Educate, Educate and Educate Again!


Whether you are a underwriter, dealer rep or upper management, educating a dealer on your program should be constant.  Dealers are visual people and it’s easy to walk into a finance office or up to the sales tower and start spewing your program and then you wonder why you aren’t getting business, or maybe you got a few apps and then they dropped off.   The reason behind this varies, but mostly it’s not because finance managers, sales managers don’t like you, it’s because they forget.  They forget your program often times as soon as you walk out the door, but if you are consistently educating your dealer base on your program in a visual manner then you develop a stable relationship.

I have to give Citi Auto credit in educating me on how to sell to dealerships.  We had the best trainers in the business and we had one of the best programs at the time.  I was a branch manager for over 10 years and I recall being scared to death when we were going into indirect lending.  I didn’t have a clue about dealerships, or their inner workings per- say.  At the time, I didn’t know how to buy a deal much less sell this program that looked like Greek writing to me, but I made up my mind that it wasn’t going to stop me from taking my branch to as close to #1 as I could get.  I questioned the reps we had and I asked even asked more questions to the dealer base I was working on developing.  I had to change what I knew and be flexible.  The change turned out to be the best in my career and I enjoyed my job more than ever. 

As we bloomed into a full indirect lender, I picked up some great ways to reach dealers visually and educate them on our program.  We developed “mock” deal work-ups to show dealers how our program could make them money.  I would go in and use a vehicle they had and book it out with the finance manager, then plug in the numbers to show how much money they could make on that particular car and break it down for them by the tier we had on our program.  This can be done with any program and it doesn’t have to be a tier program.  Go online and pull up your dealership, then pull a car off their inventory (new, used)..

Example–  2012 Nissan Altima; Internet sell price 17,500..

NADA Retail: 16,200; Trade; 15,000; Loan 14,000. 

Now let’s say your program only goes by trade value but you can advance up to 135% of trade before backend (service contract, gap, maintenance)…would mean you could advance 17,025 on the unit.  Almost up to full asking price before backend.  If I was a betting women,  I would say that you just made the dealership up to 2k on the deal or more.

Showing them this in writing on any unit gives them a visualization of what you could make them on that unit.  It’s another tool that a rep or underwriter should master.  It gives you more creditability with the dealer.   Again, educating a dealer on your program, building a deeper relationship and showing them that you aren’t just a pretty face that comes in once or twice a month to hand out pens.

As a branch manager or underwriter if you want to keep the deals flowing DO NOT be an “order taker”.   As a rep,  nothing aggravated me more than to have one of my dealers submit a deal and it got shot down when it actually scored in the system.   The dealer submits the deal to everyone and everyone has different programs and advances.  In other words, if you get a deal with an advance of 165% but it scores a good tier, why not take the few minutes to pick up the phone and actually work the deal with the dealer instead of declining it because it didn’t fit into the box.  As a branch manager I would get deals that wouldn’t fit into the box but I had no issue picking up the phone and calling the dealer and working the deal to “fit” the box.  It could be changing vehicles, or just booking out the unit and making sure all of the “adds” are in the system.   Granted,  I get that in these days the big players on the field don’t have time to call every deal back, but when it came to my bonus I found the time even if it was to contact the rep via text and ask them to contact the dealership for me and get the information.  Believe it or not, reps will be happy to do it because it’s their paycheck and reps are competitive by nature and they want every deal they can get.   However, if you as an underwriter pick up the phone and call the dealer yourself, they LOVE it.  They know you are just as busy as they are, yet you took the time to call them to work the deal and give them a way to go.  What a way to build a relationship that LASTS with your dealer base!!!  You actually show you care and then they begin to care about you and your company.  No offense to reps, but the dealer really wants that relationship with their underwriter  and as a rep I strived to make sure the dealer had that relationship with my underwriter. The reason behind this is they know the underwriter is the decision maker and underwriters who go the extra mile for them get the deals.  Plain and simple. 

In the end if you build the relationship with your dealer with the underwriter, reps you are doing yourself a huge favor and making more money in the end and isn’t that what the job is all about?   Educating the dealer consistently and getting your underwriter on board to do the same is one key to success and higher paychecks at month end.   Using the tools and going the extra mile will reap long term benefits that will follow you anywhere you go in the business.


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