For instance, dealers prefer reps who are resourceful and able to get funding processed through their connections. They seek reps who are easy to reach and have the ability to get deals done for them. Good personalities are also important for reps, as is efficiency, since speedy decisioning is critical at the dealership.
Here are the five most commonly cited characteristics of reps – the traits that sway a dealer to send business to one rep over another:
Trait #1: Ability to Speed Funding.
The quicker dealers can get paid, the faster they can sell more cars. As such, reps who facilitate funding
are deemed must-haves among dealers.
For instance, one AFP respondent gauges reps on “how much effort they put in” to help with funding holdups. Another dealer sizes up reps by their “engagement” in the funding process. “Funding issues” was the most commonly cited phrase in the AFP questionnaire.
Trait #2: Friendly and Helpful Personality.
While the goal at the end of the day is to get loans funded, dealers seek reps who are pleasant, attentive, and dependable. Other sought-after personality traits include honest, professional, sincere, intuitive, and upbeat. Respondents highlighted reps who were conscientious of their time, especially during the crunch at month-end, and who exhibit “ethics and etiquette,” as one dealer said.
In addition, reps should be likeable and diligent. “I would choose the hard-working rep over the bank with the lowest rates that has no interest in building relationships with their dealers,” one respondent wrote.
Trait #3: Product Knowledge and Eagerness to Get Deals Done.
Reps’ ability to get deals done is emphasized by the dealers. To that end, dealers search out reps with a keen knowledge of their lenders’ products and services — those who can explain how their offerings are different from the competition’s. In addition, these reps should maintain strong verbal communication skills and know the ins-and-outs of their lenders’ offerings.
The more equipped a rep is with information, the greater the likelihood that the deal will progress from app to loan, and that rehashes will be completely
seamlessly. More than anything else, dealers appreciate reps who are willing to rework deals to get them bought or are willing to go above and beyond what’s required. The goal is to get to a point where dealer knows his reps are doing everything in their power to earn his business, and he feels like he can call them on any deal.
As one dealer put it, he seeks reps who “purposely go out of their way to put deals together.” Other traits that weigh into dealers’ decisions: previous F&I experience is a plus, and “knowledge of the business and how they can add to my arsenal,” according to another respondent. In a nutshell, a knowledgeable rep can trump a lower rate.
“Their tenure at a particular lender will create this knowledge and relationship that will nearly guarantee them business,” one dealer said.
Trait #4: Accessibility and Availability.
Dealers will always want to be able to reach their reps, so accessibility and availability are critical components of a strong lender-dealer relationship. Put simply, if a dealer is trying to contact a rep, but the rep is unavailable, the dealer might find another lender to do the deal instead of waiting. Some of the accessibility traits that set reps apart from their peers are those who are “easy to reach and happy to help,” or who “answer [their] cell phone, even on Sundays,” as some dealers said.
Trait #5: Be Informative.
As a lender, when you expand your product set or debut new functionality for your dealer portal, be sure that your team clearly articulates those enhancements to dealers. As we discussed in section 4, dealers expect reps to inform them about product enhancements and industry news. To that end, one dealer seeks reps who “keep us in the loop with program and deal status,” while another looks for those with “knowledge of programs and how they can benefit our business model.”
The above is a small excerpt from Auto Finance Performance’s Dealer Insights Report. The report, published by Auto Finance News’ parent company Royal Media, analyzes 6,200 dealer evaluations to identify the core traits that spur dealers to choose one lender over another. It also tracks analyst callback time and maps the frequency that dealer issues are resolved on the first call.
To obtain a copy of the full report click here.