Tag Archive | "Gregory Arroyo"

From the Boardroom: Digital F&I and the Millennial Boom


From their thoughts on what is an acceptable per-copy average to how their companies aim to address the online F&I push, four F&I product provider reps weighed in on a host of top-of-mind topics during Industry Summit 2016’s “From the Boardroom” discussion in late August. The main takeaway for general agents is they’ll play a key role in helping to close the digital divide.

The panel featured Tim Blochowiak, vice president of dealer sales for Protective Asset Protection; Greg Oltman, director of business development for Dent Zone; David Pryor, chief marketing officer for Safe-Guard Products International; and Matt Trudeau, director of national sales for Dent Wizard. Their diverse industry experience and roles within their companies offered attendees a unique perspective on the future of the F&I office. The following is an abridged version of that discussion.

Arroyo: We’ve seen public groups like AutoNation and Group 1 posting some impressive per-copy averages. Where do you think the national average sits?

Blochowiak: We’re typically seeing anywhere between $1,200 and $1,400. AutoNation and Group 1 typically are the bell cow and they seem to be leading the pack.

Oltman: I’ve seen it at $1,150, $1,200, but not quite $1,400.

Pryor: I would agree. We do see what AutoNation does. They’re a partner of ours, so we see what they do. They have a very strong process, and that’s what’s driving them to those numbers.

Arroyo: What about penetration rates?

Trudeau: For PDR [paintless dent removal], when people have a good process in place and they’re consistent with their offerings, we see it in the upper 20% range on new and at about 6% to 7% on pre-owned.

Oltman: I think penetrations for all ancillaries are probably 20%, service contracts at about 50%.

Arroyo: David, what about tire-and-wheel protection?

Pryor: Well, again, the mix out there has shifted toward leasing, which puts pressure on the service contract side. So we see tire-and-wheel penetration going up. In a highline store, you could see 30% to 40% penetration.

Arroyo: Without turning this into a commercial, Matt and Greg, can you get us caught up with what your companies have been up to lately? I’ve seen a lot of activity from you guys of late.

Oltman: Well, first of all, it’s our 25-year anniversary and, to Greg’s point, we’ve got a lot of things going on. We were the first PDR service contract and then the first company to have a nationwide technician network. Recently, we purchased a chemical company and a paint-and-fab company. We also just purchased a new odor eliminator that’s going to be added to our suite of products.

We also developed AutoBodyguard, a new division offering a complete line of appearance program and vehicle protection products. It’s where our new bundle is coming from. It has eight products, including PDR, paint-and-fab and an odor eliminator.

Trudeau: At Dent Wizard, one of our newest additions this year is Ding Shield One. It encompasses PDR with hail damage repair and unlimited cosmetic wheel coverage. It also comes with an option for bumper repair and interior protection. One of the things we take pride in is we service what we sell. We have over 2,400 employees now throughout the United States and Canada, which helps us be good stewards of our program in that we can manage our claims. But it’s adding those different things, especially with the amount of leasing we’re seeing right now.

Arroyo: Let’s move to the service drive, because it remains an untapped source of additional F&I product sales. Matt, Dent Wizard is doing something different in that area, correct?

Trudeau: We do a few different things. There’s the side of our company where we go out and consult with service departments on doing walkarounds and how to receive a customer. We come in and do some training clinics. And we have a program where you can sell dent-and-ding coverage, but it comes with preexisting damage so that advisors can sell it.

But it is like pushing a freight train uphill getting these advisors to sell product, especially if you approach it from that side. What we do is work with them on selling our service, where guys come out and repair a car. And they’re able to mark that up, so they’re interested in doing that. So we work with them on selling our service, not our service contract, and there’s definitely a revenue pickup there.

Arroyo: What about service contracts?

Blochowiak: Well, it’s definitely a challenge. A lot of that has to with the alignment of things. The service writer sells service, and they’re really trying to help the consumer. And when you get into service contracts on used cars, you’re talking several thousands of dollars, where the Dent Zone, Dent Wizard-type products are a lot more palatable for the consumer and a lot less expensive.

The problem with selling service contracts on cars that are already broke is it doesn’t do a whole lot from an underwriting perspective, because rates become so high that you have to price for that. So it’s been a real challenge selling service contracts in the service drive, but there are some dealers who have the right compensation plan in place for their service writers and have experienced success. But it’s minimal, to say the least.

Pryor: There just aren’t enough dealers who are really focused on it. We all see the opportunity, but it’s a process change, a pay plan change. And you have to have the right commitment at all levels of the dealership to make that work.

Oltman: You also need to consider whether there’s enough meat on the bone. I mean, after you pay a service writer and then you pay F&I, you can’t overprice that service contract to that customer if F&I is involved in the service drive. Next thing you know, there’s what? A $50 profit?

