Safe-Guard Products, the white-label finance-and-insurance giant behind many automaker programs, deployed an end-to-end solution for its partners to more effectively capture missed F&I opportunities.
The tool allows customers to purchase F&I products on a site branded by the retailer or automaker partner. It is the latest example of F&I companies crafting consumer-facing content or purchasing portals to maximize sales in digital environments.
The aftermarket sale of F&I products has existed for years, with dealerships or direct-to-consumer vendors marketing to customers through robocalls, text messages and letters in the mail, said James Tom, vice president of direct to consumer at Safe-Guard. The company’s solution — which consists of direct marketing offers, back-end support through a call center and an e-commerce website — aims to drive aftermarket F&I product sales using information sourced directly from the retailer or automaker client and other third-party sources.
“We use that data to really personalize the experience, to customize the product offerings and also help understand the profile of the customers that buy from us,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential here. We’re just scratching the surface.”
For example, Safe-Guard is accruing information about a potential customer’s vehicle mileage to find out if the factory warranty will soon expire, and tracking if a vehicle has been resold to make sure they’re not marketing to the wrong owner, Tom said.
As digital retailing trends continue, consumers are getting more comfortable with learning about F&I products online and, hopefully, buying them, said David Pryor, president of Safe-Guard. The desire for an end-to-end marketing and retailing solution for F&I products to capture opportunities missed at point-of-sale came simultaneously from manufacturers and retailers, he said.
“They were both having the same challenge — a challenge the industry faces in general — which is how do you drive consumers back to your stores?” Pryor said.
F&I product sales generate service business, which helps retention. Customers who return regularly to a dealership or brand for service tend to be more loyal than those who seek out third parties, he said.
Online used-vehicle retailer Vroom signed on to use the solution last year, Safe-Guard executives said. The partnership includes email marketing, use of a branded e-commerce site and call center services if customers have questions on F&I products. Safe-Guard builds a unique site for each client, Tom said.
A few automaker and dealership groups signed on to use the tool for 2021, though Safe-Guard wouldn’t disclose which companies. Safe-Guard works with 55 brands that include automakers and public and private retailers.
Customers can purchase the products online with a credit card directly from the site. Safe-Guard offers 0 percent financing on F&I products offered digitally, and can extend terms up to 36 months. This helps keep pricing close to what customers would have paid had they purchased F&I products alongside their vehicle and rolled the cost into a monthly payment.
Safe-Guard also is looking into month-to-month subscription programs for products such as vehicle service contracts to offer more flexible options.
Working with customer data provided by automakers and retailers allows the F&I product company to determine additional opportunities to sell extra products more effectively.
“We’re not out there trying to build a consumer-facing brand,” Tom said. “What we’re really doing is helping our clients build up their brands.”