DriveTime seeks to challenge ‘outdated’ ad model with new campaign

Now that DriveTime has its new top executive in place, the retailer that caters to buyers with damaged credit histories unveiled its news marketing initiative.

This week, DriveTime launched what the company called its “The Genius Way to Buy a Car” campaign.

The national spots showcase two fictional brainiacs, mathematician Gunter Zoolof and marine biologist Dakota Isaacs, who claim remarkable academic and scientific achievements, yet fail to be true geniuses because they didn’t bypass the notoriously unpleasant car buying process by using DriveTime. “The Genius Way to Buy a Car” began airing this week on national cable networks, including A&E, ESPN, History, Discovery and USA, among others, while also broadcasting in 68 local markets nationwide. 

DriveTime contends the “Genius Way to Buy a Car” challenges the used vehicle industry’s outdated advertising model that primarily focuses on unrealistic sales, limited discounts and loss leaders that benefit the dealership and not the consumer. 

“Consumers want a dealership experience, but they are demanding a fundamental change in the way the industry visualizes and delivers that experience,” the company said. “With the ‘The Genius Way to Buy a Car,’ DriveTime delivers that paradigm shift for consumers. This campaign’s imagination, creativity and humor highlights the enormous divide between the ‘industry way’ and the ‘Genius Way.’”

DriveTime’s “Genius Way” focuses on delighting customers and begins with listening to what they say they want and includes:

— National presence with 15,000 vehicles
— Second largest used vehicle retailer focused solely on used vehicles
— 145 dealerships in 27 states
— More than 1 million cars sold
— $2 billion every month in consumer requested credit
— Intelligent online tools
— Online financing including down payment and credit score
— Superior mobile customer experience
— Quality vehicles
— Five-day free return
— Free Autocheck available on every vehicle
— Dealership experience
— 90,000 five-star reviews
— Click and brick connected retail
— Proprietary point of sales systems allowing for speed of purchase
— Salaried sales advisors delivering an experience, not a sale
— Market based pricing
— No haggle pricing
— Live market based pricing

“Our strategic pivot is grounded in listening to what we know car buyers want — to make the car buying process easy by setting a transparent expectation about the price of car and down payment online, and then over-delivering on that promise at one of our 145 dealerships,” said Scott Worthington, vice president of retail and marketing at DriveTime.

Duncan Channon, DriveTime’s agency of record since 2012, created the spots with visual effects partner Freefolk and director Pelorian Brothers. 

“Why is it that we’ve all somehow agreed that buying a car will be a complete drag? No matter how much we demand smarter, more convenient ways of purchasing other items in our lives, we reluctantly go through the old-school drudgery at the dealership when it comes to one of the biggest purchases we make,” said Anne Elisco-Lemme, executive creative director at Duncan Channon.

“But the smart people at DriveTime have developed an incredible set of online tools that give their equally smart consumers everything they need to make an intelligent and pain-free purchase — lightning fast. It might not be Carmichael’s totient function conjecture, but it’s pretty genius,” Elisco-Lemme continued.

The spots can be viewed on DriveTime’s YouTube page or via the window at the top of this page.

For more information on DriveTime, visit

TIADA to help market NIADA CPO Program

The Texas Independent Automobile Dealers Association and the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association are both located in the Lone Star State and already have a close relationship.

That connection became even stronger on Tuesday in a development that could help Texas buy-here, pay-here operators and other independent dealerships highlight certified pre-owned vehicles — just like their franchised store competition.

TIADA has entered into a marketing agreement with its national affiliate NIADA to promote the NIADA Certified Pre-Owned program.

Association officials said that NIADA CPO is the only major third-party certified pre-owned program designed specifically for independent auto dealerships — developed by dealers for dealers.

The NIADA Certified Pre-Owned program “levels the playing field” for independent dealers in the booming CPO market, allowing them to compete with manufacturers’ franchise dealerships and take part in the popular CPO phenomenon while providing more options for consumers seeking quality used vehicles backed by a strong warranty and brand.