Blochowiak: And we may see those types of sales not so much in the service drive going forward, but through technology — apps, phone alerts. If consumers have an app on their phone from either the product provider or the dealership, that gives them opportunities to send out alerts to the consumers and, frankly, offers. And I think catching multiple consumers at the right time makes more sense, because you have a broader consumer base to hit in the course of the day as opposed to the one customer on the service drive at that given time.

Arroyo: Let’s shift to this digital F&I talk. At the magazine’s Dealer Summit this past May, we were having an open forum-type discussion when a compliance and F&I trainer said she didn’t believe much about vehicle sales and finance had changed over the course of her 35-year industry career. She felt that people still want to drive the vehicle, smell it, and be sold on the deal. Do you agree?

Pryor: I would disagree. I think the way consumers are buying cars has changed. They’re doing their research online or looking at social media. They’re looking at dealer reviews. I think they still want to touch and smell the car, but their decision is 90% made before they walk in the door. And I think the F&I industry hasn’t necessarily kept up with that. So I think there is a huge opportunity to start educating consumers earlier in the process by getting more information out there about the products, to focus on the social side and what people are saying about these products.

Oltman: One thing I’ll add to David’s comment is that when we get to that stage — and I’m going to go back to pay plans — you have to make sure that finance wants to get involved. You’re changing their world. So I think the pay plan is a big part of this.

Blochowiak: That’s a really good point. I also think we have to encourage dealers to diversify their interaction with the customer, because not everyone wants to buy a car or interact with the dealership folks in the exact same manner.

Arroyo: So what tech tools are you personally excited about?

Oltman: If you haven’t seen MakeMyDeal, you’ve got to go see it. It’s fabulous. Pearl Technologies’ ShowroomXpress is as good, but MakeMyDeal is here to stay.

Blochowiak: I agree with Greg. I had an opportunity to sit through a demonstration of the MakeMyDeal platform, and it’s nice, because, as I said earlier, it’s about interacting with the customer how they want to be interacted with. And that platform really allows the consumer to start and stop anywhere they want. They can go all the way through to F&I, or they can stop along the way and just use it to shop.

Pryor: I would echo those sentiments about the MakeMyDeal model. What’s interesting about it is it doesn’t take the dealer out of the equation, which I think was the problem with some of the other efforts to kind of push F&I online.

Arroyo: So there are no concerns about production declining?

Oltman: You’re selling a car. And anytime you do that, it’s an opportunity. So there should be no fear.

Arroyo: David, your title, chief marketing officer, is a little unique in this industry. Is it a reflection of this need to address this online push?

Pryor: That’s part of it. When we talk about educating consumers, it’s about generating content and it’s about creating ways for dealers and consumers to share their experiences with these products. And we’re just starting to kind of crack the surface on that, but it’s something we’re looking at. How do we enable it on our websites? How do we enable it in social media channels? And how do we enable it on dealer websites? These are all places customers are going before the purchase, and we want to lower as many barriers as we can so they walk into the F&I office and they’re educated, they’re knowledgeable, and so they’ll buy more.

Arroyo: I’ve always wondered why we’re not using some of these great objection-handling lines or techniques as the basis for some of this content. They’re all designed to build value, to make that product mean something to the customer’s situation. So, to the rest of the panel, what discussions are taking place in your offices about this online marketing stuff?

Blochowiak: We’re really making a push to make it more, as you said, objection-overcoming or really just creating a need. Because if you just list information, that’s all it becomes. But if there’s a picture of a car broken down on the side of the road, that becomes real and that helps create the need for the product.

Oltman: The other thing is, and I know David knows this, you have to know what the dealer’s business plan is, how they market online, what they can stomach, and what they can’t. Once you know that, then you become a partner with them and then it’s all about the people in the store. Because, ultimately, they’re the ones who are going to make it happen.

Arroyo: But what about F&I product pricing? Should we go that far?

Blochowiak: I think you can. And what it could ultimately do is create MSRP-type pricing for our products. Or it could create per-month pricing for the products online. So if you’re advertising a certain car for $399 a month for 60 months and here are your disclaimers, well, you could tack on a service contract for $27 a month or something like that. I think that’s understandable to the consumer.

Oltman: But if you’re going to price online, everybody in the dealership needs to know that price. And there has to be a business plan. So, once again, it’s training and education, because there’s a whole lot more involved than just transparency.

Arroyo: Do you think Millennials will be good F&I product buyers?

Oltman: I definitely think so. I was talking about this with one of my teammates. We both have older children, and they’ve been brought up where every time we bought them anything electronic, we always bought a service contract with it. So they don’t know anything different. So I think Millennials are going to be huge buyers of products.

