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Your 45-second guide to the latest news, updates


What to expect from your SC rep

Automakers with most-valuable brand names

SC’s program can speed dealers’ success

Spot On! Brown Daub Kia

Get more 5-star customer reviews online

Keeping compliance atop to-do list

How your customers win with MyAccount

Spot On! AutoNation Toyota of Winter Park

Making the most of your sales opportunities







In Other Words


Used car prices hit 13-year high as more late-model cars come off lease

The average price of a used car has hit a 13-year high, pushed up by a crush of late-model leased vehicles hitting the market, experts say. (USA Today)

FBI tells how car dealers can fight cyber ‘bad guys’

Dealerships are in control of important customer data so they should treat the threat of cyber crime as seriously as any other part of their business, says an FBI Cyber Division agent. (WardsAuto)

Solving the hiring puzzle at car dealerships

The retail auto industry is full of processes, from greeting the customer to selling that shopper a car, setting up financing and beyond, but there’s one that seems to be missing. (Auto Remarketing)

Tumultuous auto sales forecast for remainder of 2018

Surprisingly positive results from most major automakers have helped keep the retail automotive industry from sounding the alarm in the first half of 2018. But it’s much too early to celebrate. (CBT Automotive Network)

5 steps to updating your brand and beating your competitors

Dealership branding really matters.

Whether your dealership is large, medium or small, its competitive survival may depend on how reputation – your brand – plays in the local market.

For example, franchise dealerships representing the same manufacturer within a few miles of each other in a major metro area reasonably could be considered competitors if a consumer had settled on that brand but is concerned about his/her overall customer experience.

(In this case, the four dealers are franchisees of Toyota, the carmaker with the highest brand value.)

062118 IL 5 steps to updating your brand and beating your competitors

Even a quick-and-dirty online search reveals that one dealership scores 4.5/5 stars with more than 4,000 reviews, while the others score 4.1/5, 4.0/5 and 3.7/5 on 600 to 1,300 reviews.

And if there’s any doubt about whether the dealership brand had anything to do with the 4.5-star rating, this sort of review from satisfied customers should put that to rest:

“I am so happy that my uncle found this place to buy our cars years ago,” one customer wrote online. “I have had two from here, [and] I could not be more pleased with the caring staff, always greeting with a friendly smile and always putting customer satisfaction first!”


What your dealership can learn from study of top brands

How your dealership can get more 5-star customer reviews online

So how does a dealership build the sort of brand value apparent in the example above?

Here are five steps Kantar Millward Brown market research firm suggest in its study, BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2018:

  1. Value the past

“Find the bits of brand heritage that can add enhancement to mainstream brands and tell a more textured and interesting story … Explain how the brand became part of the larger culture.” Obviously, the same idea could be applied to branding for a local dealership.

  1. Talk about the future

“Consumer wants to know that the car they purchase today will be worth something tomorrow. Being seen as innovative and future-focused helps reassure consumers that the brand will sustain its value.” In this case, a dealership might talk about the reputation of its service department.

  1. Think differently

“Car brands traditionally have been divided into categories – mass and class. It is now more useful to think about how the car brand fills a particular consumer need. In this dichotomy, the brand is either utilitarian (for getting from Point A to Point B) or experiential (for enjoying the journey).”

  1. Fix the buying experience

“People buy cars similarly to the way they buy other things – with a lot of online research and a trip to brick-and-mortar locations for touch and trial, as necessary. Typically, car buyers do not expect their trip to the dealer to be uplifting. Surprise them.”

  1. Be electrifying

While it is important to communicate the practical aspects of owning a particular vehicle, “the excitement of driving needs to remain part of the brand story,” as well as the customer experience.

“We believe the brands that will gain the most in coming years … won’t be finding stories so much as finding points of connection,” wrote Simon Law of Possible digital-marketing agency. “The truth they have to tell will need to be matched by the values they live by and utility they offer to their customers.”

That is, your advantage may be in differentiating your brand’s connection to customers, and not just by talking about the vehicles on your lot and in your showroom.

What to expect from your SC Dealer Relationship Manager

Sales rep.

Area Sales Manager.

Dealer Relationship Manager.

That describes the evolution of a company, Santander Consumer USA in this case, not just a job title, where the emphasis shifts from “sales” to building relationships and creating win-win scenarios.

On The Road Ahead, we are compelled to help you boost results.

Road Ahead V1

“The DRM provides one of the most important connections between dealerships and Santander,” said a member of SC’s Dealer Relationship Team. “Dealers who take advantage of the knowledge and opportunities provided by our DRMs see the difference in their results.”

So what can you expect from your SC Dealer Relationship Manager, or DRM, on The Road Ahead?

More incremental business

Learn how SC can help you put more deals together and keep you up to date on our credit policies.

Faster deal processing

Get help creating clean packages while keeping current on SC’s funding policy and requirements.

Dealer Extranet training

Learn how to maximize profit on every deal with our rehash tool and to use other powerful features.

Marketing opportunities

Help generating new traffic to your dealership via direct mail program and RoadLoans lead exchange.

Dedicated point of contact

A resource for regulatory, policy and industry updates, and link to best-in-class fraud awareness training.

“The DRM is someone who is there to help guide dealers through any SC-related scenario,” said Howard Greenblatt, a New Jersey DRM. “It could be walking them through how to use our Dealer Extranet to helping with a deal in funding to letting the dealer know when and how to contact another department within SC for additional help or guidance. And DRMs are always just a phone call, text or email away.”

“Santander Consumer USA has been a consistent lender, we count on them month in and month out,” said Tony Pesce, finance manager at Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet in Hubbard, OH.  “Our buyer and [Dealer Relationship Manager] are always ready to help put deals together … Santander gives us an opportunity with almost any customer that walks through the door.”

Chances are you won’t have to go looking for your DRM – he or she probably will find you. But if you don’t hear from us soon, you may contact SC online for quick attention.

What your dealership can learn from study of top brands

Best-in-category is no longer good enough.

That’s just one powerful insight from a recent study, BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2018, by Kantar Millward Brown market research firm.

And while it may seem the study findings are aimed only at the largest companies on the planet, many of the insights about branding may translate for your dealership and local market, even if you only sell vehicles to shoppers within a few miles of your store.

But what if the automaker you represent is at or near the top of brand-value rankings?

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor

That may not help if your dealership’s brand value is significantly lower than nearby competitors from the way you sell your product to the quality of your service department.

“We’ve always needed to differentiate among equivalent products,” wrote Belle Frank of Y&R advertising. “We’ve always needed to establish an emotional connection beyond function.”

“Fifty years ago, it was about buying a red, blue, or green blender. Now, it’s harder and the stakes are higher. But people still make decisions emotionally and justify them rationally. … [And] in the end, when a brand doesn’t live up to its promise, it’s dead in the water.”

Here is some key advice provided in the BrandZ study’s “Brand Building Action Points”:

  1. Improve customer experience

“Best-in-category is no longer good enough. Consumers compare experiences across categories. In that respect, all brands are competing with … acknowledged brand-experience leaders.”

  1. Speed is imperative

Your competition is changing continuously, and you can’t afford to be left behind. Well-established brands will increasingly compete with fast-growing competitors.

  1. Heritage cuts both ways

“It can add depth and purpose to brands and, at the same time, it can add heavy ballast, [when taking action] becomes churned into the existing brand heritage … Brands need to rejuvenate themselves with internal changes and by affiliating with innovative partners.”

  1. Find your voice

“Consumer interaction with brands is shifting to voice … having an audio identity that is recognizable and relatable. Voice is fast becoming another brand asset, like a slogan or logo.”

  1. Communicate a purpose

“A purpose helps differentiate a brand, which will be increasingly difficult and necessary … Purpose needs to be rooted in the brand and more than a marketing brief. Communication needs to be done sensitively or the brand risks looking disingenuous.”

  1. Strengthen the brand

“In a world where brand choice is increasingly determined [online], brand becomes even more important. Without a strong brand, the path to purchase will be the path of least resistance.”

“Branding is moving to experience, with reviews, recommendations and live streams playing an important role,” wrote Doreen Wang of Kantar Millward Brown, the market research firm. “Voice is becoming a brand. Every brand needs to have its own voice.”

And that’s not all, according to Wang.

“Perceived innovation will be critical in the future. And innovation is not just about product development, but also about customer service and communications.”

“The most foolproof way to survive is the most traditional: Build a brand that means something,” wrote Andi Davids of Superunion branding agency.

That means staying customer focused and helping your target audience.

These five car companies have the most valuable brand names

What’s in a name?

Brand value – the estimation of how much extra people will pay or how often they will choose one particular brand over another brand.

It helps separate the top automotive brands from the rest – five in the case of the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2018, compiled by Kantar Millward Brown market research firm.

Those five are Toyota (36), Mercedes-Benz (46), BMW (47), Ford (96) and Honda (97). The remainder of the Top 10 car brands are Nissan, Audi, Tesla, Maruti Suzuki and Volkswagen, respectively.

061218 IL These five car companies have the most valuable brand names

Perhaps it should not be a surprise that the top mainstream brands on the Top 100 list also are three of the top five in sales worldwide, with Toyota No. 1, followed by Ford and Honda at Nos. 3 and 5. Mercedes leads the premium vehicle segment at No. 10 in sales worldwide followed by BMW at No. 12. Only Volkswagen and Nissan, which were not on the Top 100 list made the top five in sales.

Mercedes-Benz was the only automotive company that scored a 5/5 in “brand contribution,” a measure of how much the name drives sales and enables a brand to command a price premium independent of other market factors. Toyota, BMW and Honda all scored 4/5 and Ford scored 3/5.


So what does all this mean to you as a dealership – besides the obvious if your brand is in the Top 100? We’ll have those answers in upcoming posts on the Inside Lane blog.


Toyota’s top automotive industry ranking overall was no fluke, based on previous BrandZ value reports. This was the 11th time in 13 years the most-valuable brands study ranked Toyota No. 1 among automotive brands, missing only in 2010 and 2012, when it ranked second to BMW on the Top 100 list.

Toyota’s brand was valued at nearly $30 billion, up 5 percent, because of its reliability and the strong demand for its SUVs, according to the research company, while the Mercedes brand was valued at more than $26.5 billion and BMW was valued at more than $25.5 billion. The study valued Ford, the only American-based automaker on the list, and Honda brands at less than half that of Mercedes and BMW.

Four of the five brands, excluding Ford, increased in value compared to last year, but all five fell in the rankings compared to other companies making the list.

Eight of the top 10 brands overall and 17 of the top 20 brands were American companies, with Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft comprising the top four. The study valued Google and Apple, both of which are experimenting with self-driving vehicles, at more than 10 times the top automaker, Toyota. The overall value of all these companies is significantly greater than the brand value.

The overall value of all these companies is significantly greater than the brand value.

SC confident that revamped program can speed dealers’ success

Confidence breeds success.

Or, perhaps, in the case of vehicle sales, speeds success.

When you’re on The Road Ahead, success is measured in dollars and cents, of course, but also in the customer and business relationships you build along the way.

That is why Santander Consumer USA (SC) is confident about our enhanced lending program.

It scores on both of those important measures.

Road Ahead V1

Here’s what that means to you, the dealer:

  • A pricing strategy calibrated to a dealer-favorable call.
  • Lower price and discount fee and a fresh approach to credit underwriting.
  • Flexibility on financing terms and increased dealer participation.
  • Affordable direct-mail and lead-exchange programs to increase local marketing impact.
  • Most application responses are received within seconds of submission reducing wait times.
  • An enhanced dealer performance management process that means we’re constantly looking for opportunities to improve our relationship.

“SC has represented financial strength and stability, having provided sound programs and unsurpassed support to our dealer associates for more than a decade,” said one sales executive. “That means you can count on SC to be working hard for your success wherever the economy goes.”

Now, it’s easy to claim “strength and stability,” but quite another thing to have numbers to back it up. Here are some numbers that show SC has what it takes to help most dealerships succeed:

  • Top-5 used-car lender in the U.S. with $49 billion managed portfolio.
  • More than $20 billion in annual originations the last two years and higher expectations for 2018.
  • 12,000-plus active dealers served by a nationwide team of Dealer Relationship Managers.
  • 82 percent application-approval rate nationwide with high closure and competitive backend.
  • 79 percent lower fees on average per contract than in 2008.

“A lot of banks look for reasons to not make deals, SC looks for reasons to make deals,” said one dealer.

“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, senior vice president of sales and sales operations at SC.

If you would rather hear these and other details in person, contact your Dealer Relationship Manager or contact our sales department by filling out and submitting a form online.

How your dealership can get more 5-star customer reviews online

Five-star reviews.

They’re not quite as rare as sunken treasure – but almost.

And with most shoppers spending much of their time online researching their next vehicle purchases, good reviews and bad can get around quickly.

Especially with websites such as DealerRater, CarGurus, and even Kelley Blue Book giving new- and used-vehicle shoppers the chance to provide reviews of their experiences.

Would you purchase a car at a dealership rated four stars if another close-by dealership rated five stars?

Road Ahead V1

“If shoppers like you, they’re going to tell their family and friends,” said DealerRater. “Customers want to talk about you when you do right by them.”

For example:

“Awesome experience! Would highly recommend to another customer looking to buy a new car without a high pressure sales experience,” wrote the customer of a Tulsa, OK, dealership.

That new-car customer gave the dealership five stars overall as well as for customer service, quality of work, friendliness and pricing, pretty much in line with its 4.9-star average rating from 1,139 reviews posted on DealerRater and 4.9 rating from 1,383 reviews on

So how do you try to ensure your dealership gets more five-star reviews?

053118 IL How your dealership can get more 5-star customer reviews online

DealerRater provides at least some of the answers in a report, What makes a five-star dealership review, which is based on an analysis of 1.4 million reviews of dealerships and salespeople that customers wrote last year on and

“We discovered some compelling reasons why customers love dealerships – and we identified the main reasons why customers complain about their experiences,” said DealerRater in the report introduction.

Here are the top five reasons DealerRater said customers leave five-star reviews:

  1. The dealership provides a consistently great experience on the lot and in the service lane.

“Customers call out a great buying experience as the second-most important attribute contributing to a five-star review. But great service overall, including an excellent service department, constitutes the most important factor … influencing positive dealership reviews.”

  1. The dealership’s entire staff acts like customer service professionals.

Positive customer reviews single out people, “especially for being friendly, knowledgeable and helpful … [while] providing a stress-free experience goes a long way.”

  1. The process is painless with speed and ease of service throughout the purchase experience.

“Speed and ease of service are essential … Once customers are at the buying stage on the lot, they’re eager to act. They don’t want to wait around completing paperwork.”

  1. Customers feel like they’re getting a deal – but not necessarily the lowest price.

“Price is definitely a topic [about] which shoppers typically have questions and uncertainty. Taking time to explain a price and why it’s the best deal possible for a shopper … will make the difference.”

  1. Dealerships offer hands-on experiences with vehicles.

“When you offer test drives, you look good … The decision to buy a car may come down to two people shaking hands on a lot, but experiencing the vehicle creates the all-important emotional connection.”

The bottom line, according to the DealerRater report, is that “getting a great customer review comes down to acting like a customer service representative.”

So now that you know about the factors that influence customer reviews, DealerRater suggests, “You can step up your game by treating customer reviews as a process that you manage all year round … Reviews are not a necessary evil. They’re the source of differentiation.”

Working on these areas may make a difference in your reviews and your business.

Why dealers must keep compliance ‘near top of to-do list’

Regulatory compliance for dealers and lenders won’t be going away.

Whatever limits have been imposed on the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), there are sound business reasons to maintain the discipline it brings to automotive sales.

