Channel | Highlights

Are You Ready for Agent Summit?

Launched in 2011 as the automotive industry’s first and only event designed by and for independent general agents, Agent Summit will celebrate its seventh birthday with a new venue, the addition of a compliance certification component, and the first appearances of two nationally recognized sales, management and leadership experts as keynote speakers.

Show chair David Gesualdo credits the work of the Agent Summit advisory board — helmed for the fifth consecutive year by Randy Crisorio, president and CEO of United Development Systems Inc. (UDS) — for building an agenda that tackles the most pressing issues facing agents today and delivers the education, motivation and profit centers they need to remain competitive.

“Without our advisory board and the input they receive from our loyal attendees, we could not claim to be an event designed for agents by agents,” Gesualdo says. “With thanks for a job well done, we embark on our seventh Agent Summit with nothing but the highest expectations.”

Pre-Conference Events

Agent Summit 2017 kicks off on the evening of Sunday, May 21, with a welcome reception, where attendees can pick up their show badges and join their fellow agents and executives for a happy hour, sponsored by MaximTrak.

The Agent Summit registration desk, sponsored by Accelerated Service International (ASI), opens at 5:30 p.m. Sunday evening and at 8 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

On Monday, for the first time, Automotive Compliance Education (ACE) and its executive director, Gil Van Over, will offer Automotive Compliance Specialist certification to Agent Summit attendees. Certification requires attendance at a two-hour review session that begins at 8:30 a.m. and a passing grade on the 90-minute, 200-question exam that follows. The review session, exam and framed diploma for graduates are offered free of charge to attendees holding full show passes.

Van Over, who on Tuesday will also present “Compliance of Today,” a workshop designed to clarify the agent’s role in dealership compliance efforts, believes compliance education is “critical” to agency operations.

“Agents need to walk the compliance fine line,” Van Over says. “Dealers often look to them for compliance, but the agent needs to be focused on production using compliant practices. The agent needs to be current on compliance issues as well as have an understanding of when it is time to call in the compliance experts.”

ACE certification will be followed by the fifth annual Reinsurance Symposium. Portfolio has agreed to sponsor a lunch (from noon to 1 p.m.) and two networking breaks with Reinsurance Symposium sponsors. The educational slate is divided into two panels, each one addressing the two principal reinsurance models.

“CFCs: Changes, Threats and the Regulatory Horizon,” will begin at 1:05 p.m. David Kaseff of MarksNelson will serve as moderator, and he will be joined by SouthwestRe’s Bill Bigley, Matt Gibson of Protective Asset Protection, National Auto Care’s Zack Matta, Rhonda Pinkerton of The Tribal Domicile and Weill & Mazer’s Andrew Weill.

“The IRS has taken a significant interest in the taxation of insurance companies over the years. Of particular interest to them has been the taxation of captive insurance companies and how they are being utilized,” Kaseff says. “Now, with the additional authority for them to gather information and the notion of ‘transparency’ becoming the new norm in tax compliance, taxpayers are being required to disclose more and more under this new regulatory regime.”

After a break, Kerper and Bowron’s John Kerper will helm “NCFCs: Change, Threats and the Regulatory Horizon, for which he will be joined by Brian Feldman of SpencerRe, Resource Agent Group/First Extended’s John Luckett, Jay Sharpnack of CNA National Warranty Corp. and GSFSGroup’s Bruce Stricklin.

“It’s an honor to work with such an accomplished and distinguished panel to discuss NCFCs at the Reinsurance Symposium,” Kerper says. “The increased limits for 831b companies in 2017, along with the increased scrutiny of the same from the IRS, provide opposing arguments for dealers who may be interested in using an NCFC, and I am very interested in hearing these experts discuss this and other issues affecting NCFCs.”

Agency and F&I Development

The Agent Summit agenda will “officially” begin at 3:35 p.m. Monday with a brief welcome address from Randy Crisorio, who will then introduce the event’s master of ceremonies, Robert Harkins of American Guardian Warranty Services (AGWS).

