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An Interview with Gulf States Financial Services President, Steve Amos

05/09/2012
IndustryNews


An Interview with Gulf States Financial Services President, Steve Amos
By: Cindy Sly

After Agent Summit, Steve Amos, president of Gulf States Financial Services, sat down with AE Magazine and answered some questions for this month’s “View From the Top.” In the following interview, Amos shares his overview of the industry, discusses his company and products, and looks into the future with a positive mindset. 

Share with our readers an overview on Gulf States Financial Services and the products that are offered.

Gulf States Financial Services (GSFS), marketed as GSFSGroup, is a 30 year old company initially devoted to only Toyota dealers in the Gulf States region. The five state region is comprised of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Within this region, Gulf States Toyota is the exclusive distributor for all parts, service and vehicles. GSFSGroup is responsible for all the finance and insurance products and services to all Toyota dealers in the Gulf States region. GSFSGroup offers the gambit of finance and insurance products: service contracts, GAP, tire and wheel, prepaid maintenance, credit insurance and soon to introduce several new products. One is an excess wear and tear product for Toyota leases and another is a bundled product that includes windshield, tire and wheel and door ding as a single product line.

For GSFS, Toyota is only part of our business. The other half of our business (where we are seeing excellent growth) is our National Sales Division. This division is dedicated throughout all fifty states in the U.S. We offer finance and insurance products along with training and compliance support to dealerships across the country via our general agency network.
When we look at what will drive our future growth, it’s our Gulf States dealers and our network of General Agents. These two sales divisions are where we will find success now and for many, many years in the future.

How do your products differ from others?

What separates us from others are a couple of things. Number one is how we do business with our partners. We are a very, very value based company in terms of our corporate ethics and moral values and operate our business accordingly. Every transaction and every phone call is based on the intrinsic nature of doing the right thing for our customers.
We look at our business and our products from the perspective that we have three primary customers. The first is the individual that buys one of our products from one of our dealers. The second is the dealer that sells our products to the consumer. The third and equally important customer is our District Managers and General Agents.
In addition, we differentiate ourselves with our VSC programs. We offer every participation model available plus one or two that others don’t have. We offer a non-controlled foreign corporation (NCFC) product and we own the NCFC. We have Controlled Foreign Corporation better known as CFC. We offer very creative retroactive commission programs, as well as a Dealer Owned Warranty Company program and a fast growing Dealer Obligor program.
So when you combine our corporate values, our focus on doing the right thing with every decision we make and offering all the different participation programs we’re confident we stand out from the competition. We don’t want to be the biggest. We want to be the best at working with our customers.

Steve, you’ve stated your target markets and your message you want to give them. Please elaborate.

Overall, our target market is automobile dealers in America. We offer Toyota F&I products in the Gulf States region but also offer our products to all other manufacturers in the U.S. Our message is simple. Take care of our customers.

Are there any plans for on the horizon for RV or Powersports?

There are thoughts of moving into those areas but right now we are totally focused on expanding our Toyota footprint within Gulf States as well as the agency side of our business. If I had to say, I would say that the powersports market would be the next market we would consider.

 

Tell us about yourself and the path that led to President of GSFS.

It’s been an interesting road. I started in the car business over 30 years ago selling cars (Pontiacs), and worked my way up to General Manager of a large Dallas dealership. I made the decision to move into the insurance side of the business and never looked back. I’ve been on the insurance side of the business for almost 20 years. Prior to GSFSGroup, I was with a competitor. When the opportunity with Gulf States came up it was impossible to pass up. The quality of all the Gulf States companies as well as GSFSGroup was very appealing to me. I saw the opportunity for GSFSGroup to become a great company.

Do you miss selling cars?

I do miss it but I love what I’m doing now. The retail car business is an exciting and evolving business. You’re selling something every day; selling service, selling parts, selling cars, selling finance products. There is action on a constant basis. It’s a very enthusiastic business that’s hard to walk away from. That’s why I’m glad to still be in the car business.

How do you feel the industry has changed in the last five years and what changes do you see in the future?

I would say technology and compliance has and will continue to shape our industry. In the last five years technology has taken over so many things. There is a concentrated effort by all companies to become paperless in all of their transactions. The advances in technology in our industry has made our business a far more accurate and efficient business. With constant regulatory changes we focus more and more of our time working with our customers to stay focused on being compliant and ethical in all their transactions. This goes to our core values. In the last five years the industry has been from the top of the world to the bottom of the world and we’re going back up again. The last three years have been the most challenging years but the car business is still strong and getting stronger. I look to 2012 and 2013 to be very good years.

Is there a particular product that will help drive your success?

I think there are several. Prepaid maintenance programs have been somewhat of a dormant product for about 20 years but have really hit the radar screen in dealerships. There is good understanding as to the value in prepaid maintenance programs. In addition, our variety of Vehicle Service Contract participation programs will drive our business in the future as well.

Lastly, delivering excellent customer service is critical to our success. To me it doesn’t matter how far technology goes because one thing remains true. It is how you conduct yourself and conduct your business with your customers. That will never change in business.
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