Six years ago, Garret Lacour, and his father, Jerry Lacour, sold the company they had founded 23 years prior – IAS. But they still had the connections, more than 75 years of combined experience and a passion for the industry, so they decided to take it as an opportunity to start over again, with new ideas for how to serve the F&I market. And with that RoadVantage was born. We sat down with them at Industry Summit 2013 to learn more about the journey they’ve taken, and what they are looking forward to in the future.
“We thought, if we could do it all again, where could we make it better?” said Garret. “Looking at the industry, there was a need for a new vision; we could take a more cohesive, less fragmented approach under a single brand name. There were only three companies at the time who offered a full suite of F&I ancillary products. With RoadVantage, we built the fourth.”
Part of the appeal of starting RoadVantage was the ability to start from scratch, with no legacy systems to worry about, noted Jerry. Improving the claims process, in particular, was an area they focused on. RoadVantage today offers nine core products, with 24 program options. All of those feed into a single front and back-end system, under a single brand.
The Lacours put progressive technology solutions in place for that system, with an emphasis on creating a scalable, efficient process that, noted Garret, they believe sets them apart from the competition. “We took the time and resources to build a solid foundation from which to grow,” said Garret.
“We took it as a chance to step away, and come back with a different, better vision,” said Jerry. “And people are taking notice. There has to be a trust factor, and we already had that, so establishing and growing RoadVantage has happened remarkably quickly.”
“We can’t see doing anything else,” said Garret. “We deliver what we promise – we build value in our products and service, and we deliver on that value consistently.”Future Trends
Looking forward, Garret doesn’t see RoadVantage adding new products just for the sake of having them. Instead, he noted, they will focus on products that set new trends, and bring something innovative to the F&I space. He believes those will come more from updates and upgrades to current products, than necessarily brand new products or categories. “It will be little things that will make the big differences,” he said.
Garret also noted that the regulatory environment for ancillary products has changed the way many do business. Jerry believes it was a needed change for the industry as a whole, and has moved everyone in the right direction. “Compliance and regulation are more present in today’s F&I ancillary products in a good way,” Garret agreed. “The F&I market no longer resembles the ‘Wild West’ environment we saw when we first entered the industry 23 years ago, and that’s a good thing. Now more than ever, transparency and offering customers true value are imperative.”
Garret went on to note that some of that regulation is a natural evolution as ancillary products have become more popular over the years. “Ancillary products have moved from the bottom shelf to the top shelf of offerings in the F&I department,” he said. “And there are more services expected from ancillary providers, by both consumers and dealers.”
Another area the Lacours are watching closely is the technology aspect; in particular, the technology involved in presenting F&I products virtually during online vehicle transactions. They see it as a potential growth opportunity, and critical for F&I as more and more vehicle sales move into cyberspace. “There is not an established process today, but we see a demand for those types of solutions,” said Garret. “The industry needs to be prepared with a solution for online sales. Long-term, there are customers who won’t ever show up at a dealership. Menu providers are looking at how we can evolve the electronic menu and a presentation to more effectively reach those consumers. And we are making sure on our side that we can integrate our products and systems with their solutions.”
“Why can’t F&I managers make presentations through something that works like Facetime or GoToMeeting?” asked Jerry. “That technology will catch up to F&I.”
At the end of the day, the Lacours agreed that the key to success – both for RoadVantage and others in the F&I space – is to believe in what you are doing and stay with it, through good and bad times. “It’s like a postage stamp,” said Jerry. “You stick with it until you get to where you’re going.”