Toyota placed 12 vehicles in the top three in 21 categories, including four category wins for five-year cost-to-own, but, according to Kelley Blue Book, Subaru is the best brand with, wait for it … two of 63.
And that Toyota total climbs to 17 if you add its luxury brand Lexus – almost 27 percent of the total. Standing alone, Lexus won two categories, but lost out to Acura, which won zero, for best luxury brand.
“The Subaru brand is strong and getting stronger,” said KBB in summarizing the brand’s selection, though it won only one of 21 cost-to-own categories – compact SUV/crossover – with its Crosstrek. “Increased appeal leads to increased used car values, which helps drive down total ownership costs for new-car buyers and helps Subaru reach the top of this mountain again.”
Despite their strong showing among the categories, which ranged from subcompact and compact cars to full-size pickups, electric cars and luxury full-size SUV/crossovers, Toyota and Lexus aren’t the only brands that could have a bone to pick with KBB’s selections.
Chevrolet, Ford and Nissan almost equally divided another 16 category placements, or more than a quarter of the total, with Chevrolet capturing five category wins and a total of six placements. And even Volkswagen, Jeep, Honda and Hyundai scored three positions each among KBB’s 63 picks.
KBB cites fuel costs, financing, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and depreciation among the factors that add hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, to the five-year cost of driving a vehicle.
Which could mean that dealers selling the top-rated vehicles on the KBB list – for example, Toyota’s Corolla, 86, Prius and Prius Prime, and Chevrolet’s Spark, Impala, Tahoe, Colorado and Silverado – have an advantage over competitors, especially among cost-conscious shoppers.
And yet 23 brands have something to brag about in the five-year cost-to-own awards selections overall, with the following category winners having among the strongest claims:
- Subcompact car – Chevrolet Spark, $28,216
- Compact car – Toyota Corolla, $32,251
- Mid-size car – Honda Accord, $36,442
- Full-size car – Chevrolet Impala, $46,199
- Sporty compact car – Ford Fiesta ST, $35,433
- Sports car – Toyota 86, $39,489
- Entry-level luxury car – Buick Verano, $40,211
- Luxury car – Lexus GS, $62,601
- High-end luxury car – Lexus LS, $85,785
- Hybrid/alternative energy car – Toyota Prius, $36,366
- Electric vehicle – Toyota Prius Prime, $36,745
- Subcompact SUV/crossover – Honda HR-V, $33,722
- Compact SUV/crossover – Subaru Crosstrek, $34,957
- Mid-size SUV/crossover – Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, $39,882
- Full-size SUV/crossover – Chevrolet Tahoe, $61,245
- Luxury compact SUV/crossover – Buick Encore, $40,132
- Luxury mid-size SUV/crossover – Infiniti QX60, $52,375
- Luxury full-size SUV/crossover – Infiniti QX80, $72,103
- Mid-size pickup truck – Chevrolet Colorado (extended cab), $37,029
- Full-size pickup truck – Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (regular cab), $42,406
- Minivan – Dodge Grand Caravan, $43,778
You can find the top three vehicles in each of the 21 categories at the Kelley Blue Book website. And see what your dealership has to brag about.
The refunds are coming.
And “Dynamic Backend” has arrived as well.
Like a big tax-refund season, the new program from Santander Consumer USA (SC) has dealerships nationwide buzzing about the impact on their businesses.
- “We’re very excited to see the new feature,” Joe Moore, finance manager of Rusty Wallace Kia in Knoxville, TN, told Mindy Troutman, SC area sales manager. “I use the rehash tool normally on a daily basis. Having backend on the callbacks has made things easier and a real time saver.”
- “I love the new backend amount showing a max,” Sharis White, business manager of McNeill Nissan in Wilkesboro, N.C., told ASM Phil Pyburn. “It allows me to structure my deals more easily and it enables me to maximize my total deal profit.”
- “Anything that saves time is a huge value add,” Sean McCray, finance director of Hyundai of Athens, GA, told Ashley Quick, senior ASM. “If I can receive a callback that works and know how much room I have to sell product AND get my customer signed and on the road in a timely manner, that helps me from a customer-service perspective.”
- “It has made deals faster and easier to put together with Santander,” said Mike Isadore, F&I director at Max Madsen Mitsubishi in Aurora, IL.
Different for every deal
Here’s how the program works, according to Quick:
“Different lenders have different programs based on contract volume – a set amount based on performance – which means you get a set backend on every deal. When we describe our program as ‘dynamic,’ it’s because our backend is different for every deal.”
And that’s not the only advantage for dealers with the Dynamic Backend program.
“We cut out the calculating and provide the backend allowance on each callback,” explained Quick.
“Every callback is different … the higher-quality, higher-priced vehicle gets a higher backend allowance, and it has nothing to do with the amount of business a dealer does with Santander.”
