Tag Archive | "National Automotive Experts"

NAE Names Joseph Gillum Product and Marketing Manager


Cleveland, Ohio – National Automotive Experts (NAE) named Joseph Gillum its new product and marketing manager.

Gillum joined the NAE team in March. Prior to joining NAE, he worked as an account executive for Assurant Solutions. While at Assurant, Gillum worked on the account management team and assisted in the creation and launch of new products and services for both third party administrators and OEM’s.

“We are very excited to have Joseph as part of our team, and we are positive he will help us continue to bring excellent products to the market for each of our valued agents and dealers,” said Kelly Price, president, NAE. “In order to remain competitive we must continue to innovate and adapt to the changing market conditions, a strong product portfolio is critical if you want maintain and grow your share in the market.”

“I have a true passion for the automotive industry and believe that NAE has a team of dedicated associates that share the same passion,” said Gillum. “NAE’s dedication to their clients truly sets them apart from their competition; I’m honored to join such a great company.”

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What Does 2013 Have in Store for Our Industry?


The end of 2012 was certainly an interesting one, on a lot of levels. The election in November helped to shape the way the budget talks went at the end of December, and no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, it’s probably safe to say that no one really won here. There were wins and losses on both sides, concessions made to pass a deal late on New Year’s, but that was mostly a stop-gap effort, with more political debating about our economy and debt to come. But why are we talking about that here? Because it will play a very strong role in what 2013 will bring for the automotive industry in general, and agents and F&I managers specifically.

We talked to a few industry players to get their take on what to watch for in 2013, and the first striking trend was that almost all of them are only cautiously optimistic. They all see the economy — and the industry — either holding steady or showing moderate growth, and all of them prefaced their remarks by noting that a lot of that is due to uncertainty with where the economy will go, and how the politicians will solve various debt issues. One of the major fallouts from the New Year’s bill that passed Congress is that the payroll tax cuts expired — meaning every American has less discretionary income now.

“I don’t know that there has ever been a time I’ve been so confused as to what will come in the next year,” said Tony Wanderon, president and CEO, Family First Dealer Services. “There are so many changes and uncertainty in the economy. I’m not going to think anyone on a salary will be taking home more, and that could put pressure on car sales, which will then put substantial pressure on F&I sales. If that increases payments, even if consumers need a new car, they might not be able to afford it. The first half of the year could be a challenge as we absorb the changes that will occur.”

Wanderon went on to note that he does believe that, once consumers adjust to the changes, the second half of the year will see the market expand, and as auto sales grow, F&I will follow suit. He also said that without economic uncertainties, the trends all suggest 2013 will be a great year, with lending starting to open up, especially the advanced lending that is key for F&I sales.

Ryan Williams, executive vice president, Fidelis Systems, agreed, noting that he doesn’t see the market shrinking, but doesn’t predict a huge swell, either. “I don’t see much of a change in overall penetration. With banks loosening up a bit we may see a lift of 5% or so.”

Another expert in agreement with that sentiment is Kelly Price, president, National Automotive Experts. “I would think F&I penetration will remain fairly steady. With grosses declining and the pinch on the economy and tax increases, I don’t see it increasing overall.”

“The swing between pessimistic and optimistic industry pundits is 500,000 units — an estimated 14.5 or 15 million cars and light trucks will be sold in 2013. I concur with those who predict a second, but less severe, recessionary dip, likely in the third or fourth quarter,” noted David Robertson, executive director, AFIP. But that number is still up from the 2009 levels of 10.4 million, so even with that slight dip he sees coming, the industry is still in a much stronger position today than it was a few years ago.

Bright Spots
Despite the economic troubles that will impact every aspect of every industry in this country, there are some bright spots. F&I, the experts agreed, might not grow hugely, but they don’t see it shrinking either. And one category in particular saw a number of them as fairly optimistic: service contracts.

“Service contracts will continue to be the predominant product sold in the F&I office. It provides the most value to the dealership as it not only drives revenue at the point of sale, it brings customers back for service work contributing to fixed operations coverage,” said Jimmy Atkinson, COO, AUL Corp.

Williams agreed, noting that he sees a similar product, pre-paid maintenance, as being right up there with service contracts in sales volume this year. “I see pre-paid maintenance as one of the winners. With so many manufactures offering it, customers are now asking for it; it will probably will be a banner year for pre-paid maintenance.”

