Extended-Service Contracts Help Build a Comfort Zone – and Long-Term Relationships – with Customers

By: Jeff Hatch

February 21, 2017

The following is an excerpt from an article by Jeff Crider, which appeared in the 2017 Jan./Feb. issue of RVBusiness. The full article can be found at: http://bit.ly/2m9hhac
 
“The quality of RVs in general has improved, but there are more and more gadgets,” said Joe Suttera, Warrantech’s vice president of specialty products. “From a warranty standpoint, there is certainly a lot more risk than there ever has been when it comes to these units.”
 
The continued growth of the RV industry in 2017 is good news not only for the nation’s RV manufacturers, aftermarket suppliers and retail dealers, but also for the companies selling extended-service contracts to this emerging wave of RV consumers.
   In fact, the extended-service-contract business is booming, companies told RVBusiness, due to this sustained increase in the sales of new and used towable and motorized RVs. 
   Indeed, the industry is currently experiencing its eighth consecutive year of growth, with wholesale shipments of new RVs expected to increase 4.4% in 2017 to 438,000 units, according to projections by Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan’s Consumer Survey Research Center.
   That continuous flow of new- and used-vehicle sales creates huge opportunities for dealers to sell their customers extended-service contracts, the cost of which is typically added to the vehicle loan at the time of purchase. 
   Regardless of whether their RV is new or used, consumers want to have peace of mind knowing that unexpected repair costs will be covered when their vehicle’s warranty runs out. While manufacturers provide different types of warranties to cover things that can malfunction in the mechanical and living areas of an RV, warranties only last for specific periods of time. Extended-service contracts have been designed to extend warranty protections for additional periods of time with varying levels of coverage and cost. 
   Extended-service contracts are also available to cover things that are not typically covered by factory warranties such as roadside assistance, tire-and-wheel coverage and paint-and-fabric coverage.
   Millennials, in particular, are in tune with the latest innovations in technology and they want it to work. 
   Extended-service contracts can cover these items after the warranties expire to give consumers peace of mind with their RV purchases, regardless of whether they have new or used vehicles.
   Bill Gilman, senior vice president of sales for Warrantech, an AmTrust Financial Company based in Bedford, Texas, said there were more “fit and fitness issues” with RVs back in 2007 when the RV industry was struggling through the Great Recession. The downturn forced many RV manufacturers out of business. But while the quality of today’s RVs has significantly improved from 2007, Warrantech and other extended-service contract providers see plenty of potential risks to cover.
   “The quality of RVs in general has improved, but there are more and more gadgets,” said Joe Suttera, Warrantech’s vice president of specialty products. “Now you’re covering 50-inch flat-screen TVs, full walk-in showers. From a warranty standpoint, there is certainly a lot more risk than there ever has been when it comes to these units.”
   As one might expect, companies that provide extended-service contracts closely monitor their claims reports so that they can price their contracts accordingly. They also monitor feedback from RV dealers and periodically either update their extended-service contracts to cover new products or develop entirely new types of extended-service contracts for dealers to sell. 
   Extended-service contract companies offer a variety of educational programs and increasingly sophisticated electronic programs to expedite contract sales and claims processing. 
   But the time to make the initial pitch to consumers is in the F&I process when they’re purchasing their new or used RVs. That’s when dealers have an opportunity to educate their customers so that they know the differences between warranties and extended-service contracts. 
 
Warrantech Automotive, an AmTrust Group Co.
Bedford, Texas  
Product offering: Warrantech markets exclusionary and stated extended-service contracts using the CampersEdge brand name. The company covers motorhomes valued at up to $5000,000 and with up to 100,000 miles. It also covers towable units valued at up to $150,000 and that are up to 15 years old. The company also offers specialty contracts for RV technical assistance; 24/7 roadside assistance; windshield repairs; painting and interior; tire and wheel coverage; as well as key/remote replacement coverage. Warrantech also provides Towbusters coverage with 24-hour emergency towing, roadside assistance, lost key and lockout service, map routing assistance and theft as well as hit-and-run protection. The company also offers guaranteed asset protection (GAP) coverage. 
Key contact: Bill Gilman, senior vice president of sales, (210) 788-2555 or bill.gilman@amtrustgroup.com
 

Filed Under: AmTrust, CampersEdge, contract, extended, RV, RVBusiness, service, Towbusters

Why Should You Consider An Extended Service Plan?

