Polly’s acquisition of marketing and analytics company Driven Data Technology will allow him to find the optimal time for him and dealerships to offer auto insurance to a customer buying a car, the COO says. of the company this month.
“You can actually be more targeted,” said Polly’s Wayne Pastore Automotive News.
Different buyer segments might respond to an insurance offer at different times, he said.
Polly, formerly known as DealerPolicy, allows dealers and customers to purchase multiple auto insurance quotes to see if the consumer can save money by choosing one. It makes agents available to lock in final quotes.
Both the dealer and the seller can earn money by facilitating the transaction; the savings made by the customer could free up budgetary capacity for the purchase of the car itself.
“Our overall strategy is to really embed insurance throughout the buying cycle,” Pastore said.
However, it shouldn’t be done indiscriminately, but rather “where it’s meaningful to the buyer,” he said.
That could involve a dealership’s physical store and website, according to Pastore, whose company works with companies including CarNow, Dealer.com, Tekion and Darwin.
Polly didn’t buy Driven Data to branch out into other lines of business, according to Pastore. The industry already had strong digital marketing companies, he said.
“I don’t think they need Polly to be one,” Pastore said.
But one possible use case would be direct-to-consumer insurance ads to provide more value to dealers, he said.
However, while Polly wasn’t going to change her own business model, she wouldn’t stop supporting existing Driven Data customers, said Pastore, who said she has a background in digital marketing. He also saw Driven Data’s network of digital retail agencies as a potential distribution arm for Polly’s insurance business.
Polly also had no intention of selling the dealer information available through Driven Data.
“We’re not in that business,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is work with dealerships on the data they have and enhance that value with an insurance offering in their retail solution.”
Pastore said his company has spent the past year educating its three main partners — Assurant, JM&A and Zurich — about Polly and its value proposition. All three F&I training and product companies are now equipped to introduce and train dealers on Polly in the same way as any other product in their portfolios, he said.
This allowed Polly to focus her sales efforts on the top 150 dealer groups. He said large groups understood the value of built-in insurance, and that their Polly usage and performance was “sort of 2 to 1” compared to smaller retailers which he characterized as resistant to changing their selling process.
“It’s allowed us to grow with dealers who are more progressive in their thinking, and that’s been very successful for us,” he said.
Polly is now in nearly 1,600 dealerships, he said.
Despite Polly’s F&I industry partners and insurance-centric business, the company finds that dealerships largely sell auto insurance on the sales floor rather than in the finance and insurance office, according to Pastore. (Some purely online “non-agent” sales have also sprung up as a result of Polly’s Dealer.com integration, he said.)
Sales staff have a customer relationship, they can promote insurance during downtime in the sales process, and they understand the purchased vehicle, he said. However, the fact that a customer has saved money on insurance through Polly – and now has the ability to purchase more F&I products – can be shared with the F&I office via a salesperson or the Polly software.
Although Pastore described Polly as making progress among major dealer groups in recent history, he also said the past 18 months have been tougher for the company.
Car dealerships initially embraced Polly’s insurance revenue stream because “they weren’t making money on the new car,” he said. But that hasn’t been the case lately, and Polly has had a harder time demonstrating value to retailers.
“I think right now we’re seeing that change again,” he said.
Interest rates are rising and offsetting the extra expense with car insurance savings becomes more attractive to the consumer.
“We’re starting to see the messages coming back with the dealerships,” he said.