Dave Duncan, president

Can you give me a bit of your company history? How did you become involved in the Tire & Wheel category?

When Safe-Guard was founded in 1992, the industry was moving away from only offering vehicle service contracts and credit insurance in the F&I office. As companies looked to grow and develop their product offerings, one of our dealer group partners did some customer research, asking, “what should be covered under a manufacturer's warranty, but is not?” The number-one answer was tires and wheels. We went on to develop the tire and wheel product for that partner, and we have since expanded it to our agent and OEM partners. It has since become a core F&I product for both Safe-Guard and the industry.

What makes your product different from others on the market? How do you differentiate it?

Safe-Guard's tire and wheel program offers industry-leading coverage with the best customer service in the industry. We put the customer first by using people, processes and technology to provide an integrated, efficient operation. This has allowed our partners to reduce administrative time on the phone and improve the customer's experience in the service drive.

In addition, Safe-Guard has been an innovator in bundled products. Since menu selling is trending towards shorter menus, combination products are essential in today's market. Tire and wheel, roadside assistance, windshield protection, paintless dent repair and key replacement protection can all be packaged to create custom combinations for consumers looking for multi-product coverage. The bundling of products is a simple solution that allows individual products to be presented as part of a larger combination product, saving space on the menu.

What is your primary sales channel? How do you market to that channel?

Safe-Guard's primary channels are agents, national retailer groups and OEMs. Through product development, turn-key service, training and customized collateral, Safe-Guard has developed relationships with the country's top dealers and agencies. In addition, more of our products are sold by OEMs than all other providers combined.

How has technology impacted Tire & Wheel in the last year, if at all? Do you see it having an impact in the future? Why or why not?

Speed has always been a top priority when it comes to tire and wheel claims. From credit card payments to Web-based submissions, Safe-Guard has always used technology to make the claims process faster and easier. Our team recently developed a mobile app, which allows tire and wheel claims to be submitted and inspections performed all from a mobile device. The app prompts the user through all of the steps for claims and inspections. All it takes to get started is a scan of the customer's VIN barcode. Technology will be a core part of tire and wheel and all F&I products going forward. Safe-Guard's technology strategy not only focuses on innovative mobile solutions, but also on integrating with existing platforms.

In your opinion, where is the greatest growth potential for the Tire & Wheel category?

The uncertainty surrounding the F&I regulatory environment will likely drive significant growth in the demand for tire and wheel, as well as other F&I products. We expect to see an increased focus on a diversified mix of F&I revenue sources as concern grows around increased regulation of financing reserve. No one can predict the timing or impact of future regulation; however you can start preparing yourself today to minimize that risk. Since tire and wheel is a core F&I product, with a strong consumer value proposition and a key driver of service retention, it is well positioned for steady growth as part of a broader F&I portfolio.