Hey, lenders: 'Answer the phone'

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

Dealership general managers at a recent industry conference didn't mince words about auto lender reps who call on dealerships.

Some of their advice to lenders:

• Leave the chitchat, free pens and coffee and doughnuts behind, and show up prepared to get some deals done.

"We have enough pens," said Terry Hoisington, general manager of Henderson (Nev.) Chevrolet.

• Empower your reps. "If they're going to come to our store, they've got to have a reason other than to say, 'Hi. Send us more deals,'" said Jamaal McCoy, general manager of Findlay Chevrolet in Las Vegas.

• Turn down the occasional loan if you must, but provide a reason and an alternative. "If it's a turndown, I'd like to know why. Give me a way to go," said Chris Twist, finance director for Towbin Dodge and Prestige Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in Las Vegas.

Hoisington struck a nerve when he said some lenders can't even seem to answer the phone consistently.

"A lot of lenders come through and say, 'Send me 10 deals, and we'll send your finance director on a trip.' That's not what we're looking for," he said. "Answer the phone when we call."

His sentiments resonated so strongly with the dealership folks that for the rest of the conference, "Answer the phone" became shorthand for providing decent dealership service.

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