Don’t Look Back

By: Jeff Hatch

February 03, 2017

Keep Your Focus on the Future With a Certified Pre-Owned Program That Gives Independent Dealers an Edge With Millennial Car Buyers
 
An axiom of military history says that generals spend all their time planning to fight the last war, making them ill-prepared for the next war. 
   That same thing is happening with vehicle dealers today. They are planning for the future as they did with the past. 
   The past was about the baby boomers. The future belongs to the millennials, and they are very different shoppers. 
   Unlike their parents, millennials are ultra-frugal about their purchase of vehicles. Big box dealerships with their $20 million price tags that impressed their parents are a turn-off and an unneeded expense to this group. 
   The millennial generation likes to buy vehicles others have taken the depreciation on – but they also show a tendency toward the security provided by new car warranties.
   That makes the millennial group perfect for the used car industry for a couple of reasons.
   For one, used car dealers can couple vehicles that have depreciated with a remaining factory warranty. And they can certify pre-owned vehicles as a viable way to let millennial buyer enter into vehicle ownership. 
   Two factors make the millennial demographic predisposed to looking at the certified pre-owned option. 
   The first is their propensity to buy used cars, and with that, a higher rate of acceptance of CPO vehicles. 
   The second is their desire to be secure from the added expenses caused by mechanical breakdown. That makes a majority of millennial used vehicle purchasers open to a certified vehicle purchase. 
   Millennial buyers consider themselves much savvier buyers than their parents were because of their ability to use mobile devices. But they are not necessarily as educated on all aspects of CPO as their predecessors. 
   A study conducted this year by NADA Used Car Guide found 50 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds – millennials – said they were slightly or not at all familiar with CPO programs, a higher percentage than older generations.
   They are, however, willing to learn, and they will add value to the product and increase their purchases of CPO vehicles when they are educated on those aspects. 
   Even though they are looking for the security provided by CPO, they are not sure about the parts of the certification process that provide that security. Millennials are much less likely to understand the value of the inspection aspect of the program, nor do they in general grasp the warranty portion. 
   But, like other buyers, when those components of the program are explained, millennials’ chances of purchasing a CPO unit rise. According to Autotrader’s 2015 CPO Study, 68 percent of used car shoppers said they would consider buying a CPO vehicle from the beginning, but once they learned the definition of what CPO really means, that number rose to 83 percent. 
   One of the most compelling aspects of marketing to the millennial generation is their willingness to learn and accept new ideas – that is, as long as the learning can be done via the Internet. That’s where millennials shops and learn about products. 
   Autotrader’s 2015 Automotive Buyer Influence Study found 74 percent of online shoppers say they use a smartphone or tablet to do their research – almost double the percentage from the previous year’s study – and millennial customer are at the forefront of that trend. 
   The Internet is the most likely place for a millennial to find out about certified pre-owned program, other than a personal visit to the dealership. The problem with customers finding out about the benefits of CPO after they’ve done their dealership research is, while it helps sell the vehicle, it doesn’t help convince customer s to visit your store. 
   Marketing to social media outlets with an educational message about CPO is the best way to reach this very valuable group of consumers. Millennials shoppers are much more likely to get their information from those sources – and to process and believe it – than the preceding generations.
   Reaching millennials means getting those customers to your website. While they very much rely on in-person sales experience, their purchase process begins on their tablet or smartphone, long before they arrive at the dealership. 
   Carrying certified pre-owned vehicles that hit this group’s “cool factor” is the best way to reach the segment. Using search criteria millennials prefer increases the likelihood they will see you first. 
   Millennials may dream of Audi, Mercedes and BMW, but they are more likely to search for Honda, Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford, in that order. They also have a penchant for off-brand or discontinued vehicles like the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Magnum and Chevrolet TrailBlazer. 
   Factory certification programs only certify up to six years, so independent used car dealers who can find a reputable national certification program that will certify back to the mid-2000s and beyond, such as the NIADA Certified program, can attract customers who are looking for those special vehicles and still want the safety and reassurance provided by CPO inspections and warranties. 
   Millennial customers are going to spend more time on third-party and dealer websites than their older counterparts. People who spend the most time on those sites tend to be CPO shoppers – or they become CPO shoppers during the shopping experience. 
