Tag Archive | "dealers"

Build Your Agency With Powersports


2016 marks the end of an uptick cycle with vehicle sales in the retail automotive market. This year, we can expect vehicle sales to slow down and plateau. Combined with increased regulatory pressure, 2016 will be a year in which many agents will need to stretch their capabilities and their market base as they prepare for potential economic challenges in the years to come.

The good news is that new opportunities are not out of reach. In fact, there is an often overlooked opportunity for agents seeking to expand their business volume, as well as increase their footprint in the marketplace, in the powersports industry.

Revving Up Product Sales

Now, it is understandable that discerning agents might be concerned with branching into a market they know little about. However, given that the powersports industry is still in the early stages of F&I development, agents might find that they know more than they give themselves credit for.

Your knowledge, particularly in the F&I space, can have immediate and dramatic impact on powersports sales and profitability. Most powersports dealers do not fully understand the F&I process, how to implement a strong F&I department or how to measure its success. Strong agents who have worked with dealers in this area have a wealth of knowledge to provide immediate benefits. This makes the agent value proposition that much larger and more tangible in the powersports space.

Beyond the potential ease of differentiating their services in the powersports market, agents with automotive industry experience may not realize that there is actually a shorter sales cycle and faster revenue opportunity in the powersports space. Think of it this way: You can spend 18 months going after one new-car dealership, all the while competing with 50 administrators. Or you can acquire several powersports dealer partners in that same time period with only seven competitors. That’s right, seven.

So what does it take to make the leap into this brave new world? When contemplating expanding into the powersports market agents need to take the following steps:

  1. Change your mindset from working in a “need to have” industry to a “want to have” industry,
  2. Do your research and
  3. Apply what you’ve learned in auto to the powersports space.

It seems simple when put on paper, but taking the time to really delve into these three steps can go a long way toward ensuring success in the powersports market.

Step 1: Mindset

One of the biggest learning curves for any agent will be operating in a space where the vehicle purchase is a “want to have” rather than a “need to have.” Most powersports owners buy motorcycles and four-wheelers for leisure activities, not for their daily commute. This means that, while powersports demand might be high, the number of people willing to invest in the purchase of a powersports vehicle tends to filter down to those who can afford both a car payment and a motorcycle payment, along with the required insurance payments.

Typically, powersports enthusiasts, who still have to put food on the table, will focus on paying off their car or truck before making a powersports purchase. This filter is the industry’s biggest challenge right now, especially with the rising price tag of new powersports vehicles.

That is not so say that powersports consumers are not heavily invested in their ride. In fact, powersports owners often show more care and concern for their motorcycle than their car. They tend to see the bike as more of an extension of their personality, whereas the car just gets them from one place to another. And as the economy grows, we can expect more powersports enthusiasts returning to dealerships to make a purchase, meaning there will be more opportunity for dealers to increase their profitability and for agents to expand their footprint in the space.

In addition, in this want vs. need space, many powersports dealers extend their thinking beyond pure profitability metrics to the brands they choose to sell. While they can be just as strategic and sophisticated as an automotive dealer, powersports dealers can often base decisions on emotion as much as logic. For example, a staunch Harley-Davidson dealer who is heavily invested in the Harley brand is much less likely to open an Indian store than a Ford dealer is to open a Honda franchise.

Beyond the fierce competition and sense of stewardship between brands, powersports dealers are highly sensitive to being compared to the automotive space. The last thing they want to hear is how they are less sophisticated or versatile than their automotive brothers. This means that while agents can provide powersports dealers with quite a bit of knowledge gleaned from the automotive space, they have to be very careful in how they broach the subject.

In essence, both consumers and dealers operate in a sense of “want to have.” A good comparison to this mindset is the luxury vehicle market. Their purchase decisions are not based on getting from Point A to Point B, but rather on how the vehicle reflects their personality.

Likewise, highline dealers take their sense of brand stewardship seriously, which is reflected in the level of customer service they provide and expect from their agent partners. They believe in the benefits of the luxury brands and shape their dealerships to further cement in customers’ minds that buying from their dealerships comes with a care and attention to detail they cannot get anywhere else.

Powersports dealers operate in the same fashion. They take pride and ownership in the brands they chose to sell and they take care to ensure excellent customer service within a tight-knit community where word spreads fast. In turn, they need the same level of service from their agent partners.

