Tag Archive | "ancillary products"

Dent Wizard Announces New COO, Mid-South RVP

ST. LOUIS — F&I product provider Dent Wizard International has promoted Addison Thomas to COO and Doug Grill to Thomas’ previous position as regional vice president of Dent Wizard’s Mid-South region. These promotions come after Mike Black was promoted to CEO April 1.

Thomas will assume Black’s COO responsibilities and lead the core service operations team. He served in various roles with Dent Wizard over the past 16 years, most recently as regional vice president of the Mid-South region.

Grill is being promoted from his role as regional director of operations in the Southeast region. He has been with Dent Wizard five years, serving in sales and client service roles.

“It is quite rewarding to provide upward mobility to talented and committed teammates,” said CEO Mike Black. “I’ve personally worked with Addison for over 20 years. His focus on people, process, and delivering customer value is second to none. He inherits a great group of experienced leaders who bring tremendous intellectual capital and proven performance to his senior team.

“Doug Grill’s work ethic and people skills, combined with his drive to win, make him an exceptional asset,” added Black. “He’s a perfect example of the bench strength we have throughout our organization. I’m confident that these two business leaders will bring significant value to our clients, partners, and the company in their new positions.”

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An Interview with Patrick Brown, President of Performance Automotive Management

This month, AE Magazine was able to sit down with the president of Performance Automotive Management, Patrick Brown. Brown discusses his company, products and how they contribute to the industry.

Tell us about your company?

Performance Automotive Management is a regional TPA specializing in the ancillary products arena. Performance has been in business for more than five years in the TPA arena with its emphasis on customer satisfaction. All present employees go through a rigorous 12 month customer enrichment program designed by an outside consulting group to help lead all new employees through our Customer First Program. The management and staff are committed to this program on a yearly basis. Since the implementation of our Customer First Program, we found from our customers that our overall approval rate has not only doubled but has opened more opportunities with new clients.

Performance offers products through its agent network around the country and through some preferred club portfolios. At Performance we offer dealer owned T&W programs, GAP, ETCH, Paint Dent & Repair, 90 Day Limited Warranty, Roadside Club Assistance programs and other reinsurance programs for our clients. Performance also has VSC programs through A-rated carriers available also.

How do your product offerings differ from others?

Our product offerings have some minor differences, but overall they seem to be universal in our offerings. But again it’s our Customer First Program that sets us apart from others in our market place.

Who are your target markets and what message would like to give them?

Our sweet spot is the small, medium size groups who are looking for first class service with an exceptional experience for their clients and helping dealers drive more F&I income with the help of our Revenue Development team to maximize every opportunity presented to them, in a compliant experience for their customers.

Tell us about yourself and how you became President of Performance Automotive Management?

At one point I was the Executive Vice President of another TPA, and was frustrated with the ‘disconnect’ between the customer and the claims department in regard to making sure the Dealers’ reputation and integrity was not compromised during the claims process. Therefore, I set out on my own to develop such a TPA where the most important aspect is to take care of the customer and if there is an issue with a specific claim, the customer has a full understanding of the final decision.

Looking back over the past five years how has the industry changed and how do you see it changing?

The business has changed drastically with new regulations and compliance. With today’s technology, the dealer and agent world is completely different from years past. We also now have greater competition from the OEM’s in the F&I offices along with traditional banks entering our space making competition stiff and pricing very competitive.

With this in mind TPAs like ourselves will need to be flexible and understand we have an educated consumer today with all the information available to the consumer. With that in mind we have to be completely, ‘full disclosure’ in our dealings with our clients and the end consumer to show the value of our products and the ease of use for the client and consumer. In going forward we feel CSI will become just as important as the product and pricing, that is why again we invest a lot in our process and people with our Customer First Program.

What product will drive your future success?

We believe there is no single product that will drive our success other than the customer experience. Again, this is why we believe our process through automation and our Revenue Development training program enhanced by our overall CSI experience of our Customer First Program will drive Performance Automotive Management success.

Tell us a little more about yourself. What do you like to do to relax and what outside interests and hobbies do you have?

Mostly, I love what I do and am on the road talking to the dealers and the agents most of the month. I have been in this industry for well over 20 years and know that in order to survive, we all must be flexible and creative to keep the edge and stay one step ahead of the competition. I also enjoy tennis and try to get on the courts at least once a week. If I get the chance I also enjoy relaxing on my boat with family and friends and fishing the Bahamian waters as much as possible.

