Commentary & Insights

Right-Sizing Extended Electric Vehicle Warranty And CPO Policies, an Interview with Josh Bass, VP of Innovation at JM&A Group

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"It's all about ensuring that JM&A Group stays ahead of the competition, specifically in the F&I Product space."  The  MAPConnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022  is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted by the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit with Josh Bass, Vice President of Innovation at  JM&A Group .  The Automotive Industry: A Transformation  Josh has had an exciting career, "most of my roles have centered around strategy and product innovation," he shares. Josh has spent most of his career at the front and center of emerging ideas and innovations. He started in the dotcom space and the e-commerce world "when everything was moving from brick and mortar to online retailing," Josh says. "I have seen the evolution and innovation that took place there and then spent many years in the energy industry." Terms like customer centricity and the evolution of home-based technologies were becoming prominent. Josh was fortunate to be involved in roles focusing on leveraging emerging technologies and trends to shape strategy and product innovation. In 2012, Josh continued his career by joining JM Family Enterprises, an $18 billion privately held company based in Deerfield Beach, Florida and parent company to JM&A Group, as Director, Sales Planning, then Vice President of Strategy and Business Transformation and subsequently, VP of Corporate Enterprise Strategy. Continuing his role as an agent for change, Josh became Vice President: Innovation, a new role within JM&A Group, a leader in the F&I industry for more than 40 years. In his new role, he is focused on combining the synergies of marketing and product development, "ultimately, it is about listening to our dealers and customers to leverage intelligence in the right way in order to provide great products and a great experience for our dealers," Josh says.  "It's all about ensuring that JM&A Group stays ahead of the competition, specifically in the F&I Product space," Josh says. "Most importantly, we focus on how our product helps dealers with their performance and, in turn, supports the end-user buying the product."  Predicting and Building for the Future "I think on a personal level, you've got to be curious, and you've got to be trying to connect the dots of things happening both within and outside your industry," he shares. However, Josh adds that an additional layer of sensibility is required. "I think where you can get caught up or trapped if you're looking way too far out and not being sensible about what's manageable and doable today." Josh cites bridging emerging trends with current trends as a critical factor in identifying how you can make things actionable in the present. However, he explains that a balance needs to be found, "not dreaming too far into the future and not being myopic and missing out on what's happening in your industry today." Connecting Marketing and Product Development for a Competitive Advantage "It's about the voice of the customer and our dealers." Listening to the dealers and the customers to fully understand their insights is vital when crafting products.  "Collaborating with our dealers to make sure that we're providing products and services as well as branding that is going to help them progress in ultimately understanding the customers' needs" is essential, Josh says. JM&A Group is committed to helping our dealer partners understand their customers better. Josh explains that leveraging consumer insights helps dealers effectively sell F&I products and brings a level of sophistication to the overall buying experience.  The E.V. Customer: Dealers need to be ready to answer sophisticated questions There are, of course, similarities between the traditional buying experience, those purchasing I.C.E. vehicles, and those purchasing EVs. "They are ultimately still buying a vehicle, but there are differences for sure," Josh shares. "We have seen that they tend to be a more sophisticated buyer, that typically has done more research prior to their purchase; EV customers ask more questions."  EV customers want to understand how the battery will maintain its health over time. In addition, they want to know how and where they will charge their vehicles. New technology within the vehicle, such as dashboard information relating to the car's performance, is another aspect that dealers need to be equipped to answer.  JM&A Group focuses on helping dealers create a compelling sales experience through the recent launch of their EV+ Protect™ brand.  "One of the reasons we launched the EV+ Protect™ brand is because we want to make sure that when customers come in to buy a new vehicle, they understand how to protect it and have the peace of mind that they have the coverage to prepare them for the road ahead."  JM&A Group has been providing service and maintenance F&I products to dealers for many years now and prides itself on listening to its dealers. Josh explains that collaboration with dealers allows for opportunities to be realized, "we understand that there is an opportunity to have a comprehensive brand that supports and covers our products." He goes on to share that "helping our dealers and their customers understand the buying experience to include a tailored set of products that are specific for a unique technology."  Inviting Change through Exceptional Relationship Management "We develop strong relationships with our dealers and maintain continuous dialogue," Josh explains. "Ultimately, we consult with our dealers to ensure that when emerging technologies and processes change within the dealership, we are right there to support them " he says.  "EVs are the next piece in the line of evolution in our industry." "Dealers have always been good at adapting to change in the industry, and JM&A Group is there to ensure that they are getting what they need in terms of product, insight, training and perspective on how to adapt to the changes." It all comes back to the relationships between JM&A Group and its dealers and customers. JM&A Group also used dealer feedback to create and launch a new EV warranty product under the  EV+ Protect™ brand. "We believe we have the most comprehensive and unique F&I warranty product on the market today," says Josh. The product provides comprehensive coverage for used vehicles. "Customers buying any EV vehicle can be provided comprehensive coverage for the vehicle as well as protection for the battery for the duration of that warranty period."  A Culture of Innovation "It is a continuation of our corporate culture to find new ways of doing business," Josh smiles as he answers what excites him most. "For us to be innovative in the market, and particularly to remain ahead of the curve relative to our competition while ultimately providing innovative products and services for our dealers, is the most exciting part." JM&A Group is committed to trying new things. "Part of innovation requires you to be able to try things that may be new to a market or new to the customer," says Josh, "some things are going to be successful, but there might be times where we don't do as well as we thought." Overall, JM&A Group has a deep commitment to learning from those experiences to convert them to success in the future, the freedom to create, and the byproduct of true innovation and, ultimately, learning.  In terms of launching the EV+ Protect™ brand, the team, through its field team, has made it accessible to dealers to gain a complete understanding of EV F&I products. "We can promote products and the brand. In addition, we have point-of-sale materials and information for customers during the buying experience." The MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit "We're going to be discussing the performance of EVs as well as the vehicle's impacts on claims considerations that you have to take in terms of pricing F&I products. These aspects will also impact product design and marketing, ultimately selling F&I to the buyer."  Josh will be teamed up with James Davies from J.D. Power, who will have unique insights and data perspectives on EV technologies currently operating in the market. "We are looking forward to also hearing the perspectives of the audience and participants, having a great dialogue around these topics," which will make it an engaging session. Join Josh in the interactive session, "Right-Sizing Extended Electric Vehicle Warranty And CPO Policies"  MAPConnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit  at the Westin Southfield Detroit on October 25th and 26th.  www.mapconnected.com
Reimagining The Parts Return Process, an Interview with Jennifer Jones, Global Lifetime Warranty Manager at Ford Motor Company

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The Career Journey: Jennifer was encouraged by her high school science teacher to pursue her love of math and science with a career in engineering. When it came to applying to colleges, Jennifer was set on Michigan State, "it was the only school I applied to; I knew I wanted to go there." The  MAPConnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022  is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted by the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit with Jennifer Jones, Global Lifetime Warranty Manager at Ford Motor Company. After completing her undergraduate studies and an unappealing automotive coop, Jennifer chose to return to school to become a professor in engineering. Jennifer had enjoyed tutoring during her time as an undergrad, and it seemed a natural fit, coming from a family of teachers.  Jennifer's journey, however, would reintroduce her to the automotive industry: After completing her Master's thesis, Jennifer began working on four-wheel drive systems at Chrysler but would soon join Ford Motor Company in the Glass Division. "It was interesting, and it gave me great experience. I did rotations in different manufacturing areas, with my last rotation as a Production Supervisor at the Dearborn Glass Plant." Jennifer shared Ford has "a real focus on including everyone," noting DEI was an area Ford invested in even early in her career. She went on to work in four-wheel drive systems and engine mounts in product development for trucks. After being promoted to Supervisor of her team within Powertrain, Jennifer and her team launched hydromounts in Ford truck applications, which at the time was not commonplace. Working with new technology was "fascinating and challenging," says Jennifer.  After a downturn in the market, Jennifer took on a role in Engine Service, a position that she wouldn't necessarily have considered before but a role that ended up opening her career to a new trajectory. Jennifer was the primary liaison between engine product development and the Customer Service Division, focusing on understanding engine issues and working on how to service them. "We also were working on future vehicle service, how to plan for service, and engine repairs." "After being in that role for about four years, I had a manager that had moved to Quality, and he suggested that I apply to a new position there," Jennifer shares how she began her work in her current department. At the time, the department was called Warranty Spend, and Jennifer was experienced in powertrain warranty spend from her time in Engine Service. "My experience in Product Development made me a perfect fit for that role, and subsequently, I was promoted to manager and then Global Lead."  