4 Tips for Boosting Dealer Relationships

canstockphoto0308574Is there a lender that does not want to originate more loans?

We’ll go with “no,” which is why we asked Dawn Martin Harp, head of Dealer Services at Wells Fargo & Co., the nation’s fourth largest auto finance company, for the keys to boosting dealer originations and improvement sales. She offered four lessons that touch on keeping dealers in the loop and using mobile technology to enhance sales.

  1. Make it quick. Lenders hear it again and again – speed trumps rates. If you are the first to get your offer through, you are going to originate more loans. Martin Harp said Wells Fargo is always looking to get in front of buyers faster, and just as importantly, shorten the time spent in the dealership. “We want to make the originations process more efficient and more dealer-friendly,” Harp said. “That means competing on pricing and helping on decision-making.”
  2. Speed things up with technology. Technology has the power speed up the application process for consumers, or at least make it easier. For example, loan applications can be started or complete online instead of only at the dealership.  But this requires that bank make products easy to understand for both dealers and consumers. One initiative Wells Fargo is exploring is allowing buyers to use PayPal and online payment tools to reserve a certain car they want to buy. The other side of this is keeping dealers up to date on how the latest tech initiatives. “Our dealers are thinking about how they can connect their brick-and-mortar store and the mobile space in a seamless way,” Martin Harp said.
  3. Get feedback. Wells Fargo maintains a Dealer Council, Martin Harp said, in which a group of dealers engages the lender in an ongoing dialogue. A lot of ideas flow from this conversation, and it provides an opportunity for the lender to explore new product ideas and ideas for creative uses of technology. A major issue the Dealer Council has explored is maintaining customer loyalty and satisfaction. Martin Harp mentioned Yelp and Amazon ratings as ways customers can make their opinions known. The Dealer Council allows dealers to have their say, and the feedback is invaluable. “Communication with the Dealer Council helps us enhance the customer experience,” Martin Harp said. While many lenders maintain dealer groups, the difference at Wells appears to be its willingness to embrace feedback and suggestions from its Dealer Council.
  4. Connect with millennials. Wells Fargo says that its investments in mobile technology give it a head start on connecting with millennials, and dealers can benefit from this. One service the lender provides younger buyers with are financial literacy tools. “We have significantly enhanced our online experience to provide more tools and information,” Martin Harp said. This means posing and answering questions on its site that might seem like no-brainers, such as “What is an auto loan?” It also means following up post-origination and helping buyers be successful with their payments and informed about the state of their loans. Some dealers maintain dedicated teams to handle mobile customers – much more likely to be millennials, Martin Harp said.
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