Tag Archive | "innovation"

EFG Companies and Northwood University Announce F&I Innovator of the Year Competition Winner


DALLAS – EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, together with Northwood University, today announced the selection of Team Vigilance as the winner of the 2016 Innovator of the Year Award competition, and the recipient of $25,000.

Team Vigilance utilized their millennial mindset, ongoing dealership research, and F&I mentor input to create “401Karrs”. The product addresses Millennial and Gen Z concerns around financial security, and delivers on dealership goals around customer retention. In addition to the team’s monetary reward, they will potentially see 401Karrs developed by EFG for market availability. Team Vigilance is made up of three team members:

  • Alec Bond from Lindin, MI
  • Houston Huff from Tuscon, AZ
  • Lucas Myrhe from Austin, TX

“We want to thank all the teachers and mentors from this competition and across Northwood who’ve been a huge inspiration and motivation throughout this project,” said Lucas Myrhe. “With their guidance, we were able to deliver a product that is beneficial to customers and dealerships, increasing dealership profit, retention, and customer satisfaction.”

During the semester-long contest, team members leveraged time spent with their mentor, Craig Drew, the general manager of Central Maine Motors Auto Group in Waterville, ME. “Team Vigilance hit the ground running from day one, and they weren’t afraid to go back to the drawing board. Their dedication and perseverance to create a useful and beneficial product won them this award,” said Drew.

401Karrs – Pairing Evolving Consumer and Dealer Needs

Team Vigilance developed 401Karrs to address a concern among Millennials and Generation Z – financial stability. According to the Federal Reserve, to date, 44.2 million Americans owe nearly $1.26 trillion in student loan debt. In 2016 alone, student loan debt increased by 6 percent. The generations that will soon make up the bulk of the auto retail consumer market are entering adulthood with the largest debt load in history. With 401Karrs, this new generation of car buyers will have a tool to help manage their money by reducing or eliminating their out-of-pocket expense by putting a down payment on a vehicle.

401Karrs is essentially a down-payment savings product. Dealership customers will have the opportunity to add as little as $20 to their monthly payment, which will be used for a down payment on their next vehicle. When they return to the selling dealership to purchase their next vehicle, the dealer will match up to 20 percent of the amount saved, or $1000. In this way, the product acts as a customer retention tool, since they must return to the dealership to take advantage of the match.

The last part of 401Karrs is a reinsurance opportunity. As with vehicle service contracts, dealers can participate in reinsurance on the 401Karrs product, accruing interest on the money set aside for the down payment. This balances out the dealership match and has the potential to generate greater reinsurance profit.

Contest pairs students with F&I industry leaders.

In addition to experienced team mentors, the contest was judged by F&I industry leaders. The eight-member panel brought more than 100 years of F&I expertise from automotive dealerships and corporations from across the country, encompassing all major automotive brands. Several of the judges commented that the student product entries provided a fresh perspective and challenged their thinking about their own dealerships and operations.

“This competition offers students the unique opportunity to take their education beyond the classroom and individual dealership rooftops to create an industry impact,” said Keith Pretty, President and CEO, Northwood University. “Each of the participating students will be able to learn from their experiences from this semester and apply them to their future success as leaders.”

The contest winners were announced on Thursday, December 8, during a ceremony at Northwood University.

F&I Innovator contest designed to boost development, reach consumers

Each year during Northwood’s fall semester, the F&I Innovator of the Year Award competition pits six teams of Northwood undergraduate automotive marketing and management students against one another to conceptualize and build a new F&I product, while earning course credit. EFG and Northwood created the F&I Innovator of the Year competition to stimulate another level of innovation in the F&I space.

“With changing market demographics, increased compliance, and an evolving dealership model, everyone is looking at how the F&I space will evolve in the coming years,” said John Pappanastos, President and CEO, EFG Companies. “This competition exemplifies the need to develop new ways of capitalizing on these market changes by taking into account fresh sources of inspiration to meet new demands.”

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments Off on EFG Companies and Northwood University Announce F&I Innovator of the Year Competition Winner

National Automotive Experts Recieves Innovation Award


STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – National Automotive Experts / NWAN (NAE/NWAN) was one of three Strongsville, Ohio companies to be presented with the city’s 2016 Innovation Award. The Strongsville Innovation Award is presented annually to select companies that demonstrate continued growth, investment and innovation within the community.

Mike Daymut, City Councilman and Chair of the Strongsville Economic Development Committee, in association with Mayor Thomas Perciak and the city’s Director of Economic Development, Brent Painter, presented the award to NAE/NWAN at the city’s quarterly Business Network Breakfast. “

“The City of Strongsville is proud to recognize National Automotive Experts with the 2016 Strongsville Innovation Award. NAE’s innovative business practices and continued growth have become a model within the Strongsville business community. In addition, NAE has remained a consistent supporter of local charitable and civic activities with their employees truly enhancing the quality of life within the City.”

“We are incredibly honored to be presented with an award that represents continued growth and innovation, not only within our community, but our industry as whole. Innovation and continued growth are the cornerstones of our mission as a company,” said Kelly Price, President of NAE/NWAN. “We love being a part of the City of Strongsville. They have been very impactful in our business and the purchase and remodel of our building. We look forward to making an impact in this community for years to come. “

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments Off on National Automotive Experts Recieves Innovation Award

EFG Companies and Northwood University Launch 2nd-Annual F&I Innovator of the Year Competition


DALLAS, Texas – EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, together with Northwood University, today announced the launch of their second annual F&I Innovator of the Year Competition. Held during the fall semester each year, this competition leverages the out-of-the box thinking of today’s Gen Z college students, coupled with F&I industry leaders’ insight, to boost the F&I industry’s focus on innovation. Visit http://bit.ly/Inn0v8te to learn more about the contest, last year’s winners and the upcoming launch of the winning 2015 product.