Step 2: Research

Just like in retail automotive, it is important that agents perform their due diligence by researching the dealerships they want to pursue as well as their competitive landscape. They need to perform the groundwork to investigate each dealer’s current provider. It is also a good visual aid to develop a report card, providing a comparative analysis of the current provider’s services. Find out if they provide training, rate comparisons andprocess development, for example.

Be a problem solver. Most agents are probably already used to this when maintaining their relationships with dealer partners. However, it is just as important to research areas dealers can improve upon and provide insight before active engagement, especially in the powersports space. Taking this one extra step can put a strategic agent miles ahead in winning dealer business. You will demonstrate a level of service most powersports dealers are unaccustomed to — but would take advantage of in a heartbeat.

A strong presentation should include:

  • An online and in-person mystery shop,
  • A comprehensive website and online inventory review,
  • Online reputation assessment,
  • Demographics and surrounding area overview and
  • A comparison with the target dealer’s competition.

Lastly, it is important to look at each dealer’s inventory and compare it to the coverage offered by their current provider. Often, anywhere from 40% to 50% of their inventory does not qualify for coverage from most powersports providers, which means there is ample opportunity for a strategic and forward-thinking agent to earn their business with one of the few providers that maintains expanded coverage levels.

With this research in hand, you should be well-prepared to present dealers with something interesting — or at least a new perspective on their dealership operations. The powersports dealership personnel should be more intrigued and interested in how an agent can make them more successful.

Step 3: Application

Agents already accustomed to fierce competition in retail have the potential to easily win powersports dealers by maintaining the level of service they already know how to provide. You do not need to be timid about branching into a new market as long as you trust and use the processes you have relied upon for so long to build relationships and increase a dealer’s reliance on the agent model.

In fact, agent success in the powersports space relies more on understanding F&I than on understanding the space itself. Agents positioning themselves as F&I specialists and helping dealerships implement successful and compliant F&I programs have ample opportunity to materially grow their footprint at a faster pace in this space.

Remember, just like in retail automotive, providing a constant flow of solutions that keep dealers thinking about increasing market share and profitability deepens and strengthens your overall relationship with your dealers. Agents looking to make the transition into the powersports space will also need to look to partner with a solution provider that understands and can support and help execute their powersports strategy.

Providers that already operate in the space often have a better understanding of the products and services most dealers find beneficial, as well as a strong ability to cultivate relationships and make introductions, giving agents a resource to lean on to ensure successful market expansion.

Because the powersports space has so little agent competition, you’d be surprised how much more effective agents can be. Dealers in this space are not used to someone outside the dealership being invested in their success. By building a relationship with them, understanding their objectives and hurdles and educating dealers on the intricacies of F&I, agents can provide an immediate and exponential impact on their business. Remember, this all stems from adjusting your mindset, doing the homework and research on each prospect and determining how to apply lessons learned from automotive retail.

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GWC Warranty Announces Product Expansion


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – GWC Warranty, the best-in-class provider of used vehicle service contracts and related finance and insurance products sold through automotive dealers, has announced an expansion to its industry-leading product set.

Highlighting the changes to GWC’s expansive product set are upgraded terms for exclusionary coverage levels. GWC is now offering exclusionary coverage on vehicles with starting mileage as high as 150,000 miles. Additionally, GWC is introducing new exclusionary terms of three and six months to provide dealers with even more options for providing a higher quality of coverage that rivals a manufacturer’s factory warranty.

“At GWC, we understand that our dealers are a diverse group with vast array of product needs suited to their individual businesses,” said GWC CEO and President Rob Glander. “These changes add to our already expansive and flexible product set while giving dealers more options to choose from when creating a service contract program that is tailored to their specific business needs.”

In addition to the improvements to GWC’s exclusionary offering are upgraded terms for select stated component plans. Now, stated component coverage is available on vehicles with starting mileage as high as 200,000 miles. This new mileage eligibility is complemented by stated component term lengths of three and six months – all designed with flexibility in mind to meet the diverse needs GWC’s dealers and their customers.

Starting today, GWC dealers can log into the GWC Dealer Portal to view the new mileage eligibility and term lengths available to them as well as pricing for these newly added plans.

