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Plan Eases Customers’ Financial Woes


Sometimes a vehicle needs $1,500 worth of repairs but the customer only has $500. To accommodate limited budgets, repair shops will often do the bare minimum and then have the customer come back later when they can afford the rest. But when will that be? Next payday? Weeks? Months? Or will the repair that needs to be made continue to deteriorate and eventually cause an accident on the road?

With modern vehicles, a seemingly insignificant issue can have devastating consequences if not repaired. For example, if a vehicle with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is in a fender bender, it could result in the systems in place to protect the motorist no longer functioning properly. Or, if that minor collision resulted in a misalignment to the vehicle’s structure, what may only appear as surface damage could cause greater damage if the vehicle is in a second collision without repairs first being made.

Too often, a vehicle goes unrepaired because the client cannot afford the repairs. This is where Advantagewon comes in. Rather than letting the customer drive out without repairs completed, or with only partial repairs, shops partnered with Advantagewon can offer financing so they can not only get the repair job, but also the customer has a vehicle they can trust.

“Garage guys think that their customers don’t need this but, quite simply, they are giving it to their clients on a regular basis,” said Mark Wilson, founder and president of Advantagewon. “Shops split up their invoices, ‘do this $300 today and come back in four weeks to do the other $400 and come back two weeks later and do another $500,’ so they’re doing a payment plan for the client on the spot; they are just doing it in terms of how fast they do the work.

“But when you’re an efficient garage, you have to understand how much time and money it costs to see a client and put their vehicle up on the hoist. If you’re doing a $1,500 job over three to four visits, you are using up three to four hours of extra time to receive that client—intake, booking the car with the mechanic, three to four test drives, putting it up and down on the hoist three to four times, cashing that customer out three to four times—it’s a huge financial burden shops can avoid by doing it all at once.”

Advantagewon offers a payment plan to affiliated shops so the burden of cost does not fall on the shop but on a team of trained professionals who understand the industry. “We all get it,” Mark said, speaking of his team. With 16 years in business and over 1,900 accounts in Ontario and expansions west, Advanatagewon only finances automotive repairs, so everyone involved with the company knows the industry. “It is not a bank; it’s 100 percent automotive people involved in the company.”

“Few people analyze their business from a profit standpoint on every transaction and if you can get these guys thinking in terms of that, then our program becomes obvious,” Mark said. “We are here to make the industry profitable and efficient for these shops.”

It is a win/win for everyone involved. The customer has a reliable vehicle and the shop makes the sale. Other benefits include:

  • The shop does not have to pay merchant fees to VISA, MasterCard, American Express, etc.
  • The shop does not have to discount the invoice to get the job
  • The shop can get the entire job, rather than only partial repairs done one-at-a-time
  • The shop retains clients that might otherwise go down the street where that shop has a finance service

Recently, Advantagewon developed a charge account program where the customer of an automotive shop applies for a charge card and all repairs can be paid through that. This allows for flexible payment rather than splitting invoices and payments, and eliminates extra paperwork for the shop. It can be used for everything from collision repairs to oil changes and is good for developing customer retention, as the charge card can only be used at that one shop.

Having a payment plan available at your shop also provides an opportunity for up-sales on work not covered by the insurance broker, Mark explained. “It’s an easy upsell for the body shop to make some real retail dollars and say ‘look, your insurance is covering $4,000 worth of repairs but to have your deductible covered and to make sure the car gets all the specific touches it needs to look really good, you can finance the rest. For another $1,500 we could paint the rest of the car and it could have a brand-new look.’ The point of that is the last $1,500 they are quoting for that client is really profitable and it gives the shop a chance to profit by accident.”

In this changing world of modern vehicle technologies and financial burdens, it might be worth considering outsourcing finance options for your customers, especially if that means a repeat customer.

Advantagewon is an ARA preferred supplier.

For more information about our preferred supplier program and ways ARA members can save money on a variety of products and services, visit the ARA Marketplace.