It also makes the process a lot simpler for dealers to do the math.
“Not all stores knew they had almost a guaranteed backend,” according to Quick. “The process was to go on Dealer Extranet and/or call in to get backend added to your deal.”
“Now we simply state it on the callback. So from first look, a dealer knows exactly what he’s working with and how much profit they can make. Many finance managers’ pay plans depend on backend product, so it’s a big deal for them to know immediately which call is most profitable.”
Listening to new ideas
“Steve Shenk of Bob Mayberry Hyundai [Monroe, NC] had asked for dynamic backend stip about a month before we rolled it out,” said ASM David Kiser in Wilmington, NC. “He said it has easily doubled the amount of deals we are getting and saves him a ton of time rehashing or having to call his buyer.”
“I appreciate having the maximum allowable backend on the callback,” added Paul Nodine, finance director at Rusty Wallace in Louisville, TN. “It allows us to save time and make more money.”
Todd Gendron, ASM in Orlando, FL, gave an example of a positive response to the Dynamic Backend program by an F&I manager at one particular Florida dealer.
“It definitely has made a difference in the way he decides where a deal is going much quicker. Whereas before he had to rehash the deal or would just go with the path of least resistance. Now he can know up front what the best deal is, and we have seen an increase of apps and deals.”
“I am pleased that Santander takes an interest in continually improving both my ease to do business and willingness to listen to new ideas and get them applied,” said Moore of Rusty Wallace Kia.
What does that mean to you?
Short answer: Santander Consumer USA understands your business and is committed to building a relationship, working with dealers to generate strong financial results.
Said Quick: “All around, it’s a win/win.”
Tax season is here.
So now is not the time to take a break after a busy holiday season.
There really is no other time of year that so many shoppers have an extra $3,000 or so to spend on a new or used vehicle. (For more details, see our infographic Tax Rush: How Santander Consumer USA can help you mine the mother lode.)
One way to prospect during tax season is through SC’s successful Prescreened Direct Mail Program.
“Dealers can reach thousands of prospects in their area who are shopping right now, tax refunds in hand – or expected soon – and also have a high interest in purchasing a new or used vehicle.”
Last tax season’s direct-mail results rolled in from California to Connecticut and New Jersey and from Texas to Michigan and Wisconsin, including the following:
- North Carolina dealer who received 129 leads and sold 56 vehicles after the mailing.
- Florida dealer who received 120 leads and sold 40 vehicles during the campaign.
- Mississippi dealer who received 98 leads and sold 26 vehicles after mailing.
- Illinois dealer who received 60 leads and sold 32 vehicles during the campaign.
More results from tax season 2016 and information on the Prescreened Direct Mail Program are available in the monthly enrollment email in your inbox.
What you get when you sign up for the program: (1) Recipients that meet or exceed Santander Consumer USA prescreened criteria; (2) customer targeting focused on highly desirable, carefully screened financial profile; (3) personalized letters that get customers’ attention and provide easy-to-follow instructions, and (4) automated lead generation pushed to email or dealer CRM.
Consumers targeted by the direct-mail program would have FICO scores of 550-700; a current open auto loan with at least 30 months of payment history; if no current auto loan, one paid off in the last 12 months, and no bankruptcies or repossessions.
“March typically is one of the best sales months of the year, so this program gives dealers a boost when consumers are especially receptive,” said Perez.
Get started now and find out for yourself by asking your ASM for more details. Or contact program headquarters at 800-367-6833 or email email@example.com.
Don’t let tax season opportunities get away.
Easy access to the right information is key when working to put deals together.
No surprise there. But what may surprise you is all the different ways the Santander Consumer USA Dealer Extranet can enhance your deal-making abilities.
The Extranet is the next best thing to having your buyer on the line. You have real-time access to information and systems that can get things done. If logging in to the Dealer Extranet is not a part of your regular routine, you could be missing out.
Here are five of the top uses of the Dealer Extranet:
- Rehash applications with the Rehash Tool – If you need to update the numbers or revise the type of vehicle being purchased, plug your new info into the Rehash Tool and receive a new structure in real time.
- Track deals in Funding – The Extranet will allow you to check the status of your deals in Funding and see if you need any additional documentation to complete your deals.
- Upload stips – Speaking of additional documentation, uploading stips is a lot faster and easier with the Dealer Extranet. You bypass the hassle of faxing, and the stips go directly to the funder’s queue.
- Print a purchase letter – Get a breakdown of the total funded amount for your deal. The purchase letter shows all applicable fees, participation and discounts.
- Access the Dealer Resources section – The resources section is a one-stop area for important documents. Just about any document a dealer needs to do business with SAF can be found on the Extranet.
These are only a few of the benefits of the Dealer Extranet. There are many more ways to optimize your callbacks. Of course, we think the Extranet is great, but don’t take our word for it. Listen to what one dealer had to say about why the Dealer Extranet is such a great tool.
