More than 62% of you said that customers seek financing from you at least half the time in this year’s Rural Lifestyle Dealer Business Trends & Outlook Report. And, in a recent RLD poll, about 38% of the respondents said they can secure financing in 10-30 minutes, while 14% said they have to wait more than 12 hours.
What if you could secure that financing in under 3 minutes?
That’s the promise made by Flexiti Financial to more than 800 rural outdoor power equipment dealers across Canada. Flexiti is a point-of-sale (POS) financing and payment technology provider. The company first signed on with Ariens, announced an agreement with Toro this past spring and recently announced agreements with Husqvarna, Briggs & Stratton, Big Dog Mowers, Hustler, ECHO Power Equipment and ECHO Bear Cat.
Peter Kalen, founder of Flexiti Financial, says his goal was to streamline the process and improve the overall sales experience — in an industry where faxing still occurs. “One of the biggest drivers in being successful with retail financing is to recognize the power it has to impact your business,” Kalen says.
And, with a user-friendly solution, that power is transferred to the salesperson. “The way you make a salesperson comfortable selling is to offer high approval rates and a quick application,” Kalen says.
Here’s how the company’s technology speeds up the process. It’s a mobile application that is downloaded through Google Play or the App Store. To start the credit review process, the salesperson scans the customer’s driver’s license to get the required demographic information. The customer answers questions about income through a series of drop-down screens and then reads and agrees to the terms and conditions. There are human operators available as well who step in to help clear up questions and to avoid declining customers who would be considered marginal.
The approved customer and salesperson receive a bar code to finalize the purchase — part of the paperless, cardless process.
Kalen says the fast approval process doesn’t equate to taking on risky loans. “As a lender, it is critical that we maintain low loss rates. We stay on top of the credit risk aspect so we don’t take on undue risk,” he says.
The dealer is set up to accept applications through an online approval process. “As long as they are in good standing with their manufacturer, they are in good standing with us,” Kalen says. He says dealers are paying lower fees than for other credit sources because of the rates that the manufacturers have negotiated. In Canada, there is also a subsidy that manufacturers have been paying for credit solutions that applies to Flexiti’s solution as well.
We looked at the topic of retail financing last fall and talked with Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, Mahindra North America, Sheffield Financial and DLL. Speed was a topic in those discussions and I’m sure it remains an issue today for those vendors who haven’t implemented changes.
Keep in mind your customers are making purchases elsewhere by holding their phone up to a POS screen — no cash exchanged and no card swiped. The amount of the purchase is different, sure, but it highlights the expectations that customers have in terms of the ease and speed of buying.
If your credit vendors are not keeping up, find out why and when changes are expected or find new options. Flexiti says it hopes to expand to the U.S. in the next year or two.
In the meantime while you’re waiting for streamlined or mobile solutions, make sure your dealership’s processes are efficient. Don’t lose a sale because you “time out” on the customer’s patience.