Aaron Cooper, National Director of F&I
Please give me a little bit of your company history, and how you became involved in the Dent & Ding protection product category.
Dent Wizard was founded in 1983 by people who were innovators in the tools and processes behind paintless dent removal, today known as PDR. Today, with more than 1,500 employees working in the U.S. and Canada, we provide on-site cosmetic reconditioning services and products to the automotive industry through our relationships with dealerships, auto auctions, rental companies, body shops, insurance companies and manufacturers. We’re an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital, a leading global private equity investment firm.
After earning our reputation as the North American leader in quality PDR services, including industry-leading warranties, technician training and responsible business management, Dent Wizard expanded its cosmetic reconditioning services under our Frontline Fast program. Our services today include PDR; chip and scratch repair; bumper repair; wheel scratch and scuff repair; leather and vinyl repair; carpet and fabric repair; headlight brightening; pinstriping; and exterior blackout.
How do you differentiate your product from those of your competitors? What makes you different?
Ding Shield is the company’s F&I product for agents and F&I managers in automotive dealerships, and it remains Dent Wizard’s top-selling F&I product today since its introduction in the mid-2000s. Ding Shield provides consumers with unlimited ding and dent protection, plus a hail deductible benefit.
In February 2013, the company launched Ding Shield Preferred. Ding Shield Preferred covers all aspects of Ding Shield ding and dent repair, plus windshield chip repair and cosmetic alloy wheel repair. All repairs are performed on site at the dealership by fully-trained Dent Wizard and Safelite AutoGlass technicians using the latest repair technology. The plan provides coverage for up to six years and is backed by Great American, an A.M. Best A-rated insurance company and Dent Wizard’s lifetime limited warranty.
Another differentiator is that we train our technicians very well. They go through an intense eight-week training course, and then we follow up with continuous training on a yearly basis to keep their skills up to our standards. They learn the best processes on the variety of repair and reconditioning services we offer today.
Dent Wizard is also differentiated with our industry-leading warranties, our broad geographical coverage, and our corporate culture of information sharing. Here’s an example of the latter: If one of our technicians in one part of the U.S. encounters a unique repair challenge with a new car model, chances are he can network with another Dent Wizard technician in the U.S. who has encountered the same challenge, and learn from that tech.
What is your primary sales channel? How do you market to that channel?
For our F&I product for auto dealers, Ding Shield and Ding Shield Preferred, our retail distributor channel is through agents, and that makes up the bulk of our sales. Traditionally we only sold under our own brand, but we’ve “seen the light” so to speak, and we now also have the ability to private label to other providers who want to enter into that arrangement with us as well.
One thing that sets Ding Shield apart is that it’s the only product where employees, and not just sub-contracted technicians, do all the repairs. Our reputation is on the line with every repair. That makes us unique from anyone else.
Have technological advances impacted your product in the last few years? If so, how? If not, do you see technology playing a factor in your product offerings in the future?
The different types of vehicles, with the different types of metals, have changed things. Most cars today are made of steel, but many more are using aluminum, which acts and behaves differently from steel. Because of that we’ve had to come up with different training, repair methods and proprietary tools to work with the variety of metals.
Digital technology has also had an impact. Today, many of our technicians use the latest digital technology to help with thorough estimating, invoicing and communications with dealerships and other customers.
Where do you see the most growth potential for Dent & Ding products?
I think we’re on the verge of a pretty steep growth curve. If you had asked five years ago, sales growth of PDR as a stand-alone product was marginal. In the last few years we’ve seen tremendous growth, due in large part to the expansion of our services and products.
With the addition of Frontline Fast services, as mentioned earlier, plus expanding our popular F&I product, Ding Shield, with Ding Shield Preferred, we’re on a positive trajectory. Our growth ultimately comes from offering products and services that car owners and dealerships want, provided in a responsible manner, at a fair price point. I’m confident that business model will continue.