Privacy Policy and Consumer Laws: Is Your Dealership At Risk?

The privacy of personal information is a great concern for American consumers in today’s computer age. In a rush to seem up to date on the latest technological safeguards, however, many car dealerships are making false promises and violating consumer laws.

Nearly every car dealership’s privacy policy agreement includes a line about “physical and electronic safeguards” put in place to protect customer information. These privacy policies might look good and put a customer’s mind at ease, but most of these dealerships have no idea what they have in place to safeguard customer information, if they even put anything in place at all.

Consumer protection groups and government organizations are starting to crack down on dealership privacy policies. If dealerships claim that they have safeguards but don’t actually have a system in place, they can be charged for deceptive trade practices and forced to pay settlements. Besides the cost of the settlements, dealerships will also lose business. Car shoppers will be less trusting, especially when it comes to sharing their personal information.

What can your dealership do to avoid these problems? We recommend sitting down and reviewing your dealership’s privacy policy. Is it an accurate reflection of what is currently in place? If someone asked you to specifically outline your system’s safeguards, could you and your staff answer the question? If the answer is no, then the first priority is deciding on reasonable safeguards and implementing them as well as updating the privacy policy if necessary.

Special Finance Group wants to give your dealership’s special finance department the tools it needs to succeed and exceed your expectations. To learn more about Special Finance Group’s Complete Special Finance Solution, go to, and connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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Auto Sales: April’s Big Winners

Now that April is done and the sales numbers are finalized, the auto industry is seeing that April might not have been as strong as March, but some automakers finished up April feeling very happy indeed.

Among the best performers in April were Nissan with 80,003 units, Ram with 32,124 units, and Ford with 204,969 units sold. Compared to 2012, they had volume increases of 24.62 percent, 49.38 percent, and 17.77 percent respectively.

Nissan NA was the highest performing automaker overall, however, with a 23.16 percent increase over April 2012. They also saw an 18.23 percent daily sales rate increase. Chrysler Group had Ram’s strong sales in their favor, but it was brought down by Chrysler’s disappointing numbers, only bringing in 27,836 compared to 31,879 in April 2012.

Going into May, dealerships will be enjoying some of the best weather they will have all year. Americans will be thinking about getting out of town, going to the beach, or hitting the road for summer vacation, and if they don’t have a road-ready car, they will need to get one soon. Plus, consumers are still figuring out how to spend their tax refund. With the right marketing push, dealerships could make a lot of money in May.

If you are looking to move more inventory and boost foot traffic in your dealership, Special Finance Group is ready to assist you with their Complete Special Finance Solution. To learn more about what Special Finance Group can do for you, go to, and connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Special Finance Education: Funding a Deal

Properly funding deals is the most important part of a successful special finance department, and yet in a rush, it is often the most neglected part of the process. In a hurry to get the deal submitted, someone might miss a stip, something minor like a utility bill or their last pay stub. Missing these stips or any part of the deal, however, can lead to problems down the road.

On Special Finance Insider, they give an example of a problem that happens too often. The customer comes in on Tuesday, and the deal is shipped overnight, arriving on Thursday morning. The bank or finance company reviews it, and something is wrong with the stips. Tuesday’s work is out the window, and you might not know it until early next week unless the finance company gets to it right away.

Not every deal will have every single stip included when it is submitted. Sometimes a pay stub or a utility bill will get sent a day later, and many of those deals will go through with no problem. Still, no one ever succeeded in life or business by shooting for mediocrity. Always strive for better and try to submit better deals with every stip included. You will see a difference in turn-around time from the finance companies and spend more time closing new deals rather than trying to fix deals you already did.

If you are looking to move more inventory and boost foot traffic in your dealership, Special Finance Group is ready to assist you with their Complete Special Finance Solution. To learn more about what Special Finance Group can do for you, go to, and connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Better Special Finance Accepts No Excuses

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Great advice can stand the test of time, and when it comes to special finance, one of the most lasting and helpful pieces of advice anyone can give is, “Don’t accept excuses.”

Today, I was re-reading some of the excellent articles over at Special Finance Insider’s website, and I came across Brett Boatright’s tough-love article “Who’s Selling Who?” He walks through the typical excuses that salespeople, sales managers, finance managers, and used car buyers doll out when they fail to deliver on funding deals. The leads are the problem, the banks are the problem, the inventory is the problem…and so on and so forth.