Pryor: I read something recently that said Millennials are the most protected generation that we’ve ever had. I mean, they all wear bike helmets and they all wear helmets skiing — things that you would have gotten you laughed at when I was growing up. So I think Millennials will be as good as or better than today’s buyers of our products.

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2011 F&Idol Winner Joins F&I Think Tank Roster


TAMPA, Fla. — Organizers of F&I Think Tank announced today that 2011 F&Idol winner Gregory Paul “G.P.” Andersonwill be one of the featured presenters at the F&I manager-geared event, which precedes the opening of Dealer Summit 2016 on Tuesday, May 3, at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel.

Anderson, who will take the stage at 11:15 a.m. during the all-day preshow event, will present “Entering the House of Happiness.” The session title is the same name he’s given to his F&I office at Park Rapids, Minn.-based Thielen Motors, where he averages three products per deal and every customer “leaves happy and completely satisfied.”

“One of the things we wanted was a from-the-trenches presenter who could take attendees beyond the typical word-tracks and objection-handling techniques,” said Gregory Arroyo, editorial director for F&I and Showroom and Auto Dealer Today. “G.P. will show attendees how to find their voice and ditch that script.”

Anderson’s ability to connect with customers was on full display when he won the magazine’s inaugural F&Idol contest in a landslide. More than 4,500 readers of F&I and Showroom cast their vote that year, with more than half selecting his video presentation as the best. Anderson’s F&I department was also named one of the magazine’s F&I Pacesetter in 2008. He was also selected as one of the top performers in the nation by General Motors in 2012.

The more than 25-year industry veteran also contributes to Auto Dealer Today’s monthly “Over the Curb” column. Anderson is also the son of a former state senator and an accomplished musician who once shared the stage with fellow Minnesotans Prince and The Hitmakers.

“Shyness did not run in our family whatsoever,” Anderson told F&I and Showroom after winning the 2011 F&Idol award.

In person, Anderson is a line a minute, and just a bit of a showoff, Arroyo said. But he’s also a student of his craft, having attended training sessions taught by legendary sales trainers like Jackie Cooper, David Lewis, Paul Cummings and Jim Ziegler. He also gives back to the communities in which he serves.

Anderson will share with attendees how he’s helping to change the reputation of F&I through customer service and through his work in the communities he serves. In January, for instance, Anderson drove more than two hours to a local Indian reservation and then to a local high school to teach his credit building class. It’s something he does regularly, and his efforts usually result in additional sales leads for the dealership.

Anderson is also the creator of “Christmas in Wadena,” an hour-long light and music show he has put on every year for the last eight years. The show is free, but Anderson asks guests to donate food or cash to “Project Share of Wadena County.” So far, he has brought in more than 2,698 pounds of food and raised nearly $10,000 for the local food shelf.

“G.P. isn’t your typical F&I producer,” Arroyo said. “He will entertain and teach. But more than anything, I think he’s going to inspire and make attendees think about their role in the dealership and in their communities.”

F&I Think Tank was created in partnership with Ethical F&I Managers, a more than 5,000-member Facebook group founded by F&I and Showroom’s “Mad” Marv Eleazer. The preshow event is included in the price of a full show pass to Dealer Summit 2016. For more information or to register, click here.

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Nomination Deadline for F&I Dealer of the Year Announced


TORRANCE, Calif. — F&I and Showroom magazine has announced the deadline to nominate dealers for its 2015 F&I and Dealer of the Year award. Nominations must be received by July 31, 2015, and the winner will be announced at this year’s Industry Summit, scheduled for Sept. 8-10 at the Paris Las Vegas

Dealership employees, general agents, F&I product providers and technology vendors can complete an online nomination form to nominate their dealerships and dealer clients. Supporting materials for a nominee, such as newspaper clippings or awards announcements, can be emailed to email hidden; JavaScript is required.

“Once again, we’re looking for a highly profitable F&I department that demonstrates a commitment to regulatory compliance, ethics and a customer-centric F&I process,” said Gregory Arroyo, editorial director of F&I and Showroom magazine. “If that describes your dealership, then nominate it today.”

Serving as the sponsor of the award for the fifth straight year is The Warranty Group and their Resource Dealer Group. “We are again proud to sponsor F&I and Showroom’s F&I Pacesetter and F&I Dealer of the Year awards — recognizing those dealerships with outstanding F&I performance that consistently deliver customer satisfaction and a commitment to regulatory compliance.” said Charlie Robinson, president and COO of Resource Automotive, a subsidiary of The Warranty Group Inc. “Keep up the good work and best of luck to all this year.”

Arroyo added: “I’d just like to thank Charlie and his team for once again sponsoring this award. It means a lot to us at the magazine. Their support once again illustrates the company’s commitment to the F&I industry.”

