Retailers planning to meet with representatives of their noncaptive partner lenders should do their homework, advises David Davenport, president of consulting firm Davenport Business Services.
Davenport encourages bringing documentation to the lender meeting and suggests multiple areas a retailer might wish to study ahead of the conversation.
"Look at reports from your internal systems and find out what your level of engagement with this bank looks like," he writes. "Take a careful look at the deals they have funded in the previous period and make note of any problems that may have occurred. Take another, closer look at deals your store submitted to this bank that were not bought, especially those deals that your team viewed as ones the bank absolutely should have bought."
The retailer should also review performance metrics, such as finance-and-insurance gross profit on deals the lender purchased and average funding time, Davenport said.
Davenport recommends setting goals for the meeting in advance, noting it would be helpful to ask for F&I staffers' thoughts "since they are the ones on the front line."
The meeting itself should, if possible, establish a date for a follow-up conversation to review progress on the "next actions" the retailer and lender have agreed to take.