Tag Archive | "certification"

Compliance Keeps Pace with Technology


Attendees of the eighth annual Agent Summit found a friend in Gil Van Over III, who pulled double duty for the second year in a row: In his role as the executive director of Automotive Compliance Education (ACE), Van Over led the five-hour review and exam for Automotive Compliance Specialist certification — which was open to any registered Agent Summit attendee — on Sunday, May 20. He then presented “Compliance Jeopardy,” a featured presentation, the following day.

Agent Entrepreneur caught up with Van Over on the eve of Agent Summit to learn more about the origins of ACE and how its directors keep up with an increasingly digital industry.

AE: Gil, most people are familiar with you as the founder of compliance consulting firm gvo3 & Associates. How did you come to establish ACE?

Van Over: As a long-time compliance consultant, I’ve had a front-row seat to observe where compliance efforts fell short in the real world of dealerships. It was easy to see why. How can people be expected to follow laws they don’t even know exist? And while I was aware of certification programs on the market, they tended to be “one and done.” Once you got certified, that was it. But in real life, people forget things, and laws change. We sensed a desire for someone to build a better certification mousetrap. We just didn’t think it would be us.

Then, in the summer of 2016, one of our large dealership groups asked if we could put together a certification program that addressed what they saw as shortcomings in the program they were then using. That same week, Agent Summit contacted me with the same question, as that show was committed to providing a certification session in connection with the event, and the original certification partner dropped out on short notice. So, it was that alignment of the stars that really got the ball rolling.

AE: You say you wanted to “build a better certification mousetrap.” How does ACE differ from other certifications?

Van Over: ACE was built to address the evolving digital world in the automotive space. Back when I was a college student, I made a quarterly trek to the bookstore and amped up my parents’ credit cards by hundreds of dollars to purchase required textbooks. I’d study the textbooks, attend lectures, then take a final exam. Today’s college students study online or with ebooks, take validating quizzes throughout the learning experience to confirm comprehension, then test.

The ACE model is like today’s college model. All our training is provided online in modules lasting 10 to 15 minutes. The student must pass a quiz on the short module before moving on. Once all modules are completed, the student takes an online certification test.

ACE requires an annual recertification. The compliance world is ever-changing. Consider the Military Lending Act as the latest challenge. We have also taken on some recent clients who did not realize they were required to have a Safeguards policy in place. ACE looked at other professional industries and their required continuing education. Four of the top five trusted occupations in the United States require periodic continuing education and testing. The lone exception is the military, and being a military brat, I can confirm the military highly encourages furthering education of its members.

ACE also recognizes that compliance in the variable operations process has mistakenly been saddled with the “F&I compliance” moniker. Many of the issues we note in our compliance reviews either occurred or germinated in the sales process. We decided that each of the participants in the variable process deserved its own curriculum. There are seven different curricula, from sales and BDC to accounting. For F&I, sales, and BDC managers, “Compliance Officer Certification” is the comprehensive course. And, of course, agents have a dedicated curriculum.

Another big issue to address was cost. There was a general feeling that certification cost too much, so we priced the core F&I certification at around half the price of the best-known existing certification program. We deliver the content in the dealership, so training can be accessed during normal business hours at the candidate’s convenience.

AE: Can you give an example of new topics that have cropped up since ACE was founded?

Van Over: Sure. Last year’s “new” topic was the revised “Used Car Buyer’s Guide” that dealers had to migrate to before January of 2018. And this year’s update module will address the impact of U.S. Department of Defense’s reinterpretation of the Military Lending Act.

AE: How does ACE deliver its content?

Van Over: We deliver the video-based content over the Internet, using a learning management system that tracks candidates’ progress and test results.

AE: Other certifications require examinations to be taken in person, with proof of identity. ACE does not. Why?

Van Over: The only reason we could think of to require in-person testing was that you don’t trust the candidates not to cheat. We believe that 99% of those who take the time to learn the material and take the exam are honest people. We have faith in our members. Testing centers are expensive. Why penalize 99% of the candidates for the 1% who might want to take a shortcut? It just didn’t make sense. Besides, we know from our participating dealer groups that they generally proctor the exam in-house anyway to demonstrate the seriousness of their commitment.

