Tag Archive | "Jimmy Atkinson"

AUL Corp. Announces Charitable Contributions


NAPA, Calif. – AUL Corp., the award-winning and leading warranty and vehicle service contract administrator in America just released a reporting of its recent contributions to charities. Since 2012, AUL Corp. has contributed $173,619.00 to 80 separate non-profit organizations. These organizations range from local Napa food banks and children's charities. AUL has committed to continue this effort through 2017.

In 2012, AUL decided to create a dedicated committee to coordinate these charitable contributions. This committee includes non-management employees who have been tasked with discussing and facilitating the contributions. This group is staffed by people who were identified by their peers as wonderful ambassadors of AUL and our community.

AUL's President and CEO, Luis Nieves, stated, "At AUL, we believe that getting involved in charity programs contributes to strengthened professional skills, team building, thinking creatively, and contributes to job satisfaction overall—that's why we've created this wonderful opportunity within our company."

Jimmy Atkinson, AUL's Chief Operating Officer, agreed and added, "AUL strongly believes that our products are only as great as our people. One of AUL Core Values is 'Appreciation;' if you ever work with us or spend time in our office you will hear 'Thank you' a lot. We always strive to show appreciation to colleagues, partners, customers, clients, etc. We also believe this commitment should be extended to our community. This committee has done a beautiful job."

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AUL Corp celebrates 16th Presidents Club Event in Cuba


“It was very exciting to be in Cuba and engage with the Cuban people,” said Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Atkinson. “We toured several areas before ending in Havana, and the people couldn’t have been friendlier. In many ways, it was like stepping back in time. It was an honor to be able to host our Presidents Club agents and share the experience with them.”

“Going to Cuba was a determined dream come true for all of our Presidents Club members. It was the most valuable gift to date, the most joyful interlude that we could have wished to make come true for them and their spouses. Moreover, our appreciation for our loyal and treasured agent partners is inestimable. Cuba was our humble attempt to express that,” said Luis Nieves, founder and CEO of AUL Corp.

About AUL Presidents Club — The AUL Presidents Club trip is an annual event that AUL hosts for its top performing agencies. Over the last sixteen years, the event has been held in tropical locations, such as Grand Cayman and Turks & Caicos, along with many other exclusive destinations. The 2017 Presidents Club location will be announced in February 2017 at the National Agency Meeting in Napa, California.

About AUL Corp — AUL Corp is a vehicle service contract company founded in Napa, California, in 1990 by Luis Nieves, President and CEO. AUL has 117 employees in its downtown Napa offices and hundreds of agents across the country selling its products. AUL Corp founded the national used car service contract industry in 1990 with its still famous Any Year, Any Mileage® vehicle service contract. AUL continues leading its industry and is the only provider of its type authorized to conduct business in all 50 States. AUL enjoys a long relationship with its underwriters, who hold an A.M. Best rating of “A” or excellent. AUL Corp also enjoys the longest-term relationships in the industry with its agent and dealer clients as verified by independent third-party research. AUL’s mission is to be the premier service contract administrator in America by any quantifiable measurement of business activity.

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An Interview with Jimmy Atkinson


At Agent Summit in May, Jimmy Atkinson continued a long career in public speaking when he joined “Building a Team Theme for Prosperity,” a panel discussion led by Tom O’Neil of O’Neil Financial Services Agency. Upon returning to his adopted hometown of Napa, Calif., the COO of AUL Corp. met with AE to reflect on his work in retail and as a trainer, product provider, marathon runner and long-suffering Braves fan.

AE: Jimmy, it was great seeing you at Agent Summit, and I enjoyed your panel. Great energy, great content, and O’Neil did a nice job as the moderator.

Atkinson: Tom did a terrific job. He was probably the most engaged moderator I’ve worked with. We drilled down on the questions on multiple calls and had a final prep session before we went onstage. Everybody on the panel had a good time.

AE: Do you enjoy public speaking?

Atkinson: I do. I spent about five years just doing training and another three or four years just doing F&I development. I started with MS Diversified, which was later acquired by Assurant Solutions, and then worked with Joe Verde for four years. I started my own training company in 2001. I found I had a real passion for teaching and sharing information. By the way, when I started at Joe Verde Group, the first person to take me under his wing was Dave Anderson.

