Westlake Financial zeroes in on under-used tech

With autonomous vehicles, machine learning, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk attempting to merge people’s brains with AI (yes, that is a real thing), some lenders are still struggling to get dealers on board with basic tech tools.

For Westlake Financial Services’s Mark Vazquez, senior vice president of marketing, the most under-utilized tool in auto finance is something that reduces consumers’ time at the dealership.

“The technology that should be used more is the ability to prequalify all the consumers that walk in through the dealership’s doors or that go onto their website,” Vazquez told Auto Finance Excellence. “That still is something that dealerships have tons of opportunity to improve upon.”

Westlake, for one, is allocating an extra amount of sales reps’ time and resources to the initiative, he said, noting that it’s been challenging because dealerships can be hesitant to change their processes.

Prequalifying customers — almost a given on the lender side of today’s auto finance industry — might be the answer to solving the often-lengthy process at the dealership, Vazquez said, so the dealers can get to know their consumer at the beginning of the sales process. “That’s one thing that is really underrated: understanding that the consumer does not want to be at the car lot as much as we may think they do,” he said.

He noted that in other facets of life, consumers can go on Amazon, order something and have it delivered same-day or next-day. When surfing the web on a mobile device, taking 10 seconds to load is considered way too long, Vazquez added.

“Consumers’ expectations are significantly different than what they’ve been in the past, and we definitely need to understand that in this industry and take advantage of the tools that allow us to speed up the process,” he said.

To check out Elon Musk’s presentation about implanting an AI-powered microchip into human brains, which will be connected to smartphones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA77zsJ31nA

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