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Dealers satisfied with finance house partnerships

Dealers’ relationships with their finance houses have only been slightly damaged by the recession, according to the latest Sewells New Car Finance House Survey 2009.

The survey shows average franchised dealer satisfaction with their new car finance houses running at 79% - just 0.3 points down from last year’s record score of 79.3%.

Vehicle manufacturers’ captive finance houses achieved a record finance market penetration of 84% in this latest survey, up from a penetration of around 80% recorded by New Car Finance House Surveys over the past decade.

But with more proposals being turned down due to tough lending criteria, the 2009 survey found 95% of dealers - the second highest ever percentage - were utilising a secondary finance house for new car business.

The survey results also suggest that average franchised dealer new car finance penetration has increased substantially to 52%, from 45% in the 2008 survey.

Rising point-of-sale new car finance penetration may be due in part to the consequences of the credit crunch halting the rise of direct lending in the motor finance market. But equally, it may be a result of increasing professionalism in dealerships with dealers and their suppliers working together to reverse a persistent decline in showroom car finance sales.

The research found that more and more dealerships are employing finance specialists with those employing F&I managers enjoying an average new car finance penetration of 54%, whereas those without averaged 47%.

Based on responses from 832 franchised dealers covering 51 franchises and 1,197 franchise outlets, the 2009 survey shows the quality of service provided by finance houses to their dealer intermediaries remains the major influence on dealer satisfaction.

Service-related issues accounted for four of the top 10 dealer priorities in the 2009 survey, down from five in 2008 and eight in 2007 – but they were still the top four satisfaction factors. The highest dealer priority was the speed that finance houses turned around proposals.

The latest survey also shows a year-on-year increase in dealers saying the credit crunch has had a negative effect on customer enquiries for finance – for 40% of dealers polled in August 2009, compared with 30% a year earlier, when car sales had just entered free-fall.

The New Car Finance House Survey 2009 also explored franchised dealers’ views on acceptance of proposals and compared the results to an identical question asked in August 2008 and November 2009. In August 2008, 42% of franchised dealers polled said acceptances were down. This increased dramatically to 53% in November 2008, however the latest position (August 2009) is similar with 54% saying acceptances were down.

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