For Bob Corbin, all roads don’t lead to Rome, but they certainly lead to RoadVantage.
"What will really help me in this role is my experience owning a general agency in Chicago years ago. That background gives me a solid understanding of my customer at RoadVantage, which I see as the general agent."
The industry veteran became the new president of Sales at the leading F&I company in April as RoadVantage promoted his predecessor to company president. But Corbin started on the path to RoadVantage long before he took the helm.
Corbin explains that he and RoadVantage CEO Garret Lacour have a history that goes way back. He names Garret’s father, Jerry Lacour, as a mentor who helped grow his career. Also, Garret and Corbin were business partners at Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS). “Garret asked me to come to IAS to build out the sales team, then build out the corporate team, which we did together,” he says.
Corbin served as president of IAS before moving to CEO and ended his tenure as Executive Chairman until they sold the company in 2019.
In 2021, Lacour asked Corbin to join RoadVantage as the firm expanded its executive sales leadership in order to accelerate the sales effort and build upon an already impressive record. RoadVantage seeks to help agent partners expand their businesses while identifying new growth opportunities. In addition to promoting the former president of sales, Randy Ross, to president and bringing on Corbin, the company placed Steve Chandler and Michael Picolo in sales leadership roles in order to guide the sales team’s efforts to grow sales.
“Garret asked me to help the company build a more scalable infrastructure for the sales team. What I discovered as I investigated the company excited me about the possibilities and, here I am,” says Corbin.
The excitement is well deserved. RoadVantage has quite a success story—moving from start-up in 2011 to a key player in the F&I marketplace in just 10 years. The company attributes its success to being “fueled by innovation, led by industry experts and powered by passion for creating an exceptional customer experience.”
The accolades for RoadVantage have piled up over a decade. The company boasts a 4.8 rating on Google and has been awarded top honors over four consecutive years in the Dealers’ Choice Awards. These accomplishments, plus recent accelerated growth, spurred Corbin’s decision to join RoadVantage and help scale the company even further.
“I’ve watched Garret build this company over the last 10 years into a real force in the industry,” Corbin says. “And that’s what attracted me to join them.”
While RoadVantage’s vision and success drove Corbin to it, it was Corbin’s success story that attracted Lacour to Corbin. Lacour calls Corbin a “logical addition” that will help grow the company.
“Bob will be an outstanding leader for our sales team,” he says. “He has done this repeatedly with incredible success, and we are excited to see what he can do for RoadVantage.”
Ready for RoadVantage
Corbin has worn many hats in his career—all of which he says will guide him in his new role.
“I worked my way up through the ranks at IAS where I led mergers and acquisitions and helped the company acquire eight different entities,” he says. “But what will really help me in this role is my experience owning a general agency in Chicago years ago. That background gives me a solid understanding of my customer at RoadVantage, which I see as the general agent.”
He explains that understanding general agent frustrations and challenges will help him build a scalable infrastructure and distribution network for general agencies.
“We see a lot of general agencies that are frustrated with their current providers,” he says. “We want to solve these challenges. One big one is: How do you react to a dealer who wants to protect and grow his customer satisfaction at a local level? The best way to help them is to offer great coverage and have excellent people administering the coverage; whether it’s in underwriting, in administering new business, or helping dealership personnel in the service department, by quickly and efficiently handling claims.”
Corbin adds that the customer experience RoadVantage is known for will clear these hurdles.
“How fast do we answer the phone? How friendly are we on the call? How fast do we complete the call? We measure and maintain these industry-leading key performance indicators, and they help us deliver on our promise to deliver an exceptional customer experience. These things help general agents grow their dealer relations because those dealers who take care of their customers get repeat customers and are rewarded with additional franchises,” he says.
Corbin sites the 2018 addition of Don Oliver, RoadVantage Senior VP of Operations, as a primary reason for the organizational strength of the company. A 30-year industry veteran, Don Oliver offers a wealth of F&I provider experience that few companies can boast.
M&A Activity Impacts
Corbin reports he expects the unprecedented M&A activity among automotive dealerships to continue.