AE: How long does the ACE certification program take?

Van Over: That depends on the certification a candidate signs up for. The sales associate program shouldn’t take much more than 90 minutes. The compliance officer training could take 10 to 12 hours.

AE: How long does the certification exam take?

Van Over: Most people who sit for the “F&I Specialist” exam, our most popular certification, finish the test in about an hour and a half. There are always some stragglers who take almost two hours.

AE: What do successful candidates receive?

Van Over: We offer a framed diploma that is really nice. Seriously — it’s nicer than most college diplomas I’ve seen! We also have heavy magnetic lapel pins that we distribute to those who successfully complete the exam when it’s offered at the Agent Summit or Industry Summit. And over the past year, those who took the exam at the Summits got an autographed copy of Jim Ganther’s book, “Compliance for Green Peas (and Old Dogs Who Think They Know It All),” on the way out the door, whether they passed or not.

AE: About that book. Does ACE plan on regularly publishing compliance-related books?

Van Over: Yes, and thank you for bringing that up! Another benefit we wanted to provide to the automotive segment was a source of high-quality books and other resources that support compliance. Jim had a book in the works, so we signed him as our first author. ACE just released its second book in conjunction with the NADA convention in Las Vegas, which I authored: “Automotive Compliance in a Digital World.” Jim has a sequel in the works, “Compliance for Old Dogs (and Green Peas Who Want to Keep Learning),” which we expect to publish later this year. And Randy Henrick has one in the pipeline as well, so we are rapidly building up a solid list.

AE: How much does ACE certification cost?

Van Over: Prices range from $95 for the sales associate certification to $695 for the compliance officer certification. F&I specialist certification costs $495.

AE: How much does recertification cost?

Van Over: Recertification costs 10% of the original certification. So if you earned the sales associate certification, the recertification would cost you $9.50.

AE: Have any major dealer groups adopted ACE certification as their standard?

Van Over: Yes, and more are coming on board every month as news of our value proposition gets out. Although several of our publicly traded dealer group supporters have asked that we not use their names, we can say that the John Elway Group and Phil Long Group in Colorado are on board, as well as the Atlantic Auto Group in New York.

In addition to dealer groups, F&I providers and administrators are getting behind ACE as well. American Financial & Automotive Services, for example, has incorporated ACE certification into the curriculum of their F&I University, and requires all their field force to become ACE-certified. And independent F&I agencies are following suit.

AE: How does ACE fit into an overall compliance strategy?

Van Over: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requires the industries it regulates to have a documented compliance management system, or “CMS,” in place. Although the CFPB does not have oversight of franchised automotive retailers like the Federal Trade Commission does, many expect the FTC to follow suit in requiring a CMS before we retire. At gvo3, we started implementing a CMS with each of our clients as part of the client’s overall risk management strategy almost 17 years ago. A critical component of a CMS is to train employees on policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicable state laws.

It’s important not to confuse ACE — or any other certification program — with a compliance program. A true compliance program includes several key components, and a minimum would demonstrate written policies and procedures, verifiable training on those policies and the laws they address, and an annual audit to confirm its effectiveness. ACE fits in as part of the training component, with the added benefit of the professional designation.

AE: Did ACE develop its own content and delivery software?

Van Over: No, we saw no need to reinvent the wheel. We license both the content and the LMS delivery system from Mosaic Compliance Services. They are far and away the leader in wholesale compliance services, so our respective business models meshed perfectly.

AE: Who came up with the acronym “ACE”?

Van Over: I’d like to take credit for that one, but it was the marketing people at Mosaic who came up with it. The logo was based on the nib of a fountain pen, because F&I personnel love their Montblanc pens! But that looked like an ace of spades, which led to the name Automotive Compliance Education for the entity. That’s what we set out to do, and its acronym — ACE — fit the logo like a glove. Besides, “ACE” has positive connotations that other terms lack. Finally, you’ll note the logo has a little bow tie at the bottom. Draw your own conclusions about who came up with that.

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AutoLoop Achieves Reynolds Vendor Certification


CLEARWATER, Fla. — Automotive marketing solutions provider AutoLoop announced it has completed the Reynolds Certified Interface (RCI) program for the Reynolds and Reynolds POWER Dealer Management System (DMS). This new certification allows data to be exchanged safely and securely from a POWER DMS to AutoLoop’s next-generation software.