Regulatory compliance still “should be near the top of every dealers’ to-do list,” suggested a report in Auto Remarketing after Congressional approval of legislation overturning the CFPB’s 2013 “guidance” on indirect auto financing that increased oversight of lenders and dealers.

052918 IL Why dealers must keep compliance ‘near top of to-do list’

“If you think changes at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will give dealers a little breathing room, take a deep breath,” the report said. “Then consider this: States are stepping up their scrutiny.”

Santander Consumer USA (SC), one of the nation’s largest non-prime lenders, has cited “a push at all levels of government to regulate auto lenders and dealers more closely.”

Beyond that, SC’s Enterprise Fraud and Dealer Management unit suggests that continued attention to regulatory compliance issues can result in important dealer benefits, including:

  • Improvement in overall customer experience and loyalty
  • Reduction in consumer harm and reputational risk
  • Reduction in credit stipulations
  • Reduction in funding delays to dealerships
  • Reduction in post-funding disputes and potential unwinds

Because “the number of identity theft, fraud and elder-abuse complaints reported to consumer agencies has increased significantly,” SC suggested, failure to remain vigilant can result in increased overhead costs, higher prices to consumers, lower sales volume and lower profits and growth.

“One area of increasing concern has been ancillary products,” reported Auto Finance News (AFN).

“There has been an incremental compression in rate participation margins … and dealers are trying to make up that income in other areas [such as] ancillary products,” Kenneth Rojc, managing partner of the automotive finance group at Nisen & Elliott, told AFN.

Rojc told AFN that “regulators will be more keen on pursuing deceptive practices during the financing process, especially disclosures of service contracts and guaranteed asset protection policies.”

While regulatory compliance presents challenges, “it should not be viewed as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity,” said Michael Sanders, vice president of Enterprise Fraud Management at SC.

“When practiced effectively, regulatory compliance assists in preventing fraud, stopping deceptive practices, and protecting customers,” Sanders observed.

“By embracing a standard of regulatory compliance, we demonstrate our commitment to doing the right thing for our customers,” Sanders said. “This commitment can be a differentiator that sets our company apart from the competition, and builds consumer confidence in the industry as a whole.”

If you have questions or are uncertain how to improve your compliance systems and processes, contact your SC Dealership Relationship Manager, who can guide you to the appropriate resource.

How your customers can uncomplicate monthly payments with MyAccount


Often it’s easier said than done.

But, fortunately, that’s not true anymore when it involves customers making their monthly car payments to Santander Consumer USA (SC).

Our redesigned MyAccount will take customers’ car-payment experience to a new level, including easier navigation, seamless payment options and an enhanced mobile experience.

“Making it easier for our customers to make payments was our priority in redesigning MyAccount,” said Randy Bockenstedt, SC executive vice president of servicing strategy. “Our customers have too many other things going on in their lives to worry about making their car payments.”

IL-BLOG_80423-0 (05XX18 IL How your customers can uncomplicate monthly payments with MyAccount)_WP_1440x962 (2)


“The website redesign will simplify and significantly enhance the customer experience,” said Wayne Nightengale, SC’s executive vice president of servicing.

“These changes will empower customers to maintain their accounts at a time and in a way that is most convenient for them,” Nightengale said, “providing multiple safe, secure and seamless options to make their monthly payments – and strengthening our brand.”

The upgrade should be apparent from the first time customers log in to and use the new MyAccount.

Easy-to-read dashboard

Customers can get an Account Summary, including Amount Due, Next Payment Due date, Account Balance, Account Maturity date and more on their easy-to-read dashboard.

  • Customers want a Payoff Quote? No problem. They just click on the link on their dashboard.
  • Need to reset a password? Quicker and un-complicated.
  • Transaction History? At customers’ fingertips.
  • Past Statements? Ditto.

If they want to Make a Payment, options are easy through a secure, integrated payment experience. All in one location – like an online marketplace – that’s easy to find and to navigate.

Multiple payment options

And there are payment options to fit customers’ needs.

