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Special Finance®

Handle With Care

February 2010, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by David Johnson

There is a difference between handling special-finance leads and prime leads — in fact, there’s a big difference. Prime customers want to tell you what to do. Special-finance customers want to be told what to do. To understand why that is, one needs to understand the psychology of the special-finance customer.

People who have bad credit know they have bad credit. They’re accustomed to the turndowns, and they’re used to the stress and feeling of hopelessness associated with bad credit. So, as a special-finance dealer, you can provide hope to those who need it. To handle those leads properly, you have to be willing to take charge and point your customers in the right direction. Try this three-step approach:

1. Give Them a Push

How many times have you looked at your appointment schedule and thought that Saturday was going to rock? It’s a popular day for customers to car shop, but many veteran dealers will tell you it’s also their biggest day for no-shows.

Let’s say you get a special-finance customer on the phone on Monday. The customer says he can only come by on Saturday, as he works all week. That’s five days he has to read more ads, visit more Websites and contact more dealers. Tell him you’d like to see him today, after he gets off work. You can provide any number of reasons, but all you really have to say is this:

“I need you here today. After reviewing several options for you, and due to the time-sensitive nature of credit inquiries, your best chance of getting the car you want is today. Is there any way that you can leave work a little bit early? We’re also open late.”

If that’s not an option, ask if he can go into work late the next day. Always keep in mind that you are trying to build hope, so impress upon your customers that you’re working hard to get them done, even if nobody else would or could. That may be enough to get them to show up.

2. Speak With Intent

Special-finance customers are always looking for reasons to discount what you’re saying. They’ve read advertisements and heard sales pitches before, and past experiences have made them skeptical. This is especially true when a car guy attempts to set an appointment by reading from a script. If you sound disingenuous, they will not show up. They may tell you they’ll be there, but that’s only because they want to get off the phone. The key is to speak with purpose.

3. Encourage Questions

Another good technique is to encourage your customer to ask questions. Doing so increases the chances of them actually showing up for the appointment. Give every inquiry or objection a well thought-out response before closing, and always remember to follow up with a question of your own once you’ve answered theirs. Just remember to always stay in control of the conversation.

Now, go set some appointments!

David Johnson is director of e-commerce for Next Generation Dealer Services, a consulting firm specializing in special finance training. He can be reached at

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