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Johnson Ford opening up new second-chance finance division

By By James Crawford
News Editor
Do you need a good used car or truck? Have you had a job for two years? Do you have $1,500 or more in monthly income? Do you have at least $750 in positive credit? If you answered yes to all these questions and even if you only came close on one and you meet other requirements, then Johnson Ford has a new second-chance car buyers service that could save you a lot of hassle and land you a more than just an OK car or truck.
"Most people who come here are repeat customers or those who can buy whatever they want. A lot of people don't come because they think they can't get help. But that's not true. We have a finance service now that we can use to get people into alternative financing," said Jim Luvell, sales manager of Johnson Ford.
When you hear the expression alternative financing, most people tend to think of the buy here, pay here locations you might see in Pensacola or Mobile. But Johnson's new finance service is a far cry from the run-of-mill used car lot.
Instead, they've brought in Steve Plummer, an alternative finance specialist, to help those who don't have stellar credit find a secondary lender who will finance them in a certified used car.
"We have some lenders outside of the normal range that will take a look at people who have blips on their credit. We're working real hard to give people an alternative to the buy here, pay here places," said. Plummer.
According to Luvell, those who qualify to participate in the second chance program will be looking at the same cars on the lot as those with "A" credit and they will receive the same treatment as any other customer. "These are all lot ready cars," Luvell said. "There's no difference in the units at all."
"At a buy here, pay here lot, you usually get a six- to eight-year-old car, most of the time at an inflated cost and if it breaks down before you leave the lot, then you own whatever's there," Luvell said. "The cars we have are only two to three years old, all them go through our shop and are certified and our service department is available to them just like anyone else. It's Johnson Ford. We're standing behind it."
Another issue Plummer points out is that at most smaller lots that carry in-house financing, you don't reap the rewards of buying a car because most small lots don't report to any credit agencies.
"What people don't realize is that without the lots reporting that they're paying on their vehicle on time, then it doesn't do their credit any good at all. And say they've just spent three years paying on a less than adequate car thinking they're building up their credit only to find out that in three years, they're no better off and forced to go right back to the on-the-lot financing," Plummer said.
According to Plummer, if you have at least minimal credit or a discharged bankruptcy with two or three little accounts of at least $750 credit combined, income that will support the debt and have some job time then you're a good candidate for Johnson's new service.
The way the process works is the same as buying a new car. When you come in to look at cars, a salesman will assist you. When you have a selection of cars you're interested in and you let the salesman know you need alternative credit, then he will walk you over to see Plummer in the new trailer addition on the southern side of the lot. Plummer will enter your credit and tell you what financier will accept you and what your options are.
One scenario might go like this: a customer arrives at the lot with a trade-in worth approximately $1,000. He has been on his job for two years, makes approximately $1,500 per month before taxes and has a couple of credit cards worth $800 that he's paid on time every month since he's had them. This customer needs alternative financing because he's had a bankruptcy in the last five years and the major banks won't finance him. Can he get a car at Johnson Ford?
"If the bankruptcy is discharged and everything else is equal, then he might very well have a chance," Plummer said. "If we can get a way to justify a second chance to the lenders, then he will probably qualify for something."
"Anyone who would like a chance at buying a car, we would like to help them," Luvell said.
The new service is available during the same hours as the sales department, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Saturday's from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.