Insurer accelerates changes
Protecta Insurance’s chief executive admits there have been “difficult” decisions to make in recent months as the business tries to set itself up for a strong future.
Phil Hibbert told Autofile Online the company, and likely most other businesses involved with the automotive industry, will have taken a hard look at how they operate following the Covid-19 pandemic.
He says the health crisis and its impact on the economy has accelerated Protecta’s plans to refresh its service model and to look at how it can best operate in an increasingly digital environment.
“As an industry, I believe we have been slow-adopters of technology and Covid-19 has exposed us and I think we need to transition,” he explains.
“Our cost structures are becoming more challenged as an insurer because with looming regulation changes we will be expected to demonstrate clearer customer outcomes.
“To be competitive there’s got to be more investment in digital and we’re shifting our traditional service model to digital so we can support those increased costs that are coming. How we sell products is coming under more scrutiny from the regulators.”
Hibbert, pictured, says the spread of coronavirus has affected more industries than the global financial crisis (GFC) and companies need to be prepared for more uncertain times.
He adds maintaining sales is increasingly a challenge and most businesses are having to “assume the worst, hope for the best and look at cost structures constantly”.
“The GFC was a massive correction, but it affected the banking and monetary system and many other industries weren’t so badly impacted.
But Covid-19 has impacted everyone. The loss of consumer confidence and investment has been the more challenging thing around this pandemic.
“Businesses like us look at our how we operate and put the business through different stress-test scenarios. If you’re going to sell 25 per cent less stock or products, what does that mean to the business and how can you support your business when there’s a loss of revenue.
“We have made some major structural changes and that’s been difficult. We have made redundancies and changes to our service model, which was all about setting ourselves up for sustainable sales in the coming years.
“The key thing to work on is being more accessible by means of an online environment. Your shop window needs to be more visible across different regions.”
Protecta currently employs 53 staff and has made some redundancies this year because of the impact of Covid-19 on its business. It is also shifting away from contracted and commission-based territorial managers and replacing them with salaried business development managers.
The changes to personnel come as the company launches a dealer online platform, which Hibbert says will deliver better communications and more consistent training to sales staff at dealerships.
Developed in partnership with Elmo, an Australasian human-resources tech company, the system is being trialled at 16 dealerships. Hibbert hopes to have the platform rolled out to Protecta’s top 100 dealers by the end of January 2021 and to 200-plus dealerships thereafter.
It offers real-time and online training, along with updates around regulatory changes and industry news.
“Making sure the platform is successful is critical for us,” says Hibbert. “Communication and training must be consistent, particularly as changes in legislation are going to have significant impacts on our industry.
“We have done a restructure of the service model and are expanding our ability to have more people contacts with the dealership, thereby ensuring compliance and real-time training. The more connections we can have between Protecta and the dealers, the better the relationship is between the parties.
“The platform will allow the business development managers to apply more time evenly across the territories. We will have a reduced salesforce supported by the Elmo platform.”
To read more about Protecta’s new dealer online platform check out the September edition of Autofile magazine.