Pay with checking or savings, use a debit card, pay by text with a checking or savings account. Customers also can pay by phone, mail, Western Union, MoneyGram, CheckFree Pay and PayNearMe.

“One of the things we wanted to improve was our payment experience, and we did,” said Patrick Daly, vice president of digital strategy for Santander Consumer. “Now, online payments are fully integrated into MyAccount, [making] the process more efficient, secure, and easier.”

“Providing a safe and secure mechanism to seamlessly process payments and allow account maintenance strengthens our brand, improves customer loyalty, and enhances our customer interactions,” said Nightengale.

Forgotten password?

Completing the picture, Feedback, Contact Us and FAQs are easy to locate in the simplified navigation bar and to use, and we’ve created a quicker password reset process.

“All of us forget our passwords, resetting them should not be hard,” said Bockenstedt.

Combined, the changes add up to SC’s strengthened commitment to ensuring customers the best possible user experience on the website, which also has been redesigned and was relaunched recently.

“The website redesign reinforces our corporate values of Simple, Personal and Fair,” said Bockenstedt, “simplifying the way in which our customers can manage their accounts online and make payments.”

“We’ve been excited to redesign the site,” said Daly. “It needed a facelift to meet our standards.”

Are you committed to making the most of your sales opportunities?


It’s what you demonstrate every day at the dealership, whether it’s in your showroom, F&I, service area, the back office or any of the thousand-and-one other aspects of your business.

Because success is all about the commitment you make to taking care of details – and your customers. Far be it from you to miss something that might mean more sales and thousands of dollars in revenue.

Or is that exactly what you’re doing every day?

Road Ahead V1

It is if you’re not exploring all options for financing your customer’s vehicle purchase.

But far be it from Santander Consumer USA (SC) to suggest you give us higher consideration as a preferred, reliable (and valuable) lender for your dealership if we couldn’t back it up.

“I have had the pleasure of dealing with Santander since Teddy Nissan opened the doors,” wrote Julio Batista, general manager of the Bronx, NY, dealership, which began operating nearly a decade ago. “Santander has been a valued partner helping Teddy Nissan grow into one of the most successful Nissan dealerships in the United States.”

Helping your business

There are several reasons SC makes a good partner for dealers such as Teddy Nissan – many of which will be featured in upcoming installments of The Road Ahead in our dealer emails.

But two especially important reasons were highlighted by another dealership sales executive.

“We like the ability to do loans for the full credit spectrum,” wrote Kyle Bacon, general sales manager of Sport Chevrolet in Silver Spring, MD. “[And] the Extranet makes working deals so much faster and more efficient than having to call buyers at other banks. The Extranet also provides the ability to get deals funded faster by uploading any additional information or stips quickly and easily.”

Full-spectrum financing

That’s right, SC isn’t just for subprime deals anymore.

“We are happy and comfortable working with Santander Consumer USA from an approval on almost any customer out there to an easy funding process and access to our rep with the click of a button,” wrote Dave Ivnitsky, finance manager of Kings Nissan in Brooklyn, NY.

“I’ve been taking advantage of Santander Consumer USA’s programs for several years now,” wrote Jack Geier, special finance director for Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford in Lewisville, TX. “I believe SC is a [lender] that I can trust. I’ve watched other lenders come and go, sometimes leaving dealers with contracts hanging, while Santander has remained strong.”

Sweating out the details

Of course, as detail-oriented as you are about your business, SC expects you to have questions. And that’s where our professional, knowledgeable Dealer Relationship Managers come in.

From questions about SC programs to help with your deals, DRMs are part of your SC advantage.

“Our DRM is a great asset,” said Howard Forman, finance director at Sands Chevrolet of Surprise, AZ, “because he has the ability to help us solve some of the more complicated issues that arise – helps to problem-solve and escalate issues to the appropriate party for quick resolution.”

Chances are you won’t have to go looking for your DRM – the DRM probably will find you. But if you don’t hear from us soon, you may contact SC online for quick attention.

How’s that for commitment to your business.