Channel | Highlights

Twice As Nice

In its second year, Agent Summit doubled in size and attendance.

Agent Summit 2012 closed with a final headcount of 358, more than double the number of attendees the event attracted in its inaugural year. The industry’s only agent-only conference and expo was held at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace and was presented in partnership by Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom magazines.

David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of F&I and Showroom, said he was pleased at the turnout and grateful for the hard work turned in by the speakers and staff. “Agent Summit’s success is no accident,” Gesualdo said. “It’s the result of the years of experience behind it, from those who organized the show to all the speakers and, of course the agents who made the trip.”

The show kicked off on Monday evening with a welcome from Gerry Gould, director of training for United Development Systems (UDS), who served as this year’s master of ceremonies. “I thought this year’s Agent Summit was a slam dunk for having only been in its second year,” Gould said. “The information exchange along with the wealth of knowledge provided by each speaker in just a day and a half was a pleasant surprise!”

Gould introduced John Braganini, a veteran “superagent” and founder of Great Lakes Companies, who delivered the event’s evening keynote address. “Outstanding event!” Braganini said. “I’m looking forward to next year!”

The event continued on Tuesday morning, which started with an opening keynote address from trainer Paul Webb, who discussed the three ways people process information — visual, auditory and kinesthetic — and how agents can prepare dealers and F&I managers to connect with customers who favor one approach over the others.

Webb was followed by Safe-Guard Products International’s Luis Garcia, who led a workshop on role-playing in the F&I office. Garcia went the extra mile, setting the stage with a desk and chairs to demonstrate a service-contract close with an audience member.

This year’s luncheon speaker was Ron Reahard of Reahard & Associates, who delivered a stirring presentation on changes taking place in the F&I office and how dealers — and agents — are responding. “This year’s Agent Summit was the best yet,” Reahard said. “More agents, excellent workshops with great topics.”

The Tuesday schedule continued with workshops on selling products in the service drive and boosting product sales through customer-tailored F&I presentations, led by Tom Luzader of Dealership Income Development and GSFSGroup’s Bart Carpenter, respectively. Carpenter was followed by perhaps the most interactive session: a primer on reinsurance that was led by Randy Crisorio of UDS and Greg Petrowski of GPW and Associates. The pair began with a one-on-one interview format before fielding a long list of questions from agents in the crowd.

“Reinsurance is a marketing device that can help capture dealers. If an agent is knowledgeable, that gives them an edge,” Crisorio said. “The topic is always dominant in meetings, and Agent Summit gave us the opportunity to discuss it in an open forum.”

Reahard & Associates’ Rick McCormick closed the Tuesday schedule with “5 Ways to Take Your Agency From Provider Rep to Partner,” a panel discussion that included Protective Asset Protection’s Tim Blochowiak, David Duncan of Safe-Guard Products International, Garret Lacour of RoadVantage, Resource Dealer Group’s John Luckett and Ricky Wolfe of Interstate National Corp.

The show continued with a workshop and a second panel on Wednesday morning. First up was Great Lakes Companies’ director of training, Steve Veldkamp, who stirred the crowd with a pointed and often humorous presentation on identifying low-performing products and improving penetration levels. Veldkamp, a proponent of using video as a training tool, included several examples from his dealer clients.

“I received a lot of positive feedback,” Veldkamp said. “But the most gratifying part was getting the opportunity to take agents inside the F&I office and show them why some customers walk out with the products they need to protect their vehicles while others leave empty-handed.”

Wednesday’s final educational session was led by F&I Administration Solution’s David Trinder, who convened a panel comprised of Patrick DeMarco of Ristken Software Services, Open Dealer Exchange’s Ron Greer, American Guardian Warranty Services’ Daniel Lievrouw and Matt Nowicki of Innovative Aftermarket Solutions. The group tackled the issues affecting connectivity between dealers, lenders and product providers and fielded several pointed questions from the crowd.

The show closed with a moving address from famed NFL referee Jim Tunney, who drew on his experience on the field as well as his career as a high-school principal and volunteer with the Special Olympics.

“Jim Tunney alone made it all worthwhile,” Reahard said. “A great person, amazing life and a truly gifted and inspirational speaker. Thank you, Agent Entreprenuer, for your continued contribution to our industry!”