Dealer finance for new cars may be at an all time high level, but dealers can benefit further in finance and vehicle sales by adding greater focus, or seeking help to support the SME fleet sales market.
That's the view of Mann Island Finance director John Hughes following analysis of the sector.
“A financing gap exists. SMEs are often concerned about getting finance and the right finance guidance, there is a wider continuing shortage of SME finance and dealers who can frequently access finance for their customers frequently do not feel confident in their capacity to offer the full range of finance facilities.
"Bridge this gap in and dealers can up tap an opportunity to sell more vehicles. Central to this is creating or bringing in the right level of expertise and seeing each sale as far more than a single standalone transaction, which is often not the case," Hughes said.
Whilst the economic outlook is improving, SME business often struggle to get access to finance a situation exacerbated by the media headlines suggesting that finance remains restricted, which in turn acts a barrier to vehicle purchasing, he said.
The finance perception is supported by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee’s criticism of the government’s the lack of support for SMEs and campaigning by the Federation of Small Business.
Initiatives such as the Funding for Lending scheme and the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme have commonly proved of little use for vehicle purchasing.
Encouragingly, the asset finance market has been active, with the FLA reporting growth of 4% in new business funding n 2013. Dealers can take a wider share of the available market by being far more imaginative.
Hughes added: “Dealers need to be far more proactive in promoting the availability of SME finance for new and used cars, LCVs and HGVs.
"The SME market is growing with a trend to smaller fleets of 3 – 20 vehicles. This is territory that dealers can ‘own.’
"The reality is that they are often missing out to specialist agencies, which have recognised the finance gap. We can help dealers to develop their own capabilities and to realise an opportunity to create incremental sales.”