Archive for the ‘News’ Category


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Why you should finance more deals with SC

Spot On! East Coast Toyota

Billions of $$$ at risk in car industry

Automakers doing a ‘great job’ on vehicles

Vehicle financing ‘easy,’ consumers say

Spot On! Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet

5 steps to updating your brand

What to expect from your SC rep

Automakers with most-valuable brand names


Why your dealership should finance more vehicles with SC

Don’t take our word for it.

You would expect us to tell you why your dealership should finance more vehicles with Santander Consumer USA (SC) as we have in our series The Road Ahead.

Because we’re a lender that is:

  • Committed to helping your dealership succeed.
  • Confident that our updated program will enable you to make more money.
  • Compelled to do what is best for our dealer relationships.

But the reasons your dealership should finance more deals through SC really stand out – i.e., become more than the typical sales chatter – when other dealerships say it.

Being commended by dealerships that work with us is the best measure of our success.

Road Ahead V1

Jim Lopez, general manager of Del Toyota in Thorndale, PA, which sells about 3,100 vehicles a year, gave four reasons the dealership has been working with SC for more than 10 years:

  • Fast response time on applications. Knowing we have a quick approval helps us make deals with our customers faster, and we don’t have to keep them waiting.
  • The Dealer Extranet – We are big fans of the rehash tool. It gives us flexibility to rehash multiple vehicles in minutes without having to pick up the phone.
  • Funding experience. We have had great experiences with the funding department. It is fast and painless, which keeps us wanting to work with Santander.
  • Our relationship with our Santander rep adds the perfect personal touch. In a time where instantaneous accessibility is vital, she is always a phone call away.

Howard Forman, finance director at Sands Chevrolet in Surprise, AZ, with about 4,000 in annual sales, also cites the Dealer Extranet, calling it “a phenomenal tool that not only allows you the ability to rehash deals but also speeds up the funding process by utilizing the [document] upload feature.”

“Our [Dealer Relationship Manager] is a great asset, as well, because he has the ability to help us solve some of the more complicated issues that arise – helps to problem-solve … for a quick resolution.”

Here are a few other comments:

  • “SC has been a valued partner, helping Teddy Nissan grow into one of the most successful Nissan dealerships in the country” – Julio Batista, general manager, at the Bronx, NY, store.
  • “We like the ability to do loans for the full credit spectrum” – Kyle Bacon, general sales manager of Sport Chevrolet in Silver Spring, MD, which sells about 2,200 vehicles a year.
  • “Because of the flexible program [at Santander], we are able to sell more new and used cars” – Tony Avedisian, used car director, Car Pros Kia, Carson, CA., which sells some 9,000 units a year.
  • “We are a store that does 740 cars a month. Our experience with Santander is a positive one with Santander being one of our most-used lenders” – Chafik Amrani, general sales manager, AutoNation Toyota of Winter Park, FL.
  • “Santander gives us the opportunity for almost any customer that walks through the door. They are a full-spectrum lender, and every year it seems their footprint grows within the dealership” – Tony Pesce, finance manager, Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet, Hubbard, OH.

And then there’s Darryl Morgan, general sales manager at The Sharpest Rides, a dealership in Englewood, CO, which sells 6,000 units annually as one of the largest independents in the country.

“I love Santander for a couple simple reasons,” said Morgan. “One, they are one of my only lenders that understands what we need from them – approvals. They make this happen more than others on the largest set of customers … Secondly, they’re a value bank, meaning they bring value to the relationship. My [Dealer Relationship Manager] is a partner at our dealership.”

And that you can believe.

East Coast Toyota

85 State RT 17,
Wood Ridge, NJ

Dealer principal:  John Ripoli

General manager: Jeff Brown

Brand represented: Toyota

How long in business: 25+ years

Number of employees: 120

Annual unit volume (approximate): 4,800+

What makes your dealership special:

The culture of our store makes it special. Our employees, in particular, contribute to the success of our dealership month in and month out. We take pride in providing excellent service to every customer that walks into our showroom. This creates a great customer experience and returns positive results.

SpotOnGIF_600px (1)

DRM Joe Carpentieri’s comment on what makes dealership special:

This is a fantastic store to be the rep for. They have a solid group of team players that know how to structure their deals and send in clean funding packages. They make my job as a DRM easy. The employees rarely leave, specifically the finance team, which has been in place for a few years now. That says a lot to me when I see the finance team at a store stay together for a long stretch of time with little to no turnover. The guys are very welcoming every time I come in and are always very positive.

How long working with Santander Consumer USA: 10+ years

What you like about doing business with Santander Consumer USA:  

It’s easy to do business with Santander. The speed of the callbacks coupled with the user-friendly Extranet allow us to work our deals in real time and get the best deal possible for our dealership and the customer. Funding is always a smooth process from start to finish, and we continue to send more business because of that. The credit buyers are always helpful and our DRM is available whenever we need him.

