Timothy Jacobson, Sales & Marketing Manager
Michael Moretz, Vice President of Sales, North America
Can you give me a bit of your company history? How did you become involved in the Key Replacement category?
Accelerated Service International (ASI) has partnered with agents and their dealer clients for over a quarter of a century. ASI’s In-house automotive retail experts and field consultants utilize their years of industry experience to create unique and custom Dealer Service Plan offerings that fill the needs of dealers, agents and consumers. ASI provides programs in the United States, Canada and Europe reaching over 200 general agent partners and 3,000 dealers.
ASI launched its initial key replacement program at the end of 2008. As a business philosophy, ASI interacts directly with its valued agents and dealers, and seeks counsel from underwriters and internal management constantly examining and responding to industry product trends. The feedback was consistent that “Key Replacement” is a new, rapidly-evolving and expanding product idea that the market and consumer are hungry to take advantage of. Once the decision was taken by ASI to pursue this ancillary product offering it became one of ASI’s most successful new programs.
What makes your product different from others on the market? How do you differentiate it?
It is the ASI philosophy to build products that deliver measurable value and create tangible market impacts. The ASI key replacement benefits and related costs are incomparable in the industry. As an example, the 5-Year Term consumer benefit is $5,000 and includes full roadside assistance. Consistent with the ASI philosophy to offer “wholesale” costing to its agents, the key replacement program allows the business manger to provide consumers with a great benefit package at very reasonable pricing —a Win/Win.
Like any “new” product in the business, they eventually become straight-forward offerings over time. What differentiates any product is the level of service provided when a contract holder ultimately files a claim. The ASI claims team is seasoned, with an average of eight years of claims adjudication for a variety of products offered by ASI. Each new ASI product—including key replacement—is daily managed by the knowing and proven abilities or our experienced staff. Claims are settled quickly and paid via company credit card once approved.
The ASI business model also supports the idea of combining multiple ancillary products into one program, a philosophy that has taken years to perfect. High-volume agents and their larger dealer groups can utilize ASI risk specialist to formulate combo-programs custom to them.
What is your primary sales channel? How do you market to that channel?
ASI is an agent-driven company. They are the individuals—usually with retail backgrounds—whom ASI depends upon to spread its message. Quality agents make sure the product is understood and managed properly at the dealer level, insure that claims are handled quickly and as agreed at the consumer level, and continually perform research to improve products and protect dealers from weak product backing at the agency level. The agents representing ASI are invaluable to the growing success of our business model.
The usual avenues are advertising, direct phone calls, e-mail blasts and trade shows. The greatest draw for our agent body, however, is that ASI has been in business through good times and lean—in all cases supporting its dealer and agent commitments. That said, the most common source of growth for ASI is referral. ASI prefers in-person meetings with agents, often inviting them to the offices in Texas or visiting with them and their sub-agents in their regional offices. With the demands and competitive nature of the automotive industry, ASI believe it is better to personally get to know someone who could become a business partner for years, with a relationship that could continue over generations. There is no replacement for a handshake and an eye-to-eye understanding.
How has technology impacted Key Replacement in the last year, if at all? Do you see it having an impact in the future? Why or why not?
With the computer age key technology and functionality expand continually. Smart keys that can unlock doors, start cars, open garages, provide security and operate security systems effortlessly are becoming commonplace even in vehicles considered “value” targeted. Claims have changed in both frequency and average claim amount when compared with the traditional key. It is a trend seemingly without end.
In your opinion, where is the greatest growth potential for the Key Replacement category?
The ASI key program is still experiencing growth since its inception. There has yet to be a plateau. As mentioned earlier as the technology of the vehicle advances so does the key itself. More and more manufacturers will have to follow suit with their own smart keys. The “luxury” class of vehicles isn’t the only class of vehicles manufactured with smart keys now. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the smart key, designers more cognizant of demand, and engineers more creative with computer applications for functionality. Growth for key replacement coverage will continue to expand to match that market as it morphs to the next levels.