Northstar Motor Group blogs about cars
Car Finance for everyone at Northstar : The role of finance in digital marketing
Matt Darby outline the role of the finance department in a modern car dealership.
The finance and Insurance department in a car dealership is more than just a profit centre, it's where customers who want to purchase a particular vehicle will determine the affordability of that vehicle.
From talking to our customers, we find that their bank and credit union aren't all that interested in funding the vehicle - lack of interest, higher rates and charges and then the approval and documentation process can take weeks. A dealer finance manager can generally have an approval on the spot for most customers or overnight at the worst.
Why does this happen? Finance in dealerships is an important aspect of the business and rather than a side line, it comes down to right person, right place, right time. I've had personal experience with the delays that banks make and prefer to deal directly with my own finance guys.
If you're in the market for any personal or business items, whether they're motorcycles, boats, office equipment, caravans, motor homes or for any worthwhile purpose, give our finance team an opportunity. Call 07 34808600 or visit our web site www.getfinancenow.com.au . A simple online application will have you on the road to a quick approval
The nature of vehicle dealerships is that often each department has its own budget that they must work to. This often means that each department in the dealership is working in isolation from the others.
As a generalisation, the competitiveness of the used vehicle market often means the used vehicle department is the most willing to invest in new technology and services to market their vehicles online.
Everyone knows the value of finance and insurance to a dealership - for many it is the most profitable aspect of their business. This being the case is there not an opportunity for the used vehicle and F&I departments to work together to benefit both?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes! Used vehicles and F&I are closely linked in "real life" so why is this not seen more often in the digital space? This may be due to lack of communication, political or budgetary reasons or simply not knowing how F&I can be involved in online marketing.
Whatever the reasons, there are a number of tactics that can be used to more closely integrate F&I with online marketing of used vehicles.
Finance application forms
The most obvious place to start is by ensuring that the dealership website includes a finance application form. This is, obviously, included on the finance page of your website but should also be integrated with your used vehicle pages.
After all, where is the logic in a browser finding a vehicle they like, then having to leave the page to find out whether they can afford it. Dealerships can use a stripped back finance enquiry form or a fully fledged finance application form depending on how well you know your customers.
Displaying finance rates
Finance rates often make a vehicle seem more appealing than the listed price. The logic behind this is that seeing a weekly or monthly finance rate helps put prices into perspectives that customers can understand. $69,990 may seem unreachable to most, but when broken down into a monthly repayment, potential customers are able to rationalise their decision.
Displaying these rate on the stock page can be a straightforward process that is simply a case of including a fixed finance rate in your used vehicle listings - i.e. Finance from $XXX per month.
Finance calculators take the next step from finance application forms and displaying finance rates. A finance calculator allows customers to work out exactly what they can afford to pay by adjusting a number of variables such as deposit and length of term but keeping the finance rate constant.
This helps make the process more personal for a browser and searching by finance can be a more relevant way for some browsers to search.
Finance & Insurance in email marketing
The three tools listed above focus on the area of used vehicle presentation on a dealer's website. F&I can also play a part in email marketing communications. Many dealers are effective at promoting special finance rates but few drill down to market these on individual used vehicles.
Imagine how much more effective this could be if the email recipient receives an email with a selection of used cars all listed with a monthly finance rate that he or she can relate to. A car they like quickly becomes a car they can afford when it is presented in this manner.
Finance can also be important in retaining customers that have previously purchased a vehicle from you.
Emailing new models with finance rates to customers that are nearing the end of their lease term, or are three years into their finance repayments, is a great way for them to see how easy it would be to upgrade for very little added expense.
All of the above tools are available to dealerships. If it doesn't exist as an off-the-shelf product then think about getting it purpose-built for your dealership - this is certainly worth the investment if it results in more finance enquiry.
To be truly effective, online dealership departments MUST work together - not just the F&I and used vehicle departments but also the new vehicle, parts, service and admin departments.