Global Responsibility: the importance of adapting the lens through which you view the objectives Jennifer is still responsible for the metrics of warranty spend and cost as well as the global tools and processes for their delivery. One of the pillars within Ford Motor Company is to treat customers like family. "I had thought about that and realized that the name of the Department needed to reflect that value," Jennifer says. "We should be working on improving warranty for our customers," and after a few iterations, "Warranty Spend" was replaced with "Lifetime Warranty." The exciting part about this name change and how it reflects what Jennifer and her team are building, is that the primary focus is on improving the warranty experience. Jennifer stated, "Within that, there are certain aspects of controlling costs because that impacts the customer too. But, if we focus on improving quality instead of controlling warranty, we will have happier customers and lower costs." Inspiring your team to make the right decisions "One of the things I love about being part of Ford is that there is a large focus on integrity, which is experienced through company culture and leadership," says Jennifer. In addition, it's about being a part of a team that is highly dedicated to what they do "within a Company that cares about its people." Jennifer shares that a long time ago, before remote work was a point of discussion, her Manager at Ford offered for her to work from home after her maternity leave. Jennifer's daughter will be attending college this year and will be following in Jennifer's footsteps, becoming an Engineer with plans to go into the Automotive Industry.  How Technology is Impacting and Driving Change "It's such an exciting time to be in the automotive industry," says Jennifer, "as technology progresses, our ability to take care of our customers increases." For example, a few years ago, customers could use USBs for updates. This progressed to updating your vehicle through connecting to WIFI and has now progressed to over-the-air updates.  "As an industry, we have the opportunity to reorient ourselves" Product development no longer ends when the vehicle is launched. "With developments in software, your vehicle can get better over time instead of worse, and it's a real mind-shift."  The Parts Return Process "The real purpose of parts return is to help us solve quality issues," Jennifer shares as she explains what she is most excited to talk about at the upcoming Vehicle Warranty Lifecycle Summit. "The ideas I want to talk about relate to how we can receive information from the dealers to solve problems faster." Integrating new technologies, such as video and virtual reality, allows for an integrated, real-time communication channel between the dealer and the OEM. To improve quality, how can the parts return process leverage technology and, more importantly, "leverage the relationship with the dealer to help us solve problems more efficiently."  Jennifer shares that a significant focus is also "how do we make the part return process easier and more consistent for the dealer?" She is interested to hear from dealers and other OEMs in terms of best practices. As with the name change to "Lifetime Warranty," Jennifer is keen to solve problems for all stakeholders faster.  Jennifer will discuss "Reimagining The Parts Return Process" MAPConnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit   at the Westin Southfield Detroit on October 25th and 26th.  www.mapconnected.com
Using Digital And Automation For Cost Effective Claims Processing To Optimize Operational Efficiencies, an Interview with Ed Roberts, COO of Bozard Ford Lincoln

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"They were the first to give me an opportunity because up until that point, I was homeless."  Meeting with Ed Roberts is always an experience that leaves an impact. A leader in the truest sense of the word, hearing his story allowed for a much deeper understanding of how he came to be building the Bozard Ford Lincoln brand, the team, and the culture. Understanding his journey, where it all began, gives a new perspective on Ed. His vision of the future: "Dealers have to change, and we'll probably be around for the next 100 years, but I hope we're different." The  MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022  is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted at the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit with Ed Roberts, Chief Operations Officer of Bozard Ford Lincoln.   Ed was offered an opportunity as an Apprentice Technician at a Ford Dealer. He had, up until that point, relied on selling glass and other items he was collecting from dumpsters to put food on the table. "I thought they were a cool brand, but honestly, they gave me my first opportunity," Ed shares.  It wasn't long before Ed got promoted to Team Leader and then Shop Foreman, and after working for Ford Motor Company in Michigan, he ran a satellite service center. When Ed's daughter was born, he left the dealer business for a couple of years but returned to work with people and customers; "the dealer business and the automotive industry fit perfectly with who I am."  "What I love most about Fixed Ops is that I get to give that opportunity back." Bozard Ford Lincoln's hiring strategy is in harmony with their personal development philosophy, "I did not have to go hire anybody to replace me when I moved into the COO role; I just moved someone up. Our growth comes from within, and most of the positions we hire for are entry-level spots," says Ed. "It all starts with employee loyalty because then they become your brand," his understanding of people and their needs has directly impacted not only his team but also the customers they serve. "Customers feel the culture of a store, and they want to be a part of it."  A Record-Setting, Impact-driven Mindset "We typically set records four or five times a year" Ed smiles, he has been with Bozard Ford Lincoln for over ten years, and it has been a prosperous decade for Ed and the Team. "I ask myself what I did today to make an impact, and sometimes, you get caught up on things that don't have a larger impact on the Business." Ed goes on to share that "just by asking yourself that question, you are putting yourself in an impact-driven mindset, and that starts to affect everyone around you; it becomes infectious." "It's intentional" Building teams and, consequently, culture requires having all the elements and channels designed with a sense of individualism. "You need to have an understanding of who a person is to connect with them," says Ed, "not everyone wants to work in service or sales; you need to find out who they are and create a path that allows them to be the most effective in their job."  