AE: The same Dave Anderson who spoke at Agent Summit?

Atkinson: The same. And I gained a lot of confidence through that experience. It’s always great to see Dave and listen to his powerful message.

AE: What was your first job in the auto industry?

Atkinson: I started selling cars in March of 1983. Pugmire Lincoln Mercury, in my hometown of Atlanta, had an ad running in the newspaper. I actually replied to the ad at their Chevrolet store down the street. The sales manager at the Chevy store said, “You’ll never make it in the car business,” so I walked down to the Lincoln store.

AE: If only he knew.

Atkinson: Well, I was a bit more shy and introverted at the time. And it was only a 10-minute interview. But I caught on and moved into F&I after 18 months. Then I was promoted to sales manager and then general sales manager. I spent seven years at three dealerships. From there I went to work for MS Diversified as a regional manager and training director — the same work that agents do, but as a direct employee.

About four years into it, I got involved in F&I training. When I started my own company, I figured I would be a trainer and have a few products. In 2002, I received a call from my old boss at MS Diversified. They had been acquired by what was then Assurant and he asked me to rejoin him there.

AE: When did you make the move to AUL?

Atkinson: That was in July of 2010. Luis Nieves, the founder, was a client and friend through Assurant. He called me and said, “I would like to visit with you. I have an idea.” We met and he said he needed someone to come in and be his No. 2.

AE: And that was a big move, leaving Atlanta for the Wine Country.

Atkinson: It was. We had moved around a bit before that, but I was born, grew up and spent most of my life in Atlanta.

AE: I learned most of what I know about Atlanta from “A Man in Full” by Tom Wolfe.

Atkinson: I just read that a few months ago! The way he paints Atlanta is probably pretty accurate. It’s a great city, but you get the sense it’s always trying to prove itself. It is home to a ton of Fortune 500 companies, so it’s always growing and expanding, and that brings a lot of challenges. But I love it because it’s home, and of course I still love the Braves, Falcons, Hawks and Bulldogs. You can’t learn to appreciate the meaning of loyalty and heartache until you follow teams that have lost so many championships.

AE: Actually, I’m from Buffalo, so …

Atkinson: Oh, that’s right.

AE: Let’s move on! We had a nice visit in Napa a few years back. What is it like to live there?

Atkinson: It’s very different. There are things I miss about living in the South, but California is a beautiful state. And people don’t realize this about Napa, but it’s like a small farming town, only with hotels and restaurants and tourism. When I think about living in Atlanta, I picture myself either being at the airport or fighting all the traffic, so the relaxed atmosphere is welcome.

AE: Still, it must have been difficult to leave.

Atkinson: It’s never an easy decision. It was made easier because we have two sons who were grown and moving to Los Angeles at the same time. That’s only a one-hour flight. We moved a couple times when the boys were growing up, and that was probably tougher on them than I’d like to admit. Thankfully, I have the greatest wife and mom in the world, and the boys are now wonderful young men.

AE: What do you do to stay in shape?

Atkinson: I ride a Pinarello road bike sometimes, and I’m terrible at golf, but mostly I run. I’ve been doing it for about 18 years. I have run four marathons and a bunch of half-marathons, including two with my younger son. It relieves stress and gives me solitude when I need it.

AE: Running in Napa must be a lot more comfortable than running in Atlanta.

Atkinson: If you’re training for a fall marathon, you’re running up to 18 miles in the summer. So, yes, climate-wise, it is better in Napa. But both cities have a lot of hills.

AE: How much do you love working with agents?

Atkinson: I do love agents. It’s kind of wild. They’re such a different breed. Not unlike car dealers. They are the masters of entrepreneurship and truly brilliant in their fields. They have that amazing ability to adapt to change and grow their businesses. It’s a neat group of people.

AE: Are you looking for more agents? How does that process work?

Atkinson: Jason Garner, our general sales manager, heads up agent acquisitions. He has a team of business development managers. We’re pretty selective. But if we have an area where we’re underperforming and want to grow, and if we don’t have an agent there, we will look for someone. But we have a very stable agent force. We still have the first agent we signed and the first dealer we signed.

