Tag Archive | "AUL Corp."

AAA Mid-Atlantic offers Mechanical Breakdown Protection to its Members


NAPA, Calif. – AUL will operate as the administrator of AAA Mid‐Atlantic new vehicle service contract program, called the AAA Vehicle Protection Plan (VPP). This relationship was designed to enhance AAA membership by combining the exclusive AAA Roadside Assistance experience with the added mechanical breakdown protection of a service contract administered by a veteran in the vehicle service contract business, AUL Corp.

This program is available to all members throughout the AAA Mid-Atlantic region. The AAA Vehicle Protection Plan offers three levels of coverage, including the option of battery replacement, 0% financing for up to 18 months, business use and the exclusive AUL Any-Year Any-Mileage plan. AUL Corp. is recognized by the Better Business Bureau as an A rated company and is also backed by an A-rated insurance company.

Keith McIntyre, Manager of AAA’s Auto Buying Experience, stated, “AAA MA is very excited and pleased to be working with AUL as we introduce our new Vehicle Protection Plan (VPP). The AUL customer centric experience is the perfect fit for AAA, we are confident this added protection will be of great value to our members.”

Jason Garner General Sales Manager of AUL Corp., said, “AUL is excited to partner with a company like AAA where the member always comes first. AUL’s commitment to customer service has always been at the forefront of our mission. These parallel philosophies will serve AAA’s members with the best Vehicle Service Contract experience available.”

Customers wanting more information can contact AAA Mid-Atlantic at 800-323-4300 or at their website midatlantic.aaa.com. AAA Mid-Atlantic serves members in Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC and parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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What Does 2013 Have in Store for Our Industry?


The end of 2012 was certainly an interesting one, on a lot of levels. The election in November helped to shape the way the budget talks went at the end of December, and no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, it’s probably safe to say that no one really won here. There were wins and losses on both sides, concessions made to pass a deal late on New Year’s, but that was mostly a stop-gap effort, with more political debating about our economy and debt to come. But why are we talking about that here? Because it will play a very strong role in what 2013 will bring for the automotive industry in general, and agents and F&I managers specifically.

We talked to a few industry players to get their take on what to watch for in 2013, and the first striking trend was that almost all of them are only cautiously optimistic. They all see the economy — and the industry — either holding steady or showing moderate growth, and all of them prefaced their remarks by noting that a lot of that is due to uncertainty with where the economy will go, and how the politicians will solve various debt issues. One of the major fallouts from the New Year’s bill that passed Congress is that the payroll tax cuts expired — meaning every American has less discretionary income now.

“I don’t know that there has ever been a time I’ve been so confused as to what will come in the next year,” said Tony Wanderon, president and CEO, Family First Dealer Services. “There are so many changes and uncertainty in the economy. I’m not going to think anyone on a salary will be taking home more, and that could put pressure on car sales, which will then put substantial pressure on F&I sales. If that increases payments, even if consumers need a new car, they might not be able to afford it. The first half of the year could be a challenge as we absorb the changes that will occur.”

Wanderon went on to note that he does believe that, once consumers adjust to the changes, the second half of the year will see the market expand, and as auto sales grow, F&I will follow suit. He also said that without economic uncertainties, the trends all suggest 2013 will be a great year, with lending starting to open up, especially the advanced lending that is key for F&I sales.

Ryan Williams, executive vice president, Fidelis Systems, agreed, noting that he doesn’t see the market shrinking, but doesn’t predict a huge swell, either. “I don’t see much of a change in overall penetration. With banks loosening up a bit we may see a lift of 5% or so.”

Another expert in agreement with that sentiment is Kelly Price, president, National Automotive Experts. “I would think F&I penetration will remain fairly steady. With grosses declining and the pinch on the economy and tax increases, I don’t see it increasing overall.”

“The swing between pessimistic and optimistic industry pundits is 500,000 units — an estimated 14.5 or 15 million cars and light trucks will be sold in 2013. I concur with those who predict a second, but less severe, recessionary dip, likely in the third or fourth quarter,” noted David Robertson, executive director, AFIP. But that number is still up from the 2009 levels of 10.4 million, so even with that slight dip he sees coming, the industry is still in a much stronger position today than it was a few years ago.

Bright Spots
Despite the economic troubles that will impact every aspect of every industry in this country, there are some bright spots. F&I, the experts agreed, might not grow hugely, but they don’t see it shrinking either. And one category in particular saw a number of them as fairly optimistic: service contracts.

