Credit unions have worked hard to establish themselves as the best choice in automotive lending. Both prudent lending practices and neighborly service have solidified an excellent reputation among car buyers. Auto dealerships have partnered with credit unions because of flexible financing options and the assurance that their clients will always be treated with genuineness. Even now with auto sales slumping, government regulation, strict underwriting policy and an influx of loan defaults, credit unions still remain on the vanguard of consumer lending.
While working to provide competitive lending options in this erratic economy, credit unions are faced with tough choices in maintaining this tradition. It is moments like this that lenders can recalibrate and provide new solutions and consumer financing opportunities.
After a decade of working in consumer lending, I discovered that several credit unions were selling vehicles to the public. Noticing the bargains available, I began collecting all the links I could find in my home state of Utah. As I shared the list, it became popular with friends and clientele as a tool to find deals on credit union-owned homes and vehicles. The response was so overwhelming that I continued collecting until completing a list that included the entire country.
With the help of a friend this list evolved into RepoFinder.com and became the first nationwide directory of its kind. The site is very simple and functions as a free service to both credit unions and consumers looking to make a deal on a vehicle (or real estate). In the process of gathering these links I had the unique opportunity to visit and peruse every credit union website in America. Today the site continues to grow in popularity as bargain seekers discover the benefits of buying cars directly from credit unions. In continuing to build and maintain the site, I’ve been able to see many successful marketing strategies evolve.
Not every lender chooses to sell their own repossessions, but for the do-it-yourself types this can be a great opportunity to build and grow auto lending programs. Bad economy or not, every customer wants a good deal. The concept of a consumer being able to buy a vehicle from a credit union is very refreshing for two reasons. First, buyers get the customer service, lending expertise and trust found at a car dealership. Second, they can enjoy the commission-free, no pressure experience of buying from a private seller. It’s literally the best of both worlds. Marketed correctly these orphaned vehicles can be used to draw more car buyers to your website and your loan department.
In viewing the many credit union websites, it doesn’t take long to see who has figured out how to get the most out of selling repossessed vehicles. Rather than hiding your for sale by credit union assets, these vehicles can be used as a teaser to drive traffic to your lending department. The most effective remarketers out there have an entire section on their websites designated to sell repossessions. Once a page like this has been established, you can now build in every necessary tool to attract potential car buying customers. Some useful resources could include links to automotive research, price guides, loan calculators, live chat, preferred local car dealers, auto insurance information and, most importantly, a prominent advertisement featuring your credit union’s auto loans. The idea is to create a full service center on your website that guides buyers to a loan application.
Even if there is currently no vehicle inventory to sell, several credit unions are still using this same listing page to promote and capture auto loan business. By placing a phrase such as, “We currently have nothing for sale. Please check back often,” a buyer is given something to look forward to and is encouraged to visit on a regular basis. Outside car buyers visiting your link from RepoFinder or anywhere else will see you’re taking an active approach and will be inclined to return again. These buyers will also see your lending advertisements and any other resources you have available to grab their attention. As an example, I’ve seen some credit unions offering special rates on repossession sales. If you have low rates or other promotions to offer, make sure that potential buyers wouldn’t consider getting a loan anywhere else. Lenders can build on the trust they have earned and become experts in automobile marketing.
As a free resource, RepoFinder continues to bring thousands of car buyers to credit unions each month. By keeping your website link current you can make sure these buyers are not missing what you have to offer. Classified services such as Craigslist, Backpage, eBay and others are also a great method for attracting buyers to your sales and lending departments. Always make it a practice to ask new customers how they heard about your vehicles so you can fine tune your marketing efforts.