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A Winning Strategy for Closing More Business


Let’s face reality. Every day, dealers are overwhelmed by salespeople pitching everything from car washes to dealer management systems. Agents selling F&I products are everywhere, in towns of all sizes, pounding on doors and offering products, training and even free money to do business with them. What sets you apart? Why should they speak with you? This could be a two-day class, but I only have 1,000 words, so let’s get right to it.

In my view, the first decision each of us in this business has to make is this: Are we providing products or solutions? It is a simple question, and most of us would say the latter. However, in many cases, when we get in front of someone, we pull out a pitch book and begin launching into features and benefits and — even more deadly — price comparisons to our competitors. We have no idea what the dealer needs or how we could help, yet we get into a pitch as though we are taking surveys at the mall. So what differentiates you from the many who fail? Here are two things you can do today:

  1. Have a plan to get the full picture of what is happening at the dealership. You should have done pre-planning and homework, maybe even a referral, and met with lower-level managers to understand what’s happening at the store, what’s working and what can improve. Where are they doing well and where are the gaps? Then your goal should be to get the dealer’s permission to do an analysis of the dealership and lay out a plan for increasing production and profitability.
  2. Training has to be a part of any real plan for change. Entire articles are written on how difficult change is (check out John Kotter material) and how hard habits are to break (just check your New Year’s resolution list). You need to be a difference-maker for your customers and create lasting, positive change that produces tangible results.

Here’s my process for accomplishing the goal of closing more dealers and increasing sales.

Pre-Call Planning

As a former sales, F&I and leadership trainer, I know that it takes hours of preparation for every hour of presentation. That’s the only way to be the best and deliver the best product to your audience. The same goes for the one to two minutes you may get in front of a dealer that will determine if you get an audience to go more in-depth. Do your homework. Start with their website, look for what type of inventory selection they have, how long they have been in business, what charities they support and so on. Google the dealer and look at the Web and news results for insight.

The measurement is this: If you stand in front of a mirror and give your two-minute elevator pitch tailored to this dealer, would you want to meet with you? And you must be ready for the reflex objections you’ll get, such as “I’m happy with my current provider.” Have at least three word-tracks prepared to deal specifically with that objection and show the dealer you’re worthy of his or her time.

Income Analysis Tool

Many providers have a tool for you to measure the productivity of a dealership and report back on the gaps and next steps for creating additional revenue by filling those gaps. Whether you call it a “profit gap analysis,” “dealership needs analysis” or something else equally witty, your first goal should be to get the dealer’s permission to meet with his team and identify the opportunities.

There will always be gaps. Why? Because no business is perfect and we all lose focus at times. So the dealer knows you’ll find areas her team should improve on. The real question is, do you have implementable answers for her store and the skills to make them happen? If not, she’ll say thanks and then take your presentation to their current provider to implement the changes needed.

Targeted Presentation

The next step is to schedule a meeting with the dealer and present your findings. This should be a presentation that leads to the two or three key findings from your analysis and your recommendations for how to fix them resulting in additional bottom-line profit to the dealer.

It’s important that the dealer sees you as a credible professional who understands and can address their needs. This comes across not only in your story but how you present your findings and by relating examples of where you have successfully implemented similar processes before. Don’t just present, ask questions, engage your audience and go deep with the dealer to gain agreement and refine your recommendations.

Close and Kickoff

Arguably, the most critical step is to kick off the new account properly. Spend the time necessary in the store so that, after the kick-off, everyone in the dealership knows you and sees you as a member of their team. Invite yourself to sales meetings, save-a-deal meetings and management meetings. Bring in some pizza after the shop closes and hold a fixed ops meeting. From service to used cars and the general office to the F&I office, you are an added value that makes all of them more effective by the skills you bring to the store.

Bringing It Home

Years ago, I was taught that there is a big difference between problems and needs: Needs require action; problems do not. There is an essential skill to transitioning a problem to a need in a dealer’s mind. For example, a problem might be slow used-car inventory turn and the cause could be the wrong or un-prepped inventory, sales staff skills, or maybe the used-car manager has a bias for sports cars in a truck market.

You must show the dealer the financial impact of where they are today, where they could be and, in many cases, what looked like a minor issue can become a need that requires action. These points may not relate directly to your product, but they can still add to your personal value proposition.