NIADA CPO is administered by Warrantech, an A-rated warranty provider, third-party administrator and a leader in the auto industry F&I ancillary products business, which also manages the General Motors, Volvo and Chrysler factory CPO programs.

Backed by Warrantech’s strong financial position and expertise in the CPO market, the NIADA CPO program represents the best-in-class offering for TIADA members to take advantage of.

TIADA will work closely with NIADA and the Warrantech regional team to promote and market the program and to educate and consult with TIADA members on the immense advantages of implementing NIADA CPO in their stores.

“TIADA is always looking to create more value for membership,” TIADA executive director Jeff Martin said. “Since the NIADA CPO program is only available to active members, we felt this was a natural fit.

“We are excited about the partnership and look forward to working with dealers who want to make a CPO product available to their customers,” Martin continued.

Martin added that dealers should be on the lookout for upcoming opportunities to learn more about NIADA CPO and join the hundreds of other NIADA members enjoying the fruits of the stellar program.

 “We are thrilled to have one of our largest, most successful and well-run state affiliates enter into a marketing agreement to promote the independent auto dealer market’s best-in-class CPO program,” NIADA senior vice president of member services Scott Lilja said.

“The NIADA CPO program will allow TIADA members to continue to evolve their dealership business model to ensure continued growth, profitability and long-term customer loyalty in this hypercompetitive auto retail market,” Lilja went on to say.

For more information, visit or call (800) 358-2655.

DriveTime selects new CEO

DriveTime chose a leader with plenty of experience in the franchised dealer group world to be its new chief executive officer.

According to an announcement distributed on Monday, Don Reese will join DriveTime as its new CEO beginning in late March. Reese will also be appointed to the DriveTime Automotive Group and Bridgecrest Acceptance boards of directors.

Reese replaces DriveTime’s previous CEO, Ray Fidel.

"We are very excited and pleased to welcome Don to DriveTime,” chairman Ernie Garcia said. “Don’s considerable leadership and operational experience in new and used auto sales, as well as his background as a CFO, make him an ideal candidate to lead DriveTime at this time.

“We continue to reinvent our dealership and digital customer experiences and offerings and expect to begin acquiring new-car dealerships beginning in 2018. I also view him as a very valuable addition to our boards,” Garcia continued.

Reese has more than 30 years of experience in both leadership and finance having spent:

• 11 years as the chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the Maroone Auto Group

• Six years as a senior vice president in operations and finance, and covering the Midwest Region for AutoNation

• 15 years with the Gurley Leep Automotive as COO

• Was most recently COO for Sheehy Auto Stores

For more information on DriveTime, visit

NIADA and Subprime Analytics confirm data agreement to aid dealers

When the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) finalized its acquisition of the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers (NABD) this past December, the last thing Ken Shilson wanted to do was just power down his computer and never look spreadsheets or other financial documents and portfolio metrics.

But now Shilson, one of NABD’s founders, will continue to leverage his analytical and accounting backgrounds as NIADA announced on Thursday that it has contracted with Shilson and Subprime Analytics to provide analytical services for the association’s 16,000 members.

“I wanted to get back more into the analytics area,” Shilson said during a phone conversation in January. “I want to expand my analytical data to support the important positions of the industry

“It is data that will drive the decisions that regulators have to make that will impact the industry,” he added.

Subprime Analytics, a Houston-based company that analyzes subprime automotive portfolio performance using data-mining technology, has analyzed more than $20 billion in subprime auto installment contracts during the past 10 years. The firm provides nationally recognized automotive benchmarks that measure industry performance and trends.

“I am pleased to prepare and issue our used-car benchmarks and other analytical reports to assist NIADA in its representation of the used car industry,” said Shilson, who is president and founder of Subprime Analytics.

“At Subprime Analytics, we intend to develop data and analytical information in support of important legal and regulatory initiatives by NIADA that will impact the used-car industry. NIADA and Subprime Analytics, working together, plan to expand analytical reporting for its members.”

