In what ways have the most recent changes in product supply chains, inflation trends, and consumer buying habits over the last few months influenced or impacted the fine-tuning of your retail warranty programs and business strategies? What can you tell dealers about your current roster of programs that makes the programs stand out as a perfect fit for their customers?
Dawn Taylor, Chief Revenue Officer – AFTER, INC.
The acquisition of After by D&G brings an exciting addition to our roster of service plan solutions: a subscription service plan program that holds great promise for retailers.
Subscriptions enable retailers to cultivate a loyal customer base that remains engaged with their brand. Subscribers tend to stay connected, provide feedback, and refer others to the service, leading to increased customer lifetime value. Furthermore, subscriptions provide retailers with opportunities for upselling and cross-selling, leveraging personalized customer journeys to introduce additional products or services.
One often overlooked advantage of the subscription model is its positive impact on sustainability. By encouraging long-term engagement with a product, subscriptions reduce the need for replacements, thereby minimizing waste and contributing to environmental preservation. Through repair and maintenance, products are given a longer lifespan, ensuring a more sustainable approach to consumption.
Christopher Costin, Senior Director, Global Business Development Warranty & Service Programs Div. – AIG
Inflation has impacted costs across the supply chain, specifically in the HVAC segment, and we’ve found it’s important to continually assess pricing to ensure it reflects current market conditions and strikes a balance between offering attractive pricing to the customer and maintaining the economic viability of the program. Additionally, it’s important to tailor warranty programs to fit dealers’ and customers’ needs and preferences. By offering different levels of coverage and add-on options, it allows customers to select their preferred level of coverage and makes warranty offerings appealing to a wider range of customers.
Michael Zmugg, Chief Revenue Officer – ALLSTATE PROTECTION PLANS/SQUARETRADE
In this economic environment, consumers want to make the most of their money. Spending decisions are even more price-driven, but they’re also looking for convenience and ways to make life easier. We continue to work closely with our partners to deliver value and convenience to their customers through product and service innovation. We also work with merchants to deploy protection plan offerings as a strategic lever that helps capture market share and sell more product, while strengthening customer loyalty. With over 140M active plans, our scale, investments in technology and service, vertically integrated underwriting capabilities, coupled with the Allstate brand and portfolio of protection products, give us a structural cost advantage and the ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience that other providers can’t match.
Brian J. Olson, Vice President, Warranty and Lender Solutions – ARCH INSURANCE GROUP
A recurring trend following major economic cycles is the increase of “why buy here” marketing programs. Whether it is an OEM building brand awareness or retailers growing their customer base, programs that combine protection products + advertising is rising. Early versions of these programs were basic, giveaway benefits customers received post sale — like a free toaster when you open a checking account. Modern versions are extremely sophisticated and include multiple steps: 1) low-cost, high-value giveaway benefits to attract new customers; 2) customer-focused up-sell options to extend time, coverage, etc.; and 3) robust profit participation offerings. When combined with the proper marketing strategy and timing of economic cycles, the results are historically rewarding for the consumer, retailer, provider, and brand.
Jeff Unterreiner, President, US Connected Living – ASSURANT
Assurant is enabling our retail partners to offset market challenges through several solutions. Our proprietary sales optimization program, which continually performs assessments to adjust and adapt retail programs, helps our partners increase attach rates of support and protection programs online and in-store. Assurant is also helping retailers generate revenue from trade-in programs for hearables, wearables and other connected devices. Repairing and refurbishing traded-in products creates new sales opportunities and extends the life of existing products, which reduces pressure on the supply chain and eliminates e-waste. And providing premium tech support to help customers install, connect and get the most out of their products reduces returns, lowers the environmental impact of fuel, packaging, etc., and shrinks the need for replacement products and parts.
Matt Ehn, Vice President & General Manager, Client Services – ASURION
Regardless of the market conditions, our success has always stemmed from understanding consumers’ changing needs and evolving to meet them. Changes to our products or programs often center around improving the customer experience, which in turn fosters loyalty and repeat business for our partners. There are numerous approaches to create an inspired experience, but one word consistently underlies our strategies: ‘simplify.’ We help partners simplify their point-of-sale messaging, claims process, repair experience and access to support. The easier our programs are to navigate, the more effective they are at helping our partners reduce product returns, grow declining eligibles, and inspire future and repeat purchases.
Ted Satish Moorthy, President – CENTRICITY
With over 40 years of retail experience, Centricity has been through these same economic ebbs and flows alongside our partners. Recent economic challenges, including supply chain issues and inflation, have again made consumers reluctant to make major purchases without completely understanding all their options. That is why we have worked closely with our retail partners to ensure the menu of extended service contracts we offer provides the greatest long-term value possible, and also why we fine-tune and coordinate our communications efforts with our partners to make sure consumers fully understand the benefits our protection provides.
Armed with Centricity’s customized plans, and our robust technology allowing complete transparency into critical metrics, retailers are able to track and maximize attach rates, long-term customer satisfaction, and bottom-line revenue.
