Even in the age of information, car buyers value the expertise dealers offer, says Sean Kemple.
THERE are a number of benefits that come with offering point-of-sale finance. For dealers, finance can be an enabler to help sell more vehicles, and for the customer it can be the means to driving their ideal car.
Benefiting your customers
The obvious benefit of finance for customers is a fixed-rate monthly payment that provides an affordable means to pay for, or lease, the vehicle they need.
With a range of product options available (including conditional sale and personal contract purchase) alongside adjustable deposits, loan terms and final payments, we can help find the right product and most affordable monthly repayment for your customer.
Arranging point-of-sale finance is easy and provides your customers with a ‘one-stop shop’ solution to their new vehicle.
By opting for dealership finance, customers are given a level of protection, too. For example, the vehicle will be automatically put on the HPI register and we will complete vehicle checks – including whether it’s been stolen, written off or whether there’s any outstanding finance.
Helping your bottom line
The benefits of point-of-sale finance are not just for your customers. In an age where customers have more choice and easy access to a huge range of vehicles nationwide, finance can enable dealers to take potential customers out of the market quickly and secure a sale.
Offering finance widens your potential customer market, reaching people who may not have the savings to buy the vehicle they want outright. What’s more, finance can help protect your profit per unit (PPU) during a time when wholesale vehicle prices are going up and profit in the metal is less than it used to be.
Finance can supplement your profit margins by providing another income stream and access to a new type of customer at a time when the cost of running a business is on the rise.
Dealer advice is still valued
Before a customer arrives at your dealership, they will likely already know the vehicle they want and will have researched their finance options.
However, despite living in the ‘age of information’, our customers are telling us that they still want and value the advice they receive from dealers.
This expert knowledge includes educating potential customers on their finance product options so they have all the information they need to consider how they might best fund their vehicle purchase.
How to position finance
Key to positioning finance effectively, and indeed best practice for the whole sales process, is trying to understand your customer’s needs and affordability as early as possible.
Simple questions – such as ‘why does this vehicle interest you?’, ‘what is most important to you when considering your next car?’, ‘what do you use your vehicle for?’, ‘how do you expect to pay for any balloon payment?’ and ‘do you want to own the vehicle or lease it?’ – all help validate the customer problem you are trying to solve with a new purchase.
Qualifying your customer early will allow you to add value to the customer-buying decision, providing clarity on issues we know are confusing customers, such as fuel type and different finance options. Finding out how your customer intends to pay for the vehicle at the outset means you can offer the most support, too.
Key to introducing finance is having a discussion around affordability with your customers, looking at the most suitable product options for them and being as clear and transparent as possible about the full potential costs of running the vehicle.
Try to establish their current vehicle running costs and which related products they may be interested in, such as warranties, paint protection, service maintenance and insurance costs to name a few.
It’s in the customer’s best interest to complete a full-life cost analysis at the point of sale.
Even though your customer may have already researched alternative methods of paying for their vehicle, it’s important they understand the benefits finance can offer versus using savings or a bank loan to enable them to make an informed decision about the best route for them.
By opting to spread the cost over a number of months, customers may find they have more choice than by using savings alone, with more cars within their financial means. What’s more, it can often be better to finance a depreciating asset than use savings.
For example, by leaving £10,000 in the bank and using finance instead to purchase the car, in a year’s time a customer could still have £10,000 rather than a car worth £8,000.
We believe our expertise in motor finance too can add value. We pride ourselves on reviewing applications based not only on the customer and the proposed terms of the finance agreement, but also on the vehicle itself.
We work in partnership with our dealer partners to discuss options and ensure the deal is right for the customer and their financial circumstances.
If the length of the proposed agreement is a barrier for your customer, you can reassure them that our products allow them to settle their agreements at any time throughout the repayment period. They are also able to overpay at any point in the agreement, without any extra charges.
Qualify your customer at the outset and ask the right questions early
Invest the time to truly understand your customer’s need to really add value
Have the finance discussion upfront with every customer – they might not realise their full options
Advertise the availability of finance across all channels – customers expect it
Display finance options for a range of alternative products on each car – be clear and transparent to ensure the customer can make an informed decision themselves
Understand your responsibilities as a dealer to impart information and share your knowledge
Sean Kemple is director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, one of the UK’s leading providers of motor finance. The company works with more than 8,000 dealers and provides finance for new and used cars, LCVs, motorcycles, caravans and motorhomes. Go to closemotorfinance.co.uk to find out more.