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US trip possible for bright idea about 0% loans

An innovative solution to the problem of funding 0% finance deals on nearly-new cars has won Gary Norris £1,000 cash in this quarter's Award for Financial Excellence 2000.

Mr Norris, dealer principal at Norris Bros, Tamworth, Staffs, offers his customers a bundled package of 0% with full credit protection insurance on all ex-demonstrators.

Commission from selling the CPI helps reduce the finance subsidy on the 0% and still gives the customer good value. "The customer gets the best of both worlds," said Mr Norris. "They have full protection on the loan and a 0% interest rate for the term."

Mr Norris beat off strong competition to win his place in the final round of this year's Award. He now has a chance of winning the main prize - an expenses paid trip to the NADA convention in Las Vegas in January. The winner will be the guest of main award sponsors GE Capital Woodchester.

Neil Clyne, GE Capital Woodchester sales director, said: "The whole issue of how to handle ex-demonstrator sales is a hot topic in the industry. It is a challenge for dealers to offer customers a good deal on preregistered cars at the right value."

Norris Bros, a family firm, has been trading in Tamworth for more than 40 years. It has passed down to the present generation of owners, four brothers and a cousin, and has strong links with the local community.

"At a time when the nearly new market is volatile, this 0% finance headline has brought us incremental business on our demonstrators," said Mr Norris. "I would say we have sold more than half our demonstrators on the scheme."

Ian Rimmer, business manager at RRG Toyota, Bolton, is highly commended in this quarter's award. He will join Gary Norris in the final.

Mr Rimmer uses satisfied customers as a source of referrals for new business. If they are completely satisfied with the RRG Toyota service, they are asked to recommend the company to friends and family and are rewarded for the recommendation.

Sales staff are finding follow-up calls to referral customers is much more productive than cold calling and are adding conquest business.

Paul Tavernor, Mitac director and one of the award judges, said: "I particularly like the 'same deal guarantee' on this scheme. The new customer gets offered the same deal as the friend who is making the referral. That inspires confidence."

There is just one more chance to join the finalists in the Award for Financial Excellence 2000 and stand a chance of winning that trip to Las Vegas. The closing date for the last quarterly round is Friday, October 6 and the grand final of the competition will be held in Edinburgh on Wednesday, November 15.

Each quarterly winner and the highly commended entry go forward automatically to the final but all entrants become members of the Academy of Financial Excellence. They receive regular private briefings on the motor finance industry from GE Capital Woodchester and priority entry to Automotive Management events, such as this month's Digital Dealer IT Fair.

"I would urge everybody involved in the motor finance business to grab this last opportunity to enter this year," said Mr Clyne. "It's a great opportunity to get some recognition for the business managers and finance sales staff - plus a chance to win a cracking prize." * An entry form for the Award for Financial Excellence 2000 is enclosed with this issue of Automotive Management. If you need more entry forms, call Sue White on 01733 467017.

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