Woodrow H. Levin, CEO – EXTEND
The gyrations and overall negative sentiment in the economy has translated into a renewed necessity for all companies to focus on increased margin and profitability. Extend enables more than 1,000 of our merchant partners to increase margin, and thus, profit, on each sale through our best-in-class product and shipping protection.
Extend’s post-purchase protection suite drives incremental revenue, and gives customers greater peace of mind when making purchase decisions. Extend’s tools give customers optionality at checkout, and increase a merchant’s overall purchase conversion rate.
Growing from a single-product company, with only product protection, to a multi-product company, with product and shipping protection, has allowed Extend to better serve our merchant partners and provide tangible value as they face headwinds in the economy.
Leigh Mascherin, Vice President, Warranty Sales & Account Management – FORTEGRA
The last few years of uncertainty have led consumers to seek products and services that can deliver much-needed peace of mind. In response to this, Fortegra’s product development and underwriting teams are working together, and in conjunction with our partners, to add consumer value to existing programs. For example, we added ID theft to our electronic protection plans. We conduct market research to find these key add-ons that resonate with consumers and drive attachment rates. Another focus this year is strengthening our service network and increasing coverage to provide quicker and more efficient repair services. This helps us serve the consumer better and lower the overall program costs, creating a win-win scenario for consumers and dealers.
Jennifer Monasterio, President – MACK WORLDWIDE WARRANTY
Today’s post-pandemic world is our new reality. We believe going “back to the future” is the key to today’s success.
This includes going back and re-evaluating clients’ programs by product, price, placement, and promotion. Our focus is to strengthen these pillars for our clients. We believe this is the winning combination and leads to the highest success rates. Going back to the basics by consistently providing effective training tools to educate sales staff is crucial to the success chain. Providing creative marketing content to drive more add-ons to e-commerce sales is an important and vital addition to the overall portfolio.
What is true today and into tomorrow is that our business existence relies on providing customers with the value and peace of mind that we protect their product investments.
“Back to the future” is where we need to go.
Sean M. Hicks, CEO – NEW LEAF SERVICE CONTRACTS
With the uncertain economic times in front of us, there is no better time for customers to be buying service contracts than now. Service contracts help the customer hedge against the inflation trends, by fixing the repair costs to the cost of the service plan at retail. Additionally, they protect customers against the long delays for parts coming from overseas due to changes in product supply chains. New Leaf will replace the product so that the customer doesn’t have to wait forever for a repair part to come in.
COVID hasn’t been good for a relationship business like service contracts. However, no other product sold by the retailers does more to help build brand loyalty with the customer than the service contract.
With traffic at retail starting to slow down, New Leaf has taken this opportunity to get into the stores to train salespeople on the ins and outs of the service contracts that they are selling. In recent years, this training has been done via Teams or Zoom and not face to face. We believe that the face-to-face model is far better. New Leaf has traditionally left it to the servicers to provide parts, and with the impacts to the supply chain, we have gotten more involved in assisting service providers locate parts to complete service events. We are getting back into the stores for account management as well.
Chris Smith, Chief Service Avenger – ONPOINT WARRANTY SOLUTIONS
We are seeing many of our retail partners moving to a bigger mix of furniture, pro-kitchen, and mobile technology in their retail showrooms as a result of changing buying habits. It has forced warranty providers to assess the services and warranty products they offer. OnPoint has addressed those opportunities through its acquisition of Guardian Furniture Products, allowing us to service all mixed-retail clients.
Mike Frosch, President – PERSONAL SAFEGUARDS GROUP
Our message and approach continue to be consistent – the manufacturers and retailers should bring most of the components of their service contract programs in-house. With many simple options to own the customer experience, yet not get caught up in regulatory or accounting issues, it has never been easy to own the customer experience, eliminate unnecessary layers of frictional costs and align your service contract program with how you want your customers treated.
You do not have to go through a third party, and pay as much as 40 percent more, to work with an insurance carrier. Often, third parties are not aligned with your business objectives or your desire to maximize your relationship with your customer.
Michele Gloeckler, Vice President of Sales – PROTECTALL
Supply chain issues coupled with inflation continue to shift consumer buying behaviors, which is why it is crucial that retailers are aligned with partners that provide data insights regarding spending patterns, pricing elasticity, and growth opportunities. At ProtectAll, we take a unique approach to our partnerships by continuously monitoring supply channels, market trends, buying behaviors, and consumer demands. The ProtectAll methodology is simple; we take a consultative approach to providing the right program at the right time in order to drive the highest return and customer satisfaction levels. We also understand that the world continues to evolve, which is why we invest in technology, training, and automation while continuing to provide unique program options. For instance, many retailers want more control over their protection programs, which is why we created reinsurance solutions for Nationwide Marketing Group. This program will allow members true ownership, insight, tax benefits, and investment income. At ProtectAll, we don’t want our retailers to just weather the storm; we want them to flourish.
Nancy is a contributing editor for Dealerscope.