Tag Archive | "EFG Companies"

Northwood University, EFG Companies Partner


DALLAS — This week, Northwood University and EFG Companies announced a national partnership to host thought leadership forums, develop specialized continuing education programs, conduct joint industry research, and cross-publish content.

Under this new agreement, Northwood University has granted EFG Companies a seat on its National Automotive Marketing Advisory Board to represent the Finance & Insurance sector of the automotive industry.

“During this time of increased compliance oversight and economic recovery, it is imperative that we provide the auto retail industry with individuals equipped with leadership capabilities, and who can analyze current market trends to evolve their business for future success,” said Keith Pretty, president and CEO of Northwood University. “Our partnership with EFG Companies adds to Northwood University’s ability to prepare our students for a career in this critical U.S. industry.”

This partnership will allow both organizations to leverage the experience and knowledge of Northwood University’s dealer alumni, and EFG’s national dealer network for the benefit of the university’s student base. As the industry continues to rapidly evolve, this essential think tank will help drive innovation and cultivate adept leaders to challenge the retail auto industry to new levels of growth and profitability, officials said.

“Since 2008, the industry has gone through rapid, and, at times, painful change,” said John Pappanastos, president and CEO of EFG Companies. “The Great Recession forced dealers to significantly improve their operations, adopt new technologies and become much more analytical. There is no question that dealers today face an entirely different level of complexity than previous generations.

“Our partnership with Northwood will help our future industry leaders tackle growing issues like the evolving sales processes, the optimal management of digital assets, the increasing role of consumer protection products in the dealership profit model, and heightened regulation,” he added.

Both the EFG leadership team and the Northwood University faculty will provide input and guidance to ensure that Northwood students experience the continued benefit of retail automotive curriculum. In addition, EFG will provide internship and employment opportunities within its franchise dealer base as students seek to apply their classroom experience to the real world.

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National ASE Institute Awards EFG Companies Blue Seal of Excellence


DALLAS, TX – EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, announced today it has been awarded the Blue Seal of Excellence by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), based upon the required certification level of its claims organization. This certification exemplifies EFG’s commitment to customer service excellence while also enhancing the company’s ability to negotiate quality vehicle repairs on behalf of contract holders.

EFG continuously strives to raise the industry bar when it comes to providing superior products, administration and compliance. Earlier this year, EFG achieved 100 percent field team certification from the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals (AFIP). With these two certifications, the company sets the industry example for leadership in effectively training, auditing and administering their clients’ business to whom these services are a critical priority.

“Our clients rely on our expertise when it comes to negotiating quality repairs for their customers,” said Barry Carter, Chief Operating Officer. “Our claims administration reflects back on their business and brand. By demonstrating our high level of expertise with this certification, we are giving our clients even greater 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.”

Established in 1972, the National Institute for Service Excellence (ASE) seeks to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals, and the ASE National Institute exists to protect the automotive service consumer, shop owner and automotive technician. This certification provides legitimacy to both the repair shop and the claims administrator by signifying their level of expertise and recognized standard of their technical knowledge.

Throughout its 37-year history, EFG has continually demonstrated its 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 ability to fulfill that promise.

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The Sub-Prime Cinderella Story: Who Has The Glass Slipper?


After five years of consistent increases, used car prices are expected to collapse in 2014. According to NADA, the average price of a used car rose by 18 percent from 2007 to 2013, and is now roughly 10 percent higher than the average price of the past two decades. That bubble is expected to pop as NADA predicts 42 million units to hit showroom floors nationwide. Of that 42 million, 16 million units will be a result of lease-end models being returned to franchise dealers.

For an independent dealer selling used cars, this poses a significant obstacle. Beyond the drop in price per retail unit sold, other kinds of dealers will lay claim to 38 percent of the available used car inventory. However, there is an upside. According to a 2014 Equifax study, there is pent up demand for more than 26 million vehicles. With the labor force participation rate declining and moderate wage and employment growth, it’s a good assumption that consumers will continue the trend of preferring to buy used over new.

These recession-wary consumers are more willing to shop for the best price and financing available. This partly explains why used vehicles accounted for 62 percent of all vehicles financed for the fourth quarter of 2013, according to Experian.

While we ended the year with an almost even split between independent and franchise dealer market share in used car financing, independent dealers are well positioned to tap further into the current consumer market. For example, picture what you think a typical independent dealer customer looks like:

  • What’s their credit score?
  • Do they rent or own their home?
  • Are they employed?
  • If they have gainful employment, in what industry segment are they employed?

The reality of today might surprise you. With the impact of the recession weighing on bank accounts, even prime consumers are now browsing independent dealership lots. Once you lower your eyebrows, try this number on for size: 11.4 percent of buy-here-pay-here customers fell into the prime and super-prime category in the fourth quarter of 2013.

