Branding of F&I products has become popular, especially with captive finance companies. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, BMW Financial Services, Ford Motor Credit Co. and Toyota Financial Services all have come out with their own branded products in the past couple of years.
Douglas Herberger, president of Allstate Dealer Services, admits that Allstate Dealer Services didn't have a competitive lineup of F&I products before 2011.
"We were losing credibility. We had a thin portfolio of products," he said in an interview in Orlando last month."Our market share with vehicle service contracts started at a very low percentage. We have continued to hold a leadership position in GAP."In addition to rebranding existing products, Allstate added Allstate-branded F&I products such as tire-and-wheel policies, prepaid maintenance and excess wear-and-tear coverage for lease customers.
Allstate has also added its high-profile "Mayhem" national ad campaign to point-of-sale materials at dealerships.
Herberger said that via its network of independent agents, Allstate is signed up with more than 10,000 U.S. dealerships, including 700 additions in the second half of 2012.
A program to place Allstate agents in dealerships to sell auto insurance has been slower going. Allstate launched the program at last year's NADA convention after an 11-store pilot.
At the end of 2012, Allstate had agents in 34 dealerships nationwide, Herberger said. He said Allstate hopes to double that number in 2013. Dealerships earn a commission on new business and on renewals, the company said.
As part of the package, dealerships with a body shop also become part of the Allstate "Good Hands" network, which generates repair business for the dealership, he said. Allstate also wants to sell the dealership insurance for its business operations, Herberger said.
Ralph Larson, corporate finance director for Dick Hannah Dealerships in Vancouver, Wash., says his 13-store group switched to Allstate-branded F&I products last year.
Sales penetration is up, he says, even though wholesale and retail prices for the Allstate products are higher than those for the products they replaced.
"It's gone up purely because of the Allstate brand name," he says.
Larson's group also started housing Allstate agents in 2012, although, he says, the deal was not linked to the decision to sell Allstate's branded F&I products.