Dealer Direct was responsible for 10% of the 2019 income of First Community Bank, its parent company, marking the lender’s second-best year of portfolio growth, Dealer Direct Senior Vice President Steve Wilcoxontold Powersports Finance.
Based in Batesville, Ark., First Community Bank has a $1.5 billion total loan portfolio. Dealer Direct’s largest year of origination growth was in 2018, when the unit contributed 12% of the bank’s yearly income. Wilcoxon declined to comment on the size of Dealer Direct’s portfolio.
Though originations declined in 2019, the past two years have been a period of growth for Dealer Direct. Additionally, originations in the fourth quarter of 2019 were higher compared with the same time last year.
“Going into the first quarter, just the first seven days, our loans are up from this time last year and over what it was two years ago,” Wilcoxon said. “I really anticipate 2020 to be another banner year for Dealer Direct.”
The lender credits its growth, in part, on its customer service with dealers and learning why some dealers don’t submit as many contracts. “We started cold calls on our own,” Wilcoxon explained. “Everybody on my team, if they get the free time, they call an older dealer that hasn’t been using us and ask why. Find out why, and if it’s something we can fix, let’s fix it. If it’s something we can’t fix, wish them well and move on to the next one that we can service.”
Dealer Direct ended relationships with two OEMs in 2019 but is in the process of scouting more partners and plans to add three OEMs by week’s end.
“Right now, we’ve got 17 OEMs that are doing business with us,” Wilcoxon said. “We’ve got three that will be signed up with us within the end of this week. And we’ve got several shows and dealer meetings we’re going to go to and get signed up with five more OEMs in 2020.”
Dealer Direct hired two retail loan–support staffers and one underwriter in 2019 to help support its growth. The company also expects to add a sales representative this year.