LOS ANGELES — Westlake Financial Services unveiled several new initiatives as part of its Q4 plan of expanding originations through the end of the year and into 2010. Those initiatives include a shared-participation program, utilizing GPS and payment reminder devices, purchasing dealer portfolios, lowering rates for their most credit-worthy retail customers, and increasing the number of field reps across the country, among others.
“Q3 was a great one for Westlake,” says Mark Vazquez, vice president of sales. “We grew our dealer base by 20 percent and expanded into six new states — bringing our national footprint to 42 states. We also increased our rep force by 20 percent in Q3, to 115, in order to provide dealers with the high level of customer service they have come to expect from us.”
Westlake also made various program enhancements with the goal of increasing their originations for Q4. “We’ve increased our advances and lowered our fees across all programs,” says Vazquez. “We also included new options such as GPS on our ProfitBuilder Program which automatically gives a higher advance. Another major change was lowering the minimum APR of the Platinum Program to 6.99 percent, which many of our franchise dealerships have been asking for.”
Other initiatives include the roll out of the new Partner Program, designed as an alternative for buy-here, pay-here customers, giving the dealer complete control. Offering more money up front than the ProfitBuilder Program, the Partner Program also allows the dealer to recover the vehicle in case of customer default and resell the collateral much more quickly. Adjustable APRs are another hallmark of the Partner Program, with the dealer choosing rates as low as 1 percent up to state caps, or 35 percent maximum.
“Our dealers told us that they want more choices and control, and that’s what these new features and programs are designed to do,” says Rich Damschen, associate vice president of business strategy and analytics. “Our strategic alliances that occurred in Q3 give large auto groups like AutoNation subprime auto financing that helps their franchise locations book more business.”
Finally, the launch of a new “instant notification” tool within the Westlake Buy Program allows dealers to communicate with their local rep in real-time should any questions arise while working a deal. The notification tool is built into the Buy Program and sends any questions and all pertinent data directly to the rep and the buyer, which decreases response time dramatically. In many cases, the buyer will be able to make adjustments on the fly, maximizing the profit for the dealer. In cases where the Buy Program will not give an approval, the instant notification is sent, and many times, the rep and buyer can instantly analyze where the dealer can make an adjustment to make the deal work.
“Our new initiatives to expand our footprint and increase our originations are designed to meet our dealer’s needs,” concludes Ian Anderson, president of Westlake Financial Services. “We focus on always giving the dealer a way to go. We’ve made many of our most popular programs even more attractive, and added new features that make Westlake the most logical choice for any customer that walks onto the lot. Focusing on what the dealers want is how we have continued to increase originations during these challenging times, and how we plan on increasing originations into 2010.”