“Service contracts will continue to be the predominant product sold in the F&I office. It provides the most value to the dealership as it not only drives revenue at the point of sale, it brings customers back for service work contributing to fixed operations coverage,” said Jimmy Atkinson, COO, AUL Corp.

Williams agreed, noting that he sees a similar product, pre-paid maintenance, as being right up there with service contracts in sales volume this year. “I see pre-paid maintenance as one of the winners. With so many manufactures offering it, customers are now asking for it; it will probably will be a banner year for pre-paid maintenance.”

Robertson was a bit more specific. He sees the growth area as coming in not just service contracts, but in contracts for used vehicles. He believes the economy, coupled with an aging overall fleet of cars on the market today, will drive consumers to the used-car lots, which will drive not only those sales, but the F&I on those types of vehicles as well.

“Generally, shifts in the aftermarket product mix are reflective of the changes in consumer demand. The joust between GAP and VSC may be decided by increases in used vehicle service contract sales in 2013. A tepid economy, coupled with the need to replace a rapidly aging fleet — Experian estimates that 52 million vehicles on the road today are 16 years or older — may drive a growing number of wannabe new-car buyers to the franchised dealers’ used-car departments.”

Wanderon cautions, though, that while consumers are seeing more of the value in F&I products, in some cases they might be priced out of the market. “Service contracts have gotten more expensive. One of the most valuable products for the consumer might be out of their price range. But consumers are keeping cars longer, so they realize they need to take care of them now.”

Predictions for 2013
So where does that leave the industry overall? Our experts had a few predictions to share.

Robertson sees 2013 as the year that will bring a shift in how the market sells cars online. There are still challenges, he notes, but he sees the concept as one that is going to gain acceptance. “In my view, the latter part of 2013 will see the natural progression of the 70% of prospective car buyers who currently shop online opting to complete the entire transaction electronically. A major manufacturer is beta testing an online vehicle purchase program, with very promising preliminary results. F&I is an integral part of the program. However, numerous obstacles exist. Handling the trade-in is chief among them. Also, the E-SIGN Act left numerous procedural hurdles to be addressed before ‘paperless’ transactions, in all phases of the vehicle purchase, funding, and owner indemnification processes, become a practical reality. But the inevitability of online car sales is a given, and in many respects, the car business as we once knew it will never be the same.”

Wanderon believes customers will still be coming in the door, but believes there will be fewer of them. But while that might mean fewer car sales, he sees it as an opportunity for F&I. “We need to focus on products that retain customers, because it’s too expensive to get new ones; we haven’t done a good job of selling products and the experience at a dealership that gets customers to come back in the door. I see 14-15 million sales for the year, and I will be surprised if it goes higher than that. If car sales drop, F&I has more time to focus on each individual and their needs, so they can sell more and better products – it takes more time to explain each one as products become more complicated, and when it’s busy, it’s easier to hear ‘No’ and move on to the next customer.”

Agreeing that F&I is key, Williams noted that, overall, he’s positive about F&I in 2013, “because the market is growing, but I’m nervous about the overall economic climate. F&I sales are more important that ever as they usually represent the profit of the store.”

At the end of the day, said Price, there will be growth, but she agreed that it will come from better F&I sales and penetration, rather than because more cars are sold. “We are personally forecasting growth again this year, but I don’t believe it will be from an increase in unit sales.”

Atkinson summed everything up, and put it into perspective, noting that at the end of the day, if an agent wants to see growth in this tough economy, they need to be proactive about it. “Growth for agents is in direct correlation to the value you provide a dealer. Agents should find their niche, whether it be training, F&I income development or other areas for the store. Develop that and have a relentless focus on leveraging that strength to bring you growth. 2012 was a strong year for our markets and 2013 could be even better. It’s up to each of us to make it our best year ever.”

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AUL Partners with Ace Motor Acceptance for New “BHPH in A Box™” Program


NAPA – AUL Corp., a national provider of used car service contracts announces an expansion of the service contract relationship with Ace Motor Acceptance Company (AMAC). AMAC of Charlotte, a sub-prime lender, and Napa-based AUL VSC’s, have been working together to provide automotive dealers traditional financing and service contract options since 2007.

In 2009, AMAC rolled out a secondary financing program designed for Buy Here Pay Here (BHPH) dealers called Buy Here Pay Here in A Box™. The success of this program has been astounding, and in a move to provide more security to the BHPH customers and dealers, AUL and AMAC have created a vehicle service contract program designed specifically for the AMAC BHPH in A Box™ program.

This program launched January 1st 2012, and is an unprecedented move in the BHPH financing space.

