DALLAS — EFG Companies and Northwood University have launched their second F&I Innovator of the Year Competition. The competition asks six teams of junior and senior Northwood automotive students to conceptualize and build a new F&I product.

Each team is assigned a working F&I director to mentor and guide them through the competition. Teams must develop a business case for their new F&I product. It must incorporate industry research, offer a plan to market the product, and must detail the product's market potential, according to the company.  

“This competition puts Northwood University students at the forefront of the innovation that will forever change the dealership landscape,” said Keith Pretty, president of Northwood University. “Through this competition, our students have the opportunity to provide a never-before-seen solution to current dealership challenges and drive dealership profitability. This exemplifies our philosophy of hands-on learning and developing the leadership skills and talent necessary to bring the automotive industry into the future.”

In November, a panel of leading dealer principals from across the nation and EFG executives will judge the business case competition. The winning team will be announced in early December. EFG Companies will then develop the winning F&I product, launch it to the retail automotive marketplace and donate a percentage of the sales profits back to Northwood University.

Last year, the winning team produced a product that utilizes a mobile application to help car owners stay current on their vehicle's maintenance needs. The app was also designed to be a theft deterrent, and can even be used to recover a stolen vehicle. EFG Companies plans to roll out that product later this year.

“The automotive industry is going through a period of extensive change,” said John Pappanastos, president and CEO of EFG Companies. “Consumer expectations and buying habits have shifted toward a more value-conscious and long-term mindset. The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are continuing to focus on transparent auto lending practices. Manufacturers are undergoing a shift with the rise of electric vehicles, connected cars and ride sharing services. Each of these aspects of a dealership’s operations is in a mutually effective relationship with F&I. As new, young talent has brought significant advancements to other areas of the auto industry, it makes sense for the F&I industry to avail itself with new ideas from fresh minds, as well.”

Originally posted on F&I and Showroom