Tag Archive | "Allstate"

Beyond the Full Product Suite

Interest among dealers in F&I production and profitability is elevated as profit margins remain compressed, new-vehicle sales show signs of plateauing, and dealers seek to maximize opportunities for service-department revenue. Among F&I product providers and administrators, the pressure to deliver benefits that appeal to agents and dealers and deliver real value for end users has never been greater.

To learn how the industry is keeping pace with the evolving needs of agents, dealers, and car buyers, P&A met with six high-ranking executives from some of the provider and administrator segment’s biggest players.

The Importance of a Full Product Suite

Matt Croak, president of Wise F&I, says his company constantly updates, changes, and augments its F&I product mix. Product development has been a focus for the past decade, he says, stressing that, to be competitive, a provider must offer a complete lineup. But in the age of digitization, they also have to do a whole lot more.

“A full suite of products isn’t enough; it’s having the technology to bring those products into the dealerships through online contracting and menu providers and adapting to changes in the car-buying process,” Croak says.

Like Croak, David Pryor of Safe-Guard Products International says his company invests heavily in product development — at the corporate level as well as with dealer clients.

“Program and product design is a key part of the Safe-Guard process and is usually one of the first discussions we have with clients,” says Pryor, who serves as the company’s CMO. “Over a series of product design sessions, Safe-Guard will be able to understand the client’s goals, desired customer experience, and, ultimately, design the program and product requirements to drive success.”

Tony Wanderon, president of National Auto Care, says offering a full product suite ensures every agent and dealer can find the products that fit their customers’ needs. Partnering with a full-suite F&I provider introduces “numerous efficiencies,” adds Dave Border, president of Allstate Dealer Services, including easier account maintenance, combined billing and commission payments, and improved reporting.

Larry Dorfman adds “consistency in sales and F&I training” — a key consideration for any dealer that is serious about F&I production — to the list of additional benefits brought by a full product suite. A single provider can offer “streamlined training for all benefits, rather than two or more different companies fighting for shelf space and confusing the employees with different training processes,” says the chairman of APCO, home of the EasyCare and GWC Warranty brands.

For Patrick Brown, president of IAS, a full suite is “more than just VSC and ancillary products,” noting that his company offers services ranging from income development and reinsurance to compliance training and marketing solutions. “We can help them grow their business by offering everything they need to increase F&I production.”

Defining the Full Product Suite

National Auto Care’s Wanderon says that his definition of “full suite” depends largely on the client, but most will include vehicle service contracts, GAP coverage, tire-and-wheel, and appearance protection as the most critical benefits, relegating other product types to a lower tier.

Pryor also includes prepaid maintenance on his must-have list, followed by “daily driving” coverage, including but not limited to tire-and-wheel, dent, windshield, and roadside assistance. He says Safe-Guard is working to “round out” its suite with lot-management, connectivity, and theft-deterrence and -recovery products.

“We’ll continue to evaluate how consumers drive and use their vehicles and make sure that we’re offering products that offer extra peace of mind and convenience,” Pryor says.

Allstate’s Border divides F&I products into categories: Service contracts offer long-term peace of mind, GAP adds a layer of security to financing, and appearance products assure the customer their investment will be protected against undue disfigurement.

“The ability to bundle a number of these products into a combo product can greatly simplify the presentation process and increase consumer comfort. Additionally, a provider with a full suite of products should offer a competitive reinsurance program,” Border says.

Brown agrees, adding that components such as income development and training, technology that streamlines the sale and administration of F&I products, and “multiple, A-rated underwriters” are somewhat less tangible but still valuable features that can help make a product suite complete. Finally, Dorfman says new technology can help dealers and managers build smarter processes and help establish lasting relationships with car buyers.

“It shouldn’t stop with vehicle coverage,” Dorfman says. “Retention tools like the SAVY Driver app tie the customer to their vehicle and to the dealership for service and repeat sales, which is instrumental in today’s digital age.”

As for which products to leave out, Wanderon says that, if pricing cannot be based on the underlying risk, he’s not comfortable with it. “In other words, some administrators underprice their products to gain market share, and we will not chase those who chose that path.”