Does this approach take longer than just making a pitch? Yes and no. But I guarantee that, the better you are at presenting your unique value proposition and establishing yourself as a credible consultant, the more business you’ll close with dealers who become long-term clients.

So good selling!

 

 

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Agent Summit Announces Agent Principal Giveaways


LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the upcoming Agent Summit announced that attendees of the pre-conference Agent Principals Only Breakfast & Roundtable will be entered into a drawing to win a Gibson electric guitar, a bespoke suit from Chalk Mark Custom Clothing or a $1,000 gift card.

The event will be held May 9–11, 2016, at the Venetian Palazzo Las Vegas, and the Agent Principals Only portion begins at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, May 9.

The first prize is a 2016 Gibson ES-339 semi-hollow body with black satin finish. The guitar, which retails for up to $3,149, is similar to the instrument played by Johnny Rivers in the music video for his 1966 hit, “Secret Agent Man.”

“Don’t miss your chance to be announced as the winner of this memorable Gibson classic during the Agent Principals Roundtable & Breakfast,” said Randy Crisorio, president and CEO of United Development Systems Inc. (UDS) and chair of the Agent Summit advisory board. “This private meeting looks to become a classic as well, as career F&I professionals meet to exchange thoughts on growing our value proposition.”

Second prize is a custom-suit made by famed tailor Greg Smith of Chalk Mark Custom Clothing, valued at $3,000, courtesy of PermaPlate, and third prize is a $1,000 gift card sponsored by Portfolio.

“We are thrilled with how this year’s Agent Principals Only session is shaping up, and these giveaways only sweeten the deal,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom.

Registration, hotel and travel information for Agent Summit is available at the event’s website as well as by phone, fax and email. Click here to view the full agenda.

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Dealers’ Choice Awards Voting Open Until April 15


TORRANCE, Calif. — Voting for the 12th annual Dealers’ Choice Awards is now open and will remain so until midnight on April 15.

Dealers and dealership personnel are encouraged to vote for their favorite vendors, suppliers, banks and finance companies in 34 categories covering new- and used-car leads, training, marketing, F&I products and more. Voters must write in the name of each company and score them in five categories, including whether they would recommend the provider to another dealer.

“As companies large and small have learned over the years, the Dealers’ Choice Awards are based on quality votes,” said David Gesualdo, publisher of Auto Dealer Today and F&I and Showroom. “We are extremely proud of our program, and I want to thank everyone who has already voted for giving their partners the chance to earn much-deserved national recognition.”

Honorees will win first-place Diamond, second-place Platinum and third-place Gold awards. The winners will be announced in May and listed in the July issue of Auto Dealer Today, and the awards will be presented at a special ceremony at Industry Summit in late August. Voters must complete five categories for their votes to count, and each voter will be eligible to win one of two Amazon Fire HD 7 tablet computers.

To participate in the 2016 Dealers’ Choice Awards, click here.

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WFIS’s Dylan Doran Joins Agent Summit Roster


LAS VEGAS — Organizers of Agent Summit announced that Dylan Doran, founder and president of Western Fidelity Insured Services Inc. (WFIS), will serve as a featured speaker at the 2016 event, which will be held May 9–11 at the Venetian Palazzo Las Vegas.

“I’m honored to be speaking at this year’s Agent Summit, joined by such a tremendous group of entrepreneurs,” Doran said. “As business owners, we are always focused on growth, and new account acquisition is central to achieving that growth in our agencies. I’m looking forward to not only contributing to this year’s conference, but also gleaning some knowledge from the rest of the group.”

A 22-year automotive industry veteran, Doran served in leadership positions with Jim Moran & Associates and Protective Asset Protection before launching WFIS in 2014. He will serve as the featured speaker for the “Selling to Dealers” portion of the Agent Summit agenda.

Doran’s session, “Buried Treasure in the Yellow Pages,” will begin at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11. He is expected to focus on targeting prospects, earning appointments and effectively presenting an agency’s value proposition.

“Dylan brings unquestioned expertise in dealer acquisition as well as the nuts and bolts of running an agency,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom. “It’s an important topic and one to which he is perfectly suited.”

Registration for Agent Summit is now open at the event’s website as well as by phone, fax and email. Attendees who register by April 4 will enjoy a $100 discount.

To inquire about sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact Eric Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 727-612-8826.

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