For the past 19 years, Shilson had served as president and founder of NABD, which was recently acquired by NIADA. Shilson will continue to assist both organizations and will participate in NIADA training and conferences planned for 2018 and beyond.

“We are now working together on the agenda for the 2018 NIADA/NABD Convention and Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., June 18-21,” Shilson said in a news release. “It promises to be the largest used-car show in history, and I am delighted to join the NIADA team in helping design and conduct the educational sessions and to continue to provide NABD attendees the highly valuable specialized training they have come to expect.

“NIADA is also planning a subprime auto conference this fall in Las Vegas and other dealer training events. In the highly competitive subprime auto industry of today, education has never been more important and valuable,” he continued.

NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said that that he is “thrilled Subprime Analytics is now the de facto data arm of NIADA" and that Ken Shilson is adding his 20-plus years of data mining and analytics expertise to the NIADA playbook of service to our members.

“Through Subprime Analytics, Ken has created an extremely valuable service platform for dealers and finance companies in the subprime automotive space that can help them better understand how data trends can impact their businesses and customers,” Jordan continued. “Aggregating data is one thing, but Ken’s expertise in interpreting the data and its operational trends is what puts him in a class by himself.

“As a real-life data ninja, Ken is a hugely valuable asset to NIADA, our members and the industry, and I look forward to our continued work together,” Jordan went on to say.

For more information about the 2018 NIADA Convention and Expo or to register, visit or or call (832) 767-4759. Availability is limited.

8 features of DriveTime’s refurbished mobile site

With more consumers shopping for their next car using their mobile devices, DriveTime wanted to upgrade its offerings in an effort to capture those potential sales.

On Tuesday, DriveTime announced the launch of a new mobile site with innovations designed to extend to both the customer experience and the technology DriveTime employed in launching the site. 

Customers will now see:

—Improved and faster page navigation when customers are on our site (single-page application platform).

—Changes to content layout and imagery based on user behavior.

—Content tailored to the phone location (geolocation logic).

—Enhanced vehicle photos.

—New search filters to enable customers to find exactly what they are looking for in DriveTime’s new used car inventory, including number of prior owners and accidents.

—Market price comparisons on thousands of used vehicles.

—Three-day guaranteed online pricing of customer trade-ins that’s being tested in select markets.

—Easy to find AutoCheck vehicle history reports on any of the 15,000 DriveTime used vehicles available nationwide.

At the same time, DriveTime emphasized that it has retained all of the existing customer friendly features of the DriveTime experience, including:

—Streamlined contracting and e-signing

—Speed of financing online with a credit score and starting down payment in less than two minutes

—No haggle pricing, a no questions asked five-day used vehicle return program

—Salaried sales advisers at dealerships focused on helping our customers find the right used vehicle for them from the thousands of used vehicles available

“There are a number of off the shelf mobile or website products offered by vendors to the new and used car industry.  With over 1.2 million users each month on our desktop and mobile sites, we elected to custom develop our mobile site based on what customers are telling us they want — quick and easy access to the information they want to see, a customer experience game changer in used vehicle retailing,” said Scott Worthington, DriveTime’s vice president of retail marketing.

“We’re just beginning to reimagine the entire vehicle retail experience,” Worthington added.

DriveTime also found it needed cutting edge technology to deliver these unique, new customer experiences.

Don Irwin, director of IT, and Shawn Curran, managing director of retail and marketing product development, said, “With 125-plus IT employees at DriveTime, we have a large pool of IT expertise to draw on to review and execute exciting new technologies that allow us to truly enhance the customer experience within the used car industry.  And, the mobile site was a key priority for our digital retailing initiatives. Because of our customer experience focus, load time and navigation performance were critical concerns during the development of the new site. 

“It was also a lot of fun to dig further into SEO compatibility because of our unique approach with the single-page application platform,” they continued. “Our team also implemented a best in breed solution incrementally delivering data as required to make the used car shopping experience as fast as possible. 

