Channel | Highlights

A Look at What Agent Summit 2013 Has to Offer

By: Toni McQuilken

The Agent Summit 2013 show will be held March 4–6 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. This year’s show has a record number of attendees registered, and will feature a wide range of speakers, sessions and exhibitors to help agents get ahead. As of press time, in addition to the sessions, there are 40 exhibitors with booths on the expo floor, and more than 60 official sponsors.

The event will kick off on Monday, March 4th, with a day-long Participation & Reinsurance Symposium. Sponsored by The Warranty Group, the event will feature a welcome address from Jim Ganther, president, Mosaic Compliance Services, and will include four full sessions packed with information to help agents better understand, sell and work with reinsurance programs. Following that will be the first evening keynote address, from Joel Kansanback, president, Automotive Development Group. He’ll look at what agents should be doing to build a better business and position themselves better for future growth.

Tuesday will kick off with a welcome address from Luis Garcia, vice president of sales and business development, Safe-Guard Products International; followed by an opening keynote address from Scott Karchunas, president, Protective Asset Protection. The keynote will look at the economics behind the automotive industry as a whole, then will drill down to look at how this affects F&I sales specifically — and how agents can take advantage of it.

From 10:35–11:30 on Tuesday morning, agents will have two choices of a panel session and a workshop: The first, “Training Mediums,” is a panel session featuring moderator Ron Reahard, president, Reahard & Associates Inc.; and panelists Ray Jennings, director of training, GSFSGroup Training; Garrett Thorpe, vice president and director of training, The Impact Group; John Vecchioni, director of F&I development and national trainer; and Steve Veldkamp, training director, Great Lakes Companies. The group will tackle the issue of various ways to convey training messages, in-person and online meetings. They’ll explore issues such as which types of training work best and how often sessions should be scheduled.

The workshop will be hosted by Michelle Damiano, “misschief” and creative director, Impressions WHQ. Damiano will walk agents through setting up their online presence and branding efforts, and teach them how to provide dealers with the information they need to know, when they need to know it.

At 11:35, Rich Moore, director of training, Protective Asset Protection, will tackle the topic of dealer prospecting. He’ll discuss what agents are doing right and wrong when calling on potential new clients and present new tactics and techniques to use to get more appointments, including real-life examples.

At 2:05, after lunch and a celebrity keynote address from Mike Rayburn, agents can attend a session on new account acquisition, hosted by Peter Chafetz, national sales training manager, Allstate Dealer Services. He’ll look at the entire new account acquisition process and best practices and analyze common mistakes that even the best agents can make.

At 3:05, James Duggan, principal, Duggan Bertsch, will give his advice for helping agents understand and take advantage of comprehensive planning for private clients. “Taming the B.E.A.S.T.” will examine elements such as buy/sell planning, estate planning, asset protection, succession planning and tax planning.

The final session of the day, at 4:35, will explore how technology in F&I has evolved over the years, and what agents need to do to adapt and stay ahead of the curve. The panel discussion will be moderated by Tony Wanderon, president and CEO, Family First Dealer Services, and include industry thought leaders, including Doug Dingman, partner, Pro Consulting; Matt Nowicki, vice president retail software, IAS; John Peterson, president, The Oak Group; and Brian Reed, president and CEO, Intersection Technologies.

On Wednesday, the first session will begin at 9:05 am. Gerry Gould, director of training, United Development Systems Inc. will look at “menu discipline” — in other words, how to use the F&I menu to it’s fullest potential to sell more products and secure each car buyer’s investment. His approach will set the foundation for a more consistent and dependable process agents can bring back to their F&I managers.

At 10:05 there will be another two sessions for agents to choose from. The first will be hosted by speaker Gil Van Over, principal, gvo3 & Assoc. He’ll look at compliance, and why agents should absolutely not act as the “compliance cop” for their dealers. He’ll look at strategies and answers to have ready for when dealers ask, and teach agents how to use them effectively.

At the same time, Mike Legros, vice president, North American Automotive Group, will moderate a panel on the best practices and challenges agents should be aware of in 2013. The panel will include Arden Hetland, CEO, American Financial and Automotive Services (AFAS); Jim Maxim Jr., president and CEO, MaximTrak Technologies; Rick Messinger, partner, Dealer Associates Inc. (DAI); and Bob Volatile, owner, Northeast Dealer Services. The group will explore the best practices every agent should be adhering to if they want to elevate both their own performance and boost their agency’s bottom line.

The show will close out at 11:35 on Wednesday morning, with a keynote from David Robertson, executive director, AFIP and AiGA. He’ll end the show with tips and tricks to take all the information agents have gathered in the other sessions and on the expo floor, and turn them into actionable plans to move forward with. It’s not enough to just listen; agents need to act on what they learn, and Robertson will help bridge the gap.

Bonus Content for Agent Principal Attendees
In addition to the show content, there is an additional bonus for registered attendees – the chance to participate in the annual Compensation Survey.

Agency principals who register before Feb. 28 will be invited to participate in the survey, which will track a wide range of factors such as compensation plans and whether or not the agency has a Web site. The answers will all be “blind”, meaning none of it will be attributed to a single person or agency, but will all be aggregated to get the averages. This was done to allow participants to describe their compensation plans in detail. Only those who participate in the survey will be given the results.

With the right level of participation, Randy Crisorio, president and CEO of United Development Systems Inc. and chairman of the Agent Summit advisory board, believes the results will be a watershed for the agent segment. “Most of us started as individual agents and then built our companies by hiring people who can sign dealers,” he said. “When you’re in that transition phase, it’s difficult to form a compensation plan that attracts top talent and is affordable.”