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From: Jared Hamilton
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Shannon Page

Shannon Page EVP

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"It's All Good": The Return of Spi-Fi

 

I remember sitting in my office at Robberson Ford two years ago.  It was a beautiful day not unlike today, clear but cold.  I was having a terrible conversation with a gentleman who had submitted an inquiry on a pre-owned vehicle.  He’d been a mortgage broker for the previous 25 years, and, like so many of the real estate affiliated customers I’d been talking to then, he’d fallen on hard times.  His story was pretty sad.  Big fat house in Bend, OR, second home in Tahoe, delinquent mortgages on both. Audi A8, Porsche Cayenne, both 90+ days late.    Under water in the homes, upside down in both vehicles.  No income for months, so definitely no cash down.  He just desperately wanted there to be a good answer.  I certainly didn’t have one for him.  And I’ve thought about that guy many many times over the past two years, wondering what ultimately happened and how he facilitated his vehicular needs.  I mean, a guy with an 800+ beacon history that tanks everything inside a year has got to have a comeback story right?

 

I’ve also been thinking about the comeback of Special Finance for months now.  I’m right in the thick of some entrepreneurial ventures that will be facilitating solutions for the automotive sector when it comes to prospecting and fulfillment in the Spi Fi realm, and I’ve had a LOT of conversations about where we’re heading.

 

I just read a blog post by a fellow I don’t know, but hope to.  Autofinancenews.net is where I found him and his name is JJ Hornblass.  JJ just got back from the Auto Finance Summit I wish I’d been attending this last week in Vegas.  (Yep, I would have forgone DD9 to be there, call me crazy).  You see, the financing component is “the thing” that keeps hanging up my conversations with my dealer principal pals.  There isn’t anyone I’ve found who wouldn’t like to be selling more cars.  The hesitance to push the Spi Fi “button” comes from the inability to facilitate loans for the customers who walk in the door right now as a result of traditional marketing.  Time and time again, I’ve heard the story that the “lenders still aren’t buying”.  So I was glad to find JJ’s blog post, which was encouraging, and echoed the sentiments represented in a lot of the articles I’ve been reading and re-posting on ADM and Facebook –  that “auto finance is back and is only getting better.”

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not naïve about this wildly exciting and downright grindingly dirty side of our business.  I pulled two years in a single point pre-owned store that occupied three dingy city blocks and rolled 300 cars a month, 75%+ of which were sub-sub-prime.  We had relationships with upwards of 20 lenders (we were not BHPH), more than half of which have evaporated from the face of the planet.  That business model did not survive the economic collapse, and the echoes of our jingle “working with you and working for you” are all that is left of what was once a thriving representation of some serious capitalism.

 

I get it.  It is to be a long road.  I guess my point is that, after the GM acquisition of Americredit, the resecuritization of CPS and Prestige, numerous lenders publicly “loosening” their guidelines to facilitate an increased supply of loans for the current and future demand, and all of the other favorable press on this topic, are YOU getting ready to push “the button”?

 

There’s a lot that goes into a successful Spi-Fi venture.  You’ve got to have the right marketing.   You’ve got to have the right fulfillment to process your prospects.  You’ve got to have the right mentality, the right people working for you, the right lender relationships, and the right inventory.  I personally know dealers who absolutely will not EVER, and I mean NEVER engage in the sub-prime arena, and I totally respect that.  On the flip side, there are dealers who have thought about it and who are thinking about it right this very minute.

 

So what if I told you, if you’re in the latter category, that there’s a beacon of hope on the horizon to facilitate whichever components of your Spi-Fi “set up” you don’t currently have in place or that you’ve been struggling with?  To put it differently, what if I told you “there’s an app for that”?  Yes, this paragraph is a shameless plug for the services we will be providing through a company that is soon to be revealed.  The point of my saying this, however, is not to promote what we do as the end all be all turn-key solution to a dealer’s Spi-Fi dreams, but to stir up some conversation about what challenges you currently face that are keeping you from pushing the button, or from being successful if you pushed the button a while back.

 

In my travels in the past 90 days, I’ve spoken with high volume lead generators, direct mail experts, call center gurus, SEO powerhouses, guys who’ve built sub-prime lending arms for some of the biggest banks in our business, and literally every single one of them is gearing up to facilitate supply solutions for sub-prime market demand.  They’re either ready right now, or they’re literally days away from being ready to facilitate whatever program you want to put together.  So here’s my challenge to you:  let’s stop talking about the “possibility” of a special finance comeback and let’s start talking about how to become truly successful in the Special Finance realm in today’s market  

 

Michael Gray
Very good topic Shannon. I wonder what percentage of customers the dealers you are speaking to about having "that" traffic now, are actually being delivered at the store. Are they having to deal with 20 sub-prime visitors to get a deal or 100? Like everything else, it is a numbers game. How many people do you need to see to deliver 1 car and what does it cost you? Some dealers I speak to say they have too much sub-prime traffic now and don't want to "pay" for more of it. At this point...right now-today, I know how many of my applicants you have to see to get a deal. Whether you have a ton of sub-prime traffic or not; if you have the right basic lenders, inventory and people in place, you can be successful in the sub-prime arena. Ask me for references and I can give them to you today. I'm talking about stores that don't have bhph and are very successful with my programs. These are stores that struggled with delivery rates like the rest of us during the downturn and are now getting a great ROI. One thing I have found in my numerous, daily conversations with dealers across the country is: You either want to do sub-prime or you don't! Sub-prime started out the exact same way; with a handful of dealers making all the money and other dealers jumping on the bandwagon later...trying to get in on something that others were having great success with. Sub-prime is something you either understand or you don't. I have lead tons of dealer to limited success over the years that jumped into sub-prime with very little knowledge of how it works. At the end of the day, you are either all the way in or you should stay out.

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