Jan Kelly believes too many car deals evaporate when dealership sales and finance managers sit back and let online finance portals determine who they can finance.

“We’re not doing our job,” says the president of Kelly Enterprises, an F&I training company. “We’re becoming lulled by technology, and untrained people are letting deals get by them.” 

An advocate of e-financing tools, she equally advocates sales and finance managers rolling up their sleeves more often on every deal.

“I’m seeing experienced sales managers and very experienced sales associates making just minimal effort to obtain more complete credit information on lower-tier deals,” she says.

“I’ve looked at hundreds of deals that had trouble getting approved, and most all had just the skinniest of information on the credit app.”

She wonders if technology is making the art of asking questions a lost art.

“A lender needs a story, when the applicant has a low credit score,” Kelly says. “Lenders need facts, verifiable income, why any delinquencies have occurred, and if current, where’s the proof.”

Dealers can use all kinds of collected information to build a case with the lender for that customer.

“Too many lost deals started with lack of information on the credit app that cost the dealership these opportunities,” Kelly says. “Know you lender’s lending criteria – and work for your customer.”

Matthew Mulkey agrees. He is manager of Dealer Service Center, part of CRB (California Republic Bank).

“Application portals do offer a level of convenience for communications back and forth between dealer and the lender, if the dealer is willing to ask consumers for the information we’ll need to fund the deal,” he says. “Then pick up the phone and call the lender. This is a relationship business and it always will be.”

The extra work can make a difference, Kelly says.

“The difference between a good month and a great month are these marginal deals,” Kelly says. “They can make a so-so month a good month, and a good month a great month. Not all deals are easy-peasy, but the customers you work hard to get approved are the customers that give you customer loyalty.”