The magazine will first select five F&I Pacesetters of the Year, which will serve as finalists for the coveted F&I Dealer of the Year award. A representative from each of the finalists will then be invited to Industry Summit 2015, where they’ll be honored during a special ceremony to open the magazine’s conference. They’ll also receive a two-night stay at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, the site of this year’s conference, and a complimentary full-conference pass.

Those selected as F&I Pacesetters will also be profiled in the magazine’s special conference issue and the September edition of F&I and Showroom magazine.

At the conclusion of the special ceremony, one finalist will be named the 2015 F&I Dealer of the Year. That dealership will appear on the cover of the magazine’s November issue, which will include a four-page profile on the dealership’s sales and F&I operations. Past winners of the F&I Dealer of the Year award include Vaden Automotive Group, Serpentini Chevrolet of Strongsville, Lithia Motors Inc., Riverside Auto Group, The Suburban Collection, Tuttle-Click Automotive Group, and Vaden Automotive Group.

To nominate your dealership or dealer client today, click here. If you should have any problems completing the online nomination form, please e-mail email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Industry Summit includes educational tracks for F&I, Special Finance, Used Vehicle Retailing, Dealership Sales & Technology and P&A Leadership. For more information or to register, visit www.industrysummit.com. For information about sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact David Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or call (727) 947-4027.

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Industry Summit Organizers Reveal New Conference Features


TORRANCE, Calif. — Industry Summit 2015, scheduled for Sept. 8-10 at the Paris Las Vegas, will feature special lightning-round sessions that will allow attendees to discover or rediscover key features equipping today’s leading F&I tools and solutions. The new addition is part of Industry Summit’s 2015 theme: “Train. Discover. Network.”

The lighting-round sessions, which will include live demos of today’s leading software solutions, will kick off on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 1 p.m. with a special “Tech Talk” keynote address from Sean V. Bradley, founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy and author of “Win the Game of Googleopoly: Unlocking the Secret Strategy of Search Engines.”

“This is all about building a better F&I professional,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of F&I and Showroom and Auto Dealer Monthly. “So aside from featuring an intense training curriculum taught by the who’s who in F&I, we’re offering these special lighting-round sessions to allow attendees to discover the F&I industry’s newest tools and solutions. And there’s no one better than Sean to kick off the festivities.”

Industry Summit 2015 will once again feature the top F&I trainers in the business. They will touch on a range of key F&I topics, from department management and lender relations to objection handling, new closing techniques and more. To view this year’s roster of F&I trainers, click here.

The event will also feature a host of networking opportunities, providing attendees with a chance to connect with the top minds in the business. “And the learning doesn’t stop after show hours,” said Gregory Arroyo, editorial director of F&I and Showroom and Auto Dealer Monthly. “There’s also columnist Mad Marv Eleazer’s annual get-togethers inside the Paris’ Le Central bar, where you’ll find F&I managers, trainers and even F&I product provider reps talking shop over a nice beverage and cigar. It’s where some of the best F&I advice is shared.”

For front-end dealership personnel, Industry Summit will also feature Greg Goebel’s Used Vehicle Retailing and Bobit Business Media’s Dealership Sales & Technology educational programs. Attendees who register for a full conference pass will also gain access to Jim Ziegler’s two-day Profit Masters event, which will have the Alpha Dawg sharing the same strategies that made him a record-setting manager.

Register by Aug. 7 and save $100 on a full conference pass, which includes Jim Ziegler’s Profit Masters today’s seminar. For more information or to register for Industry Summit 2015, click here.

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Arroyo to Chair Agent Summit Advisory Board


LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the first annual Agent Summit have announced that Gregory Arroyo, executive editor of F&I and Showroom magazine, has agreed to serve as advisory board chair for the event, which is scheduled for March 8–9 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

“A conference geared toward the general agent segment is long overdue, and I’m proud the magazines have taken a lead role in making the Agent Summit a reality,” Arroyo said. “We’ve assembled an all-star team for our advisory board. I look forward to working with each member to develop an agenda that not only touches on the industry’s hot-button issues, but also will provide attendees with information and training to better serve their dealer customers.”

The board will convene in the New Year to determine the content of Agent Summit 2011, the industry’s first agents-only event. Members of the board include:

• Stephen Amos, GSFSGroup

• Paul Budvitis, EFG Companies

• Bob Corbin, Innovative Aftermarket Systems

• Randy Crisorio, United Development Systems

• David Duncan, Safe-Guard Products

• Johnny Garlich, Heart Dealer Financial Services

• Gregg Lindo, Resources Management Group

• Ron Martin, The Vision of F&I

• Ron Reahard, Reahard & Associates

• Charlie Robinson, Resource Automotive

• Glen Tuscan, Dealer Commitment Services

• Steve Veldkamp, Great Lakes Companies

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