What do millennials want in an F&I product? Leave it to college students to decide.
The first F&I Innovator of the Year competition from Northwood University and EFG Cos. did just that. Now, there are three student winners and a new F&I product in development.
The product, called Watchdog, provides vehicle security, maintenance updates and more via a smartphone app and other devices. The students who envisioned it, sophomore Richard Durso and seniors Jonathan Vollmuth and Collin Ulvund of team Quantum Integration, will split a $25,000 prize. EFG will develop, market and sell their product, and Northwood, in Midland, Mich., will get a percentage of the revenue. EFG expects the product to come to market in one year. The Irving, Texas, company said it will hold off on releasing pricing until it gets "under the hood of the product" and does some consumer research.
The competition began in September and ended mid-November. Eighteen students were divided into six teams of three. Each team worked with a dealership F&I mentor for one hour a week.
The teams, in their final presentations to the judges, showed the practicality of their F&I product in the marketplace and its potential for commercial sales in franchised dealerships.
Throughout the competition, the teams uploaded video diaries to YouTube showing their progress, but the products themselves were kept secret until the end of the contest. Five of the six teams completed the competition.
EFG was scheduled to publicly crown Durso, Vollmuth and Ulvund's Quantum Integration team the winners last week.