A few weeks ago there was an online discussion about the merits of either having a dedicated Special Finance department or combining that responsibility with the conventional finance department. The many and varied comments made me think that most of the respondents were talking about many different person or persons.
Who, in fact, is a Special Finance Professional?
Way back in the Dark Ages, before Cable or Color TV or HDTV or DVRs, there was a television show called “What’s My Line.” This, longest-running, game show, which debuted in 1950, involved a regular cast of panelists trying to determine, through a series of questions, the occupation of the guest. Yes, I watched it! Let’s see if we can play a bit of that retro game! The kicker was that the questions could only be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” Since you and I have been taught to avoid that type of question, we will alter our approach somewhat today.
Let’s begin by saying that a Special Finance operation, be it one person or twenty-one, is an integral and important contributor to the overall dealership profit picture. The person responsible for Special Finance is a part of the management team at a successful dealership. What exactly, then, is a Special Finance Manager? Is he/she in sales or finance? That is an easy answer: yes! And, as well, involved daily in inventory control, advertising, lead-generation or both, funding and lender relationships. A Special Finance manager in a large operation may also be responsible for personnel usually encompassing hiring, firing and on-going training programs, not to mention compliance.
When you add in the expectation of contributing to the aforementioned dealership profit, it begins to sound like a job description for a GM! It may actually be more difficult than that!
But all that aside, what is it, exactly, that makes a Special Finance Professional all that Special? I have observed these individuals being counselors, teachers, preachers and, figuratively speaking, major hand-holders. And at the same time they are working through a massive amount of information and misinformation to match the available lender programs with the prospects’ credit situation, available down-payments and tastes in vehicles. All this while prospects attempt to disclose as little of this information as is humanly possible. Sound impossible? That’s why we are Special! Did I mention that we are often handed a TO as they are on their way out the door, irritated and disappointed after being denied credit. It is our job at that point to explain that we are not the place of last resort and that their problems are not insurmountable, but Special.
And dealing with near-Prime and sub-Prime credit is not our only job. We can add to the dealership profit, if they let us, by saving deals that need additional term or additional advance. In other words, we can save many deals that might be lost without special finance assistance. Ever participate in a ‘Save the Deal” meeting? Every dealership should have them on a regular basis.
Think that they could guess, “What’s My Line?” Never happen! One of the most valuable, diverse and indispensable people in a dealership today is the Special Finance Manager. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.
Just my two cents worth!
About the author
Dick Hassberger, of Lake Orion, Michigan is a veteran of over 50 years in the Automotive Financing and Leasing industry, starting his career with the former Wayne Oakland Bank in September 1960. Dick currently represents VOISYS in Michigan. He has held executive positions with Major Banks, Lending Institutions and Leasing companies and has accumulated a vast store of knowledge in the automotive financing industry, which he regularly shares with his client dealerships as well as readers of this blog. Dick was a regular author for World of Special Finance Magazine.