By: Tim Clay

The holiday season is upon us. That means extra money is needed for things such as traveling, presents and decorations. This time of year is typically when an increasing number of consumers find themselves in a tight financial situation. And, when it comes to unexpected vehicle repairs, lack of funds can put a damper on their holiday spirit. Most customers aren’t going to forgo gifts for their children to accept service recommendations. It isn’t because they don’t think their vehicle should be maintained, it’s simply that they don’t have the disposable income available. Credit cards use rises more during the holidays than any other time which can leave little available credit for those vehicle repairs. This can mean a decrease in accepted service recommendations at this time of year as consumers put off any needed repairs until after the holidays.

If your dealership offers additional sources of financing it can provide consumers with a convenient way to keep their car well maintained without dipping into any cash or credit they need to celebrate the holidays with their families. But it is not enough to just have the financing available. At this time of year, it is more important than ever to ensure that every customer is aware that your dealership has multiple payment options available.

  1. Add messaging to your website on both the home page and on the service page informing customers that your dealership has financing options available for repairs. If available, post a link to the application for service financing to help expedite the process and help the customer to get pre-approved. You’d be surprised how many customers– even those not necessarily in a position of need – will take you up on a short-term, no interest loan, simply for convenience.
  2. Include information about your payment options in your service appointment confirmation and service reminder emails.
  3. The service manager should train each service advisor in how to inform customers that financing is available whenever service recommendations are presented. Ensure that the service advisors know not to prejudge any customer based on appearance, but that they should inform every customer. This could mean the difference between those service recommendations being accepted or declined.
  4. Install signage in your service department waiting room and at the cashier informing customers that financing is available. In addition, train every cashier to include financing as a payment option upon checkout – cash, credit, debit or financing. Also, train cashiers in how to help a customer apply and ensure they can answer typical questions the customer may ask.

Offering financing as an additional payment option for consumers is a simple way to increases service recommendation approvals. It provides your customers a way to keep their car maintained properly without sacrificing any of their holiday plans. Customers who do take you up on the financing will appreciate it and this extra option could cause them to choose you the next time they need new tires or funds to help cover some other auto repair bills for themselves or another family member. Keep the holidays the “most wonderful time of the year” for your customers. They will leave that much more satisfied – leading to increased loyalty and profitability – a win-win.

Bio: Tim Clay has more than twenty years experience in the automotive retail space and is a graduate of NADA Dealer Candidate Academy. Previously, he was COO and Co-Founder of ClickMotive, an automotive technology company. He has instrumented one successful automotive startup exit and one successful medical company exit.

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