Gould says, 'We develop product specialists.'  -

Gould says, 'We develop product specialists.'

Gerry Gould has been in the car business for a long time, but he’s found a way to keep finance-and-insurance training fresh. So fresh that he and industry partner Damien Bullard won Bobit Dealer Group’s latest Innovation Challenge with their video training offering.

Outdoing six other contenders for the best new technology, Product Prep won 24% of votes at the 2023 Industry Summit in New Orleans, beating Line 5 by one percentage point.

Voters were impressed by Product Prep’s catalogue of about 110 hours of training content but particularly by an artificial-intelligence component that makes trainings unique to the user.

The “easily digestible” training material covers dealership fixed and variable operations across compliance and finance sales. Gould, owner of Gould & Associates, an F&I coaching and training provider, and training director of Bullard’s Product Prep, calls the platform a one-stop shop for franchised and independent dealer and agent training needs.

“We develop product specialists,” he says.

In its nearly four years of operation, more than 300 dealerships have tapped it for a total of nearly 7,500 current active users and 38,000 issued certifications.  

Customized System

Users can search its catalogue of videos in the format best suited to their learning styles. For instance, a user may wish to find a specific topic Gerry talked about in the past. He or she can search the learning system for any relevant material on the topic, including videos, text, documents and audio files, choosing those that best match their learning preferences. 

Dealerships can direct their staffs into required trainings based on the employee’s job description. Each employee then does progressive learning toward certification in particular subject areas, with accountability built in.

The partners say their training model is the only one in the industry that tests employees on the contracts used by their dealerships, and the tests can be customized to fit a particular dealership’s product agreements. For instance, a unique course can be generated based on an uploaded agreement.

The live training aspect, along with the AI capability, make Product Prep’s offerings “so powerful,” Bullard says. “That does not exist in the auto space currently.”

The platform automatically formats courses so they align with an employee’s dealership responsibilities, and the learning experience is further customized based on each person’s job title, learning goals and style. All that information is collected through a learner survey at the outset that familiarizes the AI-based system with each learner, said Todd Rothman, who led a team that developed the platform.

Users are tested on their knowledge after trainings, and if they score below 80, they’re directed to particular videos and other course materials to help them gain the knowledge required for their jobs. The system evaluates test scores and builds a customized learning path to fill in knowledge gaps so learners don’t need to revisit material they’ve already mastered.

User-Specific Training

In each training, the system interacts with the user in real time, as though a live trainer were sitting across the room and asking questions based on the trainee’s responses, even as far as conducting role-playing exercises on handling rebuttals and the like.

“It’s not scripted,” says Gould, who believes the AI-based training aspects can be less intimidating for trainees.

“It’s also without the stress of peer review, vendor review,” Bullard says. “It’s something a finance manager needs to do on their own.”

The tests can apply to service staff, as well as sales. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “They "They need to know what the contracts say, too,” Gould says, “to know what’s covered and what’s not covered, how to make claims, the information you go over on each contract, and service down to key replacement.”

Managers can also review system reports across multiple metrics to track employees’ certification progress, so trainees are held accountable for their learning.

“Say a finance manager takes a vehicle service contract course that goes through everything,” Bullard says. “At the end of the certification, he gets a failing score of 76% on a test – the Product Prep software can direct him to all relevant Gerry Gould resources to help him build knowledge in areas he has difficulty with, allowing him to improve his scores the next time around. Say he doesn’t log in or participate. Our system has event triggers that are able to prompt him to participate and get on track.”

Deep Material

Gould and Bullard, who developed the training system in 2017 for a particular F&I agency, then partnered in 2020 for a live training component, say it’s the only industry solution that offers both fixed operations and compliance training, plus training that can be taken live or via recordings.

“Look at all those videos!” Gould exclaimed during his and Bullard’s comical Innovation Challenge presentation. “It’s crazy!’

Gould’s video training content alone encompasses more than 100 Practical Pointers videos built from live training sessions he conducts every two weeks that include audience question-and-answer sessions with up to 50 participants. The platform has an additional 23 videos between compliance and business development center trainings.

Each month’s live training sessions are built around a theme. The training catalogue has some repetition built in, but “repetition is the mother of learning,” Gould says, and by searching the catalogue, users can interact with the software to enhance knowledge about any given subject.

In addition to Gould’s decades of accumulated F&I knowledge, the partners utilize material licensed by the Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals and the Association of Dealerships Compliance Officers for compliance-related training and testing.

They say their offerings also benefit agencies by boosting their presences.

Bullard says live training combined with AI capability makes the trainings 'so powerful.'  -  IMAGE: Product Prep

Bullard says live training combined with AI capability makes the trainings 'so powerful.'

IMAGE: Product Prep

“The system is built to be self-managing,” Bullard says. “Agencies can enroll their own dealers, assign their own courses or learning paths, and include their own unique content.”

A dealership can let managers create new enrollments for various courses and modify existing enrollments.

Rubber Hits the Road

The duo say the offerings help industry professionals improve their numbers. An example they give is New York-based finance manager Ashley Rodgers, who was new to finance when she sought out Product Prep for help in boosting her profit performance.

Before taking any of the trainings, she was seeing a 180-day average finance back-end profit per vehicle of $610 in early 2020 and less than one product per deal over 45 deals per month, Bullard said.After immersing herself in Product Prep with weekly live coaching events, Rodgers built work tracks, rebuttals and finance processes and saw “dramatic” results in profit and product penetration by the end of that same year, in the middle of the Covid pandemic. Today, Bullard said she gets on average 80 customer meetings per month, a back-end average profit of $2,380, and a little over two products sold for each completed deal.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Mitchell is executive editor of Auto Dealer Today. A former daily newspaper journalist, her first car was a hand-me-down Chevrolet Nova.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today

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