Owners of General Motors vehicles – especially Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brands – are more loyal than customers of other automakers, but Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) also turned in strong performances in 2016.
That’s according to IHS Markit research and consulting firm’s 21st annual Automotive Loyalty Awards in which GM earned the award for Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer.
“Loyalty is determined when a household that owns a new vehicle returns to market and purchases or leases another new vehicle of the same make, model or manufacturer,” said IHS Markit.
The firm named 34 winners based on in-depth analysis of shopping behaviors during the model year.
Ford was the only automaker winning multiple awards in manufacturer and make categories, capturing three of 10, including the Overall Loyalty to Make Award. Four FCA brands – Jeep (2), Ram, Chrysler and Dodge – led the way in segment model loyalty awards.
Overall, eight manufacturers or brands received awards – Jeep, Tesla, Volvo, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota in addition to General Motors and Ford – while 18 models were recognized.
“Loyal customers are the foundation of our brands, and they are the strongest advocates we have to attract new customers,” said Alan Batey, president of GM North America.
“The recognition we are receiving from IHS Markit and the rapid market share growth we have seen in the United States follow years of steady investment in new products and every aspect of the ownership experience, including new dealership facilities, advanced technology and customer service.”
Following are segment model loyalty award results by brand from most to fewest awards:
Fiat Chrysler (5)
Jeep Wrangler (non-luxury compact SUV), Jeep Grand Cherokee (non-luxury midsize SUV), Ram 1500 (non-luxury full-size half-ton pickup), Chrysler Town & Country (non-luxury midsize van) and Dodge Challenger (non-luxury sport midsize car)
GLS (luxury full-size SUV), G-Class (luxury midsize SUV) and S-Class (luxury traditional full-size car)
Acura RDX (luxury compact CUV), Acura ILX (luxury traditional subcompact car) and Honda Accord (non-luxury traditional midsize car)
MKX (luxury midsize CUV) and MKZ (luxury traditional compact car)
Rogue (non-luxury compact CUV) and Maxima (non-luxury traditional full-size car)
Lexus ES (luxury traditional midsize car) and Toyota Tacoma (non-luxury midsize pickup)
Porsche 911 (luxury sports car), Ford F-Series (non-luxury full-size three-quarter to one-ton pickup), GMC Yukon Denali XL (non-luxury full-size SUV), Subaru Outback (non-luxury midsize CUV), Volkswagen GTI (non-luxury sports car), Chevrolet Volt (non-luxury traditional compact car) and Smart Fortwo (non-luxury traditional subcompact car)
“We are proud to recognize so many loyalty leaders in the automotive industry,” said Joe LaFeir, IHS senior vice president, automotive, adding that the awards highlight “the ongoing successes of automakers and brands that continue to win back customers in this hyper-competitive environment.”
This year’s awards were based on an analysis of more than 17.5 million new vehicle registrations during the 2016 model year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016.
Button up the sale
Your salesperson has sold a new vehicle.
Now what? Button up the financing and send the customer home with his/her new ride, right?
Not so fast. There’s one more step that your dealership should not miss if you want to improve customer satisfaction and perception of vehicle quality: Add a product specialist to the mix.
“With vehicles becoming increasingly complex, buyers are getting assistance from product specialists to help them learn how to use the technology,” according to the J.D. Power 2016 Sales and Satisfaction Index Study (SSI), and that has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
Tax season prospecting
Tax season is here, so now is not the time to take a break after a busy holiday season.
January and February are great months to prepare for increased purchase interest as millions of shoppers/taxpayers receive their refunds. There really is no other time of year that so many shoppers have an extra $3,000 or so to spend on a new or used vehicle.
One way to prospect during tax season is through SC’s successful Prescreened Direct Mail Program.
“We ran more than 500 dealer campaigns and generated over 26,000 leads in 2016, and we had great results last tax season,” said James Perez, SC direct mail marketing manager.
A secret to success
The clock is ticking.
It starts every time a car shopper steps through your dealership’s doors or onto your lot. And he or she is keeping track of how long it takes to get through the process.
Usually, it takes too long, based on customer research.
“It’s no secret that everyone – consumers and dealers, alike – want to improve the typical in-dealership car-buying experience that can easily take four-plus hours,” wrote Pete MacInnis of eLend Solutions, a company that consults on sales-and-finance processes in the automotive industry.
The solution, writes MacInnis is bringing sales and finance closer together.
Staking your claim
Tax season. Two of the auto sales business’ favorite words.
Despite the anxiety most people feel about the tax season, it’s also a good time to sell cars.
But that also makes January and February two of the most important months of the year, because that’s when dealerships need to prepare for the Tax Rush coming your way.
In fact, many consumers already have started shopping in anticipation of refunds that typically make March one of the top three sales months on the calendar. Almost 9 percent of 2016 sales occurred last March and about 17 percent happened in March and April.
