allstate’s fast-growing businesses,” said Kathy Mabe, president of Allstate Business to Business. “Mark and Doug have strong track records of building and growing insurance operations. Their leadership experience will help continue the momentum at Allstate Dealer Services.”

Mark Green was previously vice president in Allstate’s Capital Region and senior vice president of the sales and distribution division of Allstate Financial Services. In 2012, he became president of Ivantage, an affiliate and insurance brokerage operation of Allstate. Green will maintain his role with Ivantage while taking on leadership of Allstate Dealer Services. Prior to joining Allstate, Green served in executive roles for Swiss Re, Chubb, Wells Fargo and the AIX Group. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College and received his MBA from Columbia Business School.

Doug Frey joined Allstate in 2013 as director of the Dealer Exclusive Agency Program. He came to Allstate from the Warranty Group and Virginia Surety Insurance, where he served as senior vice president. Frey has more than 25 years of experience and has held senior leadership roles at GMAC, Administration Specialists of Omaha, Arthur Andersen and the Universal Warranty Corporation. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Albion College and received his MBA from the University of Michigan.

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Allstate Announces Sale of Sterling Collision Centers Inc.

Northbrook, Ill. – Allstate entered into an agreement to sell Sterling Collision Centers Inc. to Service King Collision Repair Centers. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of 2014 and result in a small after-tax gain.

“This sale reflects a continued focus on investing capital where we have a competitive advantage in providing unique offerings to the four consumer insurance segments,” said Thomas J. Wilson, chairman, president and CEO, Allstate Corp. “Our ownership of Sterling has deepened the company’s understanding of the collision-repair business and helped us build industry relationships. The transition for our customers and Allstate agencies will be seamless.”

Allstate purchased Sterling Collision Centers in 2001. Sterling operates 62 collision-repair facilities in 16 states and has 1,200 employees.

Service King has been repairing Allstate customers’ vehicles for more than 30 years and is part of Allstate’s Good Hands Repair Network of more than 3,200 pre-qualified repair shops across the country.

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Taking on the Big Boys – Differentiation Part 2

In my last article I discussed the importance of knowing who you are and what your sweet spot is. In this article I would like to explore the concept of differentiation and the role it plays in winning business. To illustrate this point, I’d like to ask you a question, the same question we ask at the start of all our agent sales programs.

Why would a dealer be willing to hand over a multi-million dollar piece of their business to you?

Take a moment…what did you come up with?

More than likely, you came up with something like, “we provide excellent training designed to improve F&I performance”, or “we’re a well established local company with a long track record of success”, or “we’re experts in the area of wealth building for our dealer clients”. While these answers may well be true, they’re probably not going to get through to your prospect. Why? Because it’s the same thing they’ve heard before.

Look at it this way, if you were the dealer and someone pitched you something that was essentially the same as what you currently have, what would be your motivation to change? Change is hard, and in order for your prospect to be willing to take on that change, they must believe that you or your solution is a sufficiently better option to what they currently have. If not, they’re likely to stay with the status quo.

So, how do you differentiate yourself from your competition? It begins with changing the way you think. The power of the mind is an amazing thing, and if you change the way you think, you’ll change the way you act. Yes, you have to know your stuff. Yes, you need to have a compelling value proposition. Yes, you need to be able to provide high quality products and services to your customers (all of which I will address in subsequent articles). But more importantly, you have to stop thinking that your prospect is doing you the favor by buying from you.

Let me repeat that. You must change the belief that the prospect is doing you a favor when they decide to partner with you or purchase from you.

Once you know your stuff, and you have the ability to convey your strong value proposition to the prospect, you change your belief to — I’m doing the prospect the favor by offering my products and services to him / her. There are a ton of options out there, but only one of me. When you change the way you think, you change the way you act.

A word of caution, before you go running off to your next appointment and tell the dealer that he / she should feel honored by the fact that you’re even talking to them, please keep in mind that this approach is based on a significant amount of research. More specifically, it’s based on neuroscience or the study of the brain. In short, the modern brain has three levels with each level separated by a gate. The first gate will open only if you’re compelling, different or interesting. If you’re not, if you’re just like the last guy, you have little or no chance of success. But once you understand the power of being different, doors will open. Change the way you think, and you’ll change the way you act.

To illustrate this point, I’d like to put you in a familiar scenario. You’ve been trying to set up your initial meeting with a prospect, and after a few weeks you finally get the meeting. You arrive at the dealership a little early, you have your best suit on, you walk into the dealer’s office, smile and extend your hand and say… “Hi John, I’m Peter, thanks for taking the time to meet with me.” While this may sound professional and courteous, it sends the wrong message. It suggests that the prospect’s time is more valuable than yours, that the prospect is doing you the favor by meeting with you. Without even realizing it you’ve begun your acquisition attempt in a hole. Now I’m not saying you won’t be able to climb out of the hole and win the deal, but I am suggesting you’re making it more difficult than it needs to be.

