Welcome to Agent Summit 2014
Welcome to Agent Summit 2014

Once again, Agent Summit 2014 – the fourth year the conference has been held – is breaking records. There are more days, with more sessions, for agents to grow and expand their knowledge base. There are more sponsors and providers who will be in the exhibition hall, ready to talk about their companies and products in the most relaxed atmosphere agents will find anywhere in the country. And there are more attendees. More agents than ever have seen the value in this conference, which is a credit to the advisory board, which, every year, takes the feedback from attendees and works hard to improve every facet of the show.

The advisory board was led again this year by Randy Crisorio, president and CEO, United Development Systems, and included Jimmy Atkinson, COO, AUL Corp.; Joel Kansanback, president, ADG; John Luckett, senior vice president, The Warranty Group; John Peterson, president, The Oak Group; Jim Schaffer, vice president, Northeast Dealer Services; and Matt Nowicki, vice president, IAS.

The board, Crisorio noted, has done a great deal of work putting together an agenda that is full of invaluable content to help agents be more productive and land more profitable deals in 2014.

The first two sessions, on Monday afternoon, will focus on technology and training, with two strong panel lineups packed with industry heavyweights. The technology panel, led by Johnny Garlich, president, Heart Dealer Financial Services, will take a closer look at the changing landscape of technology impacting the F&I office, with the goal of helping agents make sense of the rapidly-changing “E” landscape – eRating, eContracting and eSignatures are just the beginning. And the second panel of the convention, led by Lyle King, partner, Auto Services Group, will focus on training. Should agents go with an in-person or online program? How often should training occur? What areas should you be targeting? These are a few of the questions our expert panel will address.

“Certainly you expect to hear about the latest industry technology to keep you at the head of the pack – and you will hear it all,” said Crisorio. “And there will be real training for growth that will give you a jump start lining your pockets this year. Growth that stems from training the right people, with the correct frequency and by what means. There are a lot of training mediums to be had today.”

On Tuesday, the show will turn its attention to helping agents get ahead in their business. Steve Richard, co-founder and chief content officer, Vorsight, will focus on getting dealer appointments – and will be making live sales calls during the session, so come prepared with a few prospects you would like to secure appointments with, and be ready to learn his tips and tricks.

Tom O’Neil, founder, O’Neil Financial Services Agency Inc., will then be examining Captive Coercion – he will review the growing practice of lenders tying products into their loan approvals, and give solid advice on what agents can do to defend their business.

After lunch, Steve Burke, CEO, Portfolio, will take a closer look at how agents can use reinsurance programs to build their enterprise. He will analyze how these programs should be structured to minimize taxes and maximize profits – this is a session no agent can afford to miss.

Brian Casey, partner, Locke Lord LLC, will follow Burke with a presentation on the State of Compliance. He will not only review what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is doing, but will cover all of the regulations on the horizon – and what agents should be doing about them.

Finally, Eric Winegardner, vice president of client adoption, Monster Worldwide, will address something no agent or agency can afford to ignore: recruiting. He will give agents the details on how to identify quality people, how to convince them to join your organization, and why it is so important that every agent is constantly on the lookout for the right people.

“Three sessions are dedicated to solving general agent problems we face every day: namely, getting in front of a dealer, recruiting quality people both for you and your dealers and dealing with the competitive pressure of factory F&I products,” said Crisorio. “Please look these people up on the agenda & Google their names: Steve Richard of Vorsight and Eric Winegardner of Monster.com. Plus, fellow agent Tom O'Neil will deliver an exciting workshop on Captive Coercion. Tom has a ton of experience countering factory pressure and will share what it takes to successfully defend your business interests. Also, don't miss enterprise building through reinsurance by industry executive Steve Burke. And given the current state of regulators, namely the mysterious CFPB, you've got to hear what attorney Brian Casey has to say.”

A Third Day of Content

This year, Agent Summit has added another day onto the agenda, designed exclusively for agency principals. These three sessions will be dedicated to running the business of the agency.

The first exclusive session will focus on where to take the agency next – which product categories are surging? What challenges can the agency turn to its advantage? What industry trends should every agency be looking to capitalize on right now? John Braganini, principal, Great Lakes Companies, will lead a powerful panel that will look to answer these questions and more.

“Challenges are aplenty with so many F&I protection products looking for real estate on our menus, but opportunities are around every corner,” said Crisorio. “Leasing is surging, quality used car operations are barely tapped, environmental protection continues to play an important role, customer retention is key for every dealer and merchandising products like power train warranties seem to be present in every city. I guarantee you'll find money in this session.”

The second agency-principal-only session will feature James Duggan, principal, Duggan Bertsch LLC, reprising his popular session from last year on Taming the Estate Planning Beast. He will go into greater detail on everything agency principals need to be thinking about when it comes to the next generation – who will take over the business? Is the estate secure? What can you do to minimize the tax burden on survivors? These are all important questions that every agent-entrepreneur should be thinking about.

The final session of the day will be a panel moderated by Mike Conley, CEO, Conley Insurance Group. It will feature two providers and two agents – and will explore what each side is looking for when it comes to creating the perfect partnership. “Two providers will walk the plank with two general agents in a segment called ‘Model Partnerships’,” said Crisorio. “And it is what it says. Providers will describe their model agency operator, and agents will describe their model provider. Can we find partnership here is the question? We definitely want – and expect to hear from – the attending agent body on this one.”

All throughout the agency principals’ day, there will also be exclusive giveaways, sponsored by ECP. “All in all principals-only should prove to be a terrific exchange of important information, and ECP has seen fit to put the frosting on the cake,” said Crisorio. “At the conclusion of each segment, ECP will give away a timepiece. I think I've heard the theme being called ECP – entire car protection all the time. Thus they've dropped the cash on three nice awards: a Luminox travel alarm clock, Tissot sea-touch dive watch and Rolex Datejust II.”

There will be something for every agent, at every level, at this year’s show. We are excited to bring you such a powerful group of speakers and topics, and we want to hear from you – after the show, let us know what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what you would like to see next year. Welcome to Las Vegas, and we’re glad you could join us for Agent Summit 2014!