January 2010, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Trigger leads – leads created when people apply for home or auto financing and their credit report is pulled – have been around for a number of years, first materializing in the mortgage industry before migrating into auto finance. Many dealers like the idea of getting leads on customers they know for certain are ready to buy and not “just looking,” but they also worry about the gray areas in compliance these leads flirt with by their very nature.
After receiving a flurry of inquiries from dealers a couple of years ago regarding trigger leads, DealerLink President and CEO Tim Parker was concerned about those gray areas—in particular, the possibility that the dealer could be on the hook for some major liability if a firm offer of credit was not made to the potential car buyer.
The solution he devised for that problem is DealerLink’s latest offering, Trigger Complete (SM) Automotive Trigger Leads. Through relationships with Equifax and TransUnion, DealerLink provides a dealer with the contact information of anyone who has applied for auto financing anywhere in that dealer’s market in the last 24 hours. What makes Trigger Complete(SM) leads different from other trigger leads, Parker said, is the additional steps DealerLink has taken to remove the burden of compliance from dealers’ shoulders and make the entire process more worry-free.
One of those additional steps is the company’s partnership with a well-established, nationwide finance source that will provide a firm offer of credit to all in-market buyers who qualify for financing, taking the liability off the dealer. “Dealerships always have a target on their back, so they want to make absolutely sure they’re in 100 percent compliance,” said Parker, adding that DealerLink’s finance partner is guaranteed to be 100-percent compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act and the National Do Not Call Registry.
Dealers specify the credit score range they’re looking for and the geographic radius they want to cover. Anyone in a dealer’s specified market area who has applied and qualifies for financing is sent a firm offer of credit in the form of a Live Check(TM) – not a voucher, but a true check – that is customized to the dealer and valid only at their dealership. Leads with a phone number included in their information (roughly 40 percent, Parker estimated) can be contacted immediately. For those individuals not providing a phone number, the Live Check(TM) lists a toll-free number and the address of a Web site – a site that has been customized for the dealer – by which the customer can respond to the offer of credit.
Another significant step taken by DealerLink to make the dealer’s life a little easier is the availability of appointment-setting and follow-up services for Trigger Complete leads through DealerLink’s own U.S.-based call center. Not only will a call center representative set the initial appointment on behalf of the dealership, the rep will also make a reminder call to the customer on the day of the appointment and then follow up one to three days later. In the case of a no-show, the rep will attempt to reschedule the appointment for up to 90 days or until told not to call. “That’s a value-added service. We go ahead and make the appointment, confirm the appointment and follow up for the dealer,” said Parker. “The dealer does almost nothing.”
In addition to fewer compliance headaches and more convenience, Trigger Complete (SM) leads are guaranteed to be exclusive and less than 24 hours old. Dealers are also provided with a free lead management tool as part of the package. Additionally, even though DealerLink’s finance partner makes an offer of credit, dealers are not obligated to fund the loan through that finance company. “We do not require the dealer to use our financing. They may do so if they like,” said Parker, “but if they’ve got a better deal with a different lender, then they can certainly do that.”
Parker believes this program is unlike anything on the market today. “I think dealers are going to find this very exciting,” he said. “We believe it is absolutely a complete program. We’ve looked for anything that we weren’t doing that would make it incomplete, and frankly, we can’t find it,” he said.
For more information on Trigger Complete (SM) Automotive Trigger Leads, contact Tim Parker at 800.890.8850.