Small businesses have a range of funding options when it comes to acquiring fleet vehicles, though a traditional bank loan often involves a personal guarantee from the owner of the company.
Ally Financial’s Third Party Guaranty Program allows business owners to keep the obligation off their personal credit reports and also helps build credit in the company name. “A lot of small businesses are tied to personal lines,” says Mark Manzo, vice president of Alliance Sales for Ally Financial. “We think the business should have an opportunity to stand on its own.”
Most small businesses would encounter Ally Financial, an indirect lender, through their franchised dealer. However, Ally is not a “captive” finance company owned by a manufacturer. In 2010, GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corp.) was renamed Ally Financial.
With more than 90 years of experience in auto financing, Ally funds all makes and models, including light- and medium-duty trucks, specialty vehicles and upfits. Ally offers suites of financing products and services, including new and used vehicle inventory, consumer financing, leasing, inventory insurance, commercial loans and vehicle remarketing services.
“Ally has made substantial progress in transforming itself from a captive to a market-driven competitor,” says Manzo. “We have evolved our business model to successfully compete at the dealership level, which means customers have more financing options than ever before.”
Ally funds fleets of all sizes, including “the plumber who comes in and buys one truck,” Manzo says. “We will get him approved for a line of credit, so the next time that he comes in he can just sign and take his truck.”
THE CREDIT LINE ADVANTAGE
Securing a commercial credit line should be of particular interest to small fleet customers because it allows them to acquire multiple vehicles with only an initial application. “The credit line gives them a nice blanket to plan for the future,” Manzo says.
While a small business may already have a credit line, Manzo suggests leaving that line for general working capital needs and using an Ally Commercial Line of Credit to fund the fleet. In conjunction with the Third Party Guaranty Program, that credit line keeps fleet obligations off the business owner’s personal credit report.
Available for any make or model, an Ally Commercial Line of Credit can be used for purchases and all forms of commercial leasing, