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Dealer Ops

Challenges Turn To Gold In Special Finance

Typically I write about a dealership and key in on the high points of their success in the Special Finance arena. This month, I’m going to focus on one person that drives the success of the department and how she achieves that success. That person is Susan Brown, the special finance manager for Larry Miller Pontiac Buick Cadillac located in Boise, Idaho. From the first conversation I had with her, I knew that she was good. After I met her and saw first-hand how she handles customers and trains and inspires her sales crew, combined with her incredible vision putting deals together, I knew she was a true Special Finance superstar.

Known superstars are people like Michael Jordan, Walter Payton or the immortal Babe Ruth. All are famous individuals that excelled at their chosen profession. They were true professionals and leaders that produced high numbers while making everyone around them better. That last statement personifies Susan Brown. It doesn’t seem to matter where she hangs her hat, positive things happen. I think “Profit” is her middle name. By now, you’re starting to get the idea that she impresses me with what she brings to the table every day.

Brown started out in the automotive industry in 1993 working the sales floor in Denver, Colorado. She became interested in the world of Special Finance and got her chance in June 1996. She took to it like a duck takes to water. She loved everything about it, but most of all she relished the challenge that accompanies every deal and that wonderful bi-product, income.

In August 2002, Brown joined the Larry Miller Group with Osborn Automotive in Denver as their Special Finance manager. This was a turning point in her life which she was determined to take full advantage of. The Larry Miller Group quickly found out that they had acquired someone very special. Brown is good, very good.

In November 2004, Brown had an opportunity to transfer to the Larry Miller Credit Resource Center in Boise. When asked why she took the transfer from metropolitan Denver to sleepy town Boise, Brown said that she felt the karma was right. She said that’s her litmus test for change. I thought this was a strange statement from someone that calculates every decision.

Actually, there were several positive things which factored into her decision. She heard Tom Browning was a top notch General Manager; plus she had Prestige Financial Services as a lender and as a proven Internet lead source. Brown was introduced to Customer Funding while she was with Osborne Automotive, experiencing great success with the Special Finance Internet leads they provided. “Utilizing as our only Internet lead source, we have been able to increase our production in the department by 300 percent since I arrived in Boise,” Brown stated. “We are currently expanding into other markets with which broadens our customer coverage. Over 50 percent of our current vehicle sales are generated through Internet leads.”

How good are Brown and her crew? They are number one out of 37 stores in the Larry Miller Group for January and February 2005, funding 65 loans in January and 68 in February. “We’ve built a strong relationship with our two primary lenders and averaged 80 percent approval ratio the last two months” said Brown.

What are keys to her success? “Total management support for the department, a dedicated and motivated staff, the right advertising that generates quality leads and an inventory that produces maximum profits. You need a staff that can get the customer excited about the opportunity and set the appointment. Quick response and proper handling of the lead is critical to turn it into a sale. My crew is disciplined and follows set policies and procedures every time. Repetitive efficiency turns opportunities into deliveries while maximizing profits” states Brown.

Once a customer arrives at the dealership, the most important part is the customer interview. Brown attempts to conduct all the interviews, so she has the facts to work with. This time is used to review all the stipulations the client brought. This process ensures the loan makes it through the funding process and helps slow the customer down, putting them at ease. Provide a relaxed and professional atmosphere. This makes the sales process enjoyable for everyone. Sell the credit first; then look at vehicles and always give choices in selection, down and payments. “I always tell my staff to treat every customer as if they were a Cadillac customer, so it’s ironic that I ended up in a Cadillac Store,” Brown stated.

Whatever dealership she lands in, they make money – lots of money – money that would have gone to a competitor. She thinks out of the box all the time and sees a car deal in every customer. It seems that everything she touches turns to gold. My point, Brown is a winner and a true superstar at her craft.

Vol 3, Issue 4



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