We’ve come a long way, baby, Santander Consumer USA and our 12,700 “producing” franchise dealers – with applications submitted by a total of 14,000 of 15,500 dealers nationwide last year.
It’s a snapshot of success many other companies would celebrate.
For SC, it’s a starting point for future business development and even stronger dealer relationships.
Twenty years after its founding, SC has grown into one of the largest auto lenders in the country, with $6.4 billion in contracts in 2016. That represents a lot of sales for dealers – both used and new cars – and a lot of Americans getting into cars they need and can afford.
“It’s amazing when you write all this stuff down and you see where we’ve been and where we’re going,” said Vince Meglio, a senior vice president of sales and sales operations for Santander Consumer USA, during a presentation at the SC national sales meeting, “CoreLive,” recently in Plano, TX.
By the numbers reported by Meglio and Kristi Cervantes, also a senior VP of sales and sales operations for SC, in marking the company’s growth, Santander received:
- Nearly five million indirect loan applications in 2016, about double 2010.
- Almost 400,000 loans, more than three times the total six years ago.
- An average lending fee (about $460) that is 80 percent less than in 2008.
- An average FICO score (573) more than 18 percent higher than 2008.
The improved FICO scores, while only part of SC’s decision formula, show SC’s development as a full-spectrum lender, evolving from its origins in the subprime space.
Overall, SC services more than 2.5 million customers and over $50 billion in car loans.
Of course, there’s more to SC than just the numbers.
The Dealer Extranet, the Rehash Tool, which allows dealers to rework their own deals 24/7, the new Dynamic Backend program, the direct mail program that has generated powerful results over the past year, a Dealer Advocacy program, S-Guard, and soon a revamped RoadLoans program all are meant to strengthen long-term relationships that help dealers build their businesses.
The linchpin to building these successful relationships is SC’s dedicated team of area sales managers and inside sales managers who cover all 50 states and serve as a Dynamic Resource to dealers.
Most of the top-performing dealerships suggest building relationships with SC buyer and ASM; using all available programs “because this will lead to higher sales” for your dealership, and sending a wide range of credit scores because SC funds deals across the credit spectrum.
“The ASMs are always available and willing to help, and the buyers work to help close deals,” said one dealer. “And Santander gives fast approvals. This is key when trying to work a deal with a customer.”
“My mission is to help my dealer base grow their businesses,” said one SC sales team member recently. “I want those dealers to see me as an invaluable partner in their dealerships … not just another rep.” To get to know SC better see How your ASM can help you make more deals with Santander, then contact your ASM or our sales department to see for yourself.
Because now the question is, how well do you know Santander Consumer USA?
A little effort during tax season can go a long way.
And what dealer wouldn’t commit a little bit extra to double, triple, even quadruple his/her contract closure rate with Santander Consumer USA?
That “extra” would be using the SC Rehash Tool on the Dealer Extranet.
Some dealers already know that, but there are many more who are missing out on this opportunity to boost their results during tax rush by digging for the right nuggets to make a deal.
A recent survey of one SC region, for example, showed that dealers using the Rehash Tool closed deals with SC at about twice the average closure rate for the region, with the most successful prospector achieving a whopping 52 percent closure rate.
“Closure rates were much higher for dealers who used the [Rehash Tool], because dealers have the ability to make infinite changes to the deal structure in order to find what combination works best for them and the customer versus taking or leaving our initial approval,” said an SC Regional Sales Manager.
“We are putting the buying power into the hands of those dealers who want to seize the opportunity to make their own approvals,” the RSM added.
The art of tweaking
Credit applications aren’t an exact science – many require a little retooling before getting approved.
But instead of spending the short time you have with your customers on the phone with a buyer, you can update numbers, revise the type of vehicle, add backend, etc. You simply plug the information into the rehash tool and receive a new structure in real time.
And the Rehash Tool is available 24/7, allowing you to work deals on your timetable.
“We love the Rehash Tool because it allows us to maximize profit and capture each deal,” said Elford Nolan, finance director for Jack Miller Kia in North Kansas City, MO. “Within minutes we know how to best structure our customers to fit their needs and ours.”
While the Rehash Tool is a good reason to use the Dealer Extranet, there are others, including tracking your deals in funding to see if you need additional documentation, uploading stips that go directly into the funder’s queue, printing a purchase letter with total funded and applicable fees, and accessing the dealer resources section containing documents important to doing business with SC.
“One of our greatest assets is our Dealer Extranet, especially for high-volume dealers,” said Stephen Rivelli, an ASM in the Bronx, NY. “The ease of use and the multi-functionality of it, from rehashing an application to funding, allows my dealers a fast, user-friendly experience.”
For more on the Rehash Tool, see the video below, ask your ASM or contact SC’s sales department.