“I look forward to once again joining agents from around the country at this very special event,” Harkins says. “Agent Summit is a true meeting of the minds, and I am honored to be part of it.”

Harkins will warm up the crowd for Monday evening’s keynote speaker, Dr. Kerry Johnson, MBA, PhD. Better known as “America’s Business Psychologist,” Johnson is a bestselling author, a well-traveled sales coach, and an in-demand motivational speaker. His address, “Peak Performance: How to Increase Your Business by 80% in Eight Weeks,” is sponsored by EasyCare and GWC Warranty.

“Agent Summit is about sharing best practices, and Kerry Johnson’s teachings have contributed to ours and our EasyCare agents’ success for over 20 years,” says EasyCare’s CEO Larry Dorfman. “Everyone who spends an hour or so with Kerry will get a lifetime of useful tools to succeed.”

Monday’s schedule will conclude with an opening reception in the Agent Summit exhibit hall, sponsored by AUL Corp., from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The exhibit hall will reopen Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. for a breakfast sponsored by American Financial & Automotive Services.

Breakfast will be followed at 9:10 a.m. by “No One Can Stop You But You,” a keynote address delivered by former NBA player Walter Bond. A self-described “average” college basketball player, Bond went undrafted out of the University of Minnesota but, after adopting a “peak performance mindset,” he carved out a career in the pro ranks and applied the same mindset to a second career as a leadership coach and motivational speaker.

“Walter Bond is the ultimate entrepreneur, a self-made man who made it to the highest level of professional sports through sheer force of will,” Gesualdo says. “He comes highly recommended, and I can’t wait to see him take over the Agent Summit stage.”

After a book signing and half-hour networking break sponsored by Dealer Owned Warranty Company, the first education session will begin at 10:35 a.m. “Selling Dealers — What Prospects Want to Hear” will be presented by the dynamic duo of AUL Corp.’s Jimmy Atkinson and Eric “Frenchy” Mélon of IAS.

The tag-team presentation will focus on methods agents and agent principals can use to sharpen their dealer prospecting skills. Atkinson and Mélon bring expertise in getting in front of dealers, designing effective presentations, and building lasting partnerships.

“I think the key to selling dealers is preparation and homework that leads to a meaningful dialogue on a sales presentation,” says Atkinson. “The more targeted the presentation, the higher the chances of success. When you help the dealer see their needs and provide a value-added solution, you’ll have success most of the time.”

Mélon said the session should be of interest to agents who believe in the value of their training and product lineup but don’t close as many dealers as they should. “Everybody claims that they can train. Everybody claims that they have the best products. Very few people can claim that they can successfully and consistently close dealers. Before you can close the sale, you have to be able to open a relationship and create intrigue.”

ARMD Resource Group will sponsor a 10-minute networking break that will end at 11:35 a.m., when Dealer Commitment Services’ Glen Tuscan will take the stage to deliver “Integrating the Digital F&I Process,” a session that will cover the latest dealership digital solutions and discuss how they can help create a unique and compelling F&I experience.

“I plan to provide unique insight into how integrating a digital, interactive F&I experience provides a new opportunity to connect with dealer clients by integrating mobile technology for a superior product purchase experience, while creating customer engagement and dependency to your dealers throughout the ownership experience,” Tuscan says.

Lunch will be served in the exhibit hall at 12:20 p.m., sponsored by Warranty Solutions. At 1:45, Brian Reed of F&I Express will serve as moderator for “The Great Debate — F&I Products Online,” an all-star panel devoted to the contentious topic of whether and how to offer and price F&I products on provider and dealer websites.

Reed will be joined by Phil Battista of Darwin Automotive, Brian Green of Cox Automotive, Roadster’s Michelle Denogean, Dylan Doran of Western Fidelity Insured Services and The Impact Group’s Mark Thorpe.

