Tag Archive | "Gil Van Over"

Compliance Isn’t Solely F&I’s Responsibility


Just as many in the industry operate under the mistaken impression that compliance is just an “F&I thing,” many also operate under a similar mistaken impression that agents only help with training and assistance in the F&I office. I know many agents who spend a fair amount of time with sales managers on “road-to-the-sale” processes that affect compliance. If your agency offers sales process training, there are some compliance issues that either start or germinate in sales that you should be aware of.

The findings in our compliance consulting practice confirm that the majority of compliance concerns either start in sales or germinate during the sales process. Somehow, some way, the idea that compliance in the variable process has been pegged as “F&I compliance” is prevalent and misleading.

The fact that a majority of compliance issues are sales-related should not shock your system. Only one of the 10 steps on the road to the sale process takes place in F&I. Steps One through Eight are sales responsibilities. Step Nine is the F&I turnover, then back to sales for delivery.

Many touchpoints along the road to the sale with the consumer present a potential requirement to conform to a state or federal law or statute. Many other touchpoints require an employee to subscribe to dealer law to avoid a
deceptive practice.

Let’s look at the sales touchpoints in a 10-step “Road to the Sale” process:

1. Meet and greet: Not much here from a compliance perspective. Granted, it is bad business to greet a consumer with bad breath, matted hair and wrinkled clothes, but these are certainly not compliance concerns. In fact, there probably will not be any compliance concerns if the consumer walks away immediately.

However, consumer questions about the advertised price, a price quoted in a website, or factory incentivized financing may creep into the discussion.

2. Interview: This is the needs-assessment step. Most dealers want to discover the consumer’s desires, so there should not be any gathering of nonpublic personal information (NPI), credit applications or trade-in specifics.

Some consumers may offer up information about a bad credit history or being upside down in a trade. Some veteran salespeople may then skip some of the “road to the sale” steps. They figure out that this consumer cannot buy or finance a vehicle and send them packing. The consumer must be given a privacy notice if this wily old dog has gathered NPI. Or, if the consumer signed a five-liner to pull credit, an adverse action notice is required.

What if the wily old dog figured out quickly that the consumer is a subprime candidate and moves to step three? The consumer is led to a used vehicle with a potential fee added to the sale price.

3. Vehicle selection: Potential compliance pop-ups inherent to this step including handling a subprime fee, CPO warranty or fees, and advertised price.

4. Walkaround: After the consumer selects a vehicle, the salesperson walks the consumer around the vehicle, pointing out the features, benefits and differences from competitive makes. During this walkaround, there may be questions about labeling on new vehicles such as the Monroney label or dealer addendum.

On a used vehicle or prior demonstrator, the used car buyer’s guide must be prominently displayed. A used vehicle may also be plastered with a “Certified” sticker, which may raise questions about CPO warranties or — heaven forbid — adding a CPO fee to a non-CPO vehicle.

If the discussion between salesperson and consumer for a used vehicle in Steps One through Four have been in Spanish, a Spanish-language buyer’s guide is required.

5. Test drive: A salesperson is usually instructed to gather up driver’s license and insurance information before the consumer is permitted to get behind the wheel. Gathering and copying the driver’s license is usually the first piece of NPI obtained by the salesperson. This triggers the federal requirement to provide the consumer with the dealership’s privacy notice.

Some dealers prefer to wait until the consumer becomes a customer and deliver the privacy notice in F&I. Assuming a 25% closing ratio, this means that three-quarters of required privacy notices are not provided.

6. Trade evaluation: Part of the trade evaluation must take current recalls, prior use, prior damage and branded titles into account. While pulling Carfax, AutoCheck, NMVTIS and SaferCar.gov searches are not a compliance requirement on a trade-in, they can certainly provide much-needed information on the value of the trade.

7. Present numbers and ask for the sale: This is the where the compliance concerns heat up. Potential pitfalls include accepting credit applications, pulling credit bureau reports, desking deals, powerbooking, providing credit score disclosure notices, running OFAC, dealer doc fees, factory incentives, and making a copy of a military ID.