By: Jeff Hatch

April 11, 2016

1. Financial Strain

If you feel that having to purchase an entirely new item or making costly repairs would drain your bank account or leave you with a mountain of credit card debt, then you should definitely look into an extended service plan (ESP). It can actually enhance the value of your product as opposed to being a financial burden in the event that something does go wrong. With an extended service plan, you’re essentially transferring risk to the company that sold it to you and trading it in for peace of mind. Regardless of the product’s cost, having a smaller monthly ESP payment instead of an unexpected, large repair bill is a wise investment that can help keep you from breaking the bank.

2. Time Constraint

Another key consideration is time. An extended service plan can help: 1) Take the guesswork out of searching for a quality repair company to fix your damaged merchandise on short notice. 2) Find a replacement product and have it shipped to you in a timely manner if repair is not an option. 3) Provide you with on-site repair in many instances.

In short, a good extended service plan is designed to provide you with immediate assistance. If you are having trouble with a product, you’ll have instant access to an authorized service professional, via a toll-free number, who can diagnose the problem and help you get on with your day – right away.

3. Product Reliability

No matter how well designed a product is, nothing lasts forever. Failure is inevitable. That’s why it’s always a good idea to go online and research the potential shortcomings of the particular product you intend to purchase. Check into the long-term durability of that brand to determine its reliability and what type of coverage would be most beneficial to you.

Also, think about the implications of being without your favorite consumer appliance – whether it’s a refrigerator, television, dishwasher, washer/dryer or other durable good. If you feel that being without this specific item would be a burden to you, then an extended service plan serves as a good complement.

4. Accidents Happen

Consumer electronics have become more mobile over the years, which means that they are more susceptible to accidental damage from typical everyday use. Keep your habits and behaviors in mind as to how you use products like these. If you travel a lot or are constantly on the go, then your mobile devices could be at greater risk. And if you depend on a smartphone, computer tablet or laptop for important things like work or college assignments, just imagine how difficult it would be if you didn’t have coverage and had to spend a lengthy amount of time without them.

5. Long-Term Investment

It is human nature that we would treat a car that we intend to purchase and drive for a long period of time differently than we would a car with a short-term lease. If it belongs to us we’re more likely to keep it cleaner, buy higher-grade gasoline and go out of our way to avoid bad roads. The same can be said of any product. If you view something as a long-term investment more than simply a fleeting purchase, you’ll want to keep it operating at its very best for as long as possible.

An extended service plan is a must-have in situations like this and can be useful for items that depend on steadfast service. As always, be sure to read the coverage terms of your extended service plan to be certain that it meets your needs, and make sure that it includes a reliable repair plan to help keep your most important appliances working longer and to the best of their abilities.

For more information regarding extended service plans, visit warrantech.com or contact us today at 800.833.8801. 

Filed Under: consumer, electronics, extended, finance, investments, plan, reliability, service, time

Dos and Don’ts — A Warrantech Customer’s Perspective

By: Jeff Hatch

January 15, 2016

The following advice comes from a Warrantech customer who purchased an extended service plan for a tablet. All claims are handled differently – depending on product, problem and usage – but hopefully this provides you with some insight as to what to expect and how you can be prepared in the event that you need to file a claim.

I had to use this extended service plan on a previous tablet I bought – all went smooth. After it broke I made a claim, got a prepaid label, mailed the broken one in, and they sent me a check in the mail to cover what I paid for it. I've bought it again for another tablet I got my daughter. Hopefully this one won't break, but you never know with kids.

Had to use them again [for another electronic device], same as above – no complaints, way cheaper than buying insurance from your phone carrier.

