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3 ways to maximize the self-financed customer

I have spent a lot of time working with finance and sales departments to convert customers from their own financing to the dealership financing, but let’s face it, there are some customers you cannot sway.

What do we do with those customers?

This month I am going to talk about the three things that dealerships can do to keep control of customers who insist on going to their own bank or paying with their own cash.

These are things I see done at dealerships all over the country, and they work in most cases. That being said, if you ever get into a situation where you must decide between either 1) sticking to your process and making the customer mad; or 2) giving the customer what they want and keeping them happy, you always give them what they want and keep them happy!

1. Finance can give the total price.

Ideally, you want your finance department to provide the customer with their total cash price. If we are not giving the customer a total price on the sales floor, it will be harder for the customer to negotiate based on a total price (this always costs the sales department margin). This will also allow your finance person the opportunity to talk with the customer about other options they might have, such as maintenance programs, service contacts, tire and wheel programs or other things before they have mentally closed their wallet.

2. Give the finance department the best shot at selling.

As I mentioned, the finance person has the best chance of selling to the customer before he or she mentally closes the wallet.

As an industry, we talk a lot about the advantage of the customer taking mental ownership but rarely do we talk about the disadvantage of having customers mentally close their wallets. They are both equally powerful, so let’s talk about getting the customer to keep their wallet open.

If customers ask for a total on their purchase, the stock answer should be that they will get the total from the person who will be taking care of their paperwork. The salesperson should say, “They (the finance department) are responsible for making sure your total is correct, so they will go over all of that with you as soon as you get back to talk with them.” In my experience, I have seen that most customers are OK with this.

As I said before, if the customer is not OK with that approach and wants the total right away, then you get it. The key is to try and have the finance department give the total every time. The more often that the finance department is able to give the total, the better chance they will have of selling what they offer.

3. Finance should give the purchase order to the bank.

The final piece — and one of the most important ones that helps the finance department stay in control — is for your finance department to assist customers in getting everything they need for their bank. If it’s presented correctly, the customer will see it as a service you are offering that will help smooth the purchase transaction. To a degree, that’s exactly what it is. The biggest reason for the dealership to offer this is that it keeps the customer locked into buying the vehicle from you. If you send the customer out of your dealership with a purchase order to take to their bank, I guarantee you are helping some of those customers go right down the road to buy from your competition.

If you send the purchase order over to the bank yourself, you can also include financing of products that the customer is interested in buying. This is also a perfect opportunity to make another bank contact. You never know when that bank may decide to open a direct lending arm, and you want to be one of the dealerships they contact in that event.

Steve Dodds II is a moderator, trainer and consultant for Gart Sutton and Associates with a focus on sales and finance departments. Contact him at info@gartsutton.com.

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