“AUL truly appreciates the business relationship we have had with AMAC, and this new addition allows more dealers to offer vehicle service contract protection customers want. The buy here pay here space is a challenging one for service contracts and AMAC’s innovative leadership is creating terrific opportunities for BHPH dealers,” said AUL Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Atkinson.

Wayne Garland, Director of Business Development of AMAC stated, “We could not be more excited to have AUL Corp. on board with BHPH in A Box™ in 2012. AUL Corp.’s partnership of BHPH in A Box™ compliments other services provided by AMAC such as capital funding and floor planning programs offered to buy here pay here dealerships. Since its launch, BHPH in A Box™ has been widely successful. Through this new avenue with AUL Corp., we are confident that our unique secondary financing option will be a more complete program to our BHPH dealers.”

The AMAC BHPH in A Box™ program is available to dealers in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. AMAC is forecasting expansion of this product into several neighboring states throughout 2012.

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Universal Lenders Extends the ZERO Plan to AUL Dealers


NAPA — AUL Corp., a used-car service contract provider, and Universal Lenders LLC, creator of The ZERO Plan, announced that they will be working together to allow dealers to provide premium financing through The ZERO Plan to customers who purchase an AUL vehicle service contract.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Universal Lenders so that our agents and dealers can benefit from The ZERO Plan,” said Jimmy Atkinson, COO of AUL. “We believe it provides a great tool for our agents to compete in the marketplace as well as provides key dealer benefits.”

Founded by a high-volume dealer with six franchises who had been in the business for 20 years, Universal Lenders LLC created “The ZERO Plan” to serve the automotive industry by offering zero percent financing for most F&I products, reported F&I and Showroom magazine. The benefits of “The ZERO Plan” include helping dealerships increase their aftermarket product sales, providing payment to dealers within seven days with cancellation rates under five percent, and providing a financing option for consumers.

“The team at Universal Lenders is excited to be partnering with AUL, whom we recognize as a leader in our industry,” said Jeff Jacobs, president of Universal Lenders. “The ZERO Plan will offer the AUL dealer client a powerful closing tool that is also the most dealer-friendly in the industry. Our goal is to drive incremental sales for both AUL and our dealers.”

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AUL Corp. Partners With OptionSoft Technologies


NAPA – AUL Corp., a provider of service contracts for used vehicles, has partnered with OptionSoft Technologies, a provider of automotive software solutions. The goal of the partnership is to allow both companies to continue offering their dealer networks the most advanced electronic business solutions.

“Partnering with OptionSoft will provide our mutual clients nationwide a simplified suite of F&I electronic business solutions that will streamline their F&I process and positively affect their profitability. It will also allow for a seamless integration with AUL’s Web portal for a paperless e-rating and remittance procedure,” said Jimmy Atkinson, COO of AUL.

“OptionSoft is very pleased to be part of AUL’s national provider network,” said Ken Tomaro, president of OptionSoft. “AUL is a leader in the vehicle service contract industry and are widely recognized for their innovative products and outstanding customer service. OptionSoft shares in those same product innovation and customer service ideals.”

Both companies said they will continue to find ways to assist dealers in selling F&I products and increasing profits on a compliant, customer-friendly platform. OptionSoft menus are specifically designed to increase the speed and accuracy of all information for improved remittance while decreasing the time and resources typically associated with sales, F&I and service drive sales operations.

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AUL Corp. Appoints Jimmy Atkinson Chief Operating Officer


NAPA, Calif. – AUL Corp., a national provider of used-car service contracts, has hired Jimmy Atkinson as chief operating officer and senior vice president.

In announcing the appointment, Luis Nieves, president and CEO of AUL Corp., said: “We were determined to introduce someone to the company with a strong history of excellence in leadership, but also with down-to-earth qualities and communication skills. Jimmy fits that bill perfectly. He’ll be a great asset to all of our employees, and a key to raising the next generation of leadership.”

Upon accepting the appointment, Atkinson said: “AUL has a pristine reputation. The company is the leader in its field, due in large part to its solid infrastructure. I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to join the team. I’m committed to contributing to the growth of a great company.”

Atkinson most recently served as senior vice president of Assurant Solutions, Vehicle Service Contract Business Division, in Atlanta. During his seven years at Assurant, he completed tours of duty as director of training, director of sales, and senior vice president of the Vehicle Service Contract Business Division. Before joining Assurant, Atkinson held a number of retail auto positions, and developed a sterling reputation as one of the top sales and management trainers in the auto industry.

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