“We’re thrilled to be a designated RCI partner,” said Matt Rodeghero, AutoLoop Chief Product Officer. “Data drives everything we do, and this certification helps ensure that we can securely access the information needed to deliver the best user experience — for both dealers and their customers.”

AutoLoop offers dealers a comprehensive marketing and engagement solution through the AutoLoop Customer Engagement Suite, and the new Reynolds and Reynolds certification further enhances its offering.

“By synchronizing the AutoLoop platform and Reynolds and Reynolds products, we’re able to offer real-time access and updates for customers who use products from each organization,” Rodeghero said. “It’s a big win for everyone.”

AutoLoop is also certified as an RCI partner for the Reynolds and Reynolds ERA DMS.

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Autosoft, Inc. Certifies MaximTrak F&I Platform for Integration with FLEX DMS


WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. – Autosoft, Inc., a leading national dealer management systems (DMS) provider, announces that the MaximTrak Technologies’ F&I suite has completed the certification process for integration with FLEX DMS as part of Autosoft’s FLEX Connect program.

The MaximTrak F&I suite helps dealers transform the vehicle delivery process into a more customer-friendly experience that drives greater profitability. This integration certification means that over 2,000 dealers using Autosoft to manage their dealerships can now benefit from the power and innovation of MaximTrak.

The many F&I process efficiencies MaximTrak delivers contribute to improved aftermarket products’ penetration and higher per-vehicle retail revenue. These leading digital technologies help F&I staff build rapport with customers by engaging them with customer-centric videos, visual sales presentations, interactive surveys, and more. These services also help build the value of the dealership and its F&I products by improving F&I performance.

The MaximTrak F&I suite includes:

  • MENUTRAK: Simplifies process flow, speeds up the deal, appeals to the consumer and makes more money for the dealership. In dealership studies, deals done using MenuTrak out performed non-menu deals by $538 per vehicle sold and almost doubled vehicle service contract penetration rates.
  • DASHBOARDS: Give F&I managers and their dealers quick-view reporting so they can make quick, easy and informed decisions. Meets the demand of even the most analytical CFOs.
  • E-TRAK: Streamline the administration and sales processes with access to electronic forms, digital signature capture, e-rating, and digital remittance.
  • FLITE: Speed transaction processes while delivering the complete F&I story through touch, tablet, and tablet-to-TV technology.

“MaximTrak is excited about this partnership with Autosoft,” said Jim Maxim, Jr., president and CEO of MaximTrak. “We’re bringing unique digital F&I tools to dealers using the Autosoft DMS, enabling them to deliver thorough, compliant, and transparent F&I experiences to their customers while helping boost F&I profits for their dealerships.”

Christopher Morris, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Autosoft added, “MaximTrak is an F&I industry leader. We are delighted to have them as a participant in our FLEX Connect program, giving Autosoft customers a broader choice of integrated solutions that help them manage their business.”

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Autosoft, Inc. Certifies StoneEagle Technology Solutions For Integration with FLEX DMS


WEST MIDDLESEX, Penn. – Autosoft, Inc., a leading national dealer management systems (DMS) provider, announced that StoneEagle has completed the certification process for integration with the FLEX DMS as part of Autosoft’s FLEX Connect program.

StoneEagle offers fully supported web-based applications that help dealers manage performance, accountability and production across their F&I and service operations. These solutions are designed to automate manual tasks, deliver accurate information to drive performance improvements, increase profitability, and maximize customer satisfaction:

  • SEcureMetrics: Tracks F&I, sales and service profitability by individual dealer, dealer group and dealer personnel. SEcureMetrics generates powerful reports, accessible by authorized users, to accurately gauge trends, develop clear forecasts and identify performance issues that require immediate attention.
  • SEcureMenu: Enables F&I managers to deliver a simplified, consistent and compliant F&I product presentation to every customer on any type of PC or mobile device. SEcureMenu includes auto eRating, eContracting and eRemittance functionality, configurable presentation templates, dynamic sales tools, and robust reporting to monitor all usage statistics and transaction details.

