LAS VEGAS -- Customers who apply for vehicle financing on driversselect.com get real information about interest rates, down payments and monthly payments that does not change once they arrive at the Dallas used-only dealership, said CEO Steve Hall.
Hall admits that many dealers don't find it easy to give out so much information online. But being transparent about financial terms before seeing the customer builds trust, he said, even if Hall's financial terms are not as favorable as some of his competitors'. It also allows him to deliver vehicles to consumers, once they come to the store, within an hour.
His store's experience shows how some dealerships continue to move closer and closer to doing the entire transaction, including financing, on the Web.
"We tend to think that price is the only decision factor," said Hall, who participated in a panel discussion focusing on subprime trends during a conference sponsored by Auto Remarketing magazine here last week. Hall made his comments on the sidelines following the panel.
"As long as you're in the game," he said, "you don't have to have the lowest price, the lowest interest rate, the lowest financing terms, or the highest trade-in value out there."
Hall said his business model enables consumers to complete about 90 percent of the buying process before coming to the store, thereby cutting the time they spend at the dealership to less than one hour.
He said his business model also is moving toward the physical dealership becoming more of a place to deliver and service vehicles, with the selling process taking place on the phone and the Internet.
Though he has a "pretty good" trade-in appraisal form that allows consumers to fill in information about the vehicle and text photos to the dealership, Hall said he is still trying to perfect the trade-in process. Currently, he is able to provide trade-in value within "a tight, narrow range," he said.
Hall said his store sells about "175, 180" used cars and trucks a month. He generally stocks 2011 and newer used vehicles that retail for $12,000 to $30,000.
The store caters to customers with near-prime and subprime credit scores generally in the mid-500 to high 600 range. He is not a buy-here, pay-here dealer; he arranges financing for his customers with more than 20 banks, credit unions and finance companies, according to his store's website.
Many of his vehicle listings are accompanied by 50 to 60 photos, which highlight virtually every vehicle component down to tire tread and gas pedals to show wear and tear.
When customers get to his store, typically "all that's left," he said, "is the test drive, the validation of the trade and the signing of the paperwork."