Brown stresses that each of the products in IAS’s suite provide value to dealers and customers and that his company takes extra steps to ensure they are properly presented and sold.

“We’re not comfortable providing products that don’t have a clear benefit to the consumer. Additionally, we stay on top of the regulatory environment to ensure that products are being provided in a compliant manner,” Brown says.

Self-Administration and White-Labeling

Dorfman says each of APCO’s products are self-administered and -insured, noting, “Our EasyCare and GWC brands are on them and we assure the service delivers our brand promise.” Allstate Dealer Services “proudly” stands behind their products as both administrator and insurer, says Border, and his company develops and insures white-label products as a service for other admins.

“As a full-service F&I provider, we have complete control over the design and pricing of our programs and products,” Border says.

“We have seen a demand for white-labeled products in various channels and are able to provide that service for our clients,” says Croak, noting that Wise F&I administers every product in its suite. IAS and Safe-Guard self-administer nearly every product in their lineups, according to Brown and Pryor, with roadside assistance serving as a notable exception for both companies.

“Safe-Guard administers all of the products we offer except roadside assistance. Roadside requires significant scale to efficiently operate a 24/7 response center and the associated dispatch networks. We prefer to partner with a dedicated roadside provider to provide this service to our clients,” Pryor says.

Although more than 95% of his company’s products are self-administered, Brown prefers to rely on third parties for “smaller bolt-on services,” roadside included. “The key for us is ensuring that we have the ability to deliver the best product, service, and value to the consumer. We strongly prefer to do that in-house, but if we can’t, we partner with third parties to ensure that we can deliver best-in-class solutions.”

Wanderon says National Auto Care’s 34 years of experience in the administration business has been “critical” to the success of the company and its agent and dealer partners. He counts more than 6,000 dealerships, credit unions, and banks and finance companies on NAC’s administrative services roster and millions of contracts sold to date.

“We believe providing these services to our partners, along with the product offering, is imperative. Being the administrator allows us to have unwavering commitment to superior customer service and support,” Wanderon says. “In addition, it allows our partners to place their trust in us to take care of their customers — and the end consumers — in a time of need.”

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PALS Panel on Self-Governance Draws Interest

LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the annual P&A Leadership Summit have announced that “Govern or Be Governed,” a compliance-themed panel staffed by leading executives from the F&I product providers segment, is drawing marked interest among attendees. The event will be held Sept. 9–10 at Paris Las Vegas.

“It’s clear [the topic] has struck a nerve in the industry, where compliance in general and the machinations of the CFPB in particular weigh heavily on the minds of dealers and the directors of the companies that serve them,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of F&I and Showroom and P&A magazines. “The fact that many of the leading minds in the F&I products segment were willing to take on this topic is undoubtedly among the main reasons the panel is generating a high level of intrigue throughout the industry.”

The panel is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 2 p.m. Moderator Tim Meenan, an attorney and managing partner of Meenan PA, will be joined by Steve Amos, president of GSFSGroup; David DeCredico, senior vice president of business development for EasyCare; Doug Frey, Allstate Dealer Services’ executive vice president and COO; Mark Macek, president of United States Warranty Corp.; and Kelly Price, president of National Automotive Experts.

Among other topics, the panel is expected to speculate on what form guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the F&I products arena might take, including price or markup controls; whether product providers can stave off new regulations by preemptively imposing their own rules; and how providers, agents and dealers can work together to ensure that their interests, as well as those of car buyers, can be protected in such a scenario.

Registration for the P&A Leadership Summit is now open. More information, including the full agenda, speakers and hotel room block is available at the event’s website. To inquire about sponsorship or exhibition opportunities, contact David Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 727-947-4027.

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Allstate Announces Leadership Changes at Allstate Dealer Services

Northbrook, IL – The Allstate Corporation today announced leadership changes at Allstate Dealer Services (ADS). Mark Green, president of Ivantage Select Agency, Inc., will take on a dual role and become president of Allstate Dealer Services. Green replaces Doug Herberger who resigned in March 2014. Douglas Frey, director of the Allstate Auto Dealer Program is promoted to chief operating officer of ADS.

“Allstate Dealer Services is a leading provider of Finance and Insurance (F&I) products and one of Allstate’s fast-growing businesses,” said Kathy Mabe, president of Allstate Business to Business. “Mark and Doug have strong track records of building and growing insurance operations. Their leadership experience will help continue the momentum at Allstate Dealer Services.”

Mark Green was previously vice president in Allstate’s Capital Region and senior vice president of the sales and distribution division of Allstate Financial Services. In 2012, he became president of Ivantage, an affiliate and insurance brokerage operation of Allstate. Green will maintain his role with Ivantage while taking on leadership of Allstate Dealer Services. Prior to joining Allstate, Green served in executive roles for Swiss Re, Chubb, Wells Fargo and the AIX Group. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College and received his MBA from Columbia Business School.

Doug Frey joined Allstate in 2013 as director of the Dealer Exclusive Agency Program. He came to Allstate from the Warranty Group and Virginia Surety Insurance, where he served as senior vice president. Frey has more than 25 years of experience and has held senior leadership roles at GMAC, Administration Specialists of Omaha, Arthur Andersen and the Universal Warranty Corporation. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Albion College and received his MBA from the University of Michigan.

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Allstate Announces Sale of Sterling Collision Centers Inc.

Northbrook, Ill. – Allstate entered into an agreement to sell Sterling Collision Centers Inc. to Service King Collision Repair Centers. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of 2014 and result in a small after-tax gain.

“This sale reflects a continued focus on investing capital where we have a competitive advantage in providing unique offerings to the four consumer insurance segments,” said Thomas J. Wilson, chairman, president and CEO, Allstate Corp. “Our ownership of Sterling has deepened the company’s understanding of the collision-repair business and helped us build industry relationships. The transition for our customers and Allstate agencies will be seamless.”

Allstate purchased Sterling Collision Centers in 2001. Sterling operates 62 collision-repair facilities in 16 states and has 1,200 employees.

Service King has been repairing Allstate customers’ vehicles for more than 30 years and is part of Allstate’s Good Hands Repair Network of more than 3,200 pre-qualified repair shops across the country.

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Roadside Assistance Options for P&A Providers

If there was any one product category that is nearly an “easy sell” to customers buying new or used cars, it would be roadside assistance. Granted, it’s still not easy, but most customers will walk in either having a story or having heard a story of a time when this particular service saved them time, money or hassle in some way. So half the battle – convincing them of its worth – is already done.

Convincing them to go with your specific offering, however, is more difficult.

Some of that comes down to how the offering is structured, what the benefits are, and of course, the cost. For a P&A provider, there are numerous options available, either via a brand the customer might already know, or via services that allow you to “white label” a product so you keep the brand identity and recognition. For now, we’re not going to look at the difference between those options, or the pros and cons of each – we’ll save that for another day. What we are going to look at are some of the key players in this space, and what makes the different.

Before you can offer your customers a product, you have to decide which one to go with – we talked to some of the top providers, and asked them what makes them different and where they see the industry going. Some of the answers might surprise you.

One thing that was interesting is that, across the board, they have all embraced technology. Using cell phones, either via just GPS positioning to help get aid to a customer’s exact location faster, or offering full-featured apps that do everything from call in the incident to pinpointing the location, and more. These apps allow them to get closer to the client, and provide the information they need in a stressful situation faster and easier.

The growth of technology, while making a huge impact on this corner of the industry, has not removed the need for a human touch, however. The companies stressed their local call centers, multiple languages and quick access to customer service representatives as important features. Technology has made it easier and more convenient for customers, but at the end of the day, it’s all just “extras” on top of great people who offer exceptional support.

No matter what direction you take with the roadside assistance package you offer clients, or which company you go with, a look at the top competitors, their offerings, and what they have to say about the future of the roadside assistance category should be interesting.

Roadside Assistance Roundup

Allstate Roadside Services

Allstate Roadside Services
April Eaton, Corporate Relations Manager

Please provide a little bit of the history of your company and how it became involved in offering roadside assistance programs.

