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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Amy Taggart

Amy Taggart Marketing Manager

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There is a Place for Special Finance in Every Store

I spent part of last week at the annual F&I Magazine Conference and Expo, and had a conversation that has been stuck in my head ever since I got back. I was speaking with a finance manager I’ve known for years, who told me how much he misses our auto finance leads and wishes that he could sign us up at his store.

The surprising thing is that when I asked why he couldn’t, his answer had nothing to do with budget or lead availability. He said that he couldn’t sign us up because he’s at a Toyota store, and there’s just no way that special finance can work in a store that isn’t domestic.

I know that opinion isn’t uncommon, but I’m here to tell you folks it’s just plain wrong. Special finance is thriving in stores across the country, from Cadillac dealers to Ford, and from Lexus to Kia, and everything in between. We do business with a good number of high line dealerships, and they all say that they love the idea of third-party leads, because it allows them to tap into a hugely profitable revenue opportunity without having to advertise their brand.

An Infiniti dealership in California did 30+ special finance deals last month, and their only means of driving that traffic into the store is third-party leads. The owner likes to laugh and say that even the stores next to him don’t know how he didn’t take the beating they did during the downturn, or who is buying all the Sentras and Hyundais he keeps out back.

As previously written, success in subprime demands a commitment from the top of the organization down, but your franchise affiliation has nothing to do with whether you can make a go of it or not. If it’s not your thing, no problem, but if you’ve had success working with challenged credit in the past and are steering clear because you don’t think you’re in the right kind of store, think again.

The money is out there for the taking, it’s just a matter of who’s going to get it.

Bart Wilson
I agree. As long as you sell used you should have a special finance department. Another question, however, is should you have a buy here pay here program?
Bryant Gibby
Maybe we weren't doing what we were supposed to, but our dealership has never been successful with a special finance department. I personally hate it. I think you invest way too much money from investing in leads, paying for a specail FI manager, buying the right inventory, and signing up with banks that make it next to impossible to be profitable. There usually isn't much front and back gross in a special FI deal and it is a lot of work for such little reward!
Bob Harwood
Bryant, It sounds like you've made a large commitment to special finance in the past with limited results. Maybe it would make more sense to just dip your toes in a little at first to get the ball rolling. We have a Toyota store not far from you that's averaging about $2,500 total per special deal, and with your inventory at a Ford store you could probably exceed that amount. I'm not trying to jam a square peg into a round hole, but if you just want to chat and bounce some ideas around give me a call. I'd love to talk to you. 804-521-8581.

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