Robertson was a bit more specific. He sees the growth area as coming in not just service contracts, but in contracts for used vehicles. He believes the economy, coupled with an aging overall fleet of cars on the market today, will drive consumers to the used-car lots, which will drive not only those sales, but the F&I on those types of vehicles as well.

“Generally, shifts in the aftermarket product mix are reflective of the changes in consumer demand. The joust between GAP and VSC may be decided by increases in used vehicle service contract sales in 2013. A tepid economy, coupled with the need to replace a rapidly aging fleet — Experian estimates that 52 million vehicles on the road today are 16 years or older — may drive a growing number of wannabe new-car buyers to the franchised dealers’ used-car departments.”

Wanderon cautions, though, that while consumers are seeing more of the value in F&I products, in some cases they might be priced out of the market. “Service contracts have gotten more expensive. One of the most valuable products for the consumer might be out of their price range. But consumers are keeping cars longer, so they realize they need to take care of them now.”

Predictions for 2013
So where does that leave the industry overall? Our experts had a few predictions to share.

Robertson sees 2013 as the year that will bring a shift in how the market sells cars online. There are still challenges, he notes, but he sees the concept as one that is going to gain acceptance. “In my view, the latter part of 2013 will see the natural progression of the 70% of prospective car buyers who currently shop online opting to complete the entire transaction electronically. A major manufacturer is beta testing an online vehicle purchase program, with very promising preliminary results. F&I is an integral part of the program. However, numerous obstacles exist. Handling the trade-in is chief among them. Also, the E-SIGN Act left numerous procedural hurdles to be addressed before ‘paperless’ transactions, in all phases of the vehicle purchase, funding, and owner indemnification processes, become a practical reality. But the inevitability of online car sales is a given, and in many respects, the car business as we once knew it will never be the same.”

Wanderon believes customers will still be coming in the door, but believes there will be fewer of them. But while that might mean fewer car sales, he sees it as an opportunity for F&I. “We need to focus on products that retain customers, because it’s too expensive to get new ones; we haven’t done a good job of selling products and the experience at a dealership that gets customers to come back in the door. I see 14-15 million sales for the year, and I will be surprised if it goes higher than that. If car sales drop, F&I has more time to focus on each individual and their needs, so they can sell more and better products – it takes more time to explain each one as products become more complicated, and when it’s busy, it’s easier to hear ‘No’ and move on to the next customer.”

Agreeing that F&I is key, Williams noted that, overall, he’s positive about F&I in 2013, “because the market is growing, but I’m nervous about the overall economic climate. F&I sales are more important that ever as they usually represent the profit of the store.”

At the end of the day, said Price, there will be growth, but she agreed that it will come from better F&I sales and penetration, rather than because more cars are sold. “We are personally forecasting growth again this year, but I don’t believe it will be from an increase in unit sales.”

Atkinson summed everything up, and put it into perspective, noting that at the end of the day, if an agent wants to see growth in this tough economy, they need to be proactive about it. “Growth for agents is in direct correlation to the value you provide a dealer. Agents should find their niche, whether it be training, F&I income development or other areas for the store. Develop that and have a relentless focus on leveraging that strength to bring you growth. 2012 was a strong year for our markets and 2013 could be even better. It’s up to each of us to make it our best year ever.”

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National Automotive Experts and The Impact Group Partner for F&I Process Training


CLEVELAND – Recognizing the F&I presentation process as one of the most important responsibilities of today’s business manager, and the key factor in driving product penetration and profitability, National Automotive Experts (NAE) will offer two-day F&I process training in its Cleveland Training Center, complemented by The Impact Group’s (Impact) interactive FUSION menu process.

“It is an intensive ‘who, what and why’ of the F&I selling process, including the customer interview, value based product presentation, objection handling, and closing techniques. Combining NAE’s approach to best practices and driving profit with the capabilities of the FUSION system will take any F&I producer to the next level,” said Bob Mancuso, NAE’s vice president.

“We are very excited about the F&I training partnership with National Automotive Experts. Our companies have matching philosophies about the importance of a consistent, value-driven F&I presentation process. This training program will give F&I managers an opportunity to thoroughly master that philosophy in a classroom setting, and a tool by which to apply it in practice,” said Mark Thorpe, president of The Impact Group.

This program is available to the general marketplace, as well as all clients of NAE or Impact. Registration is available on NAE’s Web site for the first program being offered January 15-17. NAE will be offering the workshop every few months.

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An Interview with Kelly Price, President of NAE


Kelly Price, president of National Automotive Experts (NAE), took the time to talk with AE for this month’s edition of View From the Top. The following discussion includes background on Price and NAE, the company’s product offerings and the industry’s past and future.

