SAN FRANCISCO -- General Motors is on a hiring binge to build a direct sales force for its branded F&I products as the company seeks a foothold in the competitive space.
GM rolled out branded F&I products nationally last year while taking over the business from captive-finance arm GM Financial. This year, GM plans to double its direct-sales force to more than 80 employees as it seeks to gain sway dealers with the power of brand-name products.
The competition, notably Ally Financial through its GM Protection Plan, are “going after all of the OEMs, whereas we are exclusively devoted to our GM dealers,” Ken Mac, director of extended protection products for GM, said on the sidelines of the show here.
Meanwhile, Ally this week announced a new flagship vehicle-service contract, Ally Premier Protection, along with a new dealer technology platform that it bills as easier to use.
GM is intensifying its push in a crowded market where it can be difficult to shake dealers from the status quo. The F&I sales team has been moved under GM’s customer care and aftersales division, from GM Financial.
Beyond the brand name, Mac said dealers who sign up for GM protection plans -- GMC Extended Protection Plan, for example, or Chevrolet Tire and Wheel Protection -- get marketing support and “expert F&I development training” from its field staff. Nearly 1,000 of GM’s 4,300 dealerships have signed up to sell the products, Mac said.
GM provides marketing content from its brand websites for use on dealers’ own sites. They include short videos that explain what Guaranteed Asset Protection is, for example.
Still, Mac acknowledges that there is confusion among dealers about which is the GM provider. Even though Ally’s license to use the GMPP name expires in late 2016, the former GM captive still sells under that brand. Mac said it’s the job of sales and F&I personnel in the field to clear up any confusion.
“We know we have to earn this business,” he said. “But we want the dealers to be exclusive with us.”
Like GM, Ally also is touting and providing ample training and consulting help for F&I dealership staffers. The new service “better positions us to respond to the needs of a diverse dealer network," Doug Timmerman, president of Ally Insurance, said in a statement.
Ally said it would test Premier Protection at about 60 dealerships starting in March. A nationwide rollout is planned for the summer.