“As the car-buying and F&I processes have evolved over the last few years, the industry has discussed the opportunities and challenges of online F&I,” Reed says. “The ‘Great Debate’ session is focused on facilitating an honest discussion about F&I products online and an open debate around the evolution of how F&I products are presented to consumers.”

After a 15-minute networking break sponsored by 700 Credit, John Braganini of Great Lakes Companies will take the stage at 2:50 p.m. for “How to Recruit, Hire and Train Agents,” a session devoted entirely to the challenges and opportunities that await agent principals as they staff up their agencies.

“Finding agents is the key to growing any agency, and John is an expert,” Gesualdo says. “Every agent principal in attendance, no matter their level of experience, will benefit from his advice.”

Braganini’s session will be followed by a half-hour networking break, courtesy of Allstate Dealer Services. Up next is Gil Van Over’s aforementioned “Compliance of Today” session at 4:10 p.m., followed by another break, sponsored by 700 Credit.

Tuesday’s final session is “Capitalizing on Lease Opportunities,” a panel session that will begin at 5:15 p.m. Moderator Joshua Sonnier of American Financial & Automotive Services will convene a panel featuring Bradford Blizzard of RoadVantage, Rick Meinke of ECP Inc. and Brown and Brown Insurance’s Rick Roesel. They will lay out a plan for capitalizing on the still-growing lease market, including everything from building a product lineup to delivering specialized training.

“Customers who choose to lease simply value a vehicle in different ways than a traditional finance or cash customer. These differing values drive their need for particular F&I products as well,” Sonnier says. “Identifying these values and presenting the right products with the right process leads to success.”

At 6:00 p.m., agents will be invited to join their fellow attendees, speakers and organizers for an evening reception in the exhibit hall, sponsored by Nobilis Group.

The Home Stretch

Wednesday morning will begin with an 8:00 a.m. breakfast in the exhibit hall, sponsored by CareGARD Warranty Services, followed by three educational sessions divided by two brief networking breaks; sponsored by Agent Entrepreneur and Portfolio, respectively.

The first session, “Training Enrichments,” will begin at 9:10 a.m. This tag-team presentation will feature UDS’s Gerry Gould and Ron Reahard of Reahard & Associates.

“The program we are designing is aimed directly at ways agents can maximize their clients F&I performance as well as compliance efforts,” Gould says. “Show me the money!”

Reahard says the pair plans to spotlight new ways agents can deliver increased product sales, higher profits and compliant processes.

“A dollar bill has two sides. Both are necessary. Attendees will discover that, while there may be significant differences in F&I training programs and processes, every agent must evaluate what initial and ongoing training program will best match their dealers’ unique needs.”

At 10:20 a.m., Automotive Development Group (ADG)’s Tony Troussov will take the stage to present “Securing Business Through Coaching,” a 45-minute crash course in the coaching methods top agents use to conquest new dealers and maximize F&I production.

“If you find yourself in reactive mode with your dealers, it is time to upgrade your game,” says Troussov. “This session will focus on providing you with some tools on how to be an effective F&I performance improvement coach.”

The final educational session, “M&A in the F&I Industry,” is sponsored by Portfolio and open only to agent principals. At 11:20 a.m., Gina Cocking of Colonnade advisors will leverage her extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions to deliver a can’t-miss session for agency owners.

“2017 is a strong M&A market for F&I companies, especially for those with persistent and quality revenues,” Cocking says. “I am pleased to be joining Agent Summit to discuss the trends we are seeing and the positioning for companies that are considering selling.”

The agenda will end with closing marks from Randy Crisorio at 12:05 p.m. An ardent supporter of the show since its inception in 2011, Crisorio has been instrumental in Agent Summit’s evolution from a small conference to a major industry event. He believes agencies of every size benefit when agents and agent principals convene and collaborate, no matter the economic climate.

“Business has been great, but to take the next step up, join fellow agents from across the country in an idea exchange that will write your future,” Crisorio says. “There is no limit to what we can accomplish together.”

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