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The Best of the Rest

Traditional F&I products or “legacy” products like service contracts, GAP and credit insurance form the backbone of a dealership’s F&I offerings, but are arguably the most difficult conquest products for an independent agent. How does an agent distinguish himself from his competitors when everyone essentially sells a slightly different version of the same thing?

Enter the ancillary products that complement the dealer’s legacy products on a menu. There are so many different types of ancillaries: chemical/appearance, theft, tire & wheel, pre-paid maintenance, key replacement, paintless dent repair, lease wear and tear, identity theft protection and more. These low-cost, often non-cancellable products offer huge benefits to the dealer and the consumer while offering the agent a useful door-breaker to gain a foothold in conquest accounts.

If we look at a dealer’s menu as a piece of commercial real estate, the total size of the property is limited. We must maximize the income producing potential of each section of the property. Service contracts and GAP are our anchor properties, with the outparcels consisting or our ancillary offerings.

What number of ancillary products is too few or too many on a menu? Is there an optimum number? A good rule of thumb would be each ancillary product should achieve at least 20 percent penetration per retail or you have too many. An indication of too few ancillary products would be a menu for a cash deal that did not have enough products to make a four-column menu with a decreasing number of products in each column.

Has anyone else noticed that there has not been a really “new” or exciting F&I product in quite some time? LoJack’s RF (radio frequency) theft recovery product was interesting when it originally came out but was generally sold directly to dealerships, thus bypassing most general agents. LoJack was extremely successful, so much so that the company went public. Today, however, technology has left them in the dust. Could there be a way to capture some of that marketing magic and provide opportunity for the general agent?

GPS-based telematics solutions just might be the next great F&I product offering and assume the position on the menu as the “best of the rest.” The ubiquity of smart phones and the build out of the digital cellular network has made this technology possible at a price point too low to ignore any longer. With OEM’s like GM and now Chrysler offering telematics solutions as standard equipment on 2011 models, there is a big gaping hole to fill offering a telematics solution to the dealers of other makes.

A quick telematics primer for those unfamiliar with this technology:

  • A “device” the size of a small cellular phone is “stealthily” installed in the vehicle. A technician with a modest skill level can install the device in just a few minutes in any vehicle.
  • There are no antennas or anything identifying that the vehicle is equipped with the device, unlike OnStar which is easily defeatable by simply breaking off the external antenna.
  • The device contains a GPS chip and a digital cellular telephone with internal antennas.
  • The GPS chip uses the same satellites as a navigation system to determine its location, speed and direction. The vehicle can then be located on a map.
  • By simply querying the vehicle through the digital cell phone, effectively asking the device “Where are you?” it is possible to provide a host of LBS (location-based services) accessible on the web by the consumer or a call center operator.
  • A partial list of LBS features include on-demand live vehicle tracking, historical location, ignition on/off, speed monitoring, geo fencing (notification is provided if the vehicle enters or leaves a user defined radius) and early theft detection.

As sexy, high-tech, practical and inexpensive as today’s telematics services are, no provider has achieved even a modest success when compared to what LoJack has accomplished over the last 10 years. Perhaps this is a function of the product’s simplicity? LoJack only purports to do one thing and they do it well, at least in the very limited area they provide coverage: recover a stolen vehicle.

Full-blown telematics solutions available today have not had a significant impact in the market, in spite of the fact that they offer a plethora of valuable LBS to the consumer accessible via the web plus an RF-killing stolen vehicle recovery solution that offers nationwide coverage with none of RF’s limitations.

The reason for the lack of success in finance of a full-blown telematics solution is that it is simply beyond the ability of a finance manager, constrained as they are to secure financing and sell service contracts, GAP and other ancillaries within a short time period, to have an additional 15 minutes to sell all of the features and benefits of a full featured telematics product. Perhaps a different approach could bring this exciting technology within reach of the average consumer?

The main focus of a development agent is assisting his dealer clients in increasing finance gross. A noble cause, surely, but every agent out there is trying to do the same thing. Suppose your agency could present a scenario to a dealer in which he not only increased finance gross but sales gross and fixed operations gross as well. Let’s call it a “holistic” approach to income development in which the entire dealership is affected positively all at the same time. Could you get a dealer’s attention with such a scenario if it worked? Would it distinguish your agency in the marketplace?

These opportunities exist today for the savvy agent who is clever enough to recognize the implications, limitations and potential of melding a tangible product (the device) with an intangible product (non-recovered stolen vehicle guarantee, much like the cash benefit of an etch product)and combining everything into a solution where everybody wins: the agent, the dealership and the consumer.

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