Allstate was founded in 1931, as part of Sears, Roebuck & Co., and became a publicly traded company in 1993. At the time, the initial public offering of Allstate was the largest in U.S. history. On June 30, 1995, Allstate became a totally independent company. In 2008, Allstate Roadside Services (ARS) emerged when Allstate acquired General Electric’s Partnership Marketing Group and integrated ARS with Allstate Motor Club, one of the nation’s top motor clubs with more than 50 years of roadside experience. Allstate now offers a suite of roadside services plans to suit a variety of coverage and payment needs.

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Auto Road Services Inc.

Auto Road Services Inc.
Scott Grove, President

Please provide a little bit of the history of your company and how it became involved in offering roadside assistance programs.

Auto Road Services Inc. was formed over 20 years ago as the first provider of roadside assistance programs to the auto aftermarket industry (Tires, Batteries, etc.) as a value added benefit to the consumer for purchasing our client’s products and services. ARS began to diversify by providing some of the first roadside assistance programs to the VSC and extended warranty markets.

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Driven Solutions

Driven Solutions
Thomas Boughton, President

Please provide a little bit of the history of your company and how it became involved in offering roadside assistance programs.

Driven Solutions has been providing automotive products & services for over 65 years. The company currently operates under two names: Dominion Automobile Association (DAA) in Canada, and in the United States as United States Auto Club, Motoring Division (USAC/MD). Driven is the only fully licensed auto club operational in all 50 U.S. states and Canada, including the U.S.Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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National Motor Club

National Motor Club
Matt Krzysiak, Chief Executive Officer

Can you give me a little bit of the history of your company and how it became involved in offering roadside assistance programs?

National Motor Club has been providing motor club benefits since 1956. As the automotive industry was exploding, the founders of the National Motor Club saw the need for automobile owners to receive assistance as they traveled the new Federal Highways as well as the traditional two-lane routes across the country. Going into our 57th year we are proud to be a continuous safety net for our members in the automobile, RV, and Commercial vehicle spaces.

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Road America

Road America
Kevin NeSmith, Director of Client Services

Please provide a little bit of the history of your company and how it became involved in offering roadside assistance programs.

Road America has been providing emergency roadside assistance to motorists since 1978. In 2003, it was acquired by the MAPFRE Group, which operates an extensive international assistance network through its MAPFRE Asistencia division, the direct parent company of Road America. MAPFRE Asistencia is a leading international conglomerate providing emergency roadside assistance and general assistance services worldwide throughout 84 countries and 44 business units to 1500 corporate clients. As a division of MAPFRE, Road America gives large corporations proven financial peace of mind, long-standing business partnerships and a reputation for performance.

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Allstate Roadside Services

April Eaton, Corporate Relations Manager

Please provide a little bit of the history of your company and how it became involved in offering roadside assistance programs.

Allstate was founded in 1931, as part of Sears, Roebuck & Co., and became a publicly traded company in 1993. At the time, the initial public offering of Allstate was the largest in U.S. history. On June 30, 1995, Allstate became a totally independent company.

Based in Northbrook, Ill., Allstate is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, serving approximately 16 million households. Allstate offers insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies and Allstate exclusive financial representatives, as well as via www.allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate. Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help consumers protect what they have and better prepare for tomorrow.

In 2008, Allstate Roadside Services (ARS) emerged when Allstate acquired General Electric’s Partnership Marketing Group and integrated ARS with Allstate Motor Club, one of the nation’s top motor clubs with more than 50 years of roadside experience. Allstate now offers a suite of roadside services plans to suit a variety of coverage and payment needs. Services include:

· Allstate Motor Club, is a membership-based service that provides reliable, emergency road assistance, 24/7. Customers can select the plan and the price that works best for their needs.

· Good Hands Roadside Assistance is a new Allstate service that gives customers free access to Allstate’s 24/7 Roadside Network should your car break down for any reason. This service is available to anyone, not just Allstate customers and offers no annual fees. Instead, users of Good Hands Roadside Assistance pay only for the service they need when they need it – in most cases just $75 per tow and $50 per other service.