One best practice that contributes to your dealership’s success:

Working together as a team brings about positive results.

Describe your experience with Santander Consumer USA:

Overall our experience with Santander has been very positive and VERY profitable. The ease of doing business with Santander allows us to consistently send more business their way and put more and more cars on the road! The call backs are always solid, and we typically have a way to go!

– Juan Higuita, Finance Director

Billions of $$$ at risk on electric, autonomous vehicles – consulting firm

It could be a “pile-up of epic proportions.”

That is what a global consulting firm imagines could happen as vast sums of money pour into electric- and autonomous-vehicle technology without a clear road to a return on that investment.

“A pile-up of epic proportions awaits this industry as hundreds of players are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on electric and autonomous technologies as they rush to stake a claim on the biggest change to hit this industry in a hundred years,” said John Hoffecker of AlixPartners consulting firm.

071018 IL Billions of $$$ at risk on electric, autonomous vehicles – consulting firm

“The winners in this free-for-all will be those who have the right strategies and, equally important, execute on those strategies to their fullest potential – as billions will be lost by many.”

A press release about the study says:

“The automotive industry faces the possibility of a monumental capital drain in the near term as hundreds of players, including non-traditional ones, are pouring unprecedented sums into electric and autonomous vehicles years before those technologies are fully cost-competitive in the market, when consumers are questioning the cost and safety of some of the [autonomous-vehicle] technologies, and just as the market itself is set to continue a cyclical downturn.”

“In truth, this industry has been operating ‘above the clouds’ in terms of industry volumes for a number of years now,” said Mark Wakefield of AlixPartners’ automotive practice. “But those volumes are likely to edge down further, just as spending for things like electrification and autonomy need to ramp up.”

The study finds that a “whopping $255 billion” in research and development and in capital expenditures will be spent globally on electric vehicles by 2023 bringing some 207 models to the market, “many destined to be unprofitable due to currently high systems costs, low volumes and intense competition.”

Meanwhile, the consulting firm says, another $61 billion is just “the opening ante” on the autonomous-vehicle front, “even though consumers say they are willing to pay just $2,300 extra for autonomy – compared with current industry costs of around $22,900.”

“Industry players are sort of caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Shiv Shivaraman, also from the consulting firm’s automotive practice. “If they don’t participate in some way in the ‘new-mobility’ revolution that’s coming, they stand to lose out on what might be the biggest thing ever in this industry. If they do participate, as so many are, they have the chance of benefitting from first-mover advantages, but they also face the possibility of going broke in the process.”

The study predicts that “full battery-electric vehicles will reach about 20 percent of the U.S. market by 2030,” while a second survey by the consulting group found that almost a quarter of Americans – about 22.5 percent – say they are likely to purchase a plug-in electric vehicle as their next car.

Autonomous vehicles will account for three million in sales in the U.S. by 2030, the consulting firm said.

Automakers doing a ‘great job’ producing high-quality vehicles

The 2018 Kia Rio was named highest-quality small car by J.D. Power

The 2018 Kia Rio was named highest-quality small car by J.D. Power

New-vehicle quality is better than ever.

That’s the judgment of J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) as problems experienced by buyers declined for the fourth consecutive year overall.

“There’s no question that most automakers are doing a great job of listening to consumers and are producing vehicle quality of the highest caliber,” said Dave Sargent of J.D. Power.

At the top of the J.D. Power rankings is Hyundai Motor Group.

With new-vehicle owners reporting the fewest problems per 100 vehicles sold (PP100), the automaker’s Genesis (68 PP100), Kia (72) and Hyundai (74) brands swept the top three positions and were rated significantly better than the industry average of 93 PP100.

Other brands finishing above the industry average, along with their PP100 scores, according to J.D. Power, are Porsche (79), Ford (81), Chevrolet (82), Lincoln (83), Lexus and Ram (84), Nissan (85), BMW (87), Cadillac and MINI (90), and Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz (92).

Ford Motor Company received the most model-level awards (five) for its Ford and Lincoln brands; followed by Hyundai Motor Group (four) for its Kia, Hyundai and Genesis brands; and General Motors for its Buick and Chevrolet brands, along with Nissan and BMW (three each). Honda/Acura, Dodge, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota captured one category award each.

This year’s IQS awards identify 22 vehicle models in 20 categories as top picks based on results of a 233-question survey of 75,712 new-car owners and lessees. Another 33 models also were rated highly in the 20 categories, which ranged from small car to heavy-duty pickup.

The 233 survey questions covered potential vehicle problems in eight areas: exterior; seats; driving experience; engine/transmission; features/controls/displays; interior; heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and audio/communication/entertainment/navigation systems.