   The more time customers spend looking on the Internet, the more they are able to focus on specific models and equipment and the more time they have to learn the advantages of a particular dealer’s services, commitments and ethics, which can be broadcast on the dealers’ sites and are an integral part of a CPO program.
   Millennial shoppers are looking for security in their vehicle purchase and ownership, and having a warranty can create that peace of mind for buyers who cannot afford a new vehicle or just want to spend as little as possible to avoid the depreciation attached to the purchase of a new vehicle.
   CPO is more important to this frugal generation because they don’t want to save money by buying a used vehicle only to discover they have bought someone else’s problems. Using tools such as Carfax, AutoCheck or any of the vehicle history reports gives a sense of the vehicle’s past, and an inspection and a warranty provide additional peace of mind. 
   That has a real tangible value in the view of the millennial buyer. Even frugal car buyers see a real monetary value and willingly pay a premium for a certified vehicle. In fact, according to Autotrader’s 2014 Certified Pre-Owned Study, millennial CPO purchasers pay an average of $2,000 more for a vehicle that has been certified.
   Finding the right vehicles for that group of buyers and a certification process that they can buy into – along with announcing on your website a commitment to the certification process and a great partnership to deliver the coverage to the customer – is a sure way to attract millennials’ business.
   The most common reason consumers don’t purchase certified vehicles is simply a lack of awareness of CPO programs. Autotrader’s 2015 CPO Study showed that while consumers’ familiarity with CPO is steadily rising, only 49 percent of used car shoppers surveyed said they were familiar with certified pre-owned vehicles. 
   But when they learn about what’s involved in the CPO process, most consumers see the value in the inspection and warranty. The same Autotrader study found the peace of mind that comes with certification and warranty are the two top reasons cited by customers for buying CPO vehicles. 
   That means if you can get the millennial customers to your website, it becomes a matter of selling the customer on the right car – one that fills their needs but still leaves room for the protection that generation demands in the products they buy. 
   In other words, if you can get your message to where millennials shop, 90 percent of those shoppers are going to see value in the CPO inspection process and the warranty attached to it.
   It is very apparent from market research that the places millennials prefer to get their information are online from third-party sites, and the dealer’s own website is the next-most popular place. Where they do not go for information are OEM sites – they prefer unbiased accounts to what they perceive as propaganda from the manufacturer.
   Millennial customers are the future of the automotive industry, which should be music to the independent used car dealer’s ears. Those buyers are not going to behave as their parents did. Things that turn on their parents, such as the glitz and glamour of new car facilities and the prestige of new car ownership, are not the kinds of things likely to ensnare millennials.
   While many auto dealers continue to approach their target marketing from a baby boomer mindset, those who tailor their marketing and operations toward the millennial generation will find their stores staying relevant to a huge vehicle buying demographic for many years. 
   So how do independent dealers move forward from yesterday’s playbook of success and prepare for this buying segment’s preferences? 
   They must first recognize this is a different that is going to behave in a different manner from its predecessors and must therefore be approached in a different manner.
   Independents will have to find ways to reach millennials in their favorite social media spots. Dealers might have to stock vehicles to which today’s younger buyers assign a certain cachet of ownership.
   Millennials are not willing to forgo the security of warranties and service contracts to get these older vehicles. That makes it important to find a national partner for the certification process that has the three items it takes to be a good finance product – claims, coverage and an overall drive toward customer service – and can reach back to the early 2000s to cover the vehicles the millennial generation values and can afford.
   Aligning with a program like NIADA CPO that does all that allows independent used car dealers to attract millennial buyers to their vehicles and deals using their lower overhead.
   Millennials want to be able to shop using smartphones and texting for communication until they are ready to meet face-to-face, but they also want a dealership experience and a demo ride when it is time to buy. Millennial buyers care most about the warranty and inspection and will pay a premium for it, and will become your loyal customer for life. 
   While others are still chasing the boomers, you can set up a program geared toward the future, selling to the millennial generation via the media they dwell in. 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Carr is a longtime auto industry veteran in sales, management and training and a regional training manager for Warrantech Automotive, Inc. administrator of the NIADA Certified Pre-Owned program. For more information on the NIADA CPO program, visit www.niadacertified.com/dealers. 
 