Couple words of advice as to why some may run into issues:

1) Make sure you buy this extended service plan within 90 days of your tablet purchase.
2) Hold on to the receipt and original packaging (if it was bought online it’s much easier to do).
3) Register your extended service plan as soon as possible.

I've always done this with these items, so when it came time for a claim it's a matter of answering a few questions and then you get your shipping label and send it off. I've yet to have them actually repair/replace a $0-200 price range tablet; they have always sent me the replacement cost in a check.

Last comment – be sure to read what you are purchasing. Some plans are only extended warranties, some include accidental protection. Also, be sure to buy the right policy to match your tablet’s retail value. Don't buy a $0-200 plan if you have a $500 tablet.

To learn more about what our customers have to say about us and our extended service plans, visit warrantech.com

 
And if you have a similar story or advice to offer our customers, be sure to share it with us here.

Filed Under: advice, customer, extended, plan, service, tablets, warrantech

When Is An Extended Service Plan Worth The Investment?

By: Jeff Hatch

December 09, 2015

You did it. You finally worked up the gumption to buy the one product you’ve debated purchasing for months. Whether it is a brand new car, technologically advanced appliance or the latest electronic gadget, you’ve made it through second guesses, financial calculations and a lengthy checkout line to finally make your purchase. Relieved and excited, you smile as the sales associate rings up your coveted item. 

As you daydream about how wonderful life will be with your new “toy,” you realize the sales associate asked you a question. You beg their pardon.

“I asked what sort of protection plan you’d like. We have a number of extended warranty options,” the associate replies.

Your smile fades. Apparently the decision making isn’t quite over after all.

*****

Does this sound familiar? For many people, the question of whether or not to purchase an extended warranty (more appropriately referred to as an extended service plan, or ESP)* is a tough one, and may not be a decision they are prepared to make. When is such a purchase advisable? Will it save money, or just add cost to a purchase? The answers to these questions depend upon a number of factors specific to each purchase. Consider the following before you reach the point-of-sale in the future, and you may save time and avoid stress:

*NOTE: While many store associates and consumers consider the purchase to be an extended warranty, this is often not the case. Many extended plans are not truly adding on to the original manufacturer’s warranty, but rather, extend the post-warranty service options and are therefore more appropriately referred to as an extended service plan, or ESP.

What is the product and who produced it?

Reputation is always an important consideration when attempting to predict the longevity of a product. Some types of items are statistically more likely than others to need repairs in their first few years of use. According to Consumer Reports, for example, computers, self-powered lawn mowers and certain refrigerator designs top the list of items most likely to fail. 

It is important, also, to consider whether the product you’re buying incorporates cutting-edge technology or is a first-generation product. With less of these products existing in the marketplace, there is a higher likelihood of glitches or problems that may not have been discovered during testing. Also, factor in what company created the product you are purchasing. Do they have a history of releasing products before the “bugs” have been worked out?

How much does the product cost and how tough would it be to replace?

If purchasing an expensive item, it is important to consider how much repairs or replacement would cost versus the cost of an ESP. If the item is of critical importance to you, such as a computer used to make a living, an expensive part failure could be very detrimental. 

“For many people, peace of mind is the greatest benefit of an extended service plan,” according to Sean Stapleton, CEO of Warrantech. “They want to know that if their product should cease to function correctly, they will be covered, especially if replacement would be difficult to finance.”

Who is this product for and how will they handle it?

It is important to consider who will be using the product you’re purchasing, the environment in which it will reside, and the frequency it will be used. Are you buying a product for a young person? Is the item for use while on-the-go? Will you use the product routinely? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you may want the confidence and protection that the product will last. Knowing your end user and end-use environment is important when deciding whether to invest in an extended service plan. Always review plan information carefully, ensuring you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.

The next time you make a significant investment in a product, ask yourself these three questions and be prepared once you get to the point-of-purchase.

