NADA's Carl Ragsdale: Consumer education will curb F&I lawsuits.
The program's budget has not been determined.
NADA officials met with executives of the largest dealership groups, both public and private, during the association's convention in New Orleans this year.
Carl Ragsdale, NADA's COO of dealer services, told Staff Reporter Donna Harris the primary discussion topic was F&I education.
Some large dealership groups have been targets of media exposes of dealer finance practices. Is that why you met with them about finance training and education?
No. I know the chains are trying to do this right. We (NADA) are not in a position to dictate anything. As an association, our responsibility is to be sure that all our dealer members - chains and individuals - are aware of all the products and services NADA has to offer.
The chains have disclosure and accountability procedures in place. The problem is that there are 16 million retail auto transactions a year.
How many of those go bad? One hundred? Ten percent? It is an infinitesimally small number. But there are people making money off suing them, and it galls me.
What was the meeting about?
A couple of years ago, we reached out to the chains and visited with most of them. We would take to them a sample of everything we do and say: "Can you use this? Can you use that?"
It was good for communication and for the relationship. We asked what we can do to help and what we can do to improve.
This is sort of a continuation of the first time we met with them.
NADA woos big retailers for finance campaign
We invited the top 13 public and private chains. You can get so many you don't have much dialog.
A lot of them already use a lot of our services. NADA has a partnership relationship with (the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals), and we want to make sure they know about AFIP, that there are training materials available.
What was the goal of the meeting?
The thrust was vehicle financing. We just are telling them what NADA is doing and what we as an association and individual dealers can do in the future. The conversation was about the direction of consumer education.
We have asked them to help us, but no one has written any checks at this point.
How many big retailers are using NADA's training programs?
We don't track it that way.
I know that AFIP has recently had conversations with Sonic Automotive about certification (of F&I managers), and Asbury Automotive Group is using AFIP to train and certify F&I managers.
What have you done to appeal to large dealership groups?
We have told them we would be glad to make our training specific to their customers.
If any significant group of dealers came to us asking us to come to, say, Salt Lake City, and train them, whether it is an individual dealer or a chain, we would do it.
What have the meetings accomplished?
They probably informed dealers a little bit and made them realize that NADA is a great resource.