There’s a new normal afoot in F&I, and as the new President of Agent Development for Nobilis Group, Jeff Jagoe is ready for it.
In his new role, Jagoe officially assumes responsibility for growing the agent channel for protection products across the automotive, RV, marine and powersports markets. He sees himself as a guide on a journey supporting the agents that serve those markets.
The ongoing semiconductor chip shortage has tightened dealership inventories across the country, making it harder than ever to buy a car. Those consumers fortunate enough to purchase one see more value in aftermarket products and programs than ever before. “They’re saying, ‘You know this car needs to last me a long time, so I’m going to protect it,’” says Jagoe. “That’s good for dealers, good for agents, and good for us and our competitors.”
Now when Jagoe talks to agents, he tells them “The dealers need you more than ever.”
He recommends they be in customers’ stores weekly, saying “I’m here for you. What can I do to help? Let’s do some more training. Let’s talk about more products in F&I.”
“They actually have time for those conversations now. There are not many vehicles out there,” he says. “By helping dealers right now, agents can solidify their business and help dealers maximize the profitability of every customer that comes in. Dealers want to hear how they can improve their business with fewer vehicles on their lots.”
Jagoe recognizes agents also need encouragement during this tough time. “Before the pandemic, business was flowing, and they were busy,” he says. “It may be more challenging now, but agents still need to get into dealerships.”
He says some agents got used to the status quo. Agents now need to think about how to help their dealers understand the importance of presenting protection programs earlier in the sales cycle, beginning with how they are represented on the dealer’s website. Agents can also bring new program ideas to the dealer to enhance offerings for their customers.
Program administrators also need to change their tune, he adds. Administrators need to be more supportive of agents to help their businesses through challenging times.
“Agents need to hold the dealer’s hand, but we need to hold agents’ hands. That is to me one thing that Nobilis does very, very well,” he says. “We are very hands on with agents and dealer groups we do business with.”
New Role, New Challenges
Beginning as Dent Zone in 1991, Nobilis has set the industry standard in paintless dent repair, launching the first-ever PDR service contract in 1999. The company pioneered innovations in catastrophic repair services for the automotive industry and built the nation’s largest mobile repair technician network. Through its NanoCure Protective Coatings division, Nobilis also provides leading-edge nanotechnology-based chemical appearance and private-label programs.
It’s a business Jagoe admires, and one he trained for his entire career.
Jagoe began his career in the automotive industry in 1985 as a sales associate for Vandergriff Buick. Eventually he moved into F&I sales at the Arlington, Texas, dealership. Later, he transitioned into a role as senior vice president of sales for Kar Kare Aftermarket Products, where he built a new profit center for chemical appearance and theft programs. He followed this role with 24 years at Innovative Aftermarket Systems, serving most recently as senior vice president of sales, where he introduced ancillary products as a viable F&I revenue stream for U.S. dealerships.
When approached by Nobilis President and CEO Troy Good to work for Nobilis, Jagoe jumped at the chance. His new role leverages expertise and relationships gained over three decades to expand distribution for Nobilis’ full line of service contracts and warranty programs.
“Joining the Nobilis team made sense to me,” Jagoe says. “I have known Troy and the leadership team for years. I have a high level of respect for the relationships they’ve cultivated with their industry partners, ranging from national retailers and OEMs to product providers and agents. The company has been dynamic in growing and continually finding new ways to innovate and reach new markets with innovative products and programs.”
Good reports he’s thrilled to have Jagoe on board. “There are few people in our industry who bring with them the wealth of knowledge and vision he does. Jeff is a well-respected personality and a proven resource that agents and dealers trust,” he says.
Jagoe notes that after spending over 30 years in the automotive space, he knows hundreds of general agents and has many connections across the industry. “I’ve contributed to the successful businesses of many agents,” he says. “And I hope to take Nobilis to another level of agent development.”
To that end, he strives to add as many agents as possible, but not necessarily as their No. 1 provider. “I want to be the second, third or even fourth guy where if they need product, they can come to me and say, ‘Jeff, I just want to use you in this space,’” he says. “I’m not trying to change the culture of these agents. I just want to be another piece in their briefcase.”
Jagoe plans to gain agent business the old-fashioned way—through personal relationships built on trust.
“I’m calling everyone right now to let them know who I am, what I’m doing, and to tell them more about Nobilis,” he says. “I’m also planning to make myself available to go to dealerships with agents.”
The Nobilis Difference
Jagoe also aims to spread the word about the Nobilis difference, every way he can.
Nobilis is the only provider that has a national repair fulfillment network for paintless dent repair and related services and a chemical manufacturing operation.
Nobilis owns its own chemical manufacturing facility and has a full line of appearance protection programs. Time-tested methods and revolutionary nanotechnology in the company’s NanoCure with Nanoxide protectants cover interior and exterior surfaces. Other companies Jagoe worked for outsourced chemicals that go on vehicle paint, fabric, vinyl and leather. “We have our own manufacturing plant in Dallas,” he says. “I always lead with that. It’s very impressive to an agent when you say we manufacture it ourselves.”
The goal of every offering, he says, is to fill a void.
Jagoe gets to the heart of the matter with agents by going through the entire suite of products, from chemicals to service contracts to tire and wheel bundles. He asks agents a series of open-ended questions to get at what they need, then tells them what Nobilis offers to fill this gap.
“It’s leading the questions, so we identify the gaps we can fill,” he says. “I’ve been around for a long time, and they trust me. It’s all about filling up the menu with the right mix of F&I offerings. When I started it was only about service contracts, but ancillary products are extremely important to the success of F&I today.”
Nobilis enhanced its automotive and RV appearance protection programs with ceramic and recently added it to its powersports and marine chemical programs. And the company is front loading programs on the sales floor, so dealers gain more front-end gross.
The company also has added a program called Positively Clean, a new EPA-registered disinfectant that can kill viruses and bacteria, as well as remove smoke, from vehicles. “Dealers are using it on vehicles for every service customer,” he says. “Nobilis developed it before COVID hit, but now everyone wants it.”
Nobilis also strives to help agents and dealers put information about these products online. They want to be sure that any ancillary products, such as paintless dent repair or tire and wheel programs, are on dealer websites.
“That way, when customers look at auto dealer websites, they can see everything they offer during their online shopping experience,” he says. “That’s another offering agents can help with. Dealers have websites but sometimes they are lacking information on protection programs. We work with dealers to help them understand the value of exposing consumers to protection programs before they get to the store.”
Jagoe adds Nobilis has a bright future ahead, and that he looks forward to steering the ship as the industry’s new normal rushes in.