But what’s even more interesting is the subprime category. This category has become the consumer segment that holds significant value to all dealers: franchise, independent and buy-here-pay-here alike. Of all buy-here-pay-here customers, 88 percent fall within the nonprime, subprime and deep subprime categories. 1 These same customers make up 37.3 percent of franchise dealership customers. 1 While franchise dealers are new to woo this category, they are aggressive, and in some cases offering more than what independents have in their quiver.

When it comes to providing value and creating lasting customer relationships, franchise dealerships have service departments and a deep bench of F&I products to protect and repair the customer’s vehicle. Providing benefits such as these, which have significant impact in preserving the customer’s bank account, has been an uphill battle for independent dealers, specifically in the F&I department.

With an inventory ranging from zero to 70,000 miles, franchise dealerships have significant options in providing consumer protection products. Beyond the manufacturer’s warranty, F&I product providers underwrite extensive vehicle service contracts, maintenance plans, appearance protection products and some forms of insurance, like GAP.

The benefit of this deep bench is they have a better opportunity to increase their value proposition with the customer. By providing extensive coverage on various aspects of their vehicles, they can give their customers significant protection for their bank accounts, while increasing dealership profit per retail unit with upgrades or extended coverage.

Independent dealers paint a different picture. Vehicles on an independent dealership lot have been through approximately three ownership cycles and typically range in mileage from between 30,000 and 150,000 miles. With this in mind, their F&I bench is significantly limited in comparison.

The majority of consumer protection products tailored for independent dealers limit coverage to mainly the powertrain of these older-model vehicles. The reasoning behind this is pretty straight-forward. Older model vehicles are expected to break down more and therefore F&I product providers are more hesitant to create extensive protection products for them as they would expect a higher number of claims submitted.

However, in this value versus cost environment, nonprime and subprime consumers have a new level of expectation in the terms of the products available to them from both franchise and independent dealerships. The recession has forced companies across all industries to re-evaluate the customer service experience, as well as their value proposition. There is no difference in the auto industry. Now, it’s not only prime and super-prime customers that demand the highest level of service, but rather all customers expect to have the same level of respect for their business. While some customers may not be able to afford a traditional vehicle service contract, they are still very interested in purchasing mechanical breakdown protection for their vehicle.

For this reason, F&I product providers are re-evaluating the products they develop for independent dealerships. For example, EFG Companies, a consumer protection product provider based in Irving, Texas, developed a vehicle service contract called Best ReGuards that extends past the powertrain specifically for independent dealerships. This product focuses on several extended coverages while maintaining a low cost price-point:

  • Engine
  • Turbocharger/Supercharger
  • Transmission
  • Transfer Case
  • Air Conditioning
  • Electrical
  • Fuel
  • Seals & Gaskets

Another trend in consumer demands goes beyond mechanical breakdown to include benefits around personal safety, such as roadside assistance. Again, the majority of roadside assistance plans available for independent dealers only provide limited services, if any. However, no matter their credit score, people from all walks of life need the ability to take care of themselves and their family in the event that they are stranded due to a breakdown. With that in mind, EFG paired the following roadside assistance benefits with the mechanical benefits of their Best ReGuards VSC for independent dealers:

  • Towing
  • Flat Tire Changes
  • Jump Starts
  • Lockout Service
  • Nationwide Coverage

Beyond the product itself, the company also backed it with the same product administration that franchise dealers receive. This further emphasizes and ensures the level of customer service on which independent dealers can rely, and that positively impacts their relationships with their customers.

You can see how growth in options such as this gives independent dealers a more valuable toolkit to address each customer’s specific need when it comes to protecting their vehicle. They also fortify independent dealership’s customer appreciation model, which increases their customer retention. With revamped F&I products that provide more comprehensive coverage and service, independent dealerships are positioned to:

  • Increase their product portfolio to generate greater profits
  • Cultivate customer relationships by providing new market opportunities
  • Match consumer buying trends to the dynamics of their dealerships

As supply is expected to outpace demand in 2014, independent dealerships need to expand their product portfolio to be more competitive in the market. Considering how few independent dealers have access to provide F&I products, you are going to see more providers recognizing this growing opportunity and focusing product development efforts on this fresh dealer segment.

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Entire EFG Companies Field Services Team Now AFIP Certified


Dallas — EFG Companies is the first F&I product provider of its size to certify its entire field services team with the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals (AFIP). By certifying its entire team at once, EFG makes it possible for its client base to receive the immediate benefits of the company’s certification, whether through mentoring the dealer’s staff through AFIP certification, one-on-one coaching or completing dealer compliance audits.

