For Andy Ostmark, senior director of service operations for Ken Garff Automotive Group in Salt Lake City, digital tools provided an answer to service customers who refused to get repair work done because they thought they couldn't afford it.
In late 2016, Ostmark started using an online financing application called Sunbit in Garff's Culver City Toyota dealership in suburban Los Angeles. Sunbit processes customer data provided by a dealership's service department to respond within minutes to an application for repair financing. If a customer is approved, Sunbit works with Transportation Alliance Bank Inc. to provide financing options.
Half of Garff's 54 dealerships use the program, including all 12 of its stores in California. Ostmark says nearly 1,300 service customers at Garff dealerships have gotten repair financing through the tool.
In 2017, Ostmark says, the application accounted for about $340,000 in service labor and parts sales at Garff dealerships. He projects 2018 sales will reach $1 million as more dealerships add the application.
"Our No. 1 reason people don't buy is because they say they can't afford it," Ostmark says. "I was standing in a store three weeks ago and a customer says, 'I have Sunbit, so I can do that repair today.' "