The Future of Talent and the Industry "A lot of people talk about millennials and Gen Z's negatively, but the truth is, if you allow them to chase after a career path, you will be surprised at the results," says Ed. With the future of everything being digital, Ed understands how important it is to leverage young talent. "They grew up in a digital age where they embrace technology, and if we embrace that direction, we all win." "I think the shift towards electric vehicles has given us a new opportunity to make it cool to be a technician again." "We've shifted, and there has been a digital transition to how we communicate with the manufacturers," Ed says, "regarding claims, we can get instant feedback which helps immensely." This means that the industry can improve and grow by ultimately being more effective. When you intend to make everything as seamless for the customers as possible, the cascading effect is that the employees are positively affected in every way, and the brand is elevated. So many Vendors are technology focused, trying to improve the efficiency of the automotive industry through digital transformation, "it's good to take the time, to slow down and consider what they're trying to accomplish," says Ed. The automotive industry is decades behind in technology, and according to Ed, there is something to be learned from each person and company entering the space to drive the industry forward. In the last few years, "shopping habits have changed, but unfortunately, in general, the car buying experience hasn't," says Ed.  "I believe there will be a time when autonomous vehicles fully understand our driving habits," says Ed. He smiles and speaks of a future where vehicles will fire themselves at night, be serviced, and "be waiting for you in your driveway the next morning: no downtime." Ed acknowledges that there are timelines, and lifetimes, to consider but highlights the importance of forward-thinking, incremental steps being dependent on envisioning that future.  Ed will be discussing Using Digital And Automation For Cost Effective Claims Processing To Optimize Operational Efficiencies at the  MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit  at the Westin Southfield Detroit on October 25th and 26th. www.mapconnected.com
Transparency And Trust: Overcoming Negative Price Perception, an Interview with Art Shaw, CEO of RepairPal

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Culture, Manifestation, and the Desire to do good "I have built a framework from the best of everyone I ever paid attention to, and I don't read many books. I don't have a lot of time," Art smiles as he explains that he has a simple paradigm that has defined the RepairPal culture, "the right person doing the right job." Art meets every person during onboarding to ensure this value system remains the focus and cites their approach to people as the reason they are a 2021 Inc Best Workplaces Honouree: "effective teams that are fully remote." The MAPConnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022 is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted by the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit with Art Shaw, CEO of RepairPal .  The Art Shaw and RepairPal Journey "It is very simple; I am a poor kid, the first to attend college after high school in my family," Art explains that he paid his way through college, worked hard, and "got lucky." It was back in the 90s, and he had done well; he landed a job at Charles Schwab, where he stayed until 1999, eventually exiting as the Senior Vice President. After that, Art became the CEO, Board Director, or Founder of several companies ranging from management advisory to digital music distribution, artificial intelligence, and investment management. In 2012, Art took the reins at RepairPal, "I had learned that doing something I am proud of is important. Trying to help people is the foundation for running good companies, and I perform better in companies that are doing good for those around them."  "You can do good and do well," Art explains; he had learned early on in his career that there is a way to do right by the consumer while also building great companies and, by doing so, attracting great people and partners. "We have partners like USAA who work with us not just because of what we do but because of who we are," Art beams as he describes the relationships they have built through and with RepairPal. His time at Charles Schwab comes up throughout the conversation, and Art reflects on his time there with an unmistakable sense of pride and appreciation. The parallels experienced from a consumer trust perspective in both industries were clear to Art, "feeling empowered as a consumer" in a space that traditionally has a level of uncertainty attached to it means that you can build a great business if you have the right tool: "fair price for car repairs."  Through luck, Art had come across a team in auto repair who had a significant data set and the desire to do good, but the business was not sustainable. "I realized that like with Schwab, people were really afraid," the stats were overwhelming, and there was an opportunity to build trust. And so, Art went around San Francisco with the audit professionals who had built this dataset of "what's a fair price?" They went to different independent auto repair shops and asked a question that no one could answer, "your daughter is in Nashville, and her car breaks down. Where do you send her to get a car fixed?" Your car is built thousands of miles away, in Europe, Japan, or elsewhere in the States, and this is a tightly engineered ecosystem. A referral from a family member who knows nothing about cars or, even more specifically, cannot diagnose your car was the only overwhelming stat on how people were finding repair shops in an environment where trust was the issue. The relationships or connections people have with their cars are primarily accepted within the industry, but the numbers show that in 2022, people still don't know where to get their cars fixed. So Art created a brand with his team comparable to the hotel industry's quality standards. What was lacking in auto repair was knowing what you are getting at each price point.  "I was honored that the audit professionals came up with this paradigm that we call RepairPal Certified," Art explains, "for a trusted place to get your car fixed, defined by the level of quality which is not just what consumers want, but it is the right thing to do." Quality "So the first level is quality."  One of the things RepairPal does in terms of their quality standard is to make sure everyone is trained, "dealers pass easily, but independents don't always, and that's one of the biggest things: skills and training." Art explains that the next is the diagnostic equipment and high-quality parts. The second level is customer satisfaction, "and we do all sorts of interesting things around unbiased customer satisfaction." The third piece is the warranty, "if you're trained, and you satisfy customers and stand behind your work, we have a minimum warranty of one year, which all dealers pass."  "Interestingly, independents that fit our model and that are repaired by certified technicians have an average of two years or 24,000 miles in their warranty because they understand that's a sign of quality," Art shares. And then lastly, the final component, "that estimator that the team had built before, based on high quality with OEM MSRP and parts, and average dealer labor rates, not low, but what's a fair price with ranges, means that people can charge whatever they want, we don't control that," says Art, "if they want to charge outside of that range, they can't be Certified."  In terms of the work that RepairPal does with independents, it's mostly about quality. "They are pretty focused on being priced lower than the dealer. It's one of the ways that they increase their business," says Art, "in terms of dealers, they satisfy the quality standard already." So leaving the critical thing for dealers to focus on is price.  "We started with independents because it's a much wider range of quality, and that's the number one buying factor. So today, we have 3000 independents in our network, that's much bigger than any other chains," says Art. As a result, the RepairPal footprint is sizable, and they have grown a healthy website with 4 million unique visitors each month.  "We have 4 million people looking at service and repair. That's what we've done, and we've done that for 15 years," Art adds that the additional benefit pertains to those who are Certified becoming part of that online ecosystem, "so when you're Certified, you go up on our site. So when people come to us, 4 million of them, we help solve their problem by including you."  Price Once RepairPal had built a network of independents big enough, they talked to big companies that were in the car business, "for instance USAA has the highest net promoter score of any large company," says Art, "we presented them this nationwide network of trusted partners that we had already built, alongside an effective workflow, integrations, and technology to try to make it simpler across all these independent shops nationwide." Through the member network, RepairPal created a space where consumers can find a trusted repair shop with high quality, excellent service, and a fair price.  "This is great for brands, and we have a huge commitment to quality. The average net promoter score of independents in our network is 76," Art shares, "shops are happy to pay because they are getting incremental business."  People leave the dealer for servicing and repair. Four out of five customers leave the dealer over time, and the number one reason is price. The quality is excellent, the customer satisfaction is where it needs to be, and dealers stand behind their work, "so why are they losing most of their customers? Dealers are hardworking people who want to do good and earn a fair profit." Art highlights the objectives, "someone has to connect the customers to the dealers who are attentive to a fair price."  RepairPal has built what they call a "healthy, three-sided marketplace" Art says, "we have 3000 shops, most are independents, but we have recently started working with dealers." They have 4 million unique visitors to their site and 70 partners who rely on RepairPal to curate their trusted network, including dealers, for them. "We are on a journey to build out the dealer business," Art explains that the process includes certifying pricing through testing but that what they are already finding is that most dealers who are attentive to pricing qualify. "We use average dealer labor rates, OEM MSRP, and so if you build based on those inputs, you can become RepairPal Certified," says Art.  The beauty lies in the mechanism of trust that is established throughout the conversation with the customer. Having a third party certify fairness in pricing establishes trust between the customer and the dealer. "That conversation changes everything," Art says, "you are addressing the number one need, fairness." People know that dealers provide excellent service and a high standard of quality, but people also look to third-party sites for validation.  As we wrap up our conversation and discuss the longevity of dealers, Art and his team at RepairPal play a clear role, "there are a lot of ways to buy a car online, but when a customer needs repair work done, they still need to go to their local dealer." Art will discuss "Transparency And Trust: Overcoming Negative Price Perception" at the Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit at the Westin Southfield Detroit on October 25th and 26th. 
