Working with financial institutions

Steve, the F&I manager at the dealership where I worked, was masterful at finding and cultivating good relationships with multiple financial institutions. He knew how important it was to have a variety of financing options at our fingertips. Equally important, he knew how a good working relationship with these sources could help make our financing job easier.
There were times when Steve sensed that we might be losing one of our financing sources. It was normally out of our control. Financial institutions seem to run hot and cold when it comes to vehicle financing. That’s why Steve would occasionally seek new relationships. When the need arose, Steve would obtain additional sources. Here’s how he did it.
Steve would make an appointment to meet with a potential new finance source. He usually arranged a lunch appointment so he could minimize interruptions and build rapport.
Steve always took along an “evidence manual” that consisted of the following:

  • Photographs of the dealership
  • Product information
  • History of the dealership
  • Brief biographies of the F&I personnel
  • F&I penetration figures
  • Performance graphs and charts
  • Financial statements
  • Projections
  • He also prepared specific questions to ask

  • How do you feel about the retail vehicle industry?
  • How long have you been financing vehicles?
  • What dealerships do you work with now?
  • What would they say about your institution?
  • What dealership does an excellent job, and why?
  • If you were to buy our contracts, what could I do to make your job easier?
  • What are your buying policies and procedures? How do they differ from other financial institutions?
  • What is your attitude towards our selling credit insurance, extended protection and other F&I products? Will you buy these additions on the contract?
  • Would I have direct contact with your lenders? How accessible are they? Would there be one lender designated to process our contracts?
  • How flexible are you in buying contracts?
  • What are your rates?
  • What special administrative requests will you be making?
  • How quickly do you cash contracts?

Steve was not always successful at negotiating a new financial source the first time. However, he was excellent at following up by staying in touch.

Obviously, it is much easier to keep your present financial sources happy than it is to get new ones. Steve followed specific guidelines for maintaining good relationships with our lenders.
For example, most dealerships don’t allow their sales staff to fill out credit applications. Their job is to sell the vehicle only.
However, our salespeople were allowed to fill it out so a credit bureau check could be made during negotiations. Sometimes a customer would only give the initial information and a signature at the bottom. If so, the Business Office would get the remaining information later. (Special Note: There may be good reasons why your dealership has a different procedure.)
Steve would school our salespeople on how to properly fill out a credit application. He repeatedly stressed neatness and completeness. When he would get an application that was completed particularly well, he would use it as an example for other salespeople. This not only set a standard for the other salespeople to reach, but it gave recognition to the salesperson who did it right.

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