Tag Archive | "Expectations"

What Dealers Want From Agents and Product Providers

Last month I attended the Agents Conference in Las Vegas and was pleasantly surprised at the turnout for the conference. Adam Kimber, publisher of Agent Entrepreneur magazine, Gregory Arroyo, and the staff at the Bobit publications, F&I and Showroom Magazine and Agent Entrepreneur, (the new e-zine dedicated to agents), did an amazing job of organizing this first annual conference.

What struck me about the conference was the enthusiastic attitude and participation of the over 200 agents and product providers that attended. For example, I conducted a panel discussion made up of a group of agents from all corners of the country that had exhibited superior performance in several key areas and were willing to share some of their knowledge and experience with the group in attendance. The response from the attendees to that session was tremendous. All I heard was “We want more of those guys”.

As a result, I got a commitment from that group to come to next year’s conference and share more of their ideas and suggestions. I suspect that this conference will become “the place to be” for agents and product providers, if the response I got was any indicator.

I also shared a luncheon keynote presentation entitled “What Dealers Want From Agents and Product Providers” that was drawn from a recent project our research group conducted that targeted new car dealers.

Now first, let me be very clear that I never presume to tell agents how they should do their job. I always get a chuckle when I see someone, who isn’t an agent themselves, write an article, or give advice to F&I product agents. The job of running your business, no matter the size of the agency, is a unique and highly specialized skill set that frankly, no one outside of your business has a clue about.

The goal of my presentation was simply to share some things dealers had told us about their agents as part of a much broader study. The response I received from the presentation told me the agents found that information interesting and useful.

*Note: A PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded at www.teamonegroup.com/agentsandproductsuppliers.html

This study was initiated in 2009 and updated in 2010-2011. The research data was collected in two ways:

Quantitative Research- Multiple choice answers from a defined selection criteria. Controlled data useful for trending, comparison, and monitoring.

Subjective Research- Essay or verbal response with follow up clarification questions. Research staff interprets answers. Useful for program development, problem solving, and adaptive training programs.

Quantitative Research: First, dealers were asked questions regarding importance of service levels from their F&I agents and product suppliers. Their responses were based on a 1-10 scale of importance.

When you examine the chart above, it is clear that dealers are going to want more from their agents and product providers in 2011. While every area in the survey was important to the dealers, two areas stand out as most important to their rating of their current providers. Those areas were Personal Contact and F&I Training.

Since these areas were paramount in the dealer’s mind in the quantitative poll, we focused on those areas in our subjective polling, (interviews).

Personal Contact- Importance Score 8.7

What the dealers expressed concern about: Many Dealer Principals and General Managers expressed dissatisfaction with the level of personal contact with their F&I product providers and agents. While the representatives of those companies may visit the dealerships on a seemingly regular basis, the Dealer Principals and General Managers had not been contacted or seen. The statements generally followed the example, “He comes in to see the F&I manager but I haven’t seen him in four months”.

What the dealers told us they wanted to see: Dealer Principals and General Managers are often hard to get to see, unannounced. The most common dealer suggestion was for the F&I product providers and agents to call a few days ahead and schedule an appointment to be sure to see the Dealer Principal or General Manager, as well as the F&I staff. Dealer Principals and General Managers viewed this as a very important factor in retaining and acquiring F&I product providers and agents.

F&I Training- Importance Score 9.2

What the dealers expressed concern about: Dealer Principals and General Managers identified F&I Training as the most important single service they will require from their F&I product providers and agents. Dealers stated the need for increased F&I performance in 2011 and they expect their F&I product providers and agents to supply the training to accomplish that performance. However, F&I product providers and agents report that while they have provided F&I training, the training efforts they have extended to their clients have not been attended and their training has not been implemented.

What the dealers told us they wanted to see: First, you should offer a variety of training options on a regular basis and inform the Dealer Principals and General Managers, personally, of every training opportunity you offer. Introduce a mixture of live events, and online programs.

Dealers expressed the opinion that they gave more credence to national level training programs over the local “trainer”. This was one reason they stated they had, or might consider going to a national product provider.

How important is the agent to the dealer?

Dealers clearly expressed the opinion that their agents and product providers serve an important function in their overall management philosophy. When we identify the most successful and highest dealer rated agents, the common trait they exhibit is having become an integral part of the dealership’s management team.

Your function is so important that we, (Team One), have adopted a strategy over the last few years of providing our training program through general agencies around the US and Canada. In developing top F&I performance over the last 18 years, we have determined that the support and involvement of the agent and product provider is one of the “legs” of creating and maintaining a successful F&I department.

Finally, while many of you already recognize the importance of the service you bring to the dealer body, it is helpful to recognize that the dealers understand that as well. They are relying on you for a major portion of their profitability, and in the new marketplace of “the internet effect” on new car gross profits, for many, their survival.

We, (Team One), salute you and hope to see you at next year’s Agent conference. I promise it will be well worth the time and expense. And of course, I believe it will become “the place” to be for F&I agents and product providers. See you there!

George Angus is with Team One Research and Training, a research and training company that specializes in scientific, research based program development and training programs for the automobile industry. George can be reached at 1-800-928-1923 or on the web at www.teamonegroup.com.

Posted in Meet the ExecutiveComments (0)