“The Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership and has proven to be an excellent predictor of long-term reliability, which may significantly impact new-vehicle purchase decisions,” said J.D. Power.

For more details on the IQS awards, including brand-level results, see New-vehicle initial quality improves again, J.D. Power finds or the infographic Spotlight: J.D. Power 2018 Initial Quality Study.

Vehicle financing ‘easy,’ consumers say, but change may happen anyway

So here’s what your customers think about the vehicle financing process.

Based on a survey of 2,200 consumers by FICO Decisions, the practice of most shoppers obtaining financing through the dealership is headed for a change – perhaps rapid change.

Is your dealership ready for such a change in consumer behavior?

“There is a substantial disconnect between the current channel mix and consumer preference,” said FICO Decision’s report on a key finding. Consumer behavior may be reaching a “tipping point where the shift to digital happens rapidly given consumer demand and availability of new technology.”


While 73 percent of respondents said they obtained their last financing through a dealership, only 38 percent said they would inquire there for their next vehicle purchase, according to FICO Decision’s 2018 Consumer Survey of Automotive Finance Perceptions.

The shift among those consumers went toward applying online and visiting a bank or other institution, representing a significant change from current behavior in which only 20 percent of shoppers total obtained financing through lending institutions and online. The survey showed that more than twice as many consumers (32 percent) would seek financing through a bank or other lending institution and five times as many (29 percent) would apply via a laptop, tablet or other device.

Other findings of the survey are:

  • Interest rate/APR (94 percent) and monthly payment amount (92 percent) are the most important factors when shoppers are seeking financing, more so than length of loan term in months (88 percent) and down payment (82 percent), which “implies that financing proposals that are optimized to maximize for these aspects will be most impactful with consumers.”
  • Only about 21 percent of consumers learn the amount of financing for which they qualify before vehicle shopping, providing an opportunity for “risk-aware marketing” that results in prime and subprime customers getting “the best offers and options for their personal financial situation.”
  • More than half (52 percent) of consumers consider only one financing offer, which provides the opportunity to “present multiple loan offers with differing terms … to optimize the consumer’s preferred terms and avoid the customer leaving to shop elsewhere.”
  • More than six in 10 consumers (62 percent) must wait more than 30 minutes to complete their transaction with 13.6 percent waiting “a few hours” and nearly 10 percent overnight or longer. That means backend systems “still have some ways to go in terms of speed and efficiency.”
  • Only about 31 percent of vehicle shoppers were offered insurance and just 23 percent were offered add-ons such as floor mats, roof racks, etc., ancillary products and services on which dealerships often make additional margin.

Still, according to FICO Decisions, “Most consumers report that the financing experience was easy and low-effort for them … consistent with [an] earlier finding that customers feel in control of the process, understand the terms and feel they got a good deal.”

In fact, 62 percent of survey respondents rated their financing experience “easy,” while only 8 percent rated it “difficult,” with the rest falling somewhere in between.

The survey covered nine countries, but most results were broken out by country.

Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet

2635 N. Main St.
Hubbard, OH

Dealer principal:  Greg Greenwood

General manager: Denny Denoi

Brand represented: Chevrolet

How long in business: 11 years

No. of employees: 30

Annual unit volume (approximate): 1,800

SC Dealer Relationship Manager: Robert Plemel

What makes your dealership special:

Our business has been in the community for years, and we value our customers. Our customer service stands out from the competition, and the people that work here create that culture. We are able to accommodate and serve our Ohio and Pennsylvania customers in a highly competitive General Motors market.

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DRM comment on what makes dealership special:

Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet has always given us looks at the nonprime business, and we have had success over the years. They use our Dealer Extranet to increase their volume, and their ability to structure their own deals has helped increase their bottom line. Greenwood is an ideal Santander dealer, and we appreciate growing their business.

How long working with Santander Consumer USA: 10 years

What you like about doing business with Santander Consumer USA:  

Santander Consumer USA has been a consistent lender, and we count on them month in and month out.  Our buyer and dealer rep are always ready to help put deals together. Having access to the Dealer Extranet saves us time and gives us more flexibility in our deals.

One best practice that contributes to your dealership’s success:

Greenwood’s number one best practice is catering to the customer and putting the customer first.

Describe your experience with Santander Consumer USA:

Santander gives us opportunity for almost any customer that walks through the door. They are a full-spectrum lender and every year it seems their footprint grows within the dealership. We put our customers first and knowing that there is a flexible business partner working with us, we know we can.

– Tony Pesce, Finance Manager

Tony Pesce, finance manager, works a deal at Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet.

Tony Pesce, finance manager, works a deal at Greenwood Hubbard Chevrolet.

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.