A New Haul: NATM Brings F&I to Trailer Dealers

Posted By: Tariq Kamal NATM News,
Dealer Affiliates have a new opportunity to add revenue and maximize service and sales retention by offering customers a trailer service contract and a tire-and-wheel protection product endorsed by the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM).

As executive director of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM), Alex Stowe says the organization’s mission is to promote trailer safety and advance the success of the light- and medium-duty trailer industry. Advancement depends on new ideas, and a promising one arrived on Stowe’s desk last summer: Collaborate with a Finance and Insurance (F&I)  products provider and administrator to create and deploy service contract products specifically designed for light- and medium-duty trailers and offered to consumers by NATM Dealer Affiliates.

“We’ve been hearing from dealers about supplementing income and enhancing profitability, and this would directly provide dealer affiliates with a new revenue stream,” Stowe says. “Margins are getting so tight. We knew products like these — vetted, quality products — would provide them a decent return while affording valued protection to their customers.”

With that, the process of brokering a partnership and deploying the program nationwide began.

The Big Idea

Stowe and Sanja H.Abdic both credit longtime NATM Board Member John Kerr of Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) with hatching the idea to create NATM-endorsed F&I products. H.Abdic is vice president of warranty management and automotive segment lead at Marsh, a global insurance broker. Kerr is a certified insurance counselor with its sister company MMA. He has spent more than twenty years in the trailer industry, where he has experience offering insurance services to trade associations.

H.Abdic says Kerr presented her the concept and the pair started to vet the idea.  

“We engaged with NATM’s leadership team and started the process of tailoring this solution with NATM in mind,” H.Abdic says. “We identified a significant opportunity for creation and distribution of protection products through the NATM Dealer Affiliates that would provide protection products to end consumers while giving trailer dealers a new revenue stream with no overhead.”

NATM and MMA quickly agreed that selecting the right provider was paramount to the process.  At the end of a multi-step due diligence process conducted by MMA, they chose Portfolio. Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Southern California with offices in Ohio and Texas, Portfolio is among the nation’s largest F&I product providers and administrators. H.Abdic says scale was important, but expertise was the deciding factor.

“We needed a provider that was vertically integrated and could handle dealer enrollment, program sales, training and claims administration, but we also needed experience in the RV/trailer space, because this industry is so unique,” H.Abdic says.

So different, in fact, that many of Portfolio’s competitors have yet to touch RVs, let alone trailers. The provider’s vice president of sales, Chad Millspaugh, says expertise and credibility in those spaces is hard-earned.

“We felt Portfolio was the right choice because of the time we’ve put into understanding what trailer dealers need and how those needs are different from those of an RV dealer,” Millspaugh says. “That gave us the ability to create good products, relatively quickly, that will meet the needs of NATM and its dealers.”

The Products

At the outset, there are two products in the NATM-branded Portfolio lineup: Trailer Protect Service Contract and Trailer Tire & Wheel Protect. Dealer Affiliate Program participants can offer one or both products with or without an onsite licensed repair facility. Dealers who do offer service will be paid retail rates for parts and labor and benefit from a 40-mile “tieback” provision that returns units in need of repair to their facility.

Trailer Protect reimburses customers for the cost to repair or replace covered components, including suspension, brakes, manual jacks, hydraulic pumps and jacks, battery charger or maintainer and interior and exterior components such as handles, latches, springs, and LED enclosures. Optional coverage for solar panels, light commercial use, and mobile service calls also is available.

Trailer Tire & Wheel Protect offers coverage specific to tires and wheels damaged by road hazards — including the tow vehicle while towing the covered trailer. In addition to the cost to repair or replace damaged tires and wheels, customers are also reimbursed for mounting, balancing, disposal, and taxes. Optional coverages include Cosmetic Wheel (for damage that doesn’t affect performance) and Curb Damage (for tires and wheels that suffer curb impacts).

Both products come with reimbursement for towing and roadside assistance, and Tire & Wheel Protect also includes emergency travel and rental car reimbursement. All new and pre-owned utility trailers up to 10 model years old are eligible, and certain specialty trailers and trailers with living quarters may qualify under a separate pricing structure.

Millspaugh says the products are backed by Portfolio’s unwavering commitment to dealer and customer service. All available resources will be shared and all claims will be professionally and expediently adjudicated.

“We’re excited for the dealers, the relationship, and to see how we can grow together — both with NATM and this program.”

Tariq Kamal is the marketing director for Portfolio and a 15-year veteran of the retail and fleet industries.

What’s Next

The program launched in late 2023 with a pilot of several dozen NATM  Dealer Affiliates in the Midwest and Texas. It’s expected to go live nationwide by the end of May. Stowe hopes every dealer takes advantage.

“It benefits the entire industry — dealers, manufacturers, and suppliers, right down to the end users,” he says, noting that adding F&I products means adding positive touchpoints with trailer buyers. “Customers will know that, if something happens, they can actually go and get it taken care of.”

In the face of those tight margins and other economic headwinds, Stowe adds, selling service contracts and tire-and-wheel coverage offers dealers a timely opportunity to engage and expand their service capabilities.

“With parts replaced and hours worked, at the retail rate, if you sell one service contract, you’ve made your NATM dues back for the year.”

Program Benefits

Portfolio’s F&I program offers a number of benefits to NATM  Dealer Affiliates, including:

  • New revenue from the sale of trailer service contracts and tire-and-wheel coverage.
  • Additional service revenue, including retail parts and labor rates.
  • Enhanced service and sales retention.
  • Peace of mind and budget protection for trailer buyers. 

Is a Service Contract a Warranty?

Service contracts and warranties are both designed to reimburse consumers for covered repair and replacement costs. Warranties are typically provided at no cost to the consumer and are limited to core components. Service contracts are sold to consumers and offer more comprehensive coverage and additional benefits that can replace an expired warranty or “wrap” around an existing warranty.

How to Join

Any  light- and medium-duty trailer dealer is able to market the NATM/Portfolio program by completing the following steps:

  1. Be a current NATM Dealer Affiliate for only $150 annually. Join today or by calling (785) 272-4433 for more information.
  2. Complete the Portfolio dealer signup process. To get started, email inquiry@portfolioco.com with “NATM dealer” in the subject line.