8. Close: The close is where creative sales managers can revert to “Wizard of Oz” mode, sitting at the tower instead of behind a curtain. Sometimes, to close deals, a sales manager will resort to old-school tricks such as developing a deferred down payment plan, incorporating cash back to the customer, structuring a straw purchase, or requiring a backup contract be executed with a different down payment.

9. F&I turn: The F&I manager firms up the paper trail execution — including final pencil, menu, buyer’s order, RISC or lease, and product enrollment forms — and acts as the backup checker to make sure sales did everything it was supposed to do.

10. Delivery and service drive intro: Most of the dealer’s compliance requirements have been met with their newest customer. Potentially, though, the salesperson may start mining this new customer for prospects. Armed with the neighbor’s or relative’s name, address, phone, fax and cell numbers, the salesperson may ignore do-not-call lists or CAN-SPAM requirements.

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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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How to Formalize a CMS


In the beginning, there was General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) and the emergence of indirect auto finance. The Treaty of Versailles was signed around the same time, ending World War I. A typical GMAC deal file was the title and a contract too small to fit in today’s standard printer tray.

That innocuous beginning ultimately begat numerous federal regulations to oversee the dealerships who funnel installment sales contract to GMAC’s successor and other finance sources. As the genesis of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pre-dates GMAC by five years, it ultimately became the primary overseer of dealership business practices. Ergo the FTC Used Car Rule, the FTC Safeguards Rule, etc.

Jump ahead nearly a century and witness the birth of the FTC’s little brother, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB jumped into our consciousness in 2011 as a reaction to the mortgage lending meltdown. Its charter is similar to the FTC’s charter — to be the consumer’s watchdog.

Sibling Rivalry

Just like a little brother, the CFPB wants to prove it belongs in the same conversation as its big brother. An aggressive compiler of consumer complaints of all thing financial, it recently logged its millionth consumer complaint in a short five years.

And although the CFPB was unable to wrestle oversight of car dealerships away from the FTC, there is no questioning the agency’s intent to regulate dealerships though the wormhole known as the finance sources that dealers sell contracts to.

The CFPB has awakened its big brother with a series of headline-grabbing actions. For example, the FTC recently announced payment packing and yo-yo charges against nine California dealerships, its first such charge levied against an auto dealer for yo-yo transactions. Unconfirmed rumors have the first yo-yo transaction taking place in California in about, oh, 1920.

This is an important development for agents and dealers to pay attention to. It signals the willingness of the FTC to accept and adopt some of the CFPB’s methods and processes and ideologies.

One potential, very significant future event is the development and implementation of a compliance management system (CMS). The CFPB requires the finance sources it regulates to have a formalized, documented CMS in place.

My prediction is the FTC will require auto dealerships to have a formalized, documented CMS in all areas of the dealership’s operations in the next handful of years. As an agent, you have the opportunity to put your dealer clients on the path to compliance today. Let’s take a closer look at the components of a CMS and how to formalize the system.

Components, Audits and Procedures

A compliance management system is the method by which a dealer manages the entire consumer compliance process. It includes both the compliance program and the compliance audit function.

The compliance program consists of the policies and procedures which guide employees’ compliance with laws, regulations and potential litigation defense.

The compliance audit function is an independent testing of the dealer’s transactions and processes to determine its level of compliance with consumer protection laws and internal policies and procedures.

The process to develop and implement a CMS is consistent with the required components outlined by the FTC in its guidance with the Safeguards Rule and the Red Flags Rule. These components are:

  1. Appoint a compliance officer
  2. Conduct a risk assessment to gauge current practices vis-à-vis requirements
  3. Develop a policy and procedure to address the compliance requirements
  4. Provide and document employee training on the policy and procedure manual
  5. Perform periodic audits to confirm compliance with the policy and procedure manual

Let’s use the Monroney Rule, a rather simple federal requirement, as an example of how the CMS compliance model would work at a dealership. The first task is to understand the compliance requirement. The Monroney Rule requires that all new vehicles offered for sale have a Monroney label affixed to a window.

Now that the requirement is understood, a dealer must conduct an assessment to see how the dealership is complying with this requirement. The logical approach would be to do a lot walk and review the placement of the Monroney label on each vehicle.

Next, the dealer would create a written procedure that explains how the dealership will comply with the requirement to have a Monroney label on every new vehicle offered for sale.

