By: Robert O'Hara, VP Strategic Alliances, GrooveCar & CU Xpress Lease

It won’t be long now before we all turn the page on the calendar and find ourselves in 2017. Possibly doing the same as we have always done, but with renewed interest? As the new year approaches, I look forward to some downtime the holidays bring, providing an opportunity to review areas of interest in greater detail. I have found this is a great time to delve deeper into industry reading and to take a closer look at some of the programs that could use more attention in 2017. This is why I enjoy the end-of-the-year pause in the daily routine, even if it only lasts a few days.

This season is a perfect time to look at areas of the business that could benefit from more attention. I have had numerous conversations with credit unions on new areas of opportunity present right within their reach. Why not take a closer look now? The one area I recommend looking at is your network of preferred dealers. This is such a great asset to your auto loan program and one that can really drive results for growth. I just wrote an article for CU Insight entitled, The Benefit of Having a Preferred Dealer Network." The article covers the effectiveness of having a large dealer program, versus a program that is lean, yet delivers. I pose an argument that favors having a lean program where the focus is not on how many dealers but the quality and quantity of loans they are sending your way.

Why do I prefer lean versus bulky? Well, I would rather see you spend your time servicing dealers who work at returning the business to you, than those that don’t. Time is money…place your efforts into businesses that will foster growth.

In 2017, it is our goal to help credit unions realize the valuable resources they possess. Your resources benefit your dealer network and should be presented as such. They’re tangible and are a value-added lead source they wouldn’t otherwise be able to tap into without you. The article touches on this in greater detail, but I want you to consider the value of promoting to members the message of buying a new car and sending customers their way. After all, 34% of your overall loan portfolio is made of auto loans, and continued interest in auto loans remains extremely high for 2017, according to CUNA Mutual Group. As you continue to do your part in creating auto buying excitement that translates into business going to the dealers…Are they taking care of you? Are you taking care of them? Reward those dealers that are role players in your success stories by having a closer working relationship with them. At the same time, you must drive up or drive out the dealers that are not, they are dragging your program down, literally.

It’s time to shed a few pounds and lose the dead weight in your dealer network for 2017.

Happy Holidays and wishing you a prosperous New Year!

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