The problem with Special Finance Managers is they tend to wear blinders. More often than not, they view a deal as "now or never". The philosophy de jure is "If I do not close them now, someone else will later." We loose sight of the fact that every customer can not be closed the first time around. We get caught up in the idea of an immediate sale, and never see future opportunities.
Each lead you get is a potential sale. Successful subprime dealers understand this, and realize that just because you can not close the deal today it does not mean you might not sell them tomorrow. Customers can not buy for a variety of reasons – insufficient down payment, insufficient income, new job, new to the area; The list goes on and on. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure. Whatever is holding them back today is bound to change in the future. Maybe there's a raise on the horizon. A cosigner suddenly appears. The tax return check comes in the mail. Whatever the obstacle, if you keep in touch with that lead, when he's able to buy, your dealership will be the first one he calls!
Your subprime person need to get involved with your leads. Take off the sales hat and put on your credit counselor cap. Explain to your customer that your goal today is to help them qualify for a loan and then find a car. This is the time to return your goal of rebuilding their credit for the long term. They get a car loan today, and if they do what you tell them, they will absolutely be able to qualify for a credit card and possible a mortgage someday. Your function is not as a car sales person, but as credit counselor. Get the story behind the credit problems. Maybe there's a legitimate reason for the credit problems that they're facing. A serous illness, or a natural disaster (Hurricane Katrina) or something else (maybe 9-11) could be behind it all, and if a lender knew this, it might change the way they look at the application. Make sure you get the complete story. Getting your customer to tell your people his story and your dealership becomes a trusted friend instead of just another "car place".
Your people must stay involved with this lead until either he buys a vehicle from you or tells you not to contact him anymore. Many auto professionals see this as a bit "unprofessional"; To continue to hound a customer looks a bit extra to some people. But, if you do not maintain contact with these folks, someone else will, and there goes your lead, your sale, and any future business they might have generated for your dealership. Why let someone who's more persistent get the sale instead of your dealership?
Do not loose sight of the fact that your unsold leads represent future opportunities that cost you nothing to follow up. You've already paid for the lead, and you get to generate tomorrow's profits on money you spend yesterday. If a lead does not buy from you for 6 months, has it cost you anything to stay in touch with them in the 5 months that follows since you got the lead initially? Since you only pay for a lead one time, why not work it until they "buy or die"? Keeping in touch with your unsold leads means additional sales and profits from money previously invested!
Following up on unsold leads is like money in the bank. Take your blinders off and see the future. If you only manage to get 20% of your leads to turn into appointments, how many future opportunities does that leave you? If you only close 20% of your appointments, how many prospects does that leave you to follow up? And do not forget the references that your customer's provide. How many personal referrals does your dealership get from each subprime customer that comes into your dealership and completes a credit application? Is not each of them a future opportunity as well? Ask you customers if you can mention their name when you call these folks. Remind them that, even if they do not buy a vehicle from you today, they can still refer customers to your dealership and get referral fee or "bird dog" for each one that buys a vehicle. Keep it personal, and soon the only place these folks will send their friends, family, co-workers, fellow church members, golf buddies, anyone they know, to buy a vehicle from is your dealership. Do the math and you'll see how, with a little personal touch, you can sell a lot more vehicles!