NEW YORK — Dealer consulting and services provider Automotive Banking Solutions has launched a new credit portal designed specifically to connect dealers with financing sources for credit-challenged customers.

The company’s president, Michael Vandermark, is a former special finance manager and dealer agent. He said dealers recognize the need to serve sub- and non-prime customers and have been looking for new ways to connect to the lenders who serve that market.

"We launched the new portal on Feb. 16, and we’ve already signed up 87 stores," Vandermark told Special Finance. "We have 20 or 30 major banks, finance companies and credit unions on board and we’re hammering out agreements with several others."

One of the first dealers to sign up was Charles Cozzupoli of James Chao’s Taconic Chevy in Yorktown, N.Y.

"Since I’ve been using Automotive Banking Solutions’ finance platform, it has helped me get financing for both sales and leasing," Cozzupoli said. "They have everything we need in there."

The company's consulting work has included sales and finance operations, deal structuring, and a "Virtual F&I" online desktop, all with a focus on the often-overlooked special finance department.

"I’m subprime at heart, but we’re full-spectrum," Vandermark said. "The goal for this project was to make the F&I process easy and to be sure each deal is structured correctly. Our dealers sign up at our Website, complete the online training session we run four times a week, and pay a one-time sign-up fee of $595. After that, the only charge is $39.95 per funded deal. All the contracts print out on plain paper and the dealers send the package directly to the bank. There are no intermediaries to complicate the process and no added costs for the lenders."

The company also will continue to offer in-house training and Vandermark indicated that several more projects are underway, including a proprietary dealer management system and new solutions for aftermarket products and in-house financing.