Introduction To Special Finance

Have you had trouble sleeping lately? Been watching any “trash TV” or late night infomercials? Then, without a doubt, you’ve been inundated with “Bad Credit Mania”. It seems like every time you turn your TV on, there’s somebody telling you that, regardless of how bad your credit may be, you can get approved for a loan, with no money down, for that beautiful high line import sports car, or how about that beautiful luxury SUV. And payments that are so low, you hardly have made them. Just come on in and they’ll send you home in the dream vehicle of your choice with no hassle.

If you’re an automobile dealer, or manager, you wonder how people can actually believe all this nonsense. No money down financing for bad credit customers is just another fantasy. But the dealership down the street is constantly flooded with ups, while your guys stand around drinking your coffee and littering your used car lot with their cigarette butts. Meanwhile, that other dealership seems to be busy all day and night…why, they still have ups on the lot when you’re getting ready to close.

If this sounds like your dealership, then you probably never heard of Special Finance. Maybe you have, but you’ve also heard all the horror stories that go along with it. The “skuzzy “customers, their trashed trade-ins, bad down payment checks, and all the lies they tell to try and get approved for a loan. And the banks, oh the banks you have to deal with for these people. They take forever to fund a deal, if indeed the deal gets funded at all. Seems like the only guy to make any money on these deals is your “repo-man,” if he can find these people and get your car back! Why would anyone in their right mind want to subject themselves to this kind of aggravation?

But what if I could show you that, by ignoring these customers, you effectively eliminate up to half the customers within a 30 mile radius of your dealership. Imagine that over 50% of the people living around your dealership suddenly pack up and move overnight. Would you even have built it there in the first place? Probably not, but since you’re already there, why would you even think of excluding these folks from your dealership? Contrary to what you might think, this aspect of the business can be both profitable and clean, and these customers prove themselves time and again to be some of your most loyal customers ever. They regard you and your dealership as a friend who helped them out during some tough times, and will refer friends and family with great vigor, especially those in the same circumstances. They will service their vehicles at your service department, and will take advantage of your body shop if you have one. They will come back time and again and will continue to do business with your dealership for as long as you’ll let them. They are without doubt the best word of mouth advertising you can get!

So, who is your store in the grand scheme of dealerships? Do you openly embrace sub-prime customers, and make this business your main objective? Do your people run for cover when a special finance customer hits the lot, knowing that your F&I department has no interest in these customers. Do you dabble on the outskirts of special finance, doing only those deals which require little effort?

Research shows that, when it comes to Sub-prime or Special Finance (SFI), dealerships traditionally fall in to on of four categories. We like to call it “The Dealership Four Square”:

The Bold Dealership is just that. He’s known as the special finance king. All his advertising dollars go towards the sub prime market, and you can pretty well surmise that anyone driving one of his cars probably has a credit problem. The dealership caters to sub-prime business, and as such, good credit customers may be reluctant to go there. If a 750 beacon walks in the door, he probably made a wrong turn!

The Enthusiastic Dealership is willing to do Special Finance, but is typically not ready There is no pro-active marketing for Special Finance , thus the limited business is generated from , lot traffic,” Get ME Dones” and primary F&I turn downs. The F& I Turndowns are typical when the Sales Desk has a strong deal on a vehicle and is delivered to the customer on the Sales Desk’s “OK to SPOT”. These deals have been shopped to every primary lender with no success. It is at this point (often two days later) that the Special Finance Manager gets the deal and is left with the task of salvaging a deal that was never handled properly from the beginning. These stores see the potential for sub-prime but can’t figure out how the store down the street can deliver all their turn downs. They tend to take only the easy deals, and those that require some work usually get let out after the initial round of rejections.

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