· Towing and Labor Coverage is a service that is typically available as part of an Allstate auto insurance policy. For a nominal fee, the coverage applies to each individual car when purchased with an Allstate auto policy.

Our network includes 12,000 certified service providers with over 50,000 roadside servicing vehicles, serving more than 22 million auto customers. Allstate wants every driver to be safe on the road, so drivers can be in Good Hands with one of our roadside assistance programs even if they’re not an Allstate policy holder.

How do you distinguish your product offerings from your competitors? What makes you different?

Allstate Roadside Services does not believe in ‘cookie cutter’ approaches to our roadside programs, whether we’re working with business-to-business relationships or developing a service based on customer needs. Allstate Roadside Services has more than 50 years of experience developing customized, branded roadside assistance programs for a wide variety of relationships. Those businesses include many auto original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or dealers and rental car companies. Each roadside service is tailored to meet their unique requirements and, of course meet the needs of drivers who rely on roadside assistance should they find themselves stranded or broken down on the side of the road. Our customized solutions have proven their ability to enhance customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

At the core of each customized program is a genuine passion for roadside assistance and a business philosophy that embraces continuous change and drives innovation. Allstate Roadside Services’ Reinventing Roadside approach fosters standard-setting contributions to the industry with a constant and purposeful concentration of identifying new ways to reinvent the roadside experience.

Where do you focus your sales efforts when it comes to selling this service? EG: direct sales via dealers/agents; bundled with service contracts, etc. What would you consider your primary sales channel to be?

Within the Automotive Service Industry, Allstate Roadside Services is a leading company with scale that has been successful with business-to-business and direct-to-consumer services through a variety of channels. We manage more than 150 corporate relationships, representing millions of customers in industries such as auto clubs, automotive after market, auto OEM, car rental companies, insurance companies, banks, wireless services companies, membership associations and credit card issuers. Our program offerings are customized based upon the specific relationship requirements, while keeping in mind the emergency service drivers/customers need while on the road. There are many threats to a driver’s safety on the road – a flat tire, empty gas tank, engine break down. Allstate offers a suite of roadside service plans to ensure every driver is safe, whether they are an Allstate customer or not.

How important is technology to your business? Where could technology add even more efficiencies to your products and processes?

Advancing new technology to enhance the roadside experience has been the cornerstone of our Reinventing Roadside philosophy. Allstate Roadside Services has been a leader in offering new technology as part of roadside program servicing. We introduced Assistance-On-the-Go in 2009 with the release of the industry’s first auto OEM branded mobile application for roadside assistance. This program was created to capitalize on the rapid advancements of mobile technology and enthusiastic adoption of smart phones for the advantage of the companies we work with. Since then, and many application releases later, Allstate Roadside Services has established the roadside mobile app as a staple of a car owner’s experience.

Our smart phone apps enable users to request roadside assistance at the touch of a button. The application functions to identify the user and vehicle, to establish the caller’s location by GPS, and to triage the service event. After dispatch, the application confirms the service dispatch and estimated time of arrival. Aside from adding speed and efficiency to Call Center connectivity, our smart phone app capabilities can easily direct customers to authorized service centers, as well as offer value-adding benefits like concierge and/or emergency services. Our roadside assistance smart phone apps can also help improve service accuracy and speed, thus improving the customer experience and leading to increased levels of loyalty and program retention.

We are also looking at new and better ways to aid our service providers, such as mobile application dispatching tools that automatically upload to a device with the specific vehicle towing requirements, or unique servicing needs at the time of dispatch to assure the proper equipment and tools are immediately deployed. These are fully integrated with our dispatching system and are matched with Web-based tools to monitor and administer both individual and collective roadside assistance service event progress along with dashboards to track overall performance.

Where do you see the most growth potential for roadside assistance products in the future? What changes, if any, do you believe the product will see in the next 5-10 years?

We believe that the demand and need for roadside services will continue to be strong. Allstate Roadside Services’ approach is grounded in our belief that technology, innovation and a new approach to the customer experience will set the industry standard in the future.

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