Once the procedure is written, it becomes a policy. The fourth step in implementing a CMS is to train the employees on the policy and instruction on the procedures required to implement the policy.

The final step to implementing a CMS is to schedule periodic inspections of the vehicles available for sale to ensure that each one has a Monroney label affixed to a window.

Most successful dealers intuitively use the CMS model to manager the processes in the dealership, but they may not be documenting the approach. The day may be coming soon when documenting will be as important as doing.

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Industry Summit 2017: Big Value in Big D


DALLAS — Organizers of the annual Industry Summit announced that this year’s event, scheduled for Sept. 11–14, 2017, at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas, will be the biggest and best value in the show’s 13-year history.

Produced by the publishers of Auto Dealer Today and F&I and Showroom, Industry Summit was launched as the F&I Conference in 2005. It has since grown into the premier event for dealers, sales and F&I professionals, agents, and executives, and has retained its focus on expert-level training for every department in the dealership.

This year’s event will be produced in partnership with the following:

  • The Best Training Day Ever, featuring Dave Anderson, Jeff Cowan, David Lewis, and Alan Ram
  • Greg Goebel’s Special Finance Conference
  • F&I Think Tank, featuring Ethical F&I Managers’ Marv Eleazer
  • Compliance Summit, including onsite certification by Gil Van Over’s Automotive Compliance Education (ACE)

“This is the all-star team,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of Auto Dealer Today and F&I and Showroom. “Every dealer event has value, but you would have to attend them all to get the education and networking opportunities Industry Summit offers in one place.”

Industry Summit 2017 will be held at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, Sept. 11–14. For updates on registration, travel, special events and more, subscribe to the free digital editions of Auto Dealer Today and F&I and Showroom.

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Automotive Compliance Leaders gvo3 And DSGSS Collaborate To Deliver Industry’s First Comprehensive Front End Compliance Platform


Two of the industry’s compliance leaders, gvo3 & Associates (gvo3) and DealerSafeGuardSolutions (DSGSS), have collaborated to deliver the first comprehensive front end compliance platform. This effort provides the first end to end solution, incorporating education, certification, execution, inspection and remediation. As dealers continue to struggle balancing the regulatory demands of consistency and perfection with the market demands of speed from the consumer, manufacturers, and sales force, shortcuts and errors are a fact of life. These missteps can cripple a business. This platform mitigates these risks.

Doug Fusco, CEO of DSGSS says “Gil and gvo3 have been the gold standard for years. Their compliance consulting, auditing and training continue to be best in class. Now with this new platform, dealers will be able to leverage these benefits to enhance and most importantly, “maintain” their compliance standards. For years dealers have searched for the “glue” to hold their policies and procedures together in a consistent manner.

Even after best efforts to enforce their investments in strong training and education, there is no guarantee employees consistently behave as instructed, creating this ongoing liability for the dealer. This platform will eliminate these risks”.

Mike Brosin, Managing Partner for Crest Auto group and a client of both gvo3 and DSGSS, states “We take our gvo3 audits very seriously, as they provide us valuable insight and direction into how we can improve and protect our business and our clients. We hold the record for the highest gvo3 score in the group, and DSGSS is the driving force behind that success”.

Steve Goodman of RML Automotive Group says “After we installed DSGSS, our next gvo3 audit score increased by 38 points”.

“One of the frustrations our clients share is the challenge with their staff consistently behaving as instructed after training, or after our audit review and consultation. With turnover, today’s competitive market, and the typical chaotic environment we operate under, this continues to become a growing challenge and liability to the dealer. With DSGSS in place those frustrations are eliminated, and the training leads to more consistent results” says Gil Van Over, President of gvo3.

Gil is also the Executive Director of Automotive Compliance Education (ACE). This firm provides compliance training and industry certification for everyone who touches a deal, from the Sales Person to the Sales, F&I and Office Managers. Certification curricula are also available for Office Clerks and Compliance Officers. “A dealer needs to certify more than just the F&I Manager and the training must be topical. ACE provides that topical training and industry certification.” according to Van Over.

This collaborative partnership will be officially unveiled at this year’s NADA convention. Experts from both companies will be available daily at the DSGSS booth # 5839. Please stop by to learn more about this unique platform. Sign up at the show and DSGSS will have your Compliance Officer ACE certified for FREE!