We accomplished this using the Angular 4+ client-side framework and Node.js for the server build, and for data and other dependencies we were able to use bleeding edge technologies like Azure CosmosDB, Azure Search, Azure CDN, Redis Cache and Azure Service Bus,” Irwin and Curran went on to say.

“From an IT perspective, we had a blast with this project,” they added.

NIADA notes: Dealer optimism high; new relationship with Lyft

Independent dealers went into 2018 with an upbeat mood.

Why? The economic and retail sales growth expectations of independent dealers have improved substantially, according to the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s business confidence survey for the fourth quarter of 2017.

The survey of NIADA members is conducted each quarter in partnership with Equifax to gauge the viewpoint of used-vehicle dealers regarding general economic conditions and business concerns.

The association highlighted that 50 percent of the dealers surveyed said they expected economic conditions to improve in Q1 2018, up from 36 percent in the Q3 survey.

The results showed retail sales growth expectations improved from 55 to 67 percent, and the number of dealers who expected to increase their inventory investment this quarter rose 17 percentage points — a 42.5 percent increase from Q3.

NIADA pointed out that its dealer sentiment results align with a recent survey of members of the National Federation of Independent Business that showed optimism near an all-time high, at a level not seen in 34 years, according to NFIB president and chief executive officer Juanita Duggan.

NIADA determined the big drivers of that renewed positivity include expectations of tax relief from the new tax bill passed by Congress, positive consumer sentiment due to the lowest unemployment rate in more than 30 years and confidence in the current administration’s pro-growth, anti-regulation policies.

The association acknowledged used-vehicle inventory costs remain robust, with the latest Manheim Index climbing 7.8 percent year-over-year.

NIADA noted that inflationary inventory situation continues to put pressure on the business expense side of the ledger, which is one reason 57 percent of dealers expected their cost of doing business to increase, up from 45 percent in Q3.

Survey orchestrators explained that jump also reflects the significant investment independent auto dealers continue to make in their digital showroom — as reflected in the survey, which shows 56 percent planned to increase their digital marketing spend.

And like any entrepreneur might say, NIADA’s latest project to gauge dealer mindsets emphasized how the cost of doing business weighs heavily on operators.

The expectation of rising expenses also showed up in dealers’ perception of the single most important problem facing their business — 25 percent said it was the increased cost of doing business — by far the most popular choice.

The cost of doing business was followed by heightened competition from franchised dealers (17 percent), lack of customer prospect traffic/leads and lack of quality retail inventory (12 percent).

NIADA mentioned government regulations/red tape — usually one of the most popular responses — was near the bottom of the list at 6 percent.

The overall picture shows NIADA members expected business to improve heading deeper into 2018.

That optimism is bolstered by strong 3.9 percent holiday retail sales growth — well above the 10-year average of 2.6 percent — as well as rising wages, stock market strength, increasing employment and a generally positive economic outlook.

The complete survey data from NIADA and Equifax can be viewed here.

Lyft and NIADA partner to help dealers turn metal

In other association news, ride-sharing provider Lyft has joined with NIADA  as its latest National Member Benefit partner.

The partnership, what NIADA contends is unprecedented in the ride-sharing industry, provides dealer members with opportunities to improve their bottom line through referral incentives and improved transportation solutions for customers while also supporting Lyft’s efforts to expand its driver community and providing economic opportunities for dealership customers.

NIADA member dealerships can sign up to be a Lyft referral partner and receive bonuses for each driver they refer. Customers who sign up for the program will also receive a bonus shortly after they begin driving for Lyft, which they can put toward their down payment and monthly costs of purchasing a vehicle.

The partnership enables dealerships to increase sales through the Lyft referral program.

In addition, Lyft’s Concierge program can offer NIADA members an easy, reliable and inexpensive way to provide transportation for customers whose vehicles are laid up in service.

Concierge can enable the dealership to request rides for its customers to get where they need to go while their car is being serviced, whether it’s running errands, going to work or heading home to take care of their children.

