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Phil DuPree

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How to Leverage Three Credit Trends Affecting Auto Sales

2013 is shaping up to be a good year for auto retailers, with sales expected to top 15 million for the first time since 2007. Several contributing factors to this success are credit-related, with more consumers qualifying for loans, lengthier terms and rising interest rates.

 

In its June 2013 State of the Automotive Finance report, Experian documents that subprime loans are on the rise again and that consumers within all credit tiers were able to obtain financing in Q1 of 2013. Most notably, loans going to consumers with credit outside of prime jumped to 45% percent of the overall loan market in Q1 2013, up from 44% percent in Q1 2012.

 

Many car buyers were taken out of the market over the last few years thanks to tight credit standards, and they may not understand that the market now provides them with options they didn’t have before.

 

Here’s how to leverage the latest credit trends:

 

1) Consumers Qualifying for Loans with Lower Credit Scores

 

If you track why people don’t buy from you, now is the time to go through your CRM and contact all prospects that were rejected for loans in the last few years. Create an e-mail marketing campaign letting them know that lenders are easing up on credit conditions and that your dealership may be able to help them finance a new or used car now.

 

2) Lengthier Loans Becoming the Norm

 

According to Experian, 63% of car loans in Q1 of 2013 were for more than five years, and about 20% were for more than six years. Lenders are finding that consumers are less likely to walk away from their cars than they are from their homes, and therefore auto loans are less risky.

 

Showing a low, teaser-style payment is attractive, but a comparative payment helps consumers make a decision. Show prospects a comparison on how extending the length of a loan may help to lower their monthly payment, and it’s both helpful to them and a “forced choice” close.

 

Amount Financed

Length of Loan

Interest Rate

Monthly Payment

$20,000

5 Years

4%

$368

$20,000

7 Years

4%

$273

 

 

 

3) Rising Interest Rates Help Create Sense of Urgency

 

The average interest rate for a five-year new car loan is around 4.08% according to Bankrate.com, down slightly from 4.46% a year ago. That’s still very low, but recent spikes in U.S. Treasury bond rates and mortgage interest rates have sparked fears that the Fed may have to raise interest rates before their target date of 2015.

 

If a prospect says they may wait a while to buy, tell them it would be prudent to lock in a low interest rate auto loan sooner rather than later. The media’s your friend here since they’ve been focusing on the effect of rising interest rates on housing purchases. Provide your customers with a calculation of what their desired car will cost them with a 4% interest rate compared to 6% over the course of a five-year loan. For instance:

 

Amount Financed

Length of Loan

Interest Rate

Monthly Payment

$20,000

5 Years

4%

$368

$20,000

5 Years

6%

$386

 

A difference of $20 a month may not seem like much, but over five years the higher interest rate adds an additional $1,200 in finance charges. Car buyers could use that extra money for a vacation somewhere (in their new vehicle!)

 

 

Finally, extend this philosophy to your website to increase your conversion rate. Having payment marketing tools on your website, such as Payment Pro’s Shop-By-Payment, combined with a targeted marketing campaign that shows customers their financing options will help drive buyers to your website. 

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