The truth is that these are excuses, and there are steps that every special finance department can take to improve from the sales people to the finance managers. Most of the problems stem from not following through with leads, failing to be diligent with paperwork, and not knowing banks and finance companies’ programs inside and out. Every employee should take a moment periodically to take inventory of their day, how their time is spent, and how they can improve on their work. If they aren’t up to date on bank and finance programs, they need to schedule the time to learn it. Taking these simple steps can already put your special finance department back on the right track.

Special Finance Group wants to give your special finance department the tools it needs to succeed and exceed your expectations. To learn more about Special Finance Group’s Complete Special Finance Solution, go to, and connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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Automakers Break Records with March 2013 Sales

After 2012′s record-breaking sales, it seemed like the auto industry would eventually hit its peak and plateau. Now that March is over, though, it hasn’t happened yet. For nearly every automaker, March 2013 sales were significantly higher than one year ago.

Cadillac saw the highest increase in volume of sales with a 49 percent increase compared to March 2012, but Ram and Dodge also did extremely well with 24 percent and 15 percent increases respectively. Ford was the top seller overall with 229,335 units, though it was on the lower end of sales increases with a 6.86 percent increase.

Going into April, dealerships across the country need to dive in and realize that they could see some of their best numbers in years this spring. Now that auto loans are more accessible than ever, even to consumers with poor credit, dealerships simply need to focus on getting car shoppers in the door. Americans are ready to buy, and with the right promotion and customer outreach, they are almost guaranteed to do well.

Are you looking to move more inventory, increase profits for service and parts, and bring in more foot traffic to your dealership? Special Finance Group’s Complete Special Finance Solution can give you all that and more. Go to http:/// to learn more, and connect with Special Finance Group online through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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Survey: Dealerships Responding Quicker to Internet Leads

A new mystery shopper survey shows that dealerships who respond quickly and effectively to internet leads are getting an edge over the competition.

According to the survey, auto dealerships have a quicker response time to internet leads. Half the time, salespeople respond to customer inquiries within 30 minutes, down from 1 hour two years ago. Even busy dealerships have set up automated e-mail responses to internet inquiries so that the person gets a response right away if the dealership is too busy to call in the next hour.

One problem that arises for dealerships receiving internet leads and inquiries is that it takes time to contact these potential customers, answer their questions, and convince them to stop by for a test drive. Dealerships that had a quick response time weren’t always the best when it came to thoroughly answering questions, while other dealerships had the exact opposite problem. Mini had a 15 percent non-response rate with leads, but they got a 63 percent satisfaction rate for answering customer questions, 19 percent higher than the industry average. Besides that, the sales team has to take care of customers walking in the door and can’t always help every internet lead satisfactorily.

As part of Special Finance Group’s Complete Special Finance Solution, dealerships get the advantage of a fully-staffed business development center which tracks internet leads, answers customer questions, and schedules appointments to stop by the dealership. With Special Finance Group, you can focus attention on the customers coming through the door while still getting the most out of internet leads.

Want to learn more about the Complete Special Finance Solution? Go to, and connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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New Dealership Technology and Keeping Your Customers’ Information Safe

Not that long ago, car dealerships didn’t have to worry about customer information being compromised or stolen. Applications, insurance information, and other sensitive documents would get filed away and locked up, and there was no way to get the information unless someone broke into the dealership. Nowadays, paper filing is more and more going by the wayside, and it is happening for good reason. Looking through filing cabinets can get tedious, and if someone makes a mistake in filing, it can take hours to find what you are looking for. Plus, paper documentation can get torn, worn-out, or destroyed.

Nowadays, computer networks are taking the place of filing cabinets, and dealerships use the internet to pull credit applications, check lead information, manage insurance records, and much more. Unfortunately, not every dealership has taken the necessary steps to protect this sensitive information that is shared between computers and over the internet, and some dealerships’ privacy notices are so outdated that the dealership could be vulnerable to a lawsuit.

In a recent write-up for Special Finance Insider, Mark Bross detailed how Franklin Budget Car Sales got in trouble for this scenario. Franklin shared customer information on a peer-to-peer network without putting the proper security measures in place, and they did not provide consumers with an opt-out so their information would not be shared with third parties. Franklin eventually settled with the Federal Trade Commission and agreed to biennial data security audits from a third party for twenty years as well as numerous other measures meant to correct their security flaws and warn other dealerships not to make the same mistake.

Take a lesson from Franklin Budget Car Sales, and don’t make the same mistakes. Update your privacy notice, and make sure it reflects the latest consumer protection laws. If you use a peer-to-peer network, take the steps to make it secure and properly train employees how to use it so you don’t put customer information at risk. New technology is great, and peer-to-peer networks can be a useful tool to any dealership. Problems arise, however, when dealership jump in without understanding it first.

