In a Nutshell: Credit and compliance play crucial roles in the automotive industry for both dealerships and consumers. With more than 14,500 clients across the country, 700Credit is the largest provider of credit and compliance solutions in the automotive industry today. The company helps dealerships streamline their credit process, making it easier for the dealers to acquire and retain customers while helping to provide consumers with positive experiences as well. 700Credit partners with other industry-leading vendors to ensure it is delivering the best possible products and services to clients. It also embraces technology and understands the different ways dealers and consumers approach credit.
While it may not be obvious when you’re window shopping for a new car or truck, automobile dealerships depend on a number of partnerships and vendors to put you in the seat of that new (or gently used) vehicle.
Dealers need to have the freedom to be nimble when trying to close a deal.
And it’s important that consumers receive fair treatment and be able to access competitive prices. This often depends on factors like consumers’ credit histories, credit scores, and income levels, although other variables come into play as well.
But when it comes to evaluating risk many dealerships turn to credit reporting companies like 700Credit to help them make fast, informed decisions that will benefit the dealership and the consumer.
“700Credit focuses on delivering the most robust, bureau-inclusive credit, compliance, prescreen and consumer pre-qualification solutions in the automotive market today,” according to the company. “We strive to provide our clients with the highest quality data in a wholly compliant framework.”
The company helps dealerships position themselves at the forefront of the ever-competitive automotive sales industry through a comprehensive suite of solutions.
We recently spoke with Ken Hill, the Managing Director of 700Credit, to learn more about the platform, industry trends, and how it partners with dealerships.
Growing to Serve More Than 13,000 Dealerships Since 2000
Hill said 700Credit was founded in 2000, and has always been focused on the automotive market. At first, the company served a small group of automotive dealerships in California and Florida but has expanded over the years.
“Today, our organization has grown to one of the largest credit report and compliance vendors in the automotive market,” according to the company website.
700Credit now works with more than 14,500 automotive dealerships across the country.
“Our focus is to aid dealerships in their decision-making process around credit to optimize and maximize their efficiencies, and optimize their sales,” Hill said.
The company is also serious about compliance, so clients know they are working with a dependable, trustworthy company.
“We will not play fast and loose with the regulations, taking our strict lead from the credit bureaus,” according to 700Credit. “We maintain close working relationships with all three bureaus: When compliance and/or regulations change, we know about it immediately and make the required changes and updates in our solutions.”
And with credit decisions and other important information being transmitted over the internet, clients can also rest assured that 700Credit prioritizes security.
“We have the most complete and secure options in the industry with a proven track record of performance and customer excellence to satisfy each of our partners’ needs for today and for the future,” according to the company website.
700Credit partners with other industry leaders as well to deliver the best possible experience to clients.
“Since our inception in 2000, we have partnered with many of the top software providers across the automotive industry today,” according to the company. “Each of our partners has realized the synergy of working with an industry leader. In our competitive marketplace, we’ve learned that working with industry partners is an important key to success — for our clients, partners, as well as us.”
A Comprehensive Platform for Credit and Compliance Tools in the Automobile Sector
“700Credit focuses on delivering the most robust, bureau-inclusive credit, compliance, prescreen and consumer pre-qualification solutions on the market today,” according to the company.
Hill said 700Credit’s primary focus is the automotive industry, however other adjacent industries have come into their view in the past few years including RV, marine, and powersports.
“We continue to laser focus our efforts in providing top-rate solutions to support our clients’ needs and workflow,” he said.
The company provides access to credit reports from the three national credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Clients receive their choice of the credit report format, scorecard, and ancillary products, according to the company.
“As we have grown, we have carefully selected specific products and services that enhance our core, credit report business,” according to the 700Credit website. “Consistently, we strive to meet our goal to create additional value for our clients by streamlining their work flow to help maximize their opportunity for growth.”
For many dealers, perhaps one of the most important benefits 700Credit brings to the table is the time it can save.
“It’s a huge timesaver for the dealership. It shortens their sales cycle,” Hill said. “For so many different reasons, consumers want to minimize the time they spend in the dealership. You can get this consumer lined up with the right vehicle more quickly in the sales cycle.”
Hill said there are so many steps in the sales cycle that the dealership that delivers the most efficient and straightforward experience will have a leg up on competitors.
“If a dealer can do all this — the prequalification, a credit app online — they can really reduce the time involved and get that consumer approved for financing for what that prequalification payment was on it,” Hill said.
This is all part of 700Credit’s goal to add value for its clients by streamlining its workflow to help maximize their opportunities for growth.
How 700Credit Helps Clients Take a Modern Approach to Credit Considerations
Hill explained that another important piece of the equation is considering how credit is being used by consumers and dealerships today.
“I think things are changing, especially in the digital environment,” he said. “I think we’re at the forefront in ensuring that solutions are being delivered that meet the dealership needs, meet third-party solution provider needs, while also protecting the consumer.”
700Credit’s offerings are more encompassing in these arenas, especially around soft credit pulls, than any other provider, Hill said.
“Prequalification is an important tool. I would urge dealers to be educated on it if they’re purchasing a digital retailing tool,” he said. “It basically benefits the consumer because they can shop for a vehicle, they can be prequalified with just a name and address — no sensitive data, birth date, or Social Security number. If a dealer does access their credit, however, it’s a soft inquiry.”
Of course, many consumers prefer soft credit inquiries because they don’t actually impact their credit score. And only the consumer — not other creditors — can see a soft inquiry.
While 2020 was a challenging year in many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed a lot of services online and brought consumers online who may have previously preferred to do everything in person. Ultimately, Hill said this digital push probably advanced the dealer adoption of digital retailing solutions by several years.
Hill said that he appreciates that the trend was already moving in that direction.
“Five or six years ago, if I were to go and inquire about a vehicle and I filled out the credit application on their site, the dealer could place a hard inquiry,” Hill said. “A lot of hard inquiries. They can lock files. They can negatively impact scores, and they’re on there for six months at least.”
On the other hand, the soft inquiry doesn’t impact the consumer’s credit score, but it allows the dealer to access the consumer’s credit file to get a picture of their finances and credit history. With this information, the dealer can more accurately determine a payment for the consumer, he explained.
“You want that score and that payment to be as accurate as possible off that prequalification, so when you’re quoting that payment to the consumer, it’s accurate,” Hill said.