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 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
- 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.