Filed Under: cost, extended, plan, product, purchase, replace, service, Warrantech

Top 10 Ways To Improve ESP Attachment Rates On The Retail Floor

By: Jeff Hatch

November 23, 2015

In the world of extended service plans (ESPs), extended warranties, or service and parts replacement programs, many consumers have become immune to the common tactics used to sell these programs. In fact, if your sales team is still selling the “what if” scenario to today’s ultra educated consumers, your store is losing out on valuable sales that help drive high-margin growth and revenue.
 
According to NBC News, extended warranties help fuel a booming $15 billion-a-year business; therefore, it’s imperative that retail sales personnel hone their sales approaches for “add on” sales such as ESPs. Through ongoing training and education, sales teams are better able to overcome “new” objections to these profitable plans and figure out which plan best suits the consumer’s need.
 
The below selling strategies are simple, but effective ways to help your sales team illustrate the value of ESPs and therefore convert more consumers:

  1. Get consumers’ attention — By stating the obvious such as, “This product is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty for only one year,” you may pique the consumer’s interest enough to have him/her asking more about warranty coverage.
  2. Listen to consumers’ answers — It seems simple, but often sales representatives get so busy pushing sales out the door, they don’t hear what consumers really want to know more about. If a representative addresses some of the comments consumers share during the sales process, then consumers may be more inclined to listen to sales talk about protection plans. Remember, always address consumers’ objections and point out how ESPs overcome the objection.
  3. Give options — Often consumers may be more inclined to purchase extended coverage if they know they have options. This puts them in the driver’s seat to select the coverage that best suits their needs. For example, offer extended or standard warranty coverage and let them ask questions about the difference, which will lead to the sale of a plan that they believe in.
  4. Stay positive — Much like in life, if you focus on the positives, you’ll more likely receive favorable feedback. Focusing on the strong features and benefits of the ESP, consumers may find the up front fee is well worth the investment.
  5. Expert source — Provide consumers with sales representatives’ credentials or the training they receive prior to selling on the floor. (This is most effective if the store posts signs on the floor about the quality of its staff.) In doing so, when a sales member states, “In my experience, ESPs are essential,” the consumer has a frame of reference for why this is a quantifiable statement. Testimonials are another great way to communicate value and benefits (leverage your personal experiences, your customer, your store’s customer, etc.).
  6. Brands that matter — We’ve all fallen victim to the brand game at one point in our lives and consumers are no different. Consumers generally buy the brands they think represent quality or status and frown upon unknown brands. But while some brands make a great washing machine, they may not make a great TV and it shows in the manufacturer warranty details (especially parts and labor). Your staff needs to know the details of the manufacturer warranties just as well as the ESP to help drive home the value extended coverage offers.
  7. Explain the fine print — Helping consumers better understand what’s covered, what’s not and why makes your sales staff their ally. This type of dialogue not only builds trust, but also gives sales staff an opportunity to reveal some of the holes in the manufacturer’s warranty. 
  8. Think about it — Once consumers have all the facts about the warranties or ESPs, it’s okay to let them think about their options. Have them walk around the store, talk to their spouse/significant other or speak with customer service representatives about the items they see coming back or how much it costs to repair various products. Often, a different source can be a welcomed change of pace for consumers who don’t want to fall victim to “sales hype.”
  9. Recommend it — If you believe in it, your customers will too. Familiarize yourself with the features and benefits and remind customers how costly repairs or replacements can be if they’re not backed by an ESP.  
  10. Ask “why not” an ESP — Sometimes the most obvious questions go unasked such as “Why wouldn’t you want to protect your purchase?” or, “What’s holding you back?” Once your sales staff knows the answer to why, they may be able to employ any number of sales tactics to sell or attach an ESP. 

ESPs add significantly to a retail organization’s bottom line because they don’t require inventory space or carrying costs and they offer high margins. Many consumers are receptive to buying ESPs, but they do need to be convinced to add a plan to their basket and are looking to your sales staff to communicate the features and benefits of the plans, as well as your organization’s commitment behind the plans. Sharpening your sales strategies — on and off the sales floor — is a critical step to increasing ESP sales and enhancing the value these plans bring to consumers.

Filed Under: benefits, extended, plans, retail, sales, service, value

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