Huntington eyes business through dealer lens
Stanutz: "We are the Nordstrom of service. I believe two-thirds of the dealers value that."
Huntington Bank is boasting a rare double: It's gaining auto lending share while charging a premium.
Close dealer relationships and good customer service are the keys, says Nick Stanutz, Huntington's auto finance group director. Most of the bank's loan applications can be approved within three seconds or less using automation, he said.
Huntington, based in Columbus, Ohio, does business in 16 states from Ohio to New England.
Stanutz spoke by phone with Automotive News Special Correspondent Jim Henry.
How can you charge more and gain share at the same time?
We are in a select class. We are 50 years in this business, and this team is 20 years running this business. We are one of the few, if not the only bank, we consider to be a dealer-centric bank. We look at everything we do through the lens of the dealer at the end of the day.
What's that mean in practical terms?
This may seem old-fashioned today, but in 2009, when there was that Chrysler bankruptcy announcement on April 30, a lot of major banks told every Chrysler dealer they would only lend 70 cents on the dollar against the invoice price on Chryslers. We didn't do that. We said, "Let's wait a week." What we found a week later was that Chrysler cars were actually worth more money, not less money, in the marketplace.
We have been very consistent in our underwriting, in our purchasing policy.
Is it an advantage being regional as opposed to nationwide?
We're very high-touch. We're one of the few banks that are truly local. When I say local, I mean we have underwriters and salespeople in our major markets. From an availability standpoint, if you're a dealer you don't talk to voicemails, you talk to real people. Afterhours, they've got the cellphone numbers of the underwriters.
How do you get dealerships to send the right credit apps consistently?
Part of it is our sales team is very maniacal with the focus on the dealers. They know we don't want [credit scores] less than 640. ... Don't send us the stuff that's going to clog the system. We'll do some of those deals, the ones below 640, for certain dealers … now, 550, we're probably not going to do.
Do you spend a lot of time rehashing deals?
We introduced a year ago what we call loan-design pricing. The dealer provides us with the dollar amount and the term, and we provide them with 16 different approvals, like one option with more money down, another option with less money down, etc., all preapproved. That way, the dealer doesn't have to keep calling back. In effect we've given the dealer a work sheet they can work with the customer to get the loan structured.
So it's not all about rate?
We are the Nordstrom of service. I believe two-thirds of the dealers value that. One-third is all about price.
You can reach Jim Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org.