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of Used Car Dealer magazine and can be found online at: http://bit.ly/2ihlGVx

Filed Under: Car, certified, customers, Dealer, millennials, NIADA, pre-owned, Used

Is Your Extended Service Plan Program Fully Supported?

By: Jeff Hatch

February 01, 2017

Having an extended service plan program that fits your business model is important. But it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Have you considered how your program is supported? Without the proper infrastructure, it might not be as effective as it could be. Making sure your customers are taken care of is as essential as the contents of a well-designed service contract and vital to the overall success of your business.
 
At Warrantech, we continuously strive to improve the quality of service provided to all customers. We believe that quality has to be the foundation of everything that we do and everything that we represent. To us, customer service is not just a team or a process, it does not have a starting point or an ending point – it is part of the culture in everything we touch.
 
To bolster this approach, Warrantech employs a dedicated Quality Assurance Department that reports directly to our Call Center Director, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and effectively managing the workforce to optimize service delivery. This department serves as the foundation for our call center as they monitor all personnel on a daily basis and provide performance feedback on: 
 
Professionalism 
Customer interaction 
Procedural adherence 
Claims adjudication 
System usage 
System documentation 
Call lengths 
 
We also make sure that customer service is readily available. Customers can file claims through a dedicated toll-free phone number, email, web chat or Claims360, our proprietary online platform. We even support mail and faxed claims as well. 
 
To handle escalated customer issues and complaints, we have created a Presidential Team. This team, which is located within the call center, maintains a close relationship with each of our partners, the Account Manager(s) and executive teams. Their task is to work with a client in the event of an escalation to ensure the best possible service. This team receives referrals from the call center associates, direct from our clients, from executive escalations and from all forms of social media. 
 
Any customer who seeks to speak to a supervisor or is contacting us for the same issue on more than one occasion is immediately transferred to the Presidential Team. These associates are equipped with advanced customer service training and problem resolution and have the full power and authority to make the appropriate decision by working with the client to ensure that together we are achieving customer satisfaction. The Presidential Team member owns the service experience through completion and documents every aspect of the resolution. 
 
The information that is recorded by the Presidential Team is reviewed monthly by call center management and Warrantech executive management, as well as the training department to identify process and procedure improvements needed to avoid future escalations. Supervisors use the feedback from the Presidential Team in their weekly meetings and individual coaching sessions with their associates. This approach creates a customer who is not only satisfied with the outcome of the transaction, but a customer who walks away from the experience with a positive outlook on the service contract, Warrantech and, most importantly, our clients. 
 
Warrantech Support Process At A Glance 
  • Every customer contact is recorded and stored
  • Appropriate staffing levels are maintained and based on program, time, date and SLAs
  • Unique telephone numbers and websites are utilized for each client
  • IVR is used to appropriately route calls based on program, contact type, etc.
  • IVR provides contact center associates with customer information prior to transfer
  • OEM and/or partner calls can be immediately routed to the appropriate entity
  • All customer contacts are monitored in real time to ensure that all service-level agreements are met

Visit warrantech.com or give us a call at 800.833.8801 to learn more about how we can support your business.

