Recognizing that happy consumers require attention and consideration from dealers whoa re themselves content, Huntington Bancshares Inc. has set out to ensure its network of 3,700 dealers is kept as happy as possible.
In February, as part of its dealer relations strategy, the bank rolled out an enhanced system that clearly displays pricing to F&I managers. Rich Porrello, director of auto finance and dealer services, explained this technology as well as several other initiatives the bank is executing in pursuit of happier dealers.
Improved Products and Services
The new system allows dealers to provide as many as 100 loan options without running customers’ credit reports multiple times, Porrello said, while the bank’s previous system included as many as 19 options and was less user-friendly. “In 2014, we brought many of our dealers into our offices and we asked them to help us redesign our system,” Porrello said. “Dealers want speed, and they want consistency. They want a competitive program.”
As Porrello and his team work with dealers to find out their needs, he also commits to on-site meetings at different dealerships throughout the year. Huntington regularly deploys a team of dealer relationship managers and credit specialist to visit dealers to collect feedback and offer assistance on understanding the lender’s products and services. The bank’s relationship managers are based in the dealer’s area for easy access and assistance. “It’s all about being local and having strong retail relationships,” Porrello said. “Our managers visit the dealerships very frequently. They’re able to sit down, listen to what the dealer needs, and address them as they go through the process.”
Giving customers a faster and easier experience is among top concerns for Huntington’s dealer network. Consequently, the bank works to provide quick turnarounds on its originations. Many loan applications now take less than 20 seconds to receive a response, according to Porrello, with about 70% of the application responses being automatic. Huntington uses the RouteOne and DealerTrack systems to help deliver fast results to F&I departments. “The best way to keep finance managers happy is to increase the speed of funding.” Porrello said. “That’s how we keep them motivated.”
Focus on Quality
While Huntington is always interested in exploring growth opportunities, in 2015 the bank is focused on quality over quantity in its lending and dealer relationships, while retaining its historic focus on prime and super prime customers. Porrello said that dealership finance managers are a great resource in finding out how to maintain and improve the quality in the bank’s products, as well as ensuring the proper customers are sent the bank’s way. Maintaining a constant feedback loop with dealers makes that possible.
Keeping the chain connecting lenders to dealers to car buyers strong requires quality products, communication, and speed. In the year ahead, Huntington looks to make dealer happiness its top priority, and expects that good things will flow from there.