Floor plan financing is a key element of the auto industry in both Canada and the United States . Exactly what is floor plan financing and how does it work?
This type of financing is in effect a short term inventory financing for both new and used car dealerships . Traditionally the floor plan industry was geared towards what we know as franchise dealers, i.e those dealers representing product for the likes of GM, CHRYSLER, FORD, etc .
The financing allows the dealers to carry sufficient inventory to satisfy customer needs and demands re model types, accessories, options, etc . It is an extremely large market in what is of course a multi billion dollar industry .
When floor planning financing works properly it is effective, has a reasonable cost attached to the financing, and is totally transparent to the consumer . As consumers when we drive past auto dealerships, either new or used, we don’t care how the inventory got there, we just know its there for us to examine and purchase .
Floor plan financing is executed on both a small and large basis . It is not unusual for finance firms to use more esoteric finance vehicles such as asset backed commercial paper, Special Investment Vehicles ( commonly called SIV’s ) etc. to finance the billions of dollars of inventory that the industry needs to move product through .
Naturally, whether we are talking about the largest GM dealer in town, or a small used car dealership with multi lines of vehicles there has to be a finance program that can grow and backstop that inventory .
In the Canadian marketplace as an example, with which this writer is more familiar , the independent dealers have as much need as franchise dealers for this valuable type of financing .
We have all read recently that many of the tier one floor plan firms such as GMAC and CHRYSLER CREDIT have withdrawn substantially from the market . This has allowed a number of private firms to enter the market and capitalize on the withdrawal of the ‘ big boys ‘ . Additionally, as the banks perceived the auto market as significantly more risky in the current 2008-2010 economic turmoil they also have scaled bank in their previous focus on floor plan financing for car dealerships .
Finance firms that execute well on floor plan financing initiatives are those that of course properly funded ; they also know how to collateralize the inventory through proper legal documentation and registration. The average term for a car being on the auto lot tends to be within 30-90 days . The floor plan financier registers liens on the vehicle, and when the vehicle is sold that lien is removed . The finance firm of course profits from the ability to charge the dealership interest over that 30-90 day period . Naturally this process repeats itself continuously . Lenders must have reasonable confidence in the financial viability of the dealer, more experienced and financially solvent dealers can naturally command larger floor planning facilities . Dealers also are subject to rigorous audits of the inventory . The lender wants to know the car is still there and hasn’t been sold and not paid for of course! Therefore VIN ( vehicle identification numbers ) are checked regularly by finance company personnel , insurance is validated, and random inspections are common
Overall the auto floor plan facility is a key aspect of the automotive market , and is a significant benefit to both new an car dealers alike .