www.financingyourcar.org.uk is intended to counter consumer belief that forecourt finance is a bad deal. The website provides an impartial explanation of all forms of car finance.
In February Martin Hall, the FLA director general, warned that the decline in point-of-sale finance was reaching crisis point. Since then, the FLA has worked with the SMMT and the DTI’s retail motor strategy group to try to find ways of reversing the trend.
Peter Cottle, senior director of Capital Bank Motor, who chaired the conference, said: “We must take the message to dealers that finance and insurance can be a valuable source of profit.”
Mark Standish, chief executive of Carlyle Finance, said some dealers sold finance to 70% of car buyers, but they were the exception. He urged the majority of dealers to work harder at POS because it could be highly profitable.
He wants dealers – with the support of FLA members – to persuade consumers that they were “the trusted source of finance and value”.
Standish called on dealers to make finance an integral part of selling a car from the first contact with a customer, and not to make it an afterthought at the end.
“Dealers can use the internet to their advantage by getting the finance message across on their websites,” he said. “Finance companies do not want to cut dealers out – we want to help them navigate the path to selling more POS finance.
“Motor finance companies want dealers to see them as F&I partners, not suppliers.”
Standish said independent finance providers had to learn from groups like Virgin, and create a simple but compelling message to persuade consumers to buy motor finance from dealers.
Few dealers attended the conference, held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull.
Peter Cottle said: “It is difficult to get dealers to a finance-only conference, which is disappointing. F&I should be fundamental to their profitability.”