GPS: More Critical in Today’s Market

By Jeffrey Bellant June 14, 2022

The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association will hold a presentation on GPS and cellular networks with Passtime Chief Technology Officer Todd Goodnight on June 21 during NIADA’s Convention & Expo in Las Vegas.

In advance of that session, Passtime founder Jake Frank and Spireon’s Brian Skutta, president of automotive, discussed how GPS and other products help dealers protect assets and boost payments.

The volatile market forces dealers to balance inventory and collections, but it also poses a challenge to vendors and suppliers who service independent dealers.

Apart from strategy, the key to selling has always been having a strong product.

The used-car market has strong products in GPS and payment assurance. Players like Goldstar, Passtime, IMETRIK and Ituran promise dealers solutions to help increase the bottom line.

Spireon offers a GPS product for the subprime market called Goldstar and a franchise product under the name LoJack.

Skutta said the company has added a consumer-based product inside of Goldstar called LoJack Go, utilizing the iconic LoJack brand.

Passtime has been perfecting its tiny GPS device Encore for several years.

“We came out with Encore, our wireless piece, maybe four years ago,” Frank said.

Spireon’s Brian Skutta, president of automotive.

Smaller and thinner than a deck of cards, it is a true wireless, he said.

“We have one little battery,” Frank said. “In terms of the way we’ve integrated it into our chip technology.

“Everybody says, ‘wireless, they’re all the same,’ but they’re not. We’re not relying on backup batteries; we know it’s going to work for the time we say it’s going to work. It’s going to work under the conditions and temperatures it needs to work.”

These benefits make Encore the largest selling product for Passtime.

It also allows dealers to place the device wherever they want, which helps prevent tampering, Frank said.

Skutta said Spireon’s LoJack Go – the consumer-facing app for the Goldstar program – takes advantage of the focus on mobility in the marketplace, offering both dealers and consumers tools they can use.

“Historically, GPS has been a risk-mitigation, asset-management-tracking tool solely focused on the dealer, in the event of default or vehicle abandonment,” Skutta said.

Goldstar wanted to increase the feature set of GPS, but also wanted to create benefits for the consumer, too.

“We really feel like it’s a way to help with disclosure of GPS,” Skutta said. “By having a consumer set of features and offerings that help consumers enjoy their vehicle and enhance their ownership experience.”

Providing disclosure about GPS to customers – without scaring them off, is always an issue.

By pitching it as a “connected car experience” where customers can track their own car, know their own car’s event history and trace it in case of theft, it becomes a benefit to customers.

The app also integrates Carpay – which allows for direct digital loan payments, which reduces delinquencies and collection times.

The second partnership Spireon has is with RepairPal, which allows a consumer to find pre-approved repair shops in their area with fair labor rates, Skutta said.

“It’s a service to the consumer to help maintain their vehicle in a cost-effective way,” he said, “and it helps the dealer because it incentivizes and enables the consumer to maintain the car, which the dealer still owns.”

Passtime founder Jake Frank.

Passtime’s Frank added that GPS has more value in a market where vehicle values skyrocket and supply is tight. Not losing that asset becomes more critical.

Although the focus on supply chain has been on new vehicles, the issue has slammed other products, too.

“Obviously, there’s a shortage of inventory affecting everybody,” Frank said. “I think the biggest issue for GPS providers is also supply chain.”

But Passtime was proactive on this issue.

“This is something we’ve been aware of for a couple of years and we’ve been way ahead of the curve,” he said. “I’ve made a special effort to make sure we have at least three months inventory, just in case.”

Frank added that Passtime did the same with supply chain as far as components.

“I think we’re paying more for components, because we may have to go through other sources, but that’s OK,” Frank said. “We’re not going to get caught short.”

With inventory tight and cars so expensive, Frank said he would expect more people using Passtime’s collection technology.

Unlike GPS, which is more a recovery tool, the coded starter interrupt devices help dealers improve payments.

“You have a better customer when you’re using that payment technology,” Frank said. 

Dealers always worry about compliance concerns, though companies like Passtime and Goldstar offer disclosures that can protect dealers who use them.

Skutta said providing consumer benefits helps the process.

“When you show the consumer the benefits of what they get, it makes the disclosure conversation much, much easier,” Skutta said.

Dealers attending NIADA can get more information from Spireon and Passtime in the exhibit hall.

The NIADA session from Goodnight, titled “Understanding the Cellular Networks That Control Your GPS Devices,” will discuss the history of GPS, where it is and where it’s going, Frank said.

“There’s a lot of misinformation going around on 4G, 5G LTE, these different terms,” Frank said. “It’s going to be very informational.”

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Last modified on Monday, 20 June 2022 15:29