When you believe it’s you that is doing the favor by meeting with the prospect, the scenario plays out differently. You still arrive at the dealership a little early, you still have your best suit on, you walk into the dealers office, smile and extend your hand and say… “Hi John, I’m Peter, I’m glad we could find the time to get together.” By starting off the conversation on a level playing field, the prospect feels, rather than knows, something is different about you, and you’re more likely to get past the first brain barrier. And, when you’re really good at this and understand the entire process, you’ll be able to actually walk into the dealer’s office and say…”Hi John, I’m Peter, I’m glad I could make the time to meet with you.” But remember, until you fully understand the concept of how a buyer’s mind works, don’t start acting like a jack wagon. I just wanted to illustrate the power of differentiation. If you’re interested in more information about this topic, feel free to contact me.

When it comes to competing with the “Big Box” F&I providers, you have to get your prospect’s attention very quickly. Differentiation is one of the keys. Mull this information over. How often do you automatically take a subordinate position relative to the dealer? Give it a try, rather than thank the prospect for his / her valuable time, tell him / her how happy you are that you could get together. And finally, give some thought to how you’ll answer the question “Why should I do business with you?” Know the answer, practice the answer and then deliver it with confidence and conviction.

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Taking on the Big Boys – Differentiation Part 1

How can independent agents compete for and win business from the “Big Box” F&I providers? Before I provide my thoughts on the subject, let me start out with a definition of “Big Box” F&I provider. For the purpose of the articles I am writing, I’m referring to the large, well established, direct employee providers in our industry. They would be the Goliath in the biblical tale of David and Goliath. Actually, the story of David and Goliath provides a good backdrop to the situation a lot of high quality independent agents’ face on a day-to-day basis. Much like David, the odds look horribly stacked against you. The competition is much bigger than you, financially stronger than you, and has been terrorizing the townspeople for years. Yet, in order to survive, you (like David) have to believe in yourself; you have to defy the odds and you have to take the giant down, but how? Over the next few issues, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned over the past 28 years in the sole hope that it will help you elevate your game.

In order to win new business, you need to be able to describe your value proposition (more about that in future articles) in a clear, concise, and compelling manner to prospect dealers. Before you can do that however, you need to determine who you’re going to be. Whether you’re a part of a full service agency or on your own, you need to determine your sweet spot. In other words, where you think you’ll have the greatest competitive advantage. An agent’s sweet spot may be as individual as his/her fingerprints, but it’s an essential element for success. When determining your sweet spot, you need to be honest with yourself and realistic with your expectations.

What are you good at? Can you work with underperforming F&I departments, raise the PVR and improve product penetrations? Do you remain current on the legal climate and how Dodd-Frank and the CFPB are likely to impact dealers today? Are you an authority on reinsurance and wealth-building strategies for dealers? Do you have the manpower to service a multi-store dealer group? Do you have the cheapest product on the street? Do you have something unique and different? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself, and remember, when answering, be honest with yourself.

Next, take a look at the providers you represent. Are your offerings better suited for franchise stores or independents? Do you have an advantage with domestics or imports? Is there a particular make that gives you an edge?

How well do you know the competition? Whenever you attempt to unseat an incumbent, you need to know what you’re up against. Why did the dealer choose them in the first place? How long have they been working together? Who has the important relationships? How good are you at introducing doubt in the mind of the decision maker?

These are just a few thought-starters for you. Once you know who you are and what your ideal prospect looks like, then you can move to the next step, which is segmenting your market. Market segmentation involves looking at the opportunities in your marketing area, and then comparing them to the list of attributes that best align with your sweet spot. This step allows you to prioritize your acquisition activities and better leverage your strengths.

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An Interview with Doug Herberger

Recently, AE Magazine sat down with Allstate Dealer Services’ (ADS) President, Doug Herberger, to find out more about what the company has been doing, and where it’s going in the future. The long-time automotive executive came into ADS with a mission to increase the business – and he’s done just that, with no end in sight. Read below to hear, in his own words, what ADS has achieved since he joined the company, and where he plans to take it next.

Can you tell me a little bit about Allstate Dealer Services and where you see its place in the industry?
Allstate Dealer Services (ADS) is a business unit within Allstate’s Emerging Businesses (EB). EB was created in 2007 and consists of business units which sell products that complement the company’s core auto and home products.

ADS consists of one insurance entity – First Colonial Insurance Company (FCIC) – as well as two non-insurance entities – American Heritage Insurance Services (AHIS) and Pablo Creek Services Inc. (PCSI) – which both provide full B2B administration services.

