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Correcting misconceptions

Educating or re-educating journalists, particularly those who consider themselves to have specialist knowledge, can be a provocative ploy, but GMAC’s UK brand manager Barry Willson is not shirking the challenge.

He has commissioned Journalist’s Guide to New Car Finance as part of a mission to “correct long-held misconceptions by being impartial on the best ways to finance new car purchases”.

He says that counselling print media opinion formers can alter public attitudes and correct misconceptions, which GMAC believes contribute to the erosion of retailers’ point of sale F&I business.

Willson emphasises: “While it was tempting to tackle journalists, being confrontational is counter productive.

“Far from being cynical, the writers have been receptive. We have tried to be even handed and an independent journalist wrote the guide. If we can point out flaws in preaching that personal loans are the be-all and end-all of car buying, and discounts for nominal cash are always cheaper, then it will be a success.”

Willson is adamant that comparative demonstration of the relative value of PCPs, HP and personal loans in everyday contexts is “for the common good of the automotive finance sector and customers alike”.

The case against direct lenders is supported by the fact that 86% of new Vauxhall GMAC contracts last year were financed at 5.5% APR or less, or with deposit contributions of up to £3,000. And 60% of that share were funded at 0% APR.

There was a coincidental 86% POS approval rate for customers proposed for GMAC loans.

Willson acknowledges that countering inertia towards POS showroom finance dictates a multi-layered promotional approach in print, electronic media and the internet.

Showroom posters, literature and in-car material have recently been revised at GM brand outlets, which Willson concedes: “shows that the finance profile perhaps was not high enough and presentation not effective enough.”

As an opinion former in his own sector, Willson is “coming round” to the concept of specialist accreditation for retailer finance staff. He says: “They generate higher volumes. It is chalk and cheese between specialists and general sales staff.”

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