Demetrios Lahiri, Vice President of Sales
Can you give me a bit of your company history? How did you become involved in the Key Replacement category?
For more than 35 years, the American Financial companies have assisted dealers in increasing sales and maximizing overall profits. At American Financial, our driving force is to enhance the professional image of our industry through exceptional customer service. It is only by consistently exceeding our customers’ expectations that we can earn their loyalty, expand our customer base and increase the value of our products.
We are constantly looking for products that can increase profits in F&I for our dealer partners. However, for American Financial to bring a product to market, that product must provide an actual benefit to the end consumers. With the proliferation of smart keys and key fobs, a key replacement product was a natural fit for our views and the market need.
What makes your product different from others on the market? How do you differentiate it?
American Financial & Automotive Services, Inc.’s key replacement policy offers some of the highest levels of coverage in the marketplace today. In addition to annual benefits provided for key replacement, our product also includes 24 roadside assistance, lockout service, trip routing, and national rental car discounts.
As with all of American Financial & Automotive Services, Inc.’s products, we differentiate our products not just by the product itself, but by the training, development, compliance, and support that goes with said products. From product implementation to sales training to claims administration, we make sure that our products, including key replacement, succeed at a dealership and consumer level.
What is your primary sales channel? How do you market to that channel?
We employ a direct field force that works with our dealer partners at multiple levels. Dealership development managers, regional sales managers and vice presidents of sales all have responsibilities to our dealers/clients.
We utilize our direct field force as a constant point of contact with our existing dealer partners and with any potential dealer partners. By keeping those individuals informed and empowered to present the benefits of key replacement, we have see great success with the product. We utilize in-store visits, e-mail contacts, direct mail contacts and participation in state and national associations such as NADA, NAMAD, CMDA, FMDA, etc.
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?
Technology has impacted us, and the entire industry, by having us push the envelope for coverage items and amounts that will keep up with tomorrow’s key products. In today’s market a certain dollar amount may be enough to satisfy most of the market, but what about a few years from now? What level of coverage will need to be provided to have the same impact for the end consumer? The real question is, will we be able to adapt as we always have. I believe we will be able to adapt as an industry.
The biggest issue in the next 3-5 years will be technology’s desire to eliminate keys from our vehicles completely by using smart phone apps. Creating a product that will provide key replacement benefits for the consumer when there is no key associated with the vehicle will be an interesting endeavor.
In your opinion, where is the greatest growth potential for the Key Replacement category?
Non-luxury makes and models. Since the genesis of key replacement products, everyone in the market acknowledged the value of the product with luxury makes and models. As the technology associated with luxury keys continues to trickle down to the non-luxury makes and models, the consumers need to protect themselves from unforeseen key expenses increases. This truly increased need in the non-luxury arena leads to increased sales opportunities and higher consumer satisfaction.