Optimizing Quality Management Between Stakeholders To Reduce Warranty Risk and Costs: An Interview with Jason Payne, Founder, JPSI

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When Jason Payne graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, he also sold the web design company that he had started in his sophomore year. “There weren’t many people doing web design at that time and it taught me how to develop new business and customer relationships while focusing on solving the problems that my customers had; the business intelligence side of things.” By the time he had completed his studies, Jason wanted to move on and use his degree the way he had intended, and being in Michigan, many companies were interested in young engineers, especially those with an entrepreneurial background and a keen understanding of business practices.  The  MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022  is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted at the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit down with Jason Payne, Founder and Chief Intelligence Officer at JP Strategy and Intelligence.  The Career Journey: The Entrepreneurial Engineer Jason’s problem-solving ability, cultivated during his college years, would play out throughout his career to his advantage. He was recruited by Advanced Accessories Systems as a Design Engineer and this would be his introduction to what would become a creative and non-traditional Engineer’s journey through the vehicle service and warranty space. “I was able to see areas within the business that were not efficient; the company had doubled in size in a short period and there was an opportunity to build strong quality systems.” The company gave Jason the freedom and opportunity to explore the customer requirements and systems when it came to warranty which, in turn, allowed him to develop an understanding of how the company worked beyond the engineering function.  Jason saw what data was out there and available at the time and then created frameworks around how to best use the information, something that was new at the time. “I saw it as an interesting part of the automotive industry because warranty lets you touch a lot of different parts of an organization,” Jason explained. “You can work with engineering, with quality, with the commercial side of the company, legal; every part of the organization has some sort of interest in what's going on with their parts from a warranty standpoint.” By late 2007, Jason had established himself in the warranty industry, someone highly active within the community and recognized outside of his organization. He was heavily sought after and chose to join Schrader Electronics, later acquired by Sensata Technologies, a large, multibillion-dollar electronics company that has business in automotive, aerospace, heavy industrial, medical, and commercial electronics. As the recession began to take hold and severely impacted automotive sales, tire pressure monitoring, Schrader Electronics’ main product, had become federally mandated and Jason found himself in a fortunate position having joined a company that was doubling in size, again. With that kind of growth, came huge warranty exposure. “Their products were exploding in terms of usage overnight and there would potentially be a lot of exposure,” Jason explained. “I was able to build systems and mechanisms to prepare the structures that would protect the business and their customers.”  When Sensata acquired Schrader in 2016, there were people within the warranty division but it was not on a large or robust scale. Jason was perfectly positioned to move into a global leadership role and take control of warranty issues that were sizable in scale and potential impact. Jason had the opportunity to branch out into aerospace and heavy industrial manufacturing, “although the concepts are similar to that of automotive, the landscapes differ,” he said. This transition allowed him to apply his years of experience on a much larger scale.  OESA and Contributing to the Warranty Community At this point, Jason had also been a part of the Original Equipment Supplier Association (OESA) for several years as part of their Warranty Management Council. He was voted in by the members to lead their Board of Directors as the Chairman in 2013.  A collective of warranty professionals, coming together to share information and help each other, OESA played a strong role in developing the warranty network and the vehicle service landscape. “I enjoyed that,” said Jason, “it is still a great avenue for suppliers to have a method of comparing notes.” The regular meetings and interactions developed an understanding of what was working in the industry and what wasn’t. “I learned a lot and tried to transfer my knowledge as well,” Jason explains that this kind of engagement allowed for participants to see and understand how the vehicle service landscape was changing and the direction it was going in, especially with electrification. “It gave organizations the chance to adapt and prepare for things that may have serious impacts” further down the line.  On Launching JPSI Warranty, Strategy and Intelligence Jason had been thinking about starting his warranty-centric consultancy for a while and decided once the timing had aligned both personally and professionally. He wanted to “work on the proactive side of data in warranty,” he explained. “The interesting thing about warranty is that it's an extremely critical function. However, when it comes to allocating resources to do things proactively, it is still very much an uphill battle.”  