Innovation is happening in almost every aspect of the powersports industry, from online dealerships entering the auto and powersports industries, to smaller financial institutions upgrading their dealer portals and loan origination systems.
While, historically, many powersports customers have preferred a “personal touch” — such as a phone call — from their lenders, rather than a text message or online chat, times are quickly changing. More millennials are aging into having more discretionary income for powersports purchases, as baby boomers age out.
Technology continues to be a driving factor for direct and indirect loans in powersports and auto finance, Todd May, the lender’s vice president of dealer development and remarketing, told Powersports Finance. “It is where this industry is going, and [where it’s] going to head,” he said. “You have to be ahead of the curve and be in conversations to remain competitive,” and competition in powersports — in particular — has amped up in recent years.
To that end, several powersports lenders are focusing their investment dollars this year, on advancing technology and innovating both inside and outside the business.
Here are 10 lenders pushing the tech envelope this year:
MotoLease added an online Help Center to its website in January, as part of its continued effort to spur customer and dealer relations, Managing Partner Emre Ucer told Powersports Finance.
The Help Center features frequently asked questions and various articles geared towards both customers and dealers, including how to register for a lease, manage a lease, and how to register as a dealer with MotoLease. Customers and dealers can also submit questions via the Help Center for MotoLease representatives to answer, a feature MotoLease hopes will help it track and resolve more complaints.
That is not all MotoLease is working on this year. The powersports lessor is bolstering several other technology initiatives, including a new a dealer inventory website. The new site will allow authorized dealers to list inventory, and consumers can view the pricing, estimate monthly payments, and pre-qualify, all in one location, Ucer said. The website will be offered separate from MotoLease’s site, and is projected to be launched within 60 days.
Separately, MotoLease is developing Dealer Platform 2.0 — an upgraded version of its current dealer portal — in an effort to streamline operations for dealers, Ucer said. “That’s a big undertaking that will take about four months to complete, and that’s what we are working on, on the technology side,” he said.
American Cycle Finance — formerly known as Ride Today Acceptance — is slated to launch its virtual layaway program later this year, Ben Donnarumma, managing director of American Cycle, told Powersports Finance.
The program was projected to be launched last year but was delayed as the company strived to “perfect” the program, Donnarumma said. The lender also spent much of this year preparing for an acquisition. Cardiff International Inc. signed a definitive merger agreement last month to acquire American Cycle Finance as its subsidiary, in an all-stock transaction valued at $5 million.
The virtual layaway program is aimed to help its dealer partners sell more units and foster consumer engagement, Jason Sheeley, the lender’s national sales manager, told Powersports Finance last year. The program will be implemented through a new website. Through the program, consumers can reserve a powersports vehicle by making installments on a down payment. The system provides a counter to track progress before customers can pick up their vehicles from the dealership.
3. Westlake Financial Services
Westlake Financial Services plans to roll out e-contracting to powersports dealers this year, hoping to hasten funding, improve dealer and customer satisfaction, and boost loan volume, David Goff, assistant vice president of marketing, told Powersports Finance in March.
The lender is now working to launch powersports e-contracting, following the nationwide expansion of e-contracting to auto dealers. “To the extent that we can bring e-contracting to the powersports world, and dealers can realize how fast they can get funded, I think i t would be a huge feather knocked out,” Goff said.
Westlake partnered with eOriginal Inc. to launch e-contracting to the lender’s dealer partners, the companies announced last week. This allows dealers to sign contracts electronically, upload supporting documentations, and immediately push the information to Westlake when the loan package is complete, according to a company press release.
As e-contracting continues to launch out in auto, the powersports industry can expect to see “more and more lenders” launching the system, but it will take time, Goff said. “That’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing,” he added. “I would much rather take an extra month, or year, as long as we are not failing in some sort of compliance manner.”
American Credit Acceptance plans to update its dealer portal to be “more tailor-fit for motorcycle dealers,” following an expansion into the powersports sector, Andrew Hewitt, the subprime lender’s director of motorcycles, told attendees at PowerSports Finance 2016 last October.
The updated portal — slated to be launched this year — will be “very advantageous” for motorcycle dealers, because it will provide all the tools and technology for dealers to manage titles and “everything from applications to portfolio management,” Hewitt said.
The portal will keep dealers “up to speed,” and “in the know” on what’s going on with their customer base, he added. ACA will also leverage its experience with subprime auto to keep things running smoothly in powersports, Hewitt said on the panel.
“Technology investments are vital to staying on track with providing first-in-class customer service,” Hewitt told Powersports Finance.
ThunderRoad Financial launched a “major upgrade” to its loan origination system earlier this month, in an effort to grow its dealer base, Founder and Chief Executive Donal Hummer Jr. told Powersports Finance.
The system upgrade — TCI’s DecisionLender 4 — will allow a “host of enhancements specifically targeting the dealer interface and portal,” Hummer said. Some of the enhancements include: quicker decisioning, real-time chat with the dealers, e-signature, simplified loan structure modifications, and real-time NADA bike valuations. Also included are online video tutorials and web-based training, improved integration with backend products, and comprehensive dealer and financial analytics, Hummer said.
“With the implementation of Decision Lender 4, we believe we can achieve our goal and then some,” Hummer said, referring to the lender’s goal to grow its dealer base. “In addition to the improved interface with the dealer, DL4 provides us with new and comprehensive analytical tools that allow us to interrogate and review our processes and models to make sure our program is performing to its maximum potential.”
“We are making this investment so that we can continue to provide — and exceed — the level of service that dealers expect,” Hummer said. As a powersports finance institution, “you are either driving forward and constantly striving to improve your processes and the relationship with your dealers, or you are just rolling backwards,” he said.