Offering Financial Support 

May 25, 2023
Are in-house financing options for your customers worth it? 

A five-minute phone call was all it took for a loyal customer to get the financing needed to make a major repair on their family vehicle.  

For five years, a hardworking family has been taking advantage of Advanced Auto Clinic’s in-house financing. Recently, they were in a situation where their transmission went out and it was going to cost them more than what their NAPA EasyPay credit card through Synchrony Bank’s limit was. Tony Lynn, the owner of the Delavan, Wisconsin, shop knew he had to do something.  

“We have this customer and they’re a good client. They have a repair that they can’t afford. Can we up the limit?” Lynn says.  

He called up the bank and a few minutes later, the family's previous limit of $1,500 was increased to $8,000 and they were able to make the needed repair to their vehicle.  

Offering in-house financing allowed Lynn to retain this customer and helped the family budget for a much-needed expense. This is just one example of how offering financing to customers has benefitted both the shop and its customers.  

Backstory

Lynn worked at a dealership and in independent shops before purchasing his own shop in 2003. He has been in his current four-bay shop since 2006 and is currently in the process of building a 14-bay shop with a goal of expanding even more in the future.  

Problem

Not every customer has a $100,000 per year income, Lynn explains. Because of this, many customers struggle when an unknown expense—such as an unexpected repair to a vehicle—pops up. When COVID hit and the future became even more uncertain for many hardworking customers and the importance of financial assistance became even more clear for Lynn.  

Solution 

For the last decade, Lynn has offered this financing solution to allow his customers to pay for unanticipated repairs. There are two options: six months, 0% financing on purchases of $199 or more, and 12 months on purchases of $750 or more. Customers are required to fill out an application, which can be done ahead of time online, and be approved by the bank beforehand. When approved, customers receive a credit card that is good at any NAPA AutoCare center that accepts EasyPay, as well as certain gas stations and NAPA stores.  

“The main reason I decided to do it was to give customers options,” Lynn says. “The more options, the more people we can cater to. We promote it to all customers. It gives our customers a lot more freedom and options.” 

Lynn estimates that 8%-10% of his customer base takes advantage of the financing option. 

He is sure to warn his customers about the crazy interest rate. He doesn’t want his customers to get shocked with an overwhelming bill if they’re not paying attention to the rules and paying off the repair.  

Aftermath

Lynn says that offering to finance has helped with customer retention and loyalty. It’s rare that someone will sign up for it the first time they come into the shop, but once they’ve gone there four or five times or the first time they run into a large repair, they tend to take advantage. It’s also helped with the shop’s bottom line—Lynn says that it’s upped the ticket average. 

“Let’s say you present $1,500 worth of work that’s safety and there’s another $800 of maintenance work. People say they’ll wait on maintenance. (Financing) allows us to up the average (repair order) because they have more time to pay for it,” Lynn says.  

Just a week prior, Lynn says a customer came in for an oil change and found out they needed new tires. They didn’t have the money at the time, so the financing option was presented to them and they got the tires.  

Not only does it help with customer retention and bring in more money, but customers having a card with Advanced Auto Clinic on it is great advertising.  

Takeaway

Lynn’s advice to anyone on the fence about offering financing options is this: 

“Absolutely offer it.” 

Lynn says that it’s helped set his shop apart in the community, as he believes he is the only shop in his area that offers it. The one warning Lynn has is to make sure and explain how it works and educate them on the high-interest rate if it’s not paid off in time. If you don’t do this, he says, you’re doing your customers a disservice. After all, it’s easy to sell 0% financing, but you have to follow the rules.  

“It’s a tool to set you aside from others and make the experience for the customer a positive one and make it easier on their checkbook,” Lynn says.  

Make In-House Financing Work for You  

No matter how you decide to offer it, Tony Lynn, owner of Advanced Auto Clinic, shares his tips to make it easy for you and your customers.  

  • Advertise it on the website  
  • Make the application available on the website  
  • Don’t be afraid to present it to every customer  
  • Use it as a tool to separate yourself from your competition   

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