ADS’ products and services are provided nationwide to over 10,000 auto dealerships, credit unions and financial institutions. We have three distribution channels – our Independent Agent channel, our Third Party Administrator (TPA) channel and our OEM channel.

We have two locations. Jacksonville is our headquarters, and in Miami we have a claims processing team for GAP and some ancillary products.

Through the financial strength, stability and underwriting expertise of our parent company, Allstate, our vision is to be the number one or number two provider of F&I products and services to the automotive industry.

Can you give us a bit more about your own history in the auto industry, and how you ended up at Allstate Dealer Services?
I have 35 years of experience in the Automotive Industry, spending most of that time in leadership positions with General Motors (GM) in North America and overseas. I was appointed GM Vice President, and General Manager of GM Service and Parts Operations (SPO) in 2002. Prior to that, I had responsibility for all vehicle sales, service and marketing in GM’s Western Region from 1998 to 2002. Before retiring in 2009, our team at SPO achieved seven consecutive years of record profits and had the highest customer satisfaction scores in the industry.

I re-entered the world of work as a favor to one of my GM colleagues who had assumed a senior level position with Allstate. Allstate was looking for someone to head up its Dealer Services business in Jacksonville so they asked me give it some thought. After a “Look See” trip to Chicago, they made me an offer and I started at ADS in February 2011. Among the reasons I was most attracted to Allstate were (1) the strength of the Allstate brand and the potential to bring the power of that brand to its F&I business and (2) the Jacksonville office was 1,017 miles away from Chicago.

Allstate Dealer Services is one of the fastest growing divisions of Allstate – can you give us a few of the key reasons on how you’re achieving that impressive growth?
The initial plan about three months into the new job at ADS was to profitably double the business in 1,000 days. We promised our agents a broader portfolio of Allstate branded F&I products, improved back office processes and getting more of the right people on the bus. Over the past two and a half years we have made a lot of improvements to our value proposition, especially in the areas of product & brand, back office processes and people. But that journey continues.

We also have benefited from an active and engaged Agent Advisory Council which we formed back in 2011. With their help and a robust subcommittee process, we have focused on improvements in four key areas of our business – product, technology, operations and reinsurance. We would not be where we are today without the help of our agents. That process will continue, and with a little luck we should be able to achieve the growth challenge we set out to achieve some 900 days ago.

We are now looking at 2014 and beyond for innovative ways to sustain the momentum we have built since mid-July 2011. We want to maintain and grow the relationships we have with our current distribution partners. Some of our distribution partners are asking us to explore opportunities with new products in distribution channels we have yet to enter. We’ll work closely with our partners to take advantage of those opportunities where we can effectively manage risk and grow profitably.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing the industry today? Why?
In my view the single biggest challenge our industry faces is the myriad of external factors that can affect the performance of the companies that compete in the F&I space.

Things like credit availability, residual values, vehicle quality (both real and perceived) and the regulatory environment can have a dramatic impact on an F&I company’s performance. However for most factors, we have little or no control over them.

That said, I am very proud of our team’s ability to sense and respond to changes brought about by many of these external factors. For example, we closely track used car values, credit availability and other factors that could affect our GAP losses. We are constantly assessing changes to these factors and making adjustments accordingly.

We are also closely following the actions of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and, in turn, working with our industry trade organizations to benefit from their guidance.

Do you have any new products or programs planned for the next 12 – 18 months? What can agents and dealers look forward to from Allstate?
We’re always looking for ways to broaden our product portfolio and improve the benefits and features of existing products. Since July of 2011 we have introduced eight new products and have had seven product refreshes. Over that 27 month period we launched something new or refreshed every eight weeks on average. That’s incredible progress. And when you consider the need to obtain approvals from states, lenders and others for each separate launch – well to say the least, we’ve been busy.

Looking ahead, we will continue to work with all of our partners and our Agent Advisory Council to ensure we have a product portfolio that allows them to offer dealers a full range of Allstate branded or Allstate backed F&I products. We are finding that dealers and their customers are willing to shake hands faster when they’re in the “Good Hands” of Allstate. And with that handshake you get 30 years of expertise, a wealth of auto industry experience and a name you can trust. Our parent company has been around for over 80 years. We believe it’s important for our agents, our dealers and their customers to know and trust the name that’s on their F&I contracts. That is what you get with Allstate and we hope to be around for at least another 80 years.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I appreciate the opportunity to share a small part of our story and I would like to personally thank all the men and women at ADS for all the hard work they have put in the past two and a half years. Also, we are looking forward to attending the Agent Summit Meeting in March 2014.

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