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An Interview with Gil Van Over III


On Tuesday, Aug. 30, at Paris Las Vegas, 83 industry professionals sat for the Certified Automotive Compliance Professional exam, offered for no charge to Compliance Summit attendees by Automotive Compliance Education (ACE). The following week, Agent Entrepreneur met with Gil Van Over III, the organization’s executive director, to learn more about the program and Van Over’s career in auto finance, training and consulting.

AE: Gil, where are you from?

Van Over: I’m proud to say I’m an Air Force brat. I’ve lived everywhere from the Orient to Europe to the United States. I went to high school in Hawaii and Dayton, Ohio, if you can believe that.

AE: What was your favorite stop?

Van Over: My favorite was Hawaii, but I finished high school in Dayton and then went to Ohio State for a couple years. Then I decided to join the business world. I went to work for a finance company and then went to one of the captives. From there, I was hired as the COO of Premier Auto Finance, which was a Pat Ryan or Aon company. Finally, I started gvo3 & Associates in 2001.

AE: What spurred the move from finance to compliance?

Van Over: At Premier, we were struggling with the manufacturers offering zero percent financing. It was hard to compete anymore. So we decided to shut it down and I decided to go into business for myself, offering compliance solutions, including training.

AE: Compliance was not the hot-button issue in 2001 that it is today.

Van Over: I kind of grew with the times. The timing was fortunate.

AE: How do you keep up with changes to rules and regulations at the state and federal levels?

Van Over: I read a lot of industry publications and I keep track of pending legislation and court decisions that require a dealer to have a plan in place. From that, I apply the methodologies I learned at the captive to incorporate those types of things as processes. We’re a process-improvement company. We use audits as a core competency to deliver consulting. That’s driven by processes, processes, processes. If they’re doing it right, they’re doing it right consistently. If they’re doing it wrong, they’re doing it wrong consistently.

AE: Are dealers and F&I professionals more receptive to change now than they were when you started?

Van Over: There has been a huge growth in awareness around the industry over the past 15 years. In the beginning, I had to spell “compliance.” Now, most people have a better understanding of what it is. The problem is that it’s so voluminous, they don’t know how to manage it.

AE: So you leave it to the experts.

Van Over: Exactly. I can tell you, for example, that the CFPB is focused on this aspect of your business and this is how you can demonstrate you are in compliance. It’s transitioning what you have to do into how to do it. That’s been the biggest key to our success.

AE: Do you still encounter F&I managers who play ball while you’re in their dealership and then go back to what they were doing when you leave?

Van Over: You run the gamut. You’ve got the people who think they’re too small or too isolated or insulated to have to worry about it. You run into the people that are saying, “Well, I’ve been at 17 dealerships in the last seven years, so whatever I’m doing, I won’t be here when the bad news comes.” And you do have the people that are just waiting for you to leave. They know you’re not coming back for six months or a year and they can go back to doing what they’ve always done.

But for the most part, the people working in the industry today understand that it’s the right thing to do for the customer, and it’s simply good business. You can keep the products you’ve sold because they’re not going to be canceled. You will have a higher degree of return customers. I think most people want to do the right thing. They need help understanding what the right thing is.

AE: Will your job get easier as the industry gets younger?

Van Over: That’s a good question. I’ll say there are a lot of urban myths out there and there always have been. Only now, what once was communicated by fax or phone is now on social media, and everyone’s opinion can be heard. You can’t just take a 144-character tweet as gospel, but many younger people do.

AE: We keep hearing about banks and finance companies knocking on dealers’ doors to perform surprise audits, but I have yet to speak to a dealer who has been through one. Is that actually happening?

Van Over: It’s not necessarily your finance company coming into your dealership and doing an audit but statistically reviewing portfolios. Most finance companies will have basically the same escalation process followed by HR professionals: First, you identify the issue and come to an agreement. If the offender doesn’t stick to the agreement, you follow with a written notice. If it still doesn’t correct itself, after determining the level of risk is too high, your finance source will say they can no longer do business with you. It’s not an overnight thing.