“StoneEagle is pleased to forge a partnership with Autosoft and obtain FLEX Connect certification for our SEcureMetrics and SEcureMenu applications,” said Jason Gillette, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for StoneEagle. “The FLEX Connect program facilitates secure and reliable data integration to our applications that increases efficiency and enhances the overall user experience for dealers using the Autosoft FLEX DMS platform and the fee structure is both reasonable and straightforward for the value provided.”

“We’re pleased to add StoneEagle to our growing list of FLEX Connect partners. Our dealers now can seamlessly integrate with applications from another industry leader,” said Christopher Morris, Senior Vice President of Autosoft.

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EFG Companies First F&I Provider to Achieve BenchmarkPortal Certification


DALLAS – EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, announced its status today as the only F&I product provider to be certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal. The Center of Excellence recognition is one of the most prestigious awards in the customer service and support industry.

BenchmarkPortal only awards the Center of Excellence designation to customer service call centers that rank in the top ten percent of the call centers surveyed. To earn this award, EFG demonstrated a commitment to achieving service excellence, as well as superior performance on quality-related metrics.

EFG continuously strives to raise the industry bar when it comes to providing superior products, administration and compliance. Earlier this year, EFG was awarded the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Blue Seal of Excellence with close to 100 percent of its claims organization ASE certified. The company was also recognized as being the only product provider of size to AFIP certify 100 percent of its field team. With these three certifications, the EFG sets the industry example for leadership in training, auditing and administering their clients’ business to whom its services are a critical priority.

“Our clients rely on our expertise and quality customer service when it comes to administering customer claims,” said John Pappanastos, President and CEO, EFG Companies. “We operate knowing that our claims administration reflects back on our clients’ business and brand. By demonstrating our high level of expertise with this certification, we are giving our clients the highest confidence that all claims will be handled expertly, efficiently and respectfully, promoting a positive overall customer experience and driving greater customer loyalty for their business.”

Founded in 1995, BenchmarkPortal is a global leader in the contact center industry, providing benchmarking, certification, training, consulting, research and industry reports. Contact centers achieve the Center of Excellence distinction based on an intense onsite evaluation and audit as well as best-practice metrics drawn from the world’s largest database of objective and quantitative data that is audited and validated by researchers from BenchmarkPortal.

“The achievement of the Center of Excellence designation represents EFG Companies’ commitment to delivering expert and professional customer service,” said Bruce Belfore, CEO, BenchmarkPortal. “EFG’s certification is a direct result of its leadership’s commitment to best-in-class service performance that is both effective and efficient from a business standpoint. It’s an achievement of distinction.”

Throughout its 37-year history, EFG has continually demonstrated their commitment to exceed customer expectations. Customer service and claims administration standards and real-time performance is continuously projected on the company’s walls as a constant measure of performance. 95.88 percent of claims calls are answered within 90 seconds, and 96 percent of all claims are paid by corporate credit card within one hour of receipt of invoice.

EFG believes longevity and success is ultimately measured by a simple premise: keeping a promise to a customer at a time when they need it most. EFG prides itself on being a claims-honoring third-party administrator and this certification only enhances the company’s commitment to fulfill that promise.

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Dealertrack CRM Receives Reynolds Certification


LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. — Dealertrack Technologies has received certification from Reynolds and Reynolds for its CRM. The certification is part of the Reynolds Certified Interface (RCI) Program and applies to the ERA dealership management system (DMS).

The RCI Program provides a standardized approach to handling dealership data from a Reynolds DMS in a safe, secure and verifiable manner, improving the security and supportability of interfaces for both dealerships and third-party vendors. In addition to this new interface, Dealertrack has certified interfaces between Reynolds’ ERA DMS and Dealertrack’s Credit Application Network, as well as its inventory management, eMenu, SalesMaker, DealTransfer and econtracting solutions.

“Dealertrack is committed to supporting dealers’ technology needs by enabling secure, real-time and seamless integration between systems running in a dealership and Dealertrack systems and solutions,” said Robert Granados, senior vice president and general manager of Inventory and CRM Solutions for Dealertrack. “With this new certification, dealers can confidently and easily exchange information between our CRM and the Reynolds and Reynolds ERA DMS.”

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