Armed with a racecar and a mapped-out strategy, Centrix Financial is hitting the NASCAR circuit to target borrowers and dealers alike.
Besides revving up business among auto-loan customers, the marketing effort aims to supercharge dealers who do business with the quick-growing firm that specializes in subprime lending but is expanding to higher credit tiers.
Centrix's race car No. 36 driven by Boris Said is participating in 14 NASCAR races in nine major markets this year. Centrix promotions include local dealership displays, exhibits at NASCAR venues and race-day VIP hospitality treatment for dealers.
Dubbed “the official auto finance company of NASCAR,” Centrix has had strong racing ties since racing enthusiast Robert Sutton acquired the ailing Centennial, CO company in 1998 and turned it into a thriving enterprise. It has doubled business every year for seven years, and its loan portfolio now is $2.5 billion, says Rick Bolton, Centrix executive vice president of marketing.
Centrix sponsors the Denver Grand Prix. It also awards dealer incentive trips to Baja, Mexico where participants drive high-powered off-road racers during a three-day adventure simulating the Baja 1000 rally. Sutton races a Centrix car in the actual Baja 1000.
Meanwhile, the firm is developing its nationwide Centrix-Powered Dealer Network.
That's tied to the company's efforts to pre-qualify subprime customers, set what range of vehicles they can afford and otherwise prepare them financially before they contact a dealership.
Centrix will direct such customers to members of its dealership network that are trained and certified on Centrix programs. The premise is that those stores are best equipped to deal with those clients.
“We're handing off excited, qualified customers,” says Bolton. “In return, we require that they're handled properly and that our brand promise is fulfilled. We can make it work, especially when we wrap NASCAR around it.”
Centrix takes a pro-active, educational approach in dealing with consumers who lack sterling credit histories.
“We want to make them financially wise,” says Bolton. “We are in the business of putting them in the right car, one within their financial limits. And we want to keep dealers in the loop.”
Centrix works closely with customers throughout the duration of the loans. It awards incentives and discounts to customers “who keep their loans healthy,” says Bolton. “Our goal is to have them back as customers — but no longer as subprime customers.”