A Closer Look at SLFCU’s Auto Lending Program
2019 was another successful year for the auto lending program at SLFCU. In total, the Credit Union originated almost $243 million in auto loans, keeping up with notable numbers from previous years. Consumer Lending Manager, Lisa Bohannon, attributes a large part of SLFCU’s auto loan success to our indirect lending program calling it a “driving force.”
“The auto loan market always walks a fine line based on the economy and we are fortunate to be in a really good economy right now. The employment rate is at an all-time high, so we’re lending and things are looking up,” she says.
Lisa also points out that the relationships we’ve built with local area auto dealerships are an important factor. “We listen to the dealerships. We ask for their feedback. The good relationships we have are because we work hard to ensure the partnership works both ways. We’ve heard one of the keys for great dealer relationships is a quick turnaround time -- they want a fast answer. Our underwriters try to stay abreast of the loans coming in so we can get a decision to them quickly, and we try to fund the loan as quickly as possible. The dealerships appreciate that we can do a 24-hour turnaround. That helps build relationships.”
The indirect lending program also drives a significant number of new members to the Credit Union. In 2019 SLFCU welcomed 6,479 new members via the indirect auto loan program, and Lisa’s team took steps to alleviate issues some new members had previously encountered. “Members with indirect loans were sometimes unaware of where and how they could make their auto loan payments,” says Lisa. “We began our Indirect Call Back Program this year and it’s going great. The feedback we hear from the members is, ‘Thank you for calling us! No one calls anymore.’ Members really appreciate that we’re reaching out to them.”
Helping new members set up automatic payments in online banking is a primary focus for the call back program, which according to Lisa, ensures two things: “that they don’t fall behind and can self-manage their loan in online banking.” In addition to advising new members about their auto loan, SLFCU staff try to familiarize new members about the many benefits of SLFCU membership. “We want to educate them about being a member of the Credit Union. We want to offer them all the great products and services we have, and let them know they can do so much more with us.”
After the successful launch of the call back program in 2019, Lisa is looking forward to finding more ways the Credit Union can improve the auto loan process in 2020. “Based on member feedback, we’re going to update the online application interface. It’s not as user-friendly as we’d like it to be. We’re planning to update it so that it’s easier to use and will look the same across all devices - whether you’re using your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. It could also make it easier to apply for a loan, even in branch.”
With a productive 2019 in the rearview mirror, and exciting improvements on the road ahead, Lisa hopes even more members will take advantage of the excellent SLFCU auto lending program. “We have a great auto loan program,” she says. “We offer great rates which are very competitive. It’s a real positive for our existing members. They don’t have to spend time coming in to a branch to get approved, then going to the dealership, and have to come back to the branch. They just tell the dealership they want to fund a loan through SLFCU. It’s a one-stop shop and a real time-saving convenience for our members.”
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