Partnerships Can Provide Members with Exceptional Value on Auto Purchases

Building relationships with auto dealers can boost your bottom line and build member loyalty

 

By Brooke Gilchrist

 

Many successful credit unions have been able to establish themselves as trusted advisors to members in the market for a new or used vehicle. Most would agree that the success of their auto referral programs depends on the quality of their dealer partners. When members are not completely satisfied with their auto-buying experience, it reflects poorly on a credit union. However, members that are able to purchase the vehicles they want with the terms they need – in a customer-friendly environment – will continue to trust the credit union to guide them in their future financial decisions.

Establishing valuable partnerships
Your members expect great service and a variety of product offerings from your credit union, and they will insist on the same level of service from anyone you refer them to. While many dealers provide great service, not all offer the necessary tools to support a credit union relationship. You should seek a dealer partner with an excellent reputation that offers certified vehicles, a great selection and, above all, exceptional customer service.

Providing great customer service is key to member satisfaction. When researching potential partners, here are questions you will want to ask:

  • How does the dealer price its vehicles?I Is it prone to negotiating the price? Does it offer competitive, no-haggle pricing?
  • Is its location in close proximity to your branch, making it convenient for your members to do business with it?
  • Does the dealer offer a large variety of vehicles?
  • Does the staff always have the members’ best interest in mind or is it willing to urge your members to purchase a less affordable vehicle in order to get a bigger commission check?
  • Does it offer warranties on used vehicles – such as specific coverage for 12 months/12,000 miles?
  • Does it have a 7-day/1,000 mile repurchase program if the member decides to return the vehicle for any reason?

If a potential partner falls short on these or other customer service issues, it’s best to move on and find a dealer partner that you know will offer your members the service they expect.

The dealer you partner with should guarantee that 100% of the members you refer to it will be returned to your credit union for financing. Without this guarantee, members referred to any dealer could be steered toward an indirect lending source at the time of purchase.

Finally, a strong dealer partner should also assist you with marketing tools, strategies and tactics needed to build a complete member communications plan. This should include lobby displays, collateral materials, web site content and proven strategies that successfully target members in the market for a new or used vehicle. These resources help increase the likelihood that members will come to you for guidance when they’re ready to purchase a vehicle.

Winning results
The ideal auto dealer partnership ensures your members conveniently buy a quality vehicle that meets their needs and budget. The process should prevent members from feeling any buyer’s remorse and provide them with a worry-free buying experience. The result is a winning combination. The member has a satisfactory buying experience and feels taken care of by the credit union. The credit union provides positive financial guidance and is rewarded with the auto loan. Finally, the dealer sells a vehicle and continues building its strong relationship with the credit union.

Enterprise Car Sales has helped to successfully increase auto loan volume for more than a thousand credit union partners, and it caters to credit unions of all sizes. For more information on building your auto loan business with Enterprise, visit its new business-to-business Web site at www.enterprise.com/perfectpartnership.

 
 

March 19, 2007


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