“Our clients look to us to ensure that their teams have appropriate processes and controls in place to navigate more than a dozen federal laws and find their way through the many state and local laws that impact their operations,” said John Pappanastos, president and CEO, EFG Companies. “With that in mind, we took the initiative to get our entire field services team certified by the only regulatory compliance program that requires proctored exams under controlled testing conditions. Achieving AFIP certification across the entire team demonstrates our commitment to our clients.”

With its field team 100% AFIP certified, EFG’s client representatives, trainers and recruiters can more effectively train, audit and support their clients, who will continue to see compliance with state and federal regulatory requirements as a critical priority in their business moving forward, officials said. AFIP certification curriculum focuses solely on the federal and state laws that govern in-dealership financial services.

“AFIP’s primary objective is to protect dealers by ensuring that in-dealership F&I practitioners and sales executives are fully aware of the applicable state and federal regulations – and take responsibility for their actions,” said David Robertson, executive director, AFIP. “Regulatory knowledge, coupled with personal accountability, keeps thousands of dealers out of harm’s way.”

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EFG Companies Launches Professional Services Segment


DALLAS – EFG Companies, a financial service products administrator, announced the establishment of a professional services division that will provide dealers with training, recruiting and marketing services. The division will be led by Chuck McGraw, senior vice president.

“Our expansion is a direct result of the significant resources we invest in equipping our client engagement team to bring both strategic and business perspectives to our clients,” said John Pappanastos, CEO of EFG Companies. “As we have striven to provide the best administration in consumer protection, our training, recruiting and marketing services grew in strength from support functions to primary lines of business that will improve sales cultures for all our clients.”

EFG developed its recruitment and workforce solutions to answer the persistent and growing need for sourcing and development of staff. The company utilizes a proprietary process that combines its top performer behavioral scoring and rigorous personal interviews to place the right person in the right position.

EFG’s staff of experts then uses a custom approach to adapt training to build upon the employee’s experience and perspectives, according to the company. EFG’s trainers spend thousands of hours every year visiting and observing different businesses and developing curriculum.

“After using our top performer hiring model to provide expert hiring and recruiting services, we train recruits by utilizing the ‘Interactive Inductive Process’ or ‘Guided Discovery Model,’” McGraw said. “People learn in three ways: by seeing, hearing and doing. Our training successfully incorporates all three of these ways, leading to a fantastic learning environment.”

EFG’s Marketing Solutions team works with clients to reallocate where their advertising and marketing dollars can be best utilized to generate the highest ROI, according to the company. Their consultative approach to marketing includes strategies to implement differentiating messages in all modes of communication designed to generate leads, enhance a higher degree of word of mouth, facilitate customer loyalty and make clients’ money.

“Most automotive retailers and lending institutions have continued to use the same advertising techniques that worked for them in the 80s,” said Jennifer Threet, chief marketing officer, EFG Companies. “EFG takes advantage of its 35-year history of automotive experience to propel dealerships and lending institutions from their comfort zone into a highly integrated world where online branding and e-marketing reputation management to builds successful consumer relationships.”

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Hyundai To Cut Job-Loss Protection From Assurance Program


LOS ANGELES – Hyundai plans to eliminate the part of its Hyundai Assurance program that promises Hyundai buyers their money back if they lose their jobs.

The job-loss protection guarantee was the backbone of the Assurance program when it was launched in January 2009. Job-loss protection was a key part of Hyundai’s marketing and advertising since then, reported Automotive News.

The offering is scheduled to end this week, according to EFG Co. Inc., the Irving, Texas-based company that has administered the Assurance program for Hyundai since its launch.

“It was very topical for times and really resonated in 2009, but in the meantime we’ve really broadened Assurance to be more than job loss,” said Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai’s U.S. sales boss.

Hyundai will continue to use Assurance as the brand for its warranty offerings, which include a 10-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and 5-year roadside assistance coverage.

The job loss protection program will continue to cover customers for one year who buy new vehicles through March 31.

About 350 U.S. Hyundai customers have used the program to return their vehicles, Zuchowski said. Hyundai has sold more than 1 million new vehicles in the United States since Hyundai Assurance was launched.

Hyundai’s U.S. sales have risen from 401,702 vehicles in 2008 to 435,064 in 2009 and then to 538,228 in 2010. Its share of the U.S. market improved from 3.0 percent to 4.6 percent over that time.

“We actually see the elimination of the job-loss program as a sign of a recovering economy and we had never anticipated that this would be an enduring program,” Zuchowski said. “We welcome the day when it’s really no longer as relevant in the showroom or as required in the marketplace.”

Paul Budvitis, EFG’s president of business development, says the company continues to administer a similar job-loss protection insurance product for 300 to 400 non-Hyundai dealers from a variety of brands.

Although its partnership with Hyundai is ending, EFG hopes to administer the job-loss protection product with other automakers and dealers, Budvitis said. EFG and Hyundai had an exclusivity deal through the first year of the Assurance program.

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