Becky's blog

Don’t Let Your Competition Eat Your Lunch

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“Subprime financing.” It’s one of the most frequently-spoken catchphrases in the auto sales industry today. It’s also one of the biggest pain points for car dealers so entrenched in their old ways of doing business that they can’t see the forest through the trees. We all know working subprime deals can be a pain in the you-know-what. But so is selling cars without making a profit. You’d think this harsh reality would be enough to jolt sense into sleepy minds – but if that were the case, I’d probably be out of a job.

Here’s the simple, unadulterated truth: if you want to maximize your profits in today’s rough and tumble economy, you’re going to have to learn to embrace subprime financing. Period. But before you can do that, you first have to ask yourself some hard questions that probe deep into the heart of what you’re probably doing wrong.

1.) Do you have an inventory diverse enough to accommodate a broad range of budgets?
2.) Is there a system in place at your dealership that automatically selects a range of specific vehicles based on the customer’s credit information?
3.) Do you have the right lenders in place who will buy deals without forcing a ton of contingencies?
4.) Is your F&I Manager schooled on the various methods of working with subprime or nonprime credit? What type of F&I Training does your F&I Manager attend on a regular basis?
5.) What compliance checks – if any – does your dealership have in place to double-check all steps throughout the buying process? Does your F&I Training include F&I compliance?
6.) Do you take steps to ensure your internal processes and procedures are followed by everyone and not just your F&I Manager? Did you know that F&I Training is not just meant for F&I, everyone in the dealership should attend F&I Training.
7.) Are you of the opinion that compliance starts and ends with the F&I office and has nothing to do with what goes on at the sales floor level?
8.) Do you find yourself stuck in the mindset that all it takes to sell a car is to land the customer on a specific car before talking figures?
9.) What’s the frequency of your staff’s training schedule? Do you offer weekly or bi-monthly training refreshers? F&I Training is essential it’s the basic building blocks and this isn’t meant for just the F&I department.
10.) Is your sales staff gun-shy about sending subprime customers to your F&I Manager because he or she has a poor attitude about it? When is the last time you sent your F&I Manager or better yet your sales manager to NonPrime or SubPrime F&I Training?
11.) Do you have a smart pay plan in place to adequately support subprime deals in sales and finance?

Many dealers make the decision to sell cars to subprime customers, or buy trigger leads in the hopes of upping their sales margins. Then they do absolutely nothing to upgrade their existing sales processes or consider F&I Training. If this sounds like you, you’re in for a rude awakening. With no game plan in place, you’re sunk before you’ve even set sail.

The fact is, more than 50 percent of all car customers suffer from near-average to subprime credit. Without a well-planned process in place for dealing with nonprime or subprime customers, you’re effectively pushing half of all prospective buyers out the door and handing your lunch to your competitors in the process. If that doesn’t put a pit square in your stomach, maybe you’re in the wrong line of work.

Having an established process in place that encourages more subprime sales is absolutely essential to surviving the shifting tides of our uncertain economy. Now is the time to consider trading in those old, worn out methods that have been undermining your results. Learning can be fun!

Rebecca Chernek is the founder and president of Chernek Consulting, LLC. With over three decades of experience, she is one of the auto industry’s most sought-after thought leaders. She offers specialty, in-house F&I consultation services and regional workshops on F&I Training and recently added Non-Prime SubPrime training. Contact Rebecca today at becky@chernekconsulting.com or visit www.chernekconsulting.com or contact directly at 404-276-4026 for a complimentary analysis!