The Value – Issue #9: Maximum Loan Advance on Any Vehicle On Your Lot? Business Managers Should Know!

Welcome to The Canadian Black Book – The Value. Our goal is to provide our clients and partners with news, event updates, new initiatives and opinions from Canada’s trusted source for vehicle values and automotive insights. In this edition we cover:

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By Yves Varin, National Director Business Development, Canadian Black Book

Today’s business manager has to contend with a lot of data to finalize lending agreements and close sales.  Data comes in all shapes and sizes, from the client, the banks, from internal software and more.  That being the case and understanding that customers’ time is at a premium, it is critical that the business manager is prepared with ALL the data they need, at a moment’s notice.

A key piece to this data puzzle, is for the business manager to have a clear sense of a given ‘loan to value ratio’ before finalizing the finance deal.  Armed with an accurate maximum loan value, takes out risk and can save valuable time for the customer and the dealership.

Currently most banks and sub-prime lenders build their retail finance programs based on Canadian Black Book average wholesale values, plus a percentage ranging from 120 to 180 per cent.  The overage is used to cover the costs of aftermarket products, or in an increasing amount of cases, to absorb negative equity resulting from the past contract.  If you are not using the proper tools, the calculation of this overage percentage is far from an exact science, but it can be.

This surplus amount is not based on any secured asset (like the vehicle itself) and therefore is inherently at risk and can be a guess.  What happens today, if the customer’s credit qualifies, is that the financial institution approves this questionable amount, under pressure to fill quotas in an environment of competitive banks.  Competition forces lenders to approve these ‘over-and-above ratios’, whether they are exaggerated or not.

Lenders, by and large, already access accurate third party valuation data integrated directly into their adjudication systems.  These banks and other lending institutions rely on MSRP numbers, average wholesale values, loan values and fair market value data in conjunction with their own lending conditions to assess the value of the collateral asset. This ever-evolving matrix or scoring card, which varies from one financial institution to another, constitutes their own “secret sauce”, so to speak.

So here’s the thing!  Much of the same can happen at the dealership level first, to speed up the process and put the business manager in a position of knowing what that ‘final loan to value ratio’ is quickly.  It makes so much sense for the business manager to get the same valuation data prior to submitting a credit application to the lender.  Knowing ahead of time what the maximum advance on a given vehicle is, gives the business office a clear understanding of what amount of dollars not to exceed, allowing the deal to fit within the lender’s parameters.  The trickle down of this knowledge is that sales associates can tailor their efforts to match vehicles to buyers.

Thinking of the process in three steps helps.  First, purchase quality vehicles at auction or via the trade-in; second, match the right vehicle to the prospective buyer (especially for sub-prime); and third, submit the application to the lender pre-populated to match their criteria.

Done this way, deals would not require time consuming manual reviews by a credit officer and more often would instantly acquire the approval.  Perhaps such deals would have been accepted regardless, however, in short, this saves time and we all know that in a vehicle sale – minutes matter!

Historically, it was the norm for the business manager to have a physical ‘Black Book’ on the desk to get this data.  There was no guess work, it was just an analog process.  The revolution in technology and shift to digital at dealerships has altered this once standard business office technique.   Lenders have not changed much over the years, while a new generation of business managers have steered away from proven tactics.  But there are contemporary digital tools available that can fill this gap.  Yes, there is a cost associated, but when compared to bank reserves that quickly add up to $1000 per deal, a dollar a day per user to get the right data at the right time, will be well worth it.

Dealer principals should encourage business managers to embrace these best practices and use the right tools, following the lead of what lenders are doing.  The goal is simple…to optimize the potential of each finance deal.

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