“The automotive industry is going through a period of extensive change,” said John Pappanastos, President and CEO of EFG Companies. “Consumer expectations and buying habits have shifted towards a more value-conscious and long-term mindset. The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are continuing to focus on transparent auto lending practices. Manufacturers are undergoing a shift with the rise of electric vehicles, connected cars and ride sharing services. Each of these aspects of a dealership’s operations is in a mutually effective relationship with F&I. As new, young talent has brought significant advancements to other areas of the auto industry, it makes sense for the F&I industry to avail itself with new ideas from fresh minds, as well.”

The Annual F&I Innovator of the Year Competition pits six teams of Northwood’s junior and senior automotive students against one another to conceptualize and build a new F&I product, while earning course credit. With an F&I director as a mentor and guide, the competing teams develop a business case for their new F&I product that incorporates industry research, market viability, and the product’s potential to facilitate F&I product sales in franchise dealerships. The teams will also keep weekly, YouTube video diaries of their progress, challenges and breakthroughs.

“This competition puts Northwood University students at the forefront of the innovation that will forever change the dealership landscape,” said Keith Pretty, President of Northwood University. “Through this competition, our students have the opportunity to provide a never-before-seen solution to current dealership challenges and drive dealership profitability. This exemplifies our philosophy of hands-on learning and developing the leadership skills and talent necessary to bring the automotive industry into the future.”

A panel of leading dealer principals from across the nation and EFG executives will judge the business case competition in late November, and crown the newest champion in early December. The winning team will take home $25,000, and more importantly, EFG Companies will develop the winning F&I product and launch it to the retail automotive marketplace. The company will donate a percentage of the profits from the sale of the product back to Northwood University.

Last year’s winning team, Quantum Integration, applied consumer research, industry and mentor input and millennial sensibilities to create an F&I product for the connected car. Their product utilizes a mobile application to provide consumers a convenient way to stay current on vehicle maintenance, prevent theft, or recover their vehicle. EFG Companies will roll out the product in Q4 of 2016. Richie Durso, from Quantum Integration, had this advice for this year’s competitors, “Think of real world problems and see how you can solve them to make people’s lives easier. Also, remember that your product can be a service and not just a tangible item. Even if you don’t win, the experience is priceless!”

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments Off on EFG Companies and Northwood University Launch 2nd-Annual F&I Innovator of the Year Competition

Want to Look Like a Leader? Get Some Gadgets


Via Business News Daily

Always using the latest high-tech gadget is one way to boost your image at work, new research suggests.

Indeed, business professionals who want to be perceived as leaders should be investing in the latest technology breakthroughs, according to a study published recently in The Journal of Product Innovation Management.

“Familiarity with and usage of new high-tech products appears to be a common manifestation of innovative behavior,” the study’s authors wrote. “Those who are tech-savvy are also perceived as authoritative on other subjects and as leaders.”

As part of the study, the researchers taped interviews with actors who were categorized by their appearance and other factors. In one scene, the actors were taped as they wrote down a note using an old-fashioned calendar, and in the other, they took down a note on an electronic calendar.

The researchers found that when test subjects watched the interviews, they overwhelmingly viewed the actors using the electronic calendars as more authoritative.

In another experiment, researchers asked participants to read resumes that were all similar, except for hobbies, which were varied to signal whether the subjects were “high-tech” or not. Again, the high-tech candidates came out ahead.

The researchers also found that women who used technological gadgets benefited more than their male counterparts.

“This finding runs counter to the backlash effect typically found in impression management research in business settings,” the researchers wrote. “Female job evaluations typically suffer after engaging in the same self-promoting impression management strategies that benefit their male counterparts.”

However, the actual ability to operate high-tech devices wasn’t that important, as long as the person looked reasonably competent, said Steve Hoeffler, associate professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University and one of the study’s authors.

“Just possession is 90 percent of the game,” he said. “And there are maybe 10 percent of situations where you have to display ability to use it.”

Posted in Small Business TipsComments (0)

Convince Employees to Work Hard


How can you motivate employees when you don’t have financial resources to inspire them, beyond basic salaries? There are several ways to foster teamwork and innovation—keeping staff enthused to not only continue working hard for your company, but to turn out innovative results and stay with you for years to come.

  1. Shove them out the door. It’s a well-known fact that when employees have a happy work/life balance, they are better at both. As a leader, you need to not only say (through a policy or verbally) that you encourage people to keep sensible work hours, but you also need to show them that you mean it. Call “quitting time” with a surprise happy hour in the kitchen, or have a planned event every Friday afternoon to signify the end of the week for employees. Let them know it’s O.K. to leave afterward.
  2. Encourage employees to pursue hobbies outside of work and to share their adventures and accomplishments on a blog, internal newsletter, or during a staff meeting. Inspire them by offering a monthly list of things to do around town or by having employees contribute their own ideas. The pursuit of other interests can lead to new ideas for work.
  3. Foster competition outside the office. Inspire healthy habits and bonding by starting a competition among staff that has nothing to do with work. It could concern a monthly photo competition or who runs the most races during the year. Maybe it’s a weight-loss challenge or a cooking challenge. Less competitive options such as a book club or employee-contributed cookbook can also work. This can help staff get to know one another better as individuals outside of work, as well as bond over shared interests. And that can lead to camaraderie and improved communication at work.

This article was written by Christine Perkett and published in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.

Posted in Small Business TipsComments (0)