A report from Kerrigan Advisors suggests the same. The firm predicts the dealership buy/sell market will set records through the rest of 2021, after unique market factors resulted in 66 completed transactions in the first quarter.
He adds, “Consolidation is happening not only at the dealership level but at the general agency level and at the corporate level. F&I options for consolidated firms are often limited to institutional-type businesses and insurance company-directed businesses, which gives RoadVantage a leg up. We are not owned by an insurance company. This allows us to have the creativity, the flexibility, and a sense of urgency as we respond to market changes.”
RoadVantage will expand its True Coverage, which Corbin says “eliminates all the things that cause customer heat” at the dealership or general agency level. Progressive products offering True Coverage eliminate headaches and provide customers the coverage they expect. Corbin explains, “If your coverage is better than others, you’re going to have happier customers all the way down the chain.”
RoadVantage also will increase its already high service levels, he says. The company embraces technological solutions that streamline processes for agents and dealers. Its focus on exceptional customer service results in a high level of claims service. “We handle 98% percent of all claims in just one call and resolve and approve 98% of claims in 7 minutes or less,” he says.
Corbin adds, “We’re never looking for a reason to deny a claim. We are looking for a reason to approve them. People are happier when you do that. We build our coverage and our reserves to do that from the beginning.”
The company delivers on its solid reputation for excellent service with an app where dealership service writers can register a claim. “Service writers can go to the app and register, confirm their customer’s coverage, register the claim and complete it within the app,” he says.
The company also offers a full suite of dealer participation programs for vehicle service contract (VSC) programs. RoadVantage offers a variety of structures available for VSCs, from dealer-owned warranty companies (DOWC) to controlled foreign corporations (CFC) to non-controlled foreign corporation (NCFC) structures.
“We have all three structures available to our dealers, which is a big advantage,” he says.
Corbin adds, “Consumers want transparency and speed. If a dealership can offer both things, they will be successful. Likewise, if RoadVantage offers both things, we will be successful. We are committed to providing premium service at the dealer level so dealers can give their customers the experience they want.”
An Industry in Transition
A shortage of tiny semiconductor chips continues to bring giant obstacles to vehicle production.
As production grinds to a halt, auto dealers now have barren parking lots, consumers face limited options, and buyers will wait months for manufacturers to build their new ride.
The Alliance for Auto Innovation, the trade group that represents automakers, reports the shortage could hurt auto production for another six months and result in 1.28 million fewer vehicles being made.
That’s the bad news. But Corbin sees light on the horizon.
“The inventory issue will be a blip on the radar screen. We can rely on the fact that our dealers are the most creative and resilient entrepreneurs in the country. They will look for and find ways to solve this crisis.”
Corbin sees the short-term crisis as a boon for F&I managers. “F&I managers now have more time with the customer, in contrast to always trying to speed up the sale and get customers in and out,” he says. “Now the F&I guy isn’t rushed and has time to fully explain the value of products and why it’s in the customer’s best interest to have them.”
He projects VSCs will be the No. 1 F&I product well into the future. “The vehicle service contract is not just a profit item for the dealer; it’s a way for dealers to build customer retention through their parts and service operation.”
The Road Ahead for RoadVantage
The road ahead for RoadVantage will include “more of what made the company successful in the first place,” reports Corbin.
“Garret used innovation and creativity to build this company,” he says. “We will continue to employ those tactics to grow RoadVantage.”
Corbin also expressed confidence that growth is on the horizon. He attributes his confidence to the fact that RoadVantage grew market share during the pandemic when many other companies contracted. The company shifted its people to home offices in a single day and made sure service levels never suffered. When an ice storm hit Texas in February and knocked out call centers across the state, RoadVantage kept working.
“We never missed a beat,” he says. “Our employees were working from home and are used to it.”
While Corbin promises to always keep working for RoadVantage customers, he says he will also find time to relax when he’s off. You will find the avid angler on a boat in the off hours, going after marlin, sailfish, and Mahi.
“I go after whatever is out there,” he says. “The other end of that line is exciting when that reel starts to scream!”