Increased mobility provides a better experience for the customer in a cost-efficient way, according to both Lyft and NIADA.

“We are excited to work with NIADA in a unique partnership that’s helping 20,000 independently owned dealerships increase profits and elevate their customer service while expanding our driver community and growing our Concierge portfolio,” said Gyre Renwick, vice president of Lyft Business.

“By leveraging our holistic business solutions strategy, NIADA is able to provide independent dealers across the country with referral opportunities for every driver sign-up, with the potential to lead to an increase in sales,” Renwick continued.

“Simultaneously, we’re also helping improve the overall customer experience by giving dealerships the ability to dispatch Lyft rides for customers whose vehicles are being serviced, through our Concierge platform,” Renwick went on to say.

NIADA senior vice president of member services Scott Lilja insisted teaming with Lyft provides an “unparalleled opportunity” for NIADA members to profit from the growing opportunities created by the emerging ride-sharing industry.

“Forging new, innovative partnerships that foster synergies between emerging and traditional mobility solutions while helping our membership sell more vehicles and satisfy more customers fits perfectly with our National Member Benefit partnership mission,” Lilja said.

Registration open for NIADA/NABD Conference

Now that the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers has been acquired by NIADA, independent operators need to make only national conference trip this summer.

The NIADA/NABD Convention and Expo, set for June 18-21 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla., is a product of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s acquisition of the assets and operations of the National Alliance of Buy Here-Pay Here Dealers, a deal that merged NABD’s conference and educational services into those of NIADA.

“We believe the combined Mega-Conference will be the largest in the used car industry and will provide unmatched resources for all dealers and allied industry partners,” NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said. “Our goal is to provide a true one-stop shop for dealer education and specialized training for any automotive dealer business model, including the BHPH-specific topics and information you’ve come to expect from NABD over the past 19 years.”

In addition to NABD’s BHPH education, attendees can look forward to sessions offering training from the industry’s best and brightest in retail operations, compliance, certified pre-owned, business operations and much, much more.

It will also include the largest Expo Hall in NIADA Convention history, packed with more than 200 exhibitors offering the latest cutting-edge technology, products and services designed to help dealers stay on top of the ultra-competitive used car market.

NIADA acquired NABD on Dec. 14, completing more than two years of review, strategic discussions and due diligence and providing a succession plan for NABD, founded in 1998 by Ken Shilson.

“Success in this industry is about working together,” said Shilson, NABD’s president. “It’s about using our collective resources to help our members succeed. And that’s exactly what we’ve done here. We’re working together for the success of the used car industry, which is what this merger is about.”

NABD’s Ingram Walters agreed the deal embodies what NABD has always been about.

“Our goal at NABD has always been the dealers’ success,” Walter said. “This combination will provide even more basis for that and an ongoing plan for their success.”

The NABD staff will transition into NIADA and continue in expanded roles to serve the needs of NABD members, NIADA members and the BHPH industry.

“NABD has provided a strong voice and specialized educational resources to more than 14,000 members over the past 19 years,” Jordan said. “I am pleased that the NABD legacy will live on within NIADA as we continue to develop new ways to serve the entire used motor vehicle industry.”

A fall conference in Las Vegas is also under development, with plans to be announced in the coming months.

To register for the upcoming NIADA/NABD Convention and Expo or for more information, visit or

Done deal: NIADA acquires NABD

Just as the industry was purchasing last-minute holiday presents and figuring out where extra guests were going to sleep, the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) and the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers (NABD) announced an agreement on Dec. 20 that their leaders hinted was coming.

Officials explained NIADA has acquired the assets and operations of NABD and will merge NABD's conference and educational services into those of NIADA.

NIADA said it closed on the acquisition on Dec. 14, completing more than two years of review, strategic discussions and due diligence.

The merger provides a succession plan for NABD, founded in 1998 by Ken Shilson.