Jason currently works with several OEMs, EV startups, and companies that are building from the ground up. Whether it's the potential business they could lose if they don't address issues quickly or the financial illegal aspects of it, Jason develops strategies to not only approach the issues currently being experienced but also focus on “how to build business cases for senior leadership to say here's what we need, here's why we think we need it and here's the data behind it and here's what we can save.”  On Jason’s “Why?” “I help companies understand where the gaps are in their existing systems and which processes and resources are out there to help them fill those gaps,” says Jason.  In the United States, as well as in some other parts of the world, there have been some massive warranty issues. There have been severe legal fines, people have gone to jail and Jason goes on to state that “their impact would have been greatly minimized if a more proactive stance had been taken in how the data and tracking were being monitored.”   After having done all the research before launching JPSI, an area of the business that Jason had not envisioned has become critical in terms of his consultancy work: third-party companies. “Companies such as software companies that are up and coming with unique capabilities when it comes to analyzing big data,” Jason explains, “whether it's predictive analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the areas where you can take huge subsets of data and find trends that are extremely difficult to identify manually” have become an interesting component of his service offering. “Helping those companies understand whom their capabilities can serve and making those introductions” has been another way in which Jason is proactively serving the vehicle service community.  On Warranty and its development within the Market There are a lot of people that work in warranty but there are few warranty subject matter experts. Things are changing though, “you are seeing companies who are starting to build actual warranty departments, for the first time,” says Jason. “I like seeing companies take it more seriously and understand the value.” Historically, it has been an “extra hat that people wear.” A Quality Manager will also be in charge of warranty returns or a Quality Technician will analyze data on a case-by-case basis. Many companies think that a warranty is “just defending yourself against cost recovery” Jason explains, or that it is a mostly financial component. “There is a real-world impact on actual human beings and actual people.” Jason goes on to explain that “we need to look at it from the human level and say what we're doing is not only protecting ourselves from financial implications, but it's helping to protect the people that are driving the vehicle.” What helps design and build a better product is “taking the data and understanding what we are seeing, what the information is telling us”. Jason emphasizes the importance of sharing the data with the right people to help them create a better product: “The financial end will work itself out in the long run because you’re going to reduce the number of issues in the field, and you will reduce the number of times people will need to come in to have their vehicles repaired.”  Focusing on a proactive approach means you still have to address things from the past but then take that information and implement it to prevent downfalls in the future.  Jason will be discussing Optimizing Quality Management Between Stakeholders To Reduce Warranty Risk & Costs, at the MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit at the Westin Southfield Detroit on October 25th and 26th. www.mapconnected.com
Enabling The Dealer Network To Optimize Parts, Service & Warranty To Drive Service Profitability: An Interview with Ashok Kartham, Chief Product Officer, Syncron

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“In 1995, as web adoption was excelling and Internet browsers were engaging users I realized three key things. One, there was a clear opportunity for manufacturers and dealers to improve their profitability by focusing on the service side of the business. Two, the need was underserved by the existing software and three, technology trends were showing opportunities to enhance the entire process for all stakeholders throughout the service and warranty ecosystem.” The MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022 is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted at the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit down with Ashok Kartham, Chief Product Officer at Syncron .  In the early 90s, Ashok was working at John Deere in the warranty and product support area when the future that he envisioned, one based on using technology to greatly improve the process and profitability of the warranty environment through enhancing communication, became a clear objective.  “Most existing software systems such as ERPs and CRMs were not addressing the needs: better communication and collaboration between the OEM and the dealer network,” mentioned Kartham. Parts, Service and Service Contracts could generate higher margins for the manufacturer and, the entrepreneurial streak in him, understood how. Ashok went on to build and launch 4CS in 1995 which was later acquired by PTC Inc in 2011. Just one year later, once the integration was complete, Ashok launched Mize. He said, “there was an unfinished opportunity, mobile was being adopted by consumers. Companies could leverage mobile technology to enhance customer experiences by improving service delivery to the end customer.” Mize allowed for the next part of Ashok’s vision to take hold, “by using mobile technology to deliver a connected customer experience, the Mize platform supported increased revenue for manufacturers and dealers.” Mize used both web and mobile technologies to enable field technicians and call centers. Often, field technicians are the interface between the dealer or OEM and the end customers. Mize focused on ensuring easy access to product knowledge, and by doing so, empowered technicians.  This approach was also adapted within the aftermarket parts space. Kartham went on to say, “the biggest problem was that the data was not connected. Services were processed manually and customer problems took days to resolve which led to frustration." When data is not connected, stakeholders are not connected and processes are not connected, the business becomes a collection of siloed systems, “we saw the need for connected experiences.” Syncron has a similar vision: Empower manufacturers to capitalize on the new service economy. Syncron merged with Mize in 2021, Kartham describes how this integration allowed his vision to be truly realized.  “Manufacturers are now focusing on offering their products as a service, whether it is equipment as a service or within automotive mobility. In order for that to be achieved, there are a lot of pieces that need to come together on the service side.”  Syncron serves many of the same customers as Mize did, automotive, heavy equipment and industries with high value, durable goods that are complex. “We had a common vision on the service side but also had complementary products”, Kartham noted. Syncron is the leader in parts inventory optimization and parts pricing. Mize had products in the warranty, service contract and field service space and together, the vision of a connected service could be realized at a much faster rate, accelerating the scope of offering and “serving hundreds of major manufacturers on a global scale in terms of our combined vision of connected services.” How is Syncron uniquely positioned to meet the needs of a developing service landscape? “We have a combined portfolio of solutions that offer a smart, connected customer experience, second to none, which improve the way that the dealer network, suppliers and customers come together and increase value,” explained Kartham.  Syncron products solutions allow for ultimate value to be realized through its common platform, the Connected Service Experience platform, which brings together all the data from historically siloed areas. This means that the data can be analyzed, insights can be derived and new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence can be leveraged whilst unifying the user experience.  In terms of the future, consumers have been impacted by subscription models. Recurring revenue streams, as a model, is prevalent and it is something consumers are accustomed to. It is a direction Ashok believes manufacturers are being impacted by.  Manufacturers are generating more revenue from an existing customer base, reiterating the link between customer retention or loyalty and profitability, and achieving this through efficiency and technology. “I am excited that we are enabling and empowering manufacturers through this transformation,” said Kartham.  Ashok goes on to explain, “as a technology provider, these are a nexus of technologies. Not only web and mobile but also connected products like IoT, as well as AR which provides remote assistance. There is a confluence or a nexus of technologies which enables this transformation.” Enabling the Dealer Network to optimize parts, service and warranty to drive service profitability. Ashok will be speaking about the important role that the dealer network plays in optimizing the parts, service and warranty to increase overall profitability. Manufacturers rely on the distribution network and channel partners to deliver the best possible service. This means that the dealer network needs to be empowered with the right knowledge and parts. “Warranty costs depend on what decisions are being made by the technicians and the diagnostic and repair process. We want to share how these elements are all interconnected.” Customers want to reduce warranty costs, the question is, how do we improve performance and enable technicians through empowering the dealer network? With the automotive space heavily influenced to go electric, or autonomous, how do we enable the dealer network and the OEMs to connect these pieces and deliver on, what is often, an impacted business model? Ashok stated, "A connected service technology plays an important part in the digital transformation journey, we are talking about enhancing the dealer network to optimize parts, price, service and warranty to drive service profitability.” Ashok is the epitome of a thought leader. He has the ability to see things before they happen in the general sphere. See him live as he discusses the importance of the dealer network and the role OEMs play in equipping, through technology, each component of the ecosystem. Driving the sustainability of dealers and the manufacturers that build for them, at MAPconnected 2022 .  www.mapconnected.com