AE: That’s impressive.

Atkinson: It’s all driven by Luis, who founded the company and created this wonderful culture. He is probably the most humble, generous and appreciative person I’ve met. He would give you the shirt off his back. He always believes in doing what’s right, and that’s the real secret.

AE: So what drives you now? What gets you up in the morning?

Atkinson: Well, first, there’s always a million things to do. Second, it’s exciting. You asked about agents. That’s one of the most exciting parts of the job. They bring unique opportunities and problems to solve. One of the things we strive to be is a company that agents can turn to for a new approach and we think we do a lot of it really well. At the same time, you have to find a way to create new value. It’s a tremendous business, and it’s growing. There is nothing I would rather be doing.

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Atkinson to Pull Double Duty at PALS 2016


LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the annual P&A Leadership Summit have announced that Jimmy Atkinson, COO of AUL Corp., will serve as a panel moderator and closing keynote speaker at the 2016 event, which will be held Aug. 30–31 at Paris Las Vegas.

Atkinson’s panel, “Threats Facing the F&I Industry,” will begin at 2:05 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30. He will be joined by National Automotive Experts’ David Neuenschwander, David Pryor of Safe-Guard Products International, Mike Saint of Assurant Risk Management, and National Auto Care’s Tony Wanderon.

“TPAs today are facing multiple threats, from moving our products into a dealer’s digital marketplace to adapting and adjusting to rapidly changing technology in the vehicles we cover,” Atkinson said. “How to make the leap in a profitable way is a big challenge, and I’m excited to lead a panel of some of the most successful folks in our industry to address these issues.”

At 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, Atkinson will deliver “The Pre-Owned Correction and F&I’s Big Opportunity,” the closing keynote address for P&A Leadership Summit as well as the co-located Industry Summit. He is expected to discuss the imminent correction that will inject large numbers of high-mileage vehicles into the used-car market and how, with proper planning, product providers, agents and dealers can take full advantage.

“With decades of experience and a track record of success, Jimmy is precisely the type of executive and leader our event was designed to showcase and serve,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of P&A magazine. “We have nothing but the highest of expectations for both sessions.”

To register for the 2016 P&A Leadership Summit, click here. To inquire about sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact David Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or at 727-947-4027.

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A Winning Strategy for Closing More Business


Let’s face reality. Every day, dealers are overwhelmed by salespeople pitching everything from car washes to dealer management systems. Agents selling F&I products are everywhere, in towns of all sizes, pounding on doors and offering products, training and even free money to do business with them. What sets you apart? Why should they speak with you? This could be a two-day class, but I only have 1,000 words, so let’s get right to it.

In my view, the first decision each of us in this business has to make is this: Are we providing products or solutions? It is a simple question, and most of us would say the latter. However, in many cases, when we get in front of someone, we pull out a pitch book and begin launching into features and benefits and — even more deadly — price comparisons to our competitors. We have no idea what the dealer needs or how we could help, yet we get into a pitch as though we are taking surveys at the mall. So what differentiates you from the many who fail? Here are two things you can do today:

  1. Have a plan to get the full picture of what is happening at the dealership. You should have done pre-planning and homework, maybe even a referral, and met with lower-level managers to understand what’s happening at the store, what’s working and what can improve. Where are they doing well and where are the gaps? Then your goal should be to get the dealer’s permission to do an analysis of the dealership and lay out a plan for increasing production and profitability.
  2. Training has to be a part of any real plan for change. Entire articles are written on how difficult change is (check out John Kotter material) and how hard habits are to break (just check your New Year’s resolution list). You need to be a difference-maker for your customers and create lasting, positive change that produces tangible results.

Here’s my process for accomplishing the goal of closing more dealers and increasing sales.

Pre-Call Planning

As a former sales, F&I and leadership trainer, I know that it takes hours of preparation for every hour of presentation. That’s the only way to be the best and deliver the best product to your audience. The same goes for the one to two minutes you may get in front of a dealer that will determine if you get an audience to go more in-depth. Do your homework. Start with their website, look for what type of inventory selection they have, how long they have been in business, what charities they support and so on. Google the dealer and look at the Web and news results for insight.