Filed Under: customers, quality, satisfaction, service, support, Warrantech

Let Warrantech’s Extensive Industry Expertise Take Your Business Further

By: Jeff Hatch

November 29, 2016

There’s a lot to be said for experience. Having someone in your corner who has a greater understanding of what you are trying to accomplish can help you fully realize your goals and even uncover new opportunities that you never knew existed. That’s what we do best.  
 
Warrantech is comprised of service contract / insurance industry veterans and is led by a management team whose members each average more than 23 years in the business. Our executives are thought-leaders who serve as industry board members and conference speakers, and possess numerous industry designations and certifications. This expertise translates into a comprehensive perspective with vast insight that enables us to uncover hidden growth opportunities and structure programs that offer a high-value proposition for our partners and their customers. 
 
Our real-world experience also guides our team to help clients refine their sales strategies and create lucrative programs that build customer loyalty and enhance brand image. With a team of highly skilled underwriters, actuaries, legal/compliance professionals, marketing and management experts, Warrantech has the depth of knowledge to launch and administer your program successfully within your defined timelines. 
 
Our experienced team is masterful at driving large, complicated projects, based on years of integrating, developing and managing a variety of well-positioned acquisitions and meaningful, large-scale client programs. We are able to design, develop and implement a program with minimal strain on your team, while working within any desired parameters you establish. We typically focus on:
 
Optimization of price tiers and bands
Ensuring all eligible products are covered
Designing clear and concise customer terms and conditions
Continuous development of marketing materials and sales tools
Robust field and online training programs
Aftermarket and renewal marketing activities
Development of appropriate compensation and incentive programs  
 
The Warrantech team has the expertise to ensure that you receive a carefully coordinated program that integrates all aspects of your business, including sales, service and marketing. In turn, this ensures a perfect fit for both your business and your customers.
 
Visit warrantech.com or give us a call at 800.833.8801 to learn more about how we can help you.

Filed Under: business, expertise, industry, marketing, sales, service, Warrantech

AmTrust Announces Net Income For The Third Quarter 2016

By: Jeff Hatch

November 03, 2016

Warrantech’s parent company, AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. (AFSI) today announced third quarter 2016 net income attributable to common stockholders was $103.6 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, compared to $182.7 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, in the third quarter 2015. 

For the third quarter 2016, operating earnings was $126.3 million, or $0.73 per diluted share, compared to $150.9 million, or $0.89 per diluted share, in the third quarter 2015. Annualized return on common equity was 15.9% for the third quarter 2016 compared to 35.4% for the third quarter 2015. Third quarter 2016 annualized operating return on common equity was 19.4% compared to 29.2% in the third quarter 2015.

"We delivered a solid performance in the third quarter, with strong investment results, higher service and fee income, and growth in gross written premiums, compared with the same period a year ago," said Barry Zyskind, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, AmTrust. "Our performance reflects a full quarter's contribution from Republic Companies, as well as continued strong policy retention and disciplined underwriting of new business in our small commercial business segment, as demonstrated by our stable loss ratio. The top-line results of our specialty risk and extended warranty segment reflect the impact of the decline in the British pound relative to the third quarter a year ago, and we are pleased with the underlying performance of this segment."

Mr. Zyskind also stated, "We are optimistic about our organic growth prospects, given our differentiated model in workers' compensation and commercial lines products in the U.S., as well as opportunities in our warranty insurance offering globally. We remain focused on building a portfolio of business that leverages our proprietary technology and our efficient operating structure to enhance shareholder returns."

Third Quarter 2016 Results

Total revenue was $1.41 billion, an increase of $181.3 million, or 15%, from $1.23 billion in the third quarter 2015. Gross written premium was $2.03 billion, an increase of $253.3 million, or 14%, from $1.78 billion in the third quarter 2015. Net written premium was $1.22 billion, an increase of $73.1 million, or 6%, compared to $1.14 billion in the third quarter 2015. Net earned premium was $1.20 billion, an increase of $150.8 million, or 14%, from $1.05 billion in the third quarter 2015. The combined ratio was 91.5% compared to 92.6% in third quarter 2015.