“We are thrilled to formally join forces with Ken Shilson, Ingram Walters and the entire NABD team as we move forward together with a long-term NABD succession plan,” NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said.

“NABD has provided a strong voice and specialized educational resources to more than 14,000 members over the past 19 years. I am pleased that the NABD legacy will live on within NIADA as we continue to develop new ways to serve the entire used motor vehicle industry,” Jordan continued.

The organizations indicated the NABD staff will transition into NIADA and continue in expanded roles to serve the needs of NABD members, NIADA members and the BHPH industry.

“Success in this industry is about working together,” said Shilson, NABD’s president. “It’s about using our collective resources to help our members succeed. And that’s exactly what we’ve done here. We’re working together for the success of the used car industry, which is what this merger is about.”

NABD’s Walters agreed that the deal embodies what NABD set out to do nearly two decades ago.

 “Our goal at NABD has always been the dealers’ success,” he said. “This combination will provide even more basis for that and an ongoing plan for their success.”

That plan includes merging NABD's National BHPH Conference into the NIADA Convention and Expo for a combined NIADA-NABD Mega-Conference set for June 18-21 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla.

A fall conference in Las Vegas is also under development, with plans to be announced in early 2018.

For more information on the upcoming NIADA-NABD conference, visit or

J.D. Byrider honors top franchises

J.D. Byrider recently celebrated with the buy-here, pay-here corporation’s 54 owners at the company’s annual convention in Hollywood, Fla.

At the event, three Midwestern dealers won top honors as a part of J.D. Byrider’s annual award program.

The Franchise of the Year winners were chosen in three categories based on size of their franchise holdings:

• Single Location: Keith Kocourek for his Wausau, Wisc., dealership. Kocourek also earned the award last year.

• Mid (two to three locations): Mike Burgstone, who owns dealerships in East Dundee, Glendale Heights and Joliet, Ill.

• Multiple (four or more locations): Roy Wagner, who owns dealerships in Anderson, Bloomington, Columbus, Evansville, Muncie and Richmond, Ind. and Kansas City, Mo. Wagner is one of the company’s longest established franchisees. He opened his first location in 1993.

“These owners consistently put our customers first and delivered on our corporate mission to provide our customers with quality, affordable vehicles,” J.D. Byrider chief executive officer Craig Peters said. “We couldn’t be more proud of their commitment to excellence.”

The Franchise of the Year award is based on customer feedback as well as performance related to successful sales and financing and overall operation.

About 260 franchise owners, personnel and vendors gathered at the annual convention in November where they heard from executives about the state of the company, participated in a variety of instructional seminars, team building, and networked with fellow dealers.

J.D. Byrider franchisees operate more than 150 locations in 32 states across the country.

NABD offers 3 conference sessions to enhance operators’ customer base

Of the 21 different training sessions the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers (NABD) is organizing for its next conference, there are a trio of segments that might be most beneficial to operators looking to build a larger and stronger portfolio of paying customers.

Along with conference keynote speaker Steve Siebold, it’s all on tap for NABD’s Orlando BHPH Conference titled “Opportunity Knocks – Best Ways to Respond.” Dealers can still secure registration discounts through Friday for the conference that begins on Oct. 23 at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla.

While Siebold offered a glimpse of his presentation in a video available here as well as at the top of this page, NABD highlighted all of its sessions, including the three that might give operators the strategy they need to grow their customer base.

LHPH – Another Alternative
Oct. 24 at 10 a.m.

Leasing is an important alternative business model in the competitive environment of today. What are the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a lease-here, pay-here business? What regulations apply to LHPH? Where can you find capital to finance a lease portfolio? How do you make these leases compliant? In this workshop, a panel of successful lease operators and experts explain how to do it correctly. NABD insisted longer terms and lower down payments are not the recipe for success. Learn how leasing can help to avoid these pitfalls.

Ways to Increase Your Sales
Oct. 24 at 4:15 p.m.

