It's all about the customers
The way that financial products are sold has recently changed. This may not seem important to you, but if you buy cars on finance the changes will affect you.
On April 2014, regulation of the consumer credit industry passed from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA firmly believes that all businesses, including car dealerships, should put the customer first, not profits. Luckily, the customer has always been at the forefront of Carbase's mind, so it is already ahead of the pack.
Gordon Veale, General Manager at Carbase, explains exactly what has changed at Carbase and how it will impact your next purchase.
What's changed at Carbase?
A number of things have undergone transformation at Carbase, including the sales process, approach to finance and the pricing of its products.
"Our methodology for the sales process has had to evolve, which ties in with Carbase's ethos of the customers' experience being paramount," Gordon notes. "The driving rationale behind the FCA is treating customers fairly.
"To treat customers fairly we now ask affordability questions, which we didn't do prior to this, to make sure the products we offer to the customer are suitable for what they want, affordable and sold in the correct way. For example if a customer wants to keep a car for three years, we will no longer offer five-year finance because it's affordable, so we'll aim to offer an alternative and more suitable product."
Carbase now provides a fixed financial offering, and has made this standard across the group. Therefore all customers are offered the same product for the same price, there is no fluctuation. Carbase has also had to take on extra resources to ensure all the paperwork is correct and the entire sales process is, in Gordon's words, "fully compliant and customer centric".
Every piece of documentation is explained to the customer, who then signs it, so there is transparency and clarity at the heart of our process.
"This is important for both the customer and Carbase," Gordon says
What's the benefit to you?
It's important to be completely confident of whatever you're buying, especially if it is a big purchase like a car. Therefore it's vital to know exactly what you are buying and that you will definitely use it, or you could find yourself out of pocket. Now that the FCA is monitoring exactly how car dealerships operate, there's little chance of something like the banking industry's PPI scandal ever happening in our industry.
"We do a significant amount more research into the products we offer," Gordon comments. "Once again if a customer says they'll keep the car for two years we would not offer them a three-year warranty. We'll instead discuss warranty options, up to and including two years, so there are no problems outstanding at the end of their term of ownership of the vehicle.
"Equally, all the products we now sell are based on lifestyle payments; customers therefore have the option of paying by direct debit or in total, upfront. In the old days, you could buy a three-year warranty, keep the car two years and there'd be no refund available. That's no longer the case."
Essentially, the entire process is a lot clearer, so you know exactly what your position is whenever you sign a finance document. Nothing beats having peace of mind when making such an important purchase, and of course it's been a positive change for Carbase too.
"I think we were already very much customer-focused, and the FCA regulations have reinforced this," Gordon states. "It's certainly helped us refocus on what we try to do for our customers, and once again put them firmly at the centre of what we do in every way."
Staff have also undergone extra training so that they are able to explain the products they sell in greater detail than before. Certain regulated products are sold by business managers only, as they have an increased level of training and are therefore more knowledgeable about these products. We've added more detail to our website, including videos, which help customers make informed choices.
Implementing these changes hasn't been easy, but it has helped Carbase reaffirm its belief that the customer is key. The benefits to you are huge, and you can be sure that the next time you purchase a car it will be with complete confidence.