AE: Speaking of overnight, we’re fresh off Compliance Summit, where you and Jim Ganther and Michael Tuno presented the review session and proctored the exam for ACE certification. Ganther hinted that you pulled a few all-nighters to get the materials done in time for the show.

Van Over: He’s right about that, but I wouldn’t want anyone to think we threw that curriculum together in a few days. This idea first germinated in my mind about five years ago. I told Jim that there’s an opportunity for us to provide a certification for the industry that would leverage a lot of factors and, more importantly, provide some best-in-class certification that would rival what other professions get.

Think about doctors, nurses and teachers. They all have a requirement to not only get their degree and license but participate in continuing education to make sure they stay current. We didn’t see any offerings in the industry that met that standard.

So we had everything in place, but we still had to finalize some of the details, and that part happened fast. But we had the opportunity to introduce it to a great audience at a great venue.

AE: To use your own word, compliance is a “voluminous” topic. How did you lasso all aspects of dealer compliance into four hours of review and a 200-question exam?

Van Over: First, we understand what we’re good at. We’re good at compliance with all of the rules, regulations and statutes for best practices that revolve around sales and F&I. Dealerships also have parts and service departments, but we don’t pretend to be good at OSHA. What we’re good at is the departments that square off with the customer.

I do a lot of litigation support, so I see the arguments for unfair and deceptive practices. We have developed best practices. We generate the documentation that shows you were not deceptive in the way you sold anything.

We talked about continuing education for the practitioners in the dealership. We certify all of them because they all have a role in compliance. Just as they need to stay on top of the situation, we do as well. Continuing education is the key.

AE: Now that I’m certified, how do I get recertified?

Van Over: Every year, on the anniversary of your certification, you will receive a notification from ACE that you need to log in and take a smaller number of modules to stay certified. There are five we have identified that should be done annually: Safeguards Rule, Red Flags, sexual harassment, discrimination and ethics. Additionally, every year, we will add any modules that have been added to your discipline’s curriculum.

Finally, if you’re a gvo3 client, you are getting regular periodic reviews, and we will include areas where we see the highest area of noncompliance. If we find the highest percentage in the completion of credit applications, for example, we’ll include that module and do it again.

This demonstrates that, not only are we keeping you current on recent changes, we are also reviewing deal files, identifying failure points and retraining on that. With that documentation, the dealer has a strong case if someone leaves and blows the whistle. Sorry, but you were trained. We showed you how to do it the right way.

AE: Is it possible to be fully compliant and still be unethical?

Van Over: You can have paperwork in the deal that suggests you did things the right way. But, yes, you can still be unethical. And if you are, eventually, it’s going to catch up with you. We have a philosophy we share with dealers in our recap meetings: If you’ve made mistakes, it’s one of two things: You are naïve or you’re a kink. I can fix naivety. If you’re a kink, and you’re forging signatures and packing payments, and you think that’s acceptable, your moral compass is off. I can’t fix that.

AE: How often have you had to recommend that a dealer fire a bad actor?

Van Over: It happens occasionally. But it’s happening less and less, and we’ve moved along further into the progression of the company. When we develop a policy and procedure manual for our clients, we include a list of eight or nine non-negotiables. If you violate even one, you’re terminated. If you forge a document, you’ve got to go. If you steal money, adios.

However, we make absolutely certain we’re an independent contractor. We are not making decisions on behalf of the company. We might point out that it looks like someone else signed this document, and the dealer will investigate that. Many times, if they can get someone to admit to it, they do terminate them.

AE: Our readership is agents, so let me ask you: What responsibility do agents bear for keeping dealers in compliance?

Van Over: Agents do not want to be the dealer’s compliance cop. We’ve made that very clear. We work with more than a few agents, either on a referral basis or when we have been retained to be the compliance cop. We tell them to be sure their processes are compliant. Train on the menu from both the sales and compliance perspectives.

But you don’t want to be the guy reviewing deals. Focus on production. If your dealer needs a compliance expert, there are a number of us out there, and some of us do a very good job. Get somebody to be your compliance cop. Agents are there to help dealers make money. That’s what they’ve got to focus on.

For more information about ACE certification, visit AceCert.org. For more information about gvo3 & Associates, visit gvo3.com.

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