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Tracking Anti-Theft Sales

February 2008, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Kelli Wood - Also by this author

With the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) saying a vehicle is stolen every 26 seconds and F&I offices armed with a variety of product options, the anti-theft category is definitely relative these days. The main challenge is today’s consumer psyche, but dealers say there are ways to overcome this obstacle.


“The American psyche is a phenomenon,” said Rand Mueller, CEO of Guidepoint Systems, which offers a GPS recovery device. “People believe that they have insurance, so if their car’s stolen, they say, ‘Just give me a new one.’ It’s a disposable society. But consumers are going to pay higher insurance rates over time if their car is stolen.”


A good place to start is with the type of coverage the consumer will use to insure his or her vehicle. F&I managers can then build their pitch from there.


“Consumers don’t realize that when their vehicle is stolen and not recovered, they not only lose the car and down payment, but the cost is not fully paid by the insurance company,” said Bob Corbin, president and COO of Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS). “The warranty paid by protection products can make up for this, and can even go as far as replacing the vehicle.”


There are several strategies dealers can adopt to increase acceptance rates of vehicle protection and recovery products. The key is to get creative, and not to take a one-dimensional approach to this product category. Dealers and product providers offer seven tips and recommendations for taking on this market.


1. Be able to relay prevention and recovery stories to your customer


F&I managers should research and collect newspaper articles about recovery or prevention success stories. This makes the chance of the customer’s vehicle being stolen more of a reality. It also speaks to the success of the product technology while illustrating what a problem theft can be.


One such story appeared in the Providence Journal this past December. A woman was delivering groceries to a 92-year-old couple when her car became stuck in the snow. A man at the scene said he’d help her push her 2007 Mercedes — a dealer loaner — out of the snow. After a couple of attempts the man suggested that he get in the car to help guide it out. By that time, several other people had joined the effort. When the vehicle finally broke free, the man took off. Equipped with LoJack, the vehicle was later recovered by police.


“Sonic’s dealership finance managers are trained to share the benefits of anti-theft products in terms of what a stolen vehicle will cost a consumer beyond their auto insurance, the inconvenience of theft, and disclosure of publicly available statistics fro auto theft in the customer’s geographic area,” said Richard O’Connor, vice president of finance and insurance for the dealership.


2. Stay current with local, state and national vehicle-theft rates


If your dealership or surrounding area has particularly high theft rates, this may make the customer realize how important protecting his or her vehicle is. A good source for this information is the NICB, which provides lists on communities with the highest theft rates. Local law enforcement offices should be another place dealers check with, as well as the local newspaper’s police blotter.

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