The measurement is this: If you stand in front of a mirror and give your two-minute elevator pitch tailored to this dealer, would you want to meet with you? And you must be ready for the reflex objections you’ll get, such as “I’m happy with my current provider.” Have at least three word-tracks prepared to deal specifically with that objection and show the dealer you’re worthy of his or her time.

Income Analysis Tool

Many providers have a tool for you to measure the productivity of a dealership and report back on the gaps and next steps for creating additional revenue by filling those gaps. Whether you call it a “profit gap analysis,” “dealership needs analysis” or something else equally witty, your first goal should be to get the dealer’s permission to meet with his team and identify the opportunities.

There will always be gaps. Why? Because no business is perfect and we all lose focus at times. So the dealer knows you’ll find areas her team should improve on. The real question is, do you have implementable answers for her store and the skills to make them happen? If not, she’ll say thanks and then take your presentation to their current provider to implement the changes needed.

Targeted Presentation

The next step is to schedule a meeting with the dealer and present your findings. This should be a presentation that leads to the two or three key findings from your analysis and your recommendations for how to fix them resulting in additional bottom-line profit to the dealer.

It’s important that the dealer sees you as a credible professional who understands and can address their needs. This comes across not only in your story but how you present your findings and by relating examples of where you have successfully implemented similar processes before. Don’t just present, ask questions, engage your audience and go deep with the dealer to gain agreement and refine your recommendations.

Close and Kickoff

Arguably, the most critical step is to kick off the new account properly. Spend the time necessary in the store so that, after the kick-off, everyone in the dealership knows you and sees you as a member of their team. Invite yourself to sales meetings, save-a-deal meetings and management meetings. Bring in some pizza after the shop closes and hold a fixed ops meeting. From service to used cars and the general office to the F&I office, you are an added value that makes all of them more effective by the skills you bring to the store.

Bringing It Home

Years ago, I was taught that there is a big difference between problems and needs: Needs require action; problems do not. There is an essential skill to transitioning a problem to a need in a dealer’s mind. For example, a problem might be slow used-car inventory turn and the cause could be the wrong or un-prepped inventory, sales staff skills, or maybe the used-car manager has a bias for sports cars in a truck market.

You must show the dealer the financial impact of where they are today, where they could be and, in many cases, what looked like a minor issue can become a need that requires action. These points may not relate directly to your product, but they can still add to your personal value proposition.

Does this approach take longer than just making a pitch? Yes and no. But I guarantee that, the better you are at presenting your unique value proposition and establishing yourself as a credible consultant, the more business you’ll close with dealers who become long-term clients.

So good selling!

 

 

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Scott Smith Appointed Manager of AUL Operations and Service Support Departments


NAPA, Calif. – AUL Corporation is proud to announce the promotion of Scott Smith to lead the operations department in addition, to his role as the service support manager. Scott joined AUL nine years ago as a customer service representative and then was appointed a claims team leader before being promoted to the service support manager position. In his new role, he will bring leadership and innovation to the combined synergies of the two departments as AUL continues to grow year over year. The operations department is the underwriting and processing center for AUL.

“Scott is an inspirational leader that has taken our service support team to new levels,” said Jimmy Atkinson, COO. “We have a very high commitment to customer service and [we] answer every call personally through that team, handling over 30,000 calls per month. Scott has developed processes and training programs and even, more importantly, the spirit of teamwork that we know he will bring to our operations group.”

Scott replaced Jackie Mathews, who was one of the first employees at AUL. Jackie made the decision to step back from her manager role and become a team member again as she prepared for retirement after being an AUL employee for well over twenty years. “Jackie is employee number three!” said Luis Nieves, founder and CEO. “When we were first starting AUL, we folded brochures and pitch kits in Jackie’s basement, and she has been a loyal and dedicated part of AUL ever since,” said Nieves.

Also, Scott has promoted Kim Freemen to the position of team leader from our Sales Support Team, joining Isabel Gutierrez in that role. Also, Heath Rosa has been named operations analyst. These changes reflect the talent and bench strength at AUL and further the commitment to providing agents, dealers, and contract holders with unsurpassed service.

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