Powersports Business content director Dave McMahon recently spoke with former dealership owner Trent Hall, who has launched a new business called Capture VI.
As a dealership owner, Trent Hall found that credit card fees gnawed on him worse than nearly any other aspect of running his business.
Starting with one location but ending up with eight stores prior to his newest venture, Hall was sure that there had to be a better way. He’s confident he’s found it and believes that dealership owners will be eager to learn more about it.
Hall launched Capture VI (short for Virgin Islands, its home base) earlier this year. He got his start at the dealership level by pushing the broom as a 14-year-old at his parents’ single-line operation called Hall’s Motorsports in Mobile, Alabama. His next stop as a teen was the U.S. Navy, where he ended up flying F-14 fighter jets for eight years. He parlayed that experience into a 13-year career as a commercial pilot at Southwest Airlines, which proved to not be his cup of tea.
So back to the dealership he went, where he guided the operation to three-fold revenue increase in 2007. In July 2008, not exactly a textbook time to be opening anything, he opened a second location.
“It was the worst time to open a dealership,” Hall told Powersports Business. “I looked around and said ‘What am I going to do now?’ My competitors were dropping like flies so I was picking up their locations.”
The onset of COVID-19 had Hall thinking the time was right to exit the dealerships, so he did this year, parting with his eight dealerships that generated over $60 million annually in revenue.
“It was a good time to exit that part of the world, but I want to be involved in the industry,” he said. “And I knew that like a lot of other dealers, one of things that bothered me was people wanting $100 or $500 or $1,000 a month for their service.”
Enter the credit card processing and accounts payable piece that is being offered by Capture VI. Credit card processing fees can easily exceed $10,000 per year for one dealership location, but Hall’s company eliminates those fees to the dealer by passing the transaction fee onto the customer.
“It’s a retention bonus that we offer. If you were paying $10,000 or $15,000 per year, it’s money that you were spending but now you’re getting the benefit of,” Hall said.
Hall partners with a handful of some of the 1,700 credit card processors in the U.S., with the outsourced model providing the most benefit for the dealership owner.
“It’s standard practice in the restaurant industry all over the country,” he said. “Now, just like when the customer is at the restaurant and pays the credit card processing fee, the dealership passes that fee onto the customer instead of the dealership paying it.”
Hall noted that the average fee he paid on credit card purchases was about 2.1%. With Capture VI, dealers can pass along a 3.5% credit card processing fee, for example, to the customer. Dealerships will be given up to a certain amount of basis points per credit card transaction.
“Customers are already used to in other arenas,” Hall said. “If your bill is $100, then it’s $100 if you pay cash and $103.50 if you pay with a credit card. Before, I was only keeping $97.50 of that $100 I sold. Now, there’s something at the end of the rainbow for me.”
A tough pill for dealership customers to swallow?
“The truth of the matter is that there’s hesitancy for about the first two weeks, and then after that the thought isn’t even brought up anymore. It’s like when you see it broken down on your bill at the restaurant. It’s $100 cash or $103.50 if you want the convenience of paying by credit card.”
Capture VI already has early adopters on board at the dealership level, as Hall referenced. The “cash discount” program gets heaps of signage throughout the dealership in the weeks leading up to the launch.
“Right now, because we have such pricing power as dealers, this is the time to do a program like this,” he said. “If it doesn’t work, we can change it back to the old way within a week.”
Depending on the size and scope of the operation, Hall said the program could mean a savings of between $10,000 and $20,000 per individual dealership.