A summary of Q3 results is listed below along with a link to the earnings release. 

Financial Highlights

Third Quarter 2016

Gross written premium of $2.03 billion, up 14.2% compared to $1.78 billion in the third quarter 2015
Net earned premium of $1.20 billion, up 14.4% from $1.05 billion in the third quarter 2015 
Net income attributable to common stockholders of $103.6 million compared to $182.7 million in the third quarter 2015
Operating earnings of $126.3 million compared to $150.9 million in the third quarter 2015
Diluted EPS of $0.60 compared to $1.09 in the third quarter 2015
Operating diluted EPS of $0.73 compared to $0.89 in the third quarter 2015
Service and fee income of $146.6 million, up 16% from $126.1 million in the third quarter 2015
Combined ratio of 91.5% compared to 92.6% in the third quarter 2015
Weighted average diluted shares outstanding of 173.1 million, up 3% compared to 168.3 million in the third quarter 2015

To view AmTrust Financial Services’ Q3 earnings release, visit the Investor Relations section at http://ir.amtrustgroup.com or click on the following link: http://ir.amtrustgroup.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=997294 

Filed Under: AmTrust, earnings, Financial, gross, income, premium, Q3, quarter, third, Warrantech, written

AmTrust Financial Services Wins The GWSCA’s “Innovation in Warranty” Award

By: Jeff Hatch

September 23, 2016

Yesterday at the Third Annual GWSCA Conference on Warranty and Service Contracts in Chicago, Illinois, Warrantech’s parent company, AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., won the award for “Innovation in Warranty” for its “Complete” program. 
 
Complete is a comprehensive protection plan program developed for Microsoft’s OEM and third-party devices sold via Microsoft’s numerous sales channels, including their brick and mortar store locations, their online store, distribution partners, and resellers worldwide. In 2009, the Complete program launched in one Microsoft store. Today, AmTrust is the exclusive provider of Microsoft Complete in 60 countries, with plans that cover Surface Pro, Surface Book, Surface Hub, Xbox, Band, HoloLens and all third-party OEM PC products sold by Microsoft.
 
Visionary leadership, strong management, robust technology platforms, efficient operations, and focused client management are among the key attributes driving the success of AmTrust in support of Microsoft Complete.
 
AmTrust has worked diligently and rapidly to facilitate Complete sales in all the territories in which hardware is being sold. In less than 18 months from initial launch, they rolled out Complete in 60 countries and expanded the product offerings to include all Microsoft OEM products. They’ve developed unique mobile applications to market, sell and register smartphone insurance policies with Microsoft Mobile, formerly known as NOKIA. 
 
The Global Warranty and Service Contract Association (GWSCA) serves the warranty and service contract communities worldwide. Founded and operated by industry professionals who volunteer their time and talents, GWSCA provides programs, resources and services that develop and enhance the knowledge, capabilities and performance of its constituency, both individuals and organizations. In this way, GWSCA fosters and promotes industry wide innovation and advancement towards excellence.
 
AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. is a financial holding company with 27 insurance companies operating globally and providing small business insurance, unique risk, and warranty and specialty risk solutions. All their insurance carriers are “A” rated by A.M. Best. AmTrust is a publically traded company trading under the symbol “AFSI” on NASDAQ.
 
AmTrust underwrote $6.8 billion in Gross Written Premium in 2015 and has assets in excess of $17 billion. They have offices in more than 40 locations and operate in more than 50 countries. In 2014, AmTrust was ranked 63rd in Fortune magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies. In the same year, Forbes named AmTrust as one of the best run companies (insurance). Warranty Week, the leading online authority in the warranty industry identified AmTrust as the most ‘warranty-centric’ company.
 
Congratulations to AmTrust Financial on this impressive accomplishment. For more information about the company and their services, visit amtrustgroup.com

Filed Under: AmTrust, Award, Complete, Financial, GWSCA, Innovation, Warrantech, Warranty

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