Ford Credit and AutoFi Debut Platform for Faster, Smoother, Simpler Digital Vehicle Buying and Financing

DEARBORN, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

There’s a new way for customers to purchase or finance a new Ford vehicle in minutes – right from a dealership website from anywhere, on any device – through a new platform from Ford Motor Credit Company and financial technology company AutoFi.

In addition, Ford Credit has made an investment in AutoFi as Ford Credit continues pursuing technological advances to make the financing experience better.

“By combining our fast and efficient credit-decision process with AutoFi’s online capability, we are making the customer experience faster, smoother and simpler,” said Lee Jelenic, Ford Credit director of mobility. “With its experience in used-vehicle online financing and well-developed platform, AutoFi makes it easier for us to adopt new technology quickly to meet evolving consumer expectations.”

The AutoFi platform can be used now at Ricart Ford in Groveport, Ohio, and will roll out over time to more Ford and Lincoln dealerships across the United States. The introduction comes as 83 percent of Americans say they would like to spend as little time at the dealership as possible when shopping for or buying a car, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Ford Motor Company. Many of those same people, however, still want to touch and feel their new vehicle before signing on the dotted line. The new platform provides the best of both worlds.

Through the dealer website, customers have a transparent and seamless purchase and finance experience from anywhere on their mobile phone, tablet or computer. Once the online part of the transaction is complete, all customers need to do is sign the paperwork when they collect their new Ford.

Consumers may shop for a new Ford in the showroom or from anywhere via the Ricart Ford website. After selecting a vehicle, they can apply for credit and receive a decision, choose the financing terms that make sense for them, and then review and select optional vehicle protection products – completely online on their own time. Customers then can review a final summary of the financing terms and schedule time to complete the transaction and pick up the vehicle.

“AutoFi’s platform will help cut the time people spend arranging financing and improve the experience dealerships can deliver for their customers, no matter where they are in the car-buying journey,” said Kevin Singerman, CEO of San Francisco-based AutoFi. “We think this will be a game changer for both consumers and dealers, and we are thrilled to work with Ford Credit to make this happen.”

“Technology is transforming just about every type of financed consumer purchase, and this new digital capability will help make that change for automotive purchases and deliver great experiences,” said Rick Ricart, Sales and Marketing vice president at Ricart Ford. “We are excited to be the first Ford dealership in the pilot.”

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About Ford Motor Credit Company

Ford Motor Credit Company is a leading automotive financial services company. It provides dealer and customer financing to support the sale of Ford Motor Company products around the world, including through Lincoln Automotive Financial Services in the United States, Canada and China. Ford Credit is a subsidiary of Ford established in 1959. For more information, visit www.fordcredit.com or www.lincolnafs.com.

About AutoFi

AutoFi is a technology company transforming the way cars are bought and sold. The company’s platform allows auto dealers to sell vehicles completely online by connecting buyers with lenders in a fast, easy and transparent process. AutoFi’s team includes industry leaders from enterprise software, finance, automobile and consumer sectors who previously worked at companies including Lending Club, PayPal, and SunGard. AutoFi’s investors include Ford Motor Credit Company, Crosslink Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Laconia Capital Group, Basset Investment Group, Eniac Ventures, 500 Startups and Silicon Valley Bank. For more information, visit www.autofi.com.

About the Survey

This study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Ford Motor Company between November 28 and December 5, 2016, among a nationally representative sample of 1,217 adults ages 18 years and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170122005155/en/

The Dying Art of the Thank You Note

We must see at Laconia a few dozen pitches each week, and what continues to amaze me is the lack of relationship building skills that so many entrepreneurs seem to have.

While Growing up, my parents hammered into me the courteousness and importance of writing thank you notes. During the early days of my career, I was shown how to build a business relationship, and most importantly, how to maintain one. Thank you notes were a cornerstone of relationship maintenance. And this was all before there were emails and texts to make the process so damn fast and easy.

Entrepreneurs work so hard building businesses. They identify opportunities, draft business strategies, hire people, develop technology, raise capital and sell, sell and sell! Yet, through it all, they seem to treat relationship building like a speed bump on the road to success. It seems most people today do not understand how a simple email can leave a door open for future opportunities that might not seem obvious at the time.

I tell my entrepreneurs, and my three children, to try and do the following as religiously as they can:

  1. Send an email to the people you have spoken to or met with by the end of that day. If it is a very important meeting go the extra mile and draft a handwritten thank you note. Yes, write an actual paper thank you note! You would be shocked by someone’s reaction when they actually get a hand written thank you note. Talk about going old school and positively differentiating yourself!
  2. When someone connects you with another person circle back with them and let them know how the new interaction went. So many times I will connect someone to one of my contacts and then feel like the intro fell into a black hole. Follow up with people who make introductions for you and let them know you met with their contacts and how it went. Then thank them again! A consistent follow-up will more likely encourage additional introductions.
  3. Keep your contacts updated on your progress. Why keep news to yourself or only for those who tell you what you want to hear. Share good news.

Relationships might begin during an appropriate request, such as when looking for a new job, funding, customer introductions etc., but it is the post initial communication that builds life long relationships.

Treat your first investor meeting like a first date

A friend has made the introduction. You have wanted to meet this person for sometime. Thanks to the Internet you search all about them, wanting to learn anything that can give you insight into who they are, what they like, and what gets them excited. You visit their LinkedIn Page, Facebook page, check out their latest tweets, see if they have written any blogs, and find any news articles about them. The information can be overwhelming and take the excitement out of the unknown, but being prepared is so important.

No matter your gender or sexual preference, everyone gets nervous about a first date. It starts with what to wear. You want to look respectful and dress appropriate for the occasion. There is no worse feeling then being the most over dressed or under dressed person in a room.

As you head towards your date so much is running through your mind. How do I start the conversation? Do I really open up about the weather? Should I talk about the big sports game last night? What happens if they are not a sports fan or a fan of that team? Breaking the ice is tough and both sides know why they are there.

Your mind drifts to chemistry. Will you connect with this person? Will they like you? Will they get who you are or will they see you as someone totally different? How do you come off confident, but not cocky? How do they learn about you without you monopolizing the conversation?

Oh boy – the conversation. You sit across from them and have so much you want to say. You try to sit up straight and not fidget with your hands. This is not their first date, nor yours, but they seem to have all the control as to whether or not there will be a second date. You want to tell them just enough that they will want to see you again, but you also do not want to scare them away or overwhelm them. What will be enough information to peak their interest for a second date? You want to open the door wide enough for them to see how great you are, but at the same time demonstrate that you’re able to listen. Yet you’d like to learn more about them than what you discovered from your Internet search. You ask yourself, would they be a good partner? Is our thinking in unison? Would they help balance out your weaknesses?

The date comes to an end. Did you get across to them what was needed in order to secure that second date? How do you follow up but not look desperate. Is a thank you email appropriate? A phone call? Do you go old school and write a handwritten note? You remind yourself that if this does not work out there are many fish in the sea.

Each date is a learning opportunity to becoming a Casa Nova entrepreneur. Learn from past dates and incorporate that learning into future ones.

You can laugh about the analogy but it is 100% true. A first meeting with a VC is just like a first date. Treat it that way. From how you dress, to how much you would say and listen. Do not go for the close. A VC will not write a check after a first meeting. As in dating, each side must get to know each other and see if there is a real future there or is it just a one and done.