By Anne Ravensbeck
When a friend of mine made a big purchase at a local dealership a few months ago, her mind was set on financing the deal through her bank. She has a good relationship with her financial institution and didn’t think the dealership could compete. She also didn’t want to spend extra time at the dealership.
Many consumers today are just like my friend. Since they go to the bank more often than they go to a dealership, they trust they will get a better deal through their bank.
How can dealerships compete with that? Here are three ways:
No matter what budget customers have set, they want the best deal they can get. When possible, present a finance and lease alternative. Never assume the customer knows what different financing options are available. Today’s super low interest rates and other OEM incentives provide an opportunity to convince a customer to finance at your dealership. Tell them about programs available through various manufacturers that could qualify them for less, or zero-down on new boat specials. Are they aware that marine lenders extend longer terms on boat loans than banks and credit unions, making monthly payments lower?
Make it easy
As early as possible, make customers realize how financing with your dealership is going to be an easy process. The customers’ experience, starting from your website, to the moment they are greeted by a salesperson, affects the F&I provider’s ability to sell financing. Highlight the convenience of obtaining financing in the same place they’re purchasing their vehicle as a one-stop-shop. For instance, marine lending specialists often allow consumers to finance optional equipment, electronics, extended warranties and insurance coverage with the purchase.
Unfortunately, many customers are suspicious of dealerships and think they are trying to trick them. Be as transparent as you can with your customers. For instance, explain how you are able to provide more financing options and competitive rates because of your relationship with different lenders and OEMs. Technology can also play a key role in streamlining the buying process and making it more transparent and engaging for the customer.
When financing the purchase of their vessel, customers want at least one of three things: the best deal, convenience or peace of mind. If you give them one or two of these, you will likely have the customer finance through your dealership. If you give them all three, you may have a customer for life.
Anne Ravensbeck is a Product Planning manager for Sales and F&I applications at Reynolds and Reynolds.