Tell us about your company and the products you offer.

National Automotive Experts is a full-line administration and training company, specializing in reinsurance, service retention products, such as our exclusive Warranty Forever program, Diamon-Fusion and other excellent options. We pride ourselves on full transparency to our agents and dealers.

How do your offerings differ from others?

We are truly involved with our dealers and agents. We look for ways to constantly keep them in the “know.” Our agents and dealers have become “addicted” to how easy it is to stay on top of what is really happening in their dealerships.

Who are your target markets and what message would like to give them?

We really want to work with dealers and agents who want to dig into a dealership and make the best of every opportunity. Dealers and agents who focus on the overall profits of a dealership from the top down tend to be our best clients. We help them dial into every aspect of their operation. By specializing in reinsurance options, we can bring forward the best and most profitable products available today.

Tell us about yourself and the path that led you to NAE.

After many years of being frustrated with reporting delays and the “shell” games with other administrators while working at a large dealer group, I decided that there had to be a better way. Trying to figure out how all of the numbers balanced out was next to impossible each month. I became very driven to make sure that no matter what, our dealers could understand and “add up” their monies without lacking any disclosure on our part. After many years of working directly with dealers, we launched our product offerings through agencies in 2006. We are now partners with over 1,500 dealers nationwide.

How has the industry changed in the past five years, and how do you see it changing in the future?

Regulations are changing each and every day. It is a full-time job to keep up on the ever-changing state regulations. More importantly, in the past five years we have seen many changes in the way that lenders and manufacturers are attempting to control the choices a dealer makes in his/her daily operations. In some ways, it actually hinders the dealers’ profitability rather than enhancing it. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, but it will definitely be a roller coaster ride in the meantime!

What product will drive your future success?

There isn’t one particular product. The one thing that will drive our success is our overall commitment to our agents and dealers. We really want to be a partner and to help increase profitability in dealerships. Rather than tie a dealer to a particular product, we would prefer to look at the whole picture and decide what product(s) they need to make their dealership the most profitable.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

That is funny … I don’t seem to have much of that lately! I try to make sure that I see my older son perform anytime he is on stage and get to each of my younger son’s ball games. The rest of my time is spent with my husband, family and helping the needs of the Cleveland Christian Home, which is a boys’ home in Cleveland that helps boys who need intense therapy due to their family unit being dysfunctional or non-existent.

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National Automotive Experts to Connect to Provider Exchange Network for e-Contracting


TROY – Provider Exchange Network (PEN), a division of Open Dealer Exchange, LLC, has launched an integration project with National Automotive Experts (NAE) to offer dealers the ability to electronically contract Vehicle Service Contracts and other F&I products.

“NAE is continually working to improve our process as a preferred dealer partner,” said Kelly Price, President of National Automotive Experts.

“PEN will simplify the F&I process by making it easier for the dealer to rate products and generate the right documentation. Our dealers will spend more time selling and less time on administrative tasks because the process will be seamless within the dealer’s system.”

This connectivity enables F&I Aftermarket Product e-contracting directly from dealer software. Embedded into the system, e-contracting functions eliminate the need for the dealership user to access multiple applications or have to re-enter critical deal data in order to complete the transaction.

PEN will directly connect NAE products to four leading menu software vendors. This same technology will soon be made available direct from the dealership F&I software from The Reynolds and Reynolds Company and ADP Dealer Services, Inc.

“NAE has a great presence in the industry and we see a lot of growth on their horizon,” said Mark Virag, Managing Director of PEN. “PEN looks forward to being a key partner to support NAE business efficiency.”

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NAE Appoints New Agency Development Director


CLEVELAND – National Automotive Experts (NAE) named David Nuenschwander to director of agency development.

“NAE is very proud of the intensity and passion that David brings to the table,” said Bob Mancuso, executive vice president of NAE. “Our agents and dealers appreciate the experience and knowledge that he is able to provide them.”

Formerly a regional manager for National Automotive Experts and also a divisional manager for Zurich, Neuenschwander has been with NAE since April of 2010, reported F&I and Showroom magazine. He has been with the company’s executive vice president in developing and maintaining agency relationships throughout the United States.

“My time with NAE has shown me that with creativity, flexibility and true passion for serving agents and dealers, anything is possible,” Neuenschwander said. “NAE has allowed me to showcase my talents and provide the solutions that agents are looking for. Now it is my challenge to help our sales team support and deliver that same passion to our agents.”

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