Have you heard about Special Finance Group’s Complete Special Finance Solution yet? Go to to learn more, and connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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Backdating Deals: A Costly Mistake

For years, backdating sales contracts was a common practice for dealerships across the country. They used to backdate to get in on time-sensitive manufacturer incentives or because they wanted to hit a sales target.

Almost three years ago, a California appeals court ruled against a San Diego dealership for backdating contracts and ordered that the dealership pay $50 to every member of the class action lawsuit. Additionally, they had to pay around $400,000 in legal fees.  The court ruled that backdating violated the Truth In Lending Act since the buyer will have to pay additional interest, and if the APR changed as a result of backdating, the dealership will be violating the law unless it falls within one-eighth of 1 percent of the calculated rate.

According to Gil Van Over, writer for Wards Auto, the auto industry has not taken the proper steps so that dealerships will not be tempted to backdate a deal. Automakers have charged back on incentives when a contract date is just outside of the incentive deadline. Some dealerships have just argued that the court was wrong in its ruling and that if a car buyer is driving the car already, they should be paying interest. Fortunately, automakers are starting to catch up, and if the dealership reaches out to factory auditors and provides proper documentation, the dealership will not be charged back on incentives. As to arguing that the court ruled incorrectly, the law is the law. The court’s job is to interpret the law. Just because you disagree with the court’s interpretation of the law doesn’t mean that your dealership will not be subject to that same law and its interpretation.

Backdating is tempting, but it is a costly mistake made by too many dealerships. Be vigilant, and make sure your dealership isn’t making this mistake!

Special Finance Group is ready to help your dealership bring in more customers and close more quality deals. Find out more about our Complete Special Finance Solution here or go to You can also connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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No License, No Car: Why Dealerships Cannot Sell Without a Driver’s License

Last week, Gil Van Over at Ward’s Auto published an article “Believe It: Valid ID Needed to Buy Car.” In the article, he explains why dealerships cannot (and should not) sell a car if the purchaser does not have a valid driver’s license. As he puts it, “You can’t clear airport security by showing an expired driver’s license. You can’t rent a car with an expired driver’s license.” Why should you be able to buy a car without a valid driver’s license?

There are a number of problems that can arise if a dealership sells a car to a person without a valid license. The buyer might have multiple DUI convictions which automatically bans them from registering a vehicle. In that case, the dealership will have to pay off the loan. In another case, a buyer might be using someone else’s social security number and personal information that they purchased illegally, but their story will fall apart if asked for a valid driver’s license.

State and federal laws including the Patriot Act and the Red-Flags Rule require valid identification from the potential buyer. These laws also require that the dealership be vigilant and do their part to battle identity theft. At Special Finance Group, our call center representatives speak with potential customers every day. When they set appointments at associated dealerships, our representatives require that customers bring identification and verification of income including but not limited to their driver’s license and social security card. This way, we do our part to battle identity theft and protect our associated dealerships.

Find out today what Special Finance Group can do for you! Go to and check out our Complete Special Finance Solution! Be sure to also connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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From Online to On the Lot: An Easier Car Buying Experience

The internet has unquestionably changed the way we shop for cars. Customers start shopping long before they walk into a dealership, everything from researching makes and models online to reading dealership reviews on Google and Yelp. More than ever, car shoppers will walk into a dealership with a clear idea of the car they want and the price they want to pay.

A recent survey from Accenture shows, however, that car dealership websites are not effectively helping potential car buyers to move forward through the car buying process. Instead, 73 percent of respondents said that browsing dealership websites made them more likely to turn off the computer and use other sources in their car search.

Overall, the results of the study showed that car shoppers want to complete most of the work before they go into the dealership. They want dealerships to make the process from online researching to purchasing the vehicle in-person as seamless as possible, and they want consistent customer service every step of the way.

The great news is that with the help of Special Finance Group, any dealership can streamline their car buying process and give customers the seamless internet-to-dealership experience that they clearly want. Special Finance Group’s Complete Special Finance Solution includes a dedicated website where car shoppers can fill out a secure online auto loan application and read glowing testimonials from real customers. Within 24 to 48 hours, the applicant is contacted by a representative and set up with an appointment at an associated dealership. It simplifies the car buying process, increases foot traffic in the dealership, and gives a nice boost to the parts and service department, and this is only one part of the Complete Special Finance Solution!

You can read more about the benefits of Special Finance Group’s Complete Special Finance Solution by going to or connect with Special Finance Group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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