Competition for the best customers has made the BHPH industry more challenging than ever during the last two years. Franchised dealers, credit unions, special finance companies are all competing for the customers who normally land within the BHPH segment. In this workshop, Bill Neylan of Tax Max will explain how the tax refund market has changed and provide creative ways to gain or regain that business. Irregular payments can keep customers paying.

Best Underwriting Practices
Oct. 25 at 9:15 a.m.

Every BHPH operator wants to regain lost market share. Good underwriting is needed to avoid mistakes made in the past. Lower down payments, lower repayments, and longer terms are not the recipe for success. During this interactive panel you will learn how credit scoring, and credit bureau and alternative credit data will help you make better decisions. Chuck Bonanno, 20 group director for the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, will explain what 20 group members are doing to get the best customers and keep vehicles sold.

For further information or to register, visit or call (832) 767-4759. Early registration discounts are available through Friday. NABD also has arranged $179 per night room rates at Rosen Centre with no resort fees while supplies last.

10 elements that will factor in your BHPH rebound

The past 24-month period has seen the highest level of subprime and deep subprime competition in history. Fueled by “cheap money” raised with Wall Street syndicated auto bond securitizations, the subprime auto finance market has grown to an estimated $200 billion.

Auto finance receivables, for both new and used vehicles, as of March 31 reached a record $1 trillion with $82 billion outstanding — the highest in history. The deep subprime market (credit scores below 550) has seen credit unions, franchised dealers, finance companies and others compete with independent operators for low credit score customers.

As a result, the independents have lost approximately 20 percent of their market share to credit unions and the captives that finance franchised operators.

Despite this highly competitive environment, “opportunity knocks” for the independents today.

Many of the deep subprime auto bonds are experiencing higher defaults, and repayment performance is deteriorating. Finance companies and captives have tightened underwriting and credit criteria in 2017 in an effort to reduce losses. Banks are under increased regulatory scrutiny to tighten credit standards and shift lending to higher credit quality customers. These changes will reduce competition in the subprime and deep subprime credit sectors in the future.

As subprime customers default they will return to the independents and their vehicle repossessions will be available at auctions.

The ability to capitalize on opportunity in the subprime finance market will be dependent upon the following:

1. Capital availability to grow and regain lost market share with the financial flexibility to accomplish it.

2. Efficient systems and processes that enable operators to increase originations without corresponding increases in overhead.

3. A proactive approach in connecting with customers previously lost to competitors who will now be needing transportation.

4. Good underwriting practices, which properly match the customer with a vehicle, they can afford over a reasonable payment term.

5. Good collection procedures, which keep each customer paying over the life of the contracts.

6. A compliance management system, which helps operators avoid regulatory and legal mistakes which can cost them millions.

7. Recovery operations which reduce losses when customer defaults occur.

8. Business models that maximize the cash return on their portfolio investment.

9. The right inventory to get the best customers back.

10. Knowledge of the latest rules and regulations and relevant training for their employees to operate successfully.

It sounds simple, but doing the above will not be easy. It starts with each operator’s commitment to address the items above in their own operations. Hoping the competition will go away is not a prudent strategy. Operators must be proactive to make 2018 a better year.

NABD’s upcoming BHPH Conference on Oct. 23 through 25 in Orlando’s Rosen Centre will focus on the opportunity in the subprime auto finance market, and suggest the best ways to respond to the current challenges. A sold out Solutions Hall will showcase capital providers and the newest products and services to help operators be more efficient and to maximize profits and cash flow. Industry technology has never been better but each operator must properly integrate it.

For further information, or to register, visit or call (832) 767-4759. Early registration discounts are available prior to Sept. 23. NABD has arranged $179 per night room rates at Rosen Centre with no resort fees while supplies last. Don’t miss this opportunity to prosper in subprime auto finance today. Good luck!

Ken Shilson is president of Subprime Analytics ( and the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers ( Subprime Analytics uses data mining to perform computerized portfolio analysis for operators and capital providers. NABD is the nation’s largest BHPH special interest group for operators and product providers with more than 13,000 members.