Tag Archive | "Mike Melby"

GWC Warranty Introduces Major Product Enhancements For Agents And Their Dealers

WILKES-BARRE, Penn. – GWC Warranty, the best-in-class provider of used vehicle service contracts and related finance and insurance products sold through automotive dealers, has introduced enhancements to its existing product suite as well as three exciting new offerings. All are designed to provide agents more chances than ever before to be more valuable to their dealers by turning high-mileage inventory into high-profit opportunities.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the products we provide our agents and their dealers, and after gathering their feedback and analyzing the market, we feel we have enhanced our offering to provide them supreme value,” said Mike Melby, GWC Warranty Vice President of Strategy and Business Development. “At GWC, our promise to agents is to help them become more valuable to their dealers by turning high-mileage inventory into high-profit opportunities. We feel these new and improved products achieve just that.”

Enhancing GWC Warranty’s primary service contract offering are several upgrades to expand eligibility, beginning with inclusion of vehicles dating back 20 model years. GWC will also provide coverage for commercial use vehicles as well as additional makes like Alfa Romeo, Land Rover, Porsche and Smart Cars. The coverage expansion also includes popular models such as Audi A8, Volkswagen Phaeton and more. GWC’s primary service contract products also now include coverage on select hybrid components and an optional Advanced Technology Package that covers factory-installed back-up cameras, blind spot sensors, lane departure warning systems, voice-activated commands and more.

Several new enhancements aimed at preserving CSI are also now available to agents and their dealers. Agents and their dealers now have new, longer term options of five years, 60,000 miles for used vehicles and six years, 125,000 miles for near-new vehicles still under basic factory warranty. These longer terms will help dealers better protect customers throughout their entire ownership experience. New benefits such as enhancements to roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and trip interruption benefits are available on all plans, including Powertrain, to offer a superior customer experience and help protect dealers’ reputations.

In addition to improving its existing product suite, GWC also introduced three new products for high-mileage customers.

First is a Certified Pre-Owned Program that offers a limited warranty and corresponding marketing program to help dealers expand the benefits of CPO to higher-mileage inventory that falls out of their factory CPO programs. Terms of 90 and 180 days are available on vehicles with up to 200,000 starting miles dating back up to 20 model years. All Certified limited warranties also come with roadside assistance and reimbursement for rental cars and travel and lodging.

Also new to the GWC product suite is a five-year, 100,000-mile Limited Powertrain product, which provides dealers the opportunity to profit from a VSC sale on deals with limited financing. Unlike similar products in the marketplace, GWC’s Limited Powertrain product does not have a waiting period. Coverage is available on vehicles with up to 150,000 starting miles dating back 15 model years, including many highline vehicles. Roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement are also included with the Limited Powertrain product.

The third new member of the GWC product offering is a Service Lane Program. This new product brings high-mileage service contract sales opportunities to dealers’ service departments with coverage options on vehicles with up to 200,000 miles dating back 20 model years. Terms of 12, 24, 36 and 48 months are available on GWC’s Premier and Ultra coverage levels. No inspection is required with GWC’s Service Lane offering, and coverage includes full roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and trip interruption benefits.

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What to Look for in a VSC Provider

It’s Friday afternoon. The sun is beaming through your office window and the images of weekend plans for 18 holes on your favorite course and a graduation party for your nephew are dancing through your head. You just have to tie up a few loose ends before heading out the door.

And then, at 4:45, it happens. The phone rings and it’s your biggest account. A service contract they sold on a random Tuesday 18 months ago has come back to bite them. A repeat customer had an issue with a covered repair, they don’t know why, and now it’s your problem.

What do you do?

You handle the problem, do what you need to save the account, and then you seriously consider whether it’s worth switching service contract providers. But what do you look for? You have your current provider because every one of your dealers says they’re concerned about price. But where did that get you? You want someone with all the options, but you don’t want to send prices soaring through the roof.

It’s no secret how important service contracts are to your dealers’ CSI and profitability, and you don’t need a reminder of why they matter for your bottom line. But once you’ve been burned, it’s difficult to hide the scar. And finding the right provider that makes you more valuable to your dealers while improving their CSI and increasing profitability is no easy task.

Knowing just what to look for in a service contract provider is the first step. Your service contract business is too important to put at risk by making a decision based on price and price alone. Here are some additional aspects to consider:

1. Reputation

Your service contract provider is a reflection of you and your dealers. You both strive to operate reputable businesses, so why should you look for anything less in your service contract provider?

Don’t sell short the value of a company’s longevity in the marketplace and its ownership. A company with decades of experience will have proven stability through volatile times — a level of security that’s a product of success-minded ownership.

The service contract business is an easy one to get into, and it’s an even easier one to find your way out of. The dangerous road that looms from under-reserved contracts is littered with warning signs of problems to come — which we’ll cover later — that can lead to major headaches for you and your dealers.

It’s also important to learn about the insurance backing of your service contract provider. Is it rated highly by A.M. Best? Is it in good standing with the BBB? What do people have to say on the Internet, and is it an accurate sample that represents the business as a whole?

It’s important to be thorough when assessing a company’s reputation, because asking just one of these questions won’t paint the full picture of the service contract options you’re considering.

2. Industry Knowledge

The biggest benefit you stand to gain from partnering with an experienced service contract provider is the industry knowledge that company brings to the table.

Take, for instance, a company with decades of experience administering service contracts. Those years are more than just candles on a cake. They’re evidence the company has been able to properly assess vehicle risk and reserve accordingly. In doing so, claims will always be paid and there is little risk of that 4:45 Friday afternoon call.

Conversely, take a service contract provider with little experience and bargain basement prices. In these instances, it’s important to proceed with caution and ask the right questions. Do the low prices mean that contracts aren’t properly reserved? What is the claims approval process like if we’re working with a limited reserve account? Are claims decisions made fairly and consistently?

When prices are insufficient to cover required reserves, over time, you stand to see substantial price increases to correct course. Then you can expect tighter claims approvals. And when the belt can’t be tightened any more, you’re left stranded when the provider exits the service contract space altogether.

A reputable service contract provider with a proven track record of industry knowledge and experience can alleviate these fears.

3. Portfolio Performance

At the end of the day, it is all about remaining profitable. An added benefit of working with a service contract provider that has the knowledge to reserve properly is the protection it provides for back-end profit opportunities. And that’s something from which both agents and dealers stand to benefit.

When it comes to used and high-mileage vehicles in particular, having a secondary provider that specializes in this niche will help keep those vehicles out of your dealers’ reinsurance pools. It will also optimize the reserve performance on those vehicles since the contract is built to withstand repairs most likely to occur.

When a service contract provider has the experience and knowledge to know how a vehicle will perform and what components will break down over the life of the contract, you and your dealers have the security to continue with business worry-free.

4. Paid Claims

If a service contract provider can do one thing — and one thing only — for you, it would need to pay claims.

Don’t be hesitant to get into numbers. How many claims have they paid? What is the amount of the claims paid? How quick is the claims process? Ask about staffing and expertise in claims adjudication. See how they work with shops in your area. And for that matter, find out how many shops a provider works with across the country. After all, breakdowns don’t only occur close to home.

Flexibility is also an important aspect of paying claims. Not all providers are willing to make custom programs to fit your business. Every service contract partner and agent relationship is unique. Variables like labor rates, sales tax coverage, commissions and other terms and conditions aren’t one-size-fits-all. Find out if your new provider is willing to work with you so you can offer the products and service your dealers demand.

5. Technology

Everything in today’s world is going digital, and the service contract business is no exception. It’s estimated that upwards of 75% of all service contracts are now filed electronically. At this point, it’s no longer a matter of being trendy. Being technologically savvy should be a prerequisite for a service contract provider to win your business. It starts with being able to accept service contract applications electronically, but it should extend well beyond that.

A quality service contract partner should be able to prove engagement and successful integrations with DMS providers. It’s all about ease of use for the dealer, so having a service contract available in the same software they’re already using is vital.

And let’s not forget about capabilities like online claims, which can make life easier on a dealership service facility. Online training could be another point of emphasis. You can’t be in a dealership every second of every day, so ask your service contract provider what online resources are available to assist in onboarding dealerships with their new product.

6. Other Partners

Nothing is more powerful than a reference or referral. It’s not uncommon for the best agents to partner with the best service contract providers. A good sign of the quality of a service contract provider is the company it keeps, so ask about some of the other clients the company works with.

Just like the restaurant that caters to the stars, the best and brightest agents will partner with the service contract provider that delivers the best service and aligns with their values. Getting to know a provider from the inside out — meaning becoming acquainted with company culture and values — will help instill confidence that you’re entering into a relationship with a partner who has your best interests at heart.

7. Price

All this leads us to end with the point of consideration with which most conversations will begin: price. If you’ve made it to this point of the article, you can understand why price, while important, is less of a focal point than these other traits to look for in a service contract provider.

It goes without saying that you don’t want to price out your dealers and their customers, but it’s vital to stress that nothing is more important than their reputation. Having the right service contract provider in a store might not always be the cheapest option, but when it comes to improving CSI, protecting reinsurance portfolios and enhancing profitability, your choice in a service contract provider makes all the difference in the world.

If you’re still asking yourself whether making the switch to a new service contract provider really worth it, think about the next time the phone rings at 4:45 on a sunny Friday afternoon. With the right provider in place, you won’t have to worry about what’s on the other end. You’ll know your dealers are satisfied, selling more cars and making more money.

So, the only question you’ll need to answer is what you’re bringing to the weekend barbeque.

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An Interview with Mike Melby

Mike Melby wears his passion for the vehicle service contract segment on his sleeve. Read on to learn how Melby strives to fulfill his company’s mission to protect car buyers and be a true partner to agents and dealers.

Tell me a little bit about your company and its place in the industry.

Here at GWC, we view ourselves as the best-in-class vehicle service contract provider for used cars in the automotive industry. We’ve been in business for 20 years, paid over $350 million in claims and helped protect more than 1.5 million drivers during that time. We’re A+ rated by the BBB and all our products are backed by American Bankers Insurance Company, an Assurant Solutions company, which is rated A “Excellent” by AM Best.

I tell you all this because these numbers and accolades are the results of a simple mission to help dealers sell more cars by giving car shoppers the confidence to become car buyers. We firmly believe that, when a customer has a great experience with GWC, they improve the dealer’s CSI, generate strong referrals and become repeat buyers for dealers — all of which equates to added vehicle service contract business for agents. And while we do maintain an employee-based sales force, we remain respectful of the businesses our agents operate and have a history of safely and successfully coexisting in markets across the country.

How do we do it? Simply put, it’s the only thing we do. We’re not like some F&I product or warranty providers that dabble in several different industries with a wide array of products. At GWC, we specialize only in the service contract space and only on used vehicles. It’s a conscious decision to focus on this niche, and one that has benefited us and our dealer and agent partners greatly.

Specifically for our agents, it starts with personalized attention. I am hands-on with every one of our agents to make sure their needs are addressed in a timely and effective manner. It’s important to note, too, that we understand the needs of agents vary from business to business. We stay flexible to ensure we’re providing solutions tailored to each agent’s business.

Are there any recent or future developments within your company that you would like to tell us about?

In today’s marketplace, it’s all about service and technology. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve the way we work with agents, dealers and drivers to make sure we’re creating a best-in-class experience. In terms of service, we employ ASE-certified claims adjusters who have decades of experience in keeping drivers on the road.

When it comes to technology, the industry is quickly moving to more and more paperwork being done electronically. Because 60% of service contract business is now filed electronically, we are working with DMS providers all over the country to integrate our products onto their systems, and we’ve even created our own econtracting tool in the past year: the Dealer Portal.

We’ve been busy with even more technology offerings in 2015 too. We just introduced GWC Virtual Training — a free online, interactive training tool with content for every employee in a dealership — as well Covideo, which integrates video into a customized email template to help streamline walkarounds, lead conversion and post-sale follow-up. GWC is sharing the cost of Covideo with dealers and agents to offer an exclusive rate unavailable anywhere else.

How did you (personally) get started? What caused you to choose this career path?

I’ve known nothing but the auto industry throughout my entire career. I’ve spent almost 30 years in the automotive industry. I started at GMAC, working throughout the company in sales, credit and operations. After that, I moved on to AutoNation, where I was the director of F&I product development. Working for some of the biggest players in the automotive industry was the perfect way for me to blend my passion for business with what’s now a deeply rooted connection to the auto industry.

What are your outside interests / what do you like to do on your days off? What activities/sports are you passionate about?

I work a lot and travel often, but when I’m home, family is first. I try to spend as much time with my wife and kids as possible. Come wintertime, I enjoy lacing up the skates in a local ice hockey league. In the summer, I try to get on the golf course when I can fit in the time for 18 holes — which is far less often than when I lived in South Florida!

What are the biggest issues you see facing the industry today and in the future?

For VSC providers, it’s always a matter of protecting our reputation. Unfortunately, the VSC industry is an easy one to break into and a difficult one in which to sustain success. One thing we see contribute to this far too often is the mispricing of contracts. At GWC, we have 20 years of underwriting data to draw from so we know exactly how each make and model will perform, what will break down and when. This allows us to price the risk on each vehicle accordingly.

How does this benefit agents and their dealers? First of all, companies without such a history can sometimes charge prices that are insufficient to cover the required reserves. While unsustainably low prices may be appealing to a dealer in the short term, a series of much less pleasing events usually follow: First comes frequent and substantial price increases to correct an under-reserved portfolio, then comes stricter claims approvals. And once all these belt-tightening measures are exhausted, those companies that seemed like a good low-price alternative at the beginning exit the service contract space altogether.

With GWC, those fears don’t exist. Our rock-solid reputation is one that will help an agent or dealer maintain theirs. We have a long history of doing something simple: keeping our promises. It sounds basic, but we pay claims. Aside from that, we invest in talent, training and technology to make sure we’re delivering the best-in-class experience we commit to providing.

By maintaining these principles as a priority throughout our organization, it’s our hope to attract likeminded agents who are looking to join us.

What advice would you give to someone new to this industry?

Simply put, do things the right way. Sometimes we see companies and individuals in this industry looking to get rich overnight. But if you do things the right way and catch on with a company with strong leadership, you can be part of something special that helps consumers hit the road worry-free and businesses continually improve upon themselves.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

For me personally, I have such a strong passion for GWC Warranty. It’s what gets me out of bed each morning. I’m here each day to make this a great company. I would encourage agents and dealers to give us a look to see how this same passion is shared by every GWC employee. Everyone at GWC takes pride in helping our partners succeed, and it’s something that is clearly evident from your first conversation with us.

If I could give any advice to agents and dealers, I would tell them it’s imperative they do their due diligence before selecting a partner. Not all VSC providers are created equally. If you make a decision solely based on price, the consequences could be disastrous. Agents and dealers work too hard to put their reputations and customer satisfaction at risk by partnering with the wrong VSC provider.

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