Article

Certified for the Future

The magazine’s compliance pro breaks down Compliance Summit’s new certification component. He explains how it’s designed to address the industry’s true regulator.

August 2016, F&I and Showroom - WebXclusive

by James S. Ganther, Esq. - Also by this author

If I could predict the future, I’d be at the nearest 7-11 buying one (and only one) lottery ticket. But here I am writing this article, which tells you all you need to know about my powers of prognostication. Still, I can’t help but occasionally peer into my crystal ball and try to interpret what I see. And what I see is a little scary — at least for those who aren’t prepared.

Here’s what I believe: First, the Federal Trade Commission (directly) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (indirectly) issue regulations that affect the retail automotive world. But when it comes to actually impacting a dealership financially, neither the FTC nor the CFPB are as tough as they think. 

I also believe the local plaintiff’s bar does more to affect dealership behavior than distant federal authorities. Consumer lawyers have a direct economic stake in finding, exposing and exploiting dealership violations. And trust me, it is very lucrative.

I also believe that technology, particularly social media, will eventually supplant consumer lawyers as the most effective factor in regulating dealership behavior.

Lastly, I believe no one trusts what dealerships say about themselves. However, consumers tend to believe what total strangers say about dealerships, especially if those strangers just bought a car or had one serviced at a dealership. And that’s the power of social media.

Facebook may not seem like a big threat, as scathing reviews posted there are only read by people connected to the reviewer who care or are in the market for a car. But people who go to DealerRater.com or Cars.com are almost all in the market for a car. Get blasted in those or similar sites and your topline revenue will take a hit.

In short, a herd of ticked-off customers with internet access will have more power to influence dealership behavior than the FTC or CFPB. That’s not just the future; it increasingly describes our present.

If the fair, ethical and legally-compliant treatment of customers, as broadcast across social media, is the future of dealership regulation, how should dealers respond? The answer is obvious: Create a process that ensures customers are treated fairly, ethically, and in a legally-compliant manner.

At the end of the day, most federal consumer-protection laws are designed to do just that. So doing right by regulators will also satisfy the real regulators: your customers. 

The process must include a consistent, verifiable training program that includes the legal requirements for each job description at a dealership, not just F&I personnel. Per the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average dealership has 67 employees, of whom three or four are F&I managers. That means a program that only trains 4% of the workforce is going to fall short 96% of the time.

To address this need, Compliance Summit is cooperating with Automotive Compliance Education to offer the ACE Certified Compliance Specialist program to attendees at no additional charge. Certification candidates will have access to online, interactive, video-based training on a broad range of dealership compliance topics. On Tuesday, Aug. 30, leading industry compliance experts (and yours truly) will provide live test preparation, followed by the certification exam after lunch. Those who pass will receive the ACE Certified Compliance Specialist designation.

ACE is designed to assure continuous proficiency. Certified Compliance Specialists will be required to recertify annually by reviewing a current “Annual Update” module that focuses on developments relevant to their certification level over the preceding year, and passing the recertification exam.  

Making the certification more meaningful is the program’s emphasis on processes that apply the theoretical aspects of regulatory language to real-life situations.

ACE is spearheaded by Gil Van Over III, founder and president of compliance auditing firm gvo3 & Associates. The idea spawned from the constant violations he came across while reviewing dealership operations, infractions that could have been prevented with proper training. “I created ACE to fill that need,” he says.

In addition to launching Compliance Specialist certification at Compliance Summit, ACE will provide certifications tailored to F&I personnel, sales associates, sales managers, business office personnel, and compliance officers. Each program will be offered online at www.AceCert.org, which will go live following the conclusion of Compliance Summit. Live review and test sessions are also expected to be part of future Compliance Summits.

The programs are designed to provide the basis for customer experiences that satisfy both the federal regulators and the real regulators: customers. That’s how smart dealers will face the future.

James S. Ganther Esq. is the cofounder and CEO of Mosaic Dealer Services. Email him at [email protected].

Comment

  1. 1. F&I Dude [ August 04, 2016 @ 01:08PM ]

    Dude - what's up with the bowtie... like seriously?

  2. 2. QueenofCars [ August 06, 2016 @ 07:19AM ]

    I LOVE the bowtie "Dude"! That's all you have to say about the article? Seriously.

  3. 3. Spattman [ August 06, 2016 @ 08:26AM ]

    Jim, will this ACE certification be available through compliance companies, like yours, or only through gvo3? After the freebie at the conference, will there be a fee for this? I like the idea of annual updates, something that is missing in AFIP. Like any certification, it appears to serve 2 purposes. First and foremost it educates the employee. And it also may insulate an employer to a small degree if a "bad actor" insists on remaining non-compliant after being certified. Thanks for the informative article.

  4. 4. Jim Ganther [ September 15, 2016 @ 12:18PM ]

    Spattman:

    Thank you for your kind words!

    Ace certification will be available through the ACE website (www.AceCert.org), or through a number of national F&I providers and administrators that have requested distribution for the benefit of their agents and dealership clients. Until the details are ironed out, I can't reveal who those companies are, but they are all industry leaders and collectively cover a majority of the retail automotive space.

    Dealership employees who have taken the relevant Mosaic content will be eligible to sit for the appropriate certification exam and receive their framed diploma for $49.50.

    Cost of ACE certification varies depending on the level chosen. Sales Associate certification costs $95. F&I Specialist costs $495. Compliance Officer (the Big Mack Daddy) costs $595. There are also certifications for Sales Managers, Business Office, Product Specialist, and Automotive Compliance Specialist. Annual recertification costs 10% of the original enrollment price.

    I hope this answers your questions. If not, you know where to find me!

 

Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email:  

Blog

On-the-Point

Jim Ziegler
A Faster Horse

By Jim Ziegler
The Alpha Dawg wonders where the demand for driverless vehicles is coming from and has good news and bad news — but mostly bad news — for Fiat Chrysler and Cadillac dealers.

Strangers in the Mall

By Jim Ziegler
The Alpha Dawg makes new friends, stands up for Cadillac dealers, charts the rise of the independent lots, and reconsiders free trade agreements.

You Can’t Handle the Truth

By Jim Ziegler

Watch Out for Grizzlies

By Jim Ziegler

Opening Observations

Over the Curb