Helping consumers avoid vehicle theft might seem unnecessary to a lot of auto accessory dealers, but according to Hal Dewswap, vice president of sales at Canton, Mass.-based LoJack, a lot of consumers don’t understand additional issues that can arise if their vehicle is stolen. Deswap joined LoJack in January after serving Ford Motor Co. for more than 30 years. In an exclusive interview with Restyling & Truck Accessories magazine, he discussses what LoJack has to offer its aftermarket dealers and the importance of educating consumers about vehicle theft.
What benefits do LoJack products offer dealers?
We’ve claimed 300,000 stolen cars and found them; that equates to 4 billion worth of product we’ve recovered. Over 90 percent of vehicles that are stolen that have a LoJack on them are recovered. We offer those results, and dealers can sell that to their customers. Dealers can sell our product one-at-a-time to consumers after the sale of the car, but we also have a preinstall program (which gives car dealers the opportunity to equip every vehicle that comes to their lot with LoJack’s aftermarket vehicle recovery system).
Dealers choose the preinstall program, in some cases, because it’s a great convenience for them. They might have such a high sales level of our products that it makes sense preinstall their inventory, and it’s is also more convenient for the costumer. Other dealers do in part because they need their own lock protection for whatever reason. They may have had theft products in the past, so they put our product on their cars with an opportunity to sell it through to the consumer. If a vehicle is stolen off their lot or taken under fraudulent terms with the preinstalled product, we can activate the product and have the stolen vehicle recovered for the dealership, not just for the consumer, if in fact they’ve preinstalled their whole inventory. It provides a great measure for dealers for how they can protect inventory from theft.
What feedback have you received from dealers about the product?
If a dealer has they’ve experienced car theft, they much likely want to consider a preinstall opportunity with a LoJack product. It wasn’t too long ago that we had a dealer considering our product because of the fact that it would allow him to sell through to their consumer and provide a great opportunity for not only the consumer, but the dealer as well. He experienced theft within two days of the discussion with us and that facilitated him wanting to work with us and preinstall his inventory.
What does LoJack offer in terms of sales support and marketing materials for its auto accessory dealers?
We have a large sales staff that calls on our dealer body and helps provide individual one-on-one training. They are thoroughly trained; they understand our product and the F&I (finance and insurance) process, so they can help in that respect. We also have a great online training program that any of the dealers using our products can access. We provide marketing and sales materials during the presale of a vehicle and during the sale; we also provide different materials for after the sale. That could include anything from posters and vehicle clings to high-level vehicle theft stories. When a dealer is talking to their consumer, if they have local knowledge of vehicle theft in their community, it’s a really powerful way to explain the importance of theft. And it’s not just theft where you live, but it might be theft where you work, theft where you go shopping-theft occurs in all sorts of form.
Why is it important to educate consumers about vehicle theft?
When people think of car theft, I think there’s one thing they tend to forget. It’s not just the theft of your vehicle, which can cost you the loss of your down payment or cause insurance issues later, but what about all of the personal items in your vehicle? What about the navigation set to your home, your garage door opener, the personal identification and the registration in your car that might allow a thief to access your personal information and know where you live? What about your golf clubs or your kids; photos? There so many things in your car, which are every bit as important or more important possibly to get back than the vehicle itself.
We have such a high level of recovery in 24 hours that it helps really to ensure that your personal possession come back with the car as well because it’s recovered so much more quickly.
What advice do you have for dealers who are looking to educate their customers on the benefits of protecting their investments with LoJack?
We work with law enforcement agencies all over the country. We have 14,000 tracking devices on police cars, aircrafts and helicopters, so we are tied in with law enforcement, and there in no one else and no other activity that can say that. And I think the consumer really needs to be aware that when you’re registering a car with LoJack, you’re registering with the police.
It’s a key thing to educate consumers on the crime statistics. Car theft is extremely prevalent and the closer it gets to home, I think it really brings home to the consumer that it can happen to them. I also think it’s important to discuss all of the things that can happen if your car is stolen. There’s long list of things a consumer has to go through if their vehicle is stolen. I think it adds a lot of peace of mind to know that if you get your vehicle back quickly, a lot of those things can be mitigated.
There’s also peace of mind behind knowing that somebody who did something to you is captured-there’s some finality to that too because it’s your car and your property.
What else can you tell me about what LoJack has to offer?
We’ve also entered into a strategic alliance with Tom Tom, so now we do LoJack fleet management. If (people) have things like service loaner fleets, and they want to put a fleet management device on a vehicle, it can actually tell them where the vehicle is, provide things like ‘geo-fencing’ and alerts if a vehicle is late or out of an area. It can provide additional tools and services to give dealers peace of mind; they can know where their loaner car is and have an investment in that.
What’s in store for the future of LoJack?
We’ll always remain true to our core of stolen vehicle recovery and tie-in with law enforcement. But I think as we continue our strategic alliance with Tom Tom, we’re getting into a different type of product there. There will be an evolution on that, and as we move forward, the company’s going to evolve a bit more into the connected car space. Just as we can help manage a fleet of vehicles for a company, why not manage a fleet of vehicles for a consumer? As your son or daughter might be relatively new driver heading to the mall, you want to make sure they get there safety and know where they are. We’ll be able to get into that space to allow a family to make sure their members are as safe, protected and secure as possible. Our company is going to expand beyond what we do just today, but we’re never going to get too far from our roots.