Web Woos Car Buyers

Droves of auto shoppers are turning to the Internet for information on car loans. Credit unions that develop web content targeting car buyers have tremendous potential to increase their loan portfolios.


Online Services Put Credit Unions in Driver’s Seat for Accelerating Member Car Loans

The romance between car buyers and the Internet that budded in the late 1990s has blossomed into a commitment that is sure to impact the automobile industry for the long term. According to J.D. Power and Associates, 80 percent of auto shoppers use the Internet. Forrester Research estimates that these shoppers send 1.8 million requests to dealers every month. This is not surprising when you consider that 75 percent of all U.S. households are connected to the Internet.

Forrester Research lends further support to this trend, citing that five percent of all Internet searches are related to research for a car purchase. Auto sites are getting an incredible 60 million hits a month.

You can be sure that credit union members will be among those going online to make decisions about their next automobile, including how they will finance it. The typical consumer searches the web for automobile information such as:

  • Inventory: Once a buyer narrows the choices, it’s time to determine where to kick the tires. The Internet is leading buyers to broaden the scope of what is considered a “local” dealership, with many traveling several hours for the right vehicle.
  • Pricing: While many consumers visit sites such as the Kelley Blue Book, others are looking at the prices found at local dealerships’ websites, arming themselves with information for the negotiations ahead.
  • Interest Rates: From dealerships to financial institutions, interest rates are prime bragging rights. Many consumers preparing for an educated car buying experience make financing decisions based on what they read online.

Credit unions can leverage this growing phenomenon by developing web content tailored for the car buyer – providing added value for members while increasing car loan portfolios.

Part of developing useful content may involve relying on the expertise of those in the automotive field. More than 70 credit unions, including some of the world’s largest such as Navy Federal and American Airlines, partner with Enterprise Car Sales to develop private label, co-branded websites to provide information on late-model used vehicles for members.

“Members are relying on the web to make educated car-buying decisions,” said Marianne Goclan, strategic business development manager for Enterprise Car Sales. “We want to provide our credit union partners with the tools their members need to make a smart choice and insure that the credit union gets the loan.”

The co-branded websites, accessed directly from the credit unions’ home pages, provide members with all the information they need to shop and make informed decisions. Members simply go to their familiar credit union home page and click on the Enterprise Car Sales logo to enter the customized site. The co-branded site provides members full access to Enterprise’s national inventory of thousands of used vehicles – over 120 different makes and models. These vehicles represent the “cream of the crop” from the company’s fleet of more than 700,000 rental and fleet services vehicles.

Customers can sort the vehicles by year, make, model, price, mileage, color, and location. The technology allows members to view a detailed review of the vehicle, including photos, vehicle features, interior and exterior colors, stock numbers, and VIN numbers. After choosing a vehicle, members can express interest in a car through an electronic or phone request, either of which will ensure immediate contact by a personal Enterprise account executive.

Once a member locates a vehicle, they can use the same website to investigate and pursue financing from their credit union. The site easily leads members through calculation of payments and the application process. Three additional perks for credit unions:

  • Enterprise can report to credit unions how many members are accessing the site.
  • Only credit union financing is available through the website.
  • Enterprise Car Sales guarantees that credit unions receive 100 percent of the loans 100 percent of the time.

The love affair between car buyers and the Internet is here to stay. Credit unions that embrace the relationship will certainly reap the rewards.



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Nov. 1, 2004



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