Best Practices for Modern Consumer Financing in Fixed Ops Departments
By Mike Vogel
Financing should be treated like any other amenity you offer — such as shuttle service, onsite free wi-fi, rental car agreements and even the coffee customers have come to expect.
The financing industry traditionally overlooked fixed ops departments. Because dealerships simply aren’t banks, and credit cards are slow, clunky and not accessible to most customers, consumers had limited financing choices for necessary, but unplanned, repairs.
Having a real alternative to slow credit cards with very limited approval rates was transformative for our fixed ops departments. Sunbit, for instance, offers fair rates, a simple process, and approval of nine out of 10 applicants.
Below I share a handful of the best practices we established once our modern consumer financing solution was in place, along with key points to consider through the roll out of a consumer financing solution for your dealership’s fixed ops departments.
When to Offer:
Advisors should leverage every possible touch point to inform all customers of their financing options. This is more than reasonable, it is also the safe and fair way to address financing options on the service drive. Just as you don’t want to go into a business and have someone try to guess your financial means, neither do your customers.
How to Offer:
- Bring it up right out of the gate. Make financing options part of the advisor’s intro, whether when they meet the customer or when they do a 360 walk around the car, by simply letting the customers know “in case we find anything that needs to be done on your car, we now have payment plans.”
- Reinforce the message during the estimate. When writing up estimates, a good financing product can be used as a planning and budgeting tool. This allows customers to see their full purchasing power in the dealership and review monthly payments options to help approve your advisor’s service recommendations.
- Keep it up during status calls. When performing dispatch or status calls, advisors should make sure customers know they have financing options. If advisors can pre-qualify consumers from their home, that is even better.
- During active delivery. When customers are picking up their vehicle, it is helpful to remind then they have payment options. Even if they don’t need it for this particular service, it can be useful for the next visit. You never know when financing might be helpful, and so creating that awareness is a critical step.
- In all follow-up / marketing. Via the BDC team and any additional follow-up marketing communications — whether it be declined work reach outs or simple invitations for a check up — keep generating awareness. It’s not obvious that the dealership is offering payment plans for parts and services.
Frankly, financing should be treated like any other amenity you offer — such as shuttle service, onsite free wi-fi, rental car agreements and even the coffee customers have come to expect. It should be offered broadly and widely to all consumers, referenced throughout their experience with your advisors, and over time, it should enhance the relationship you have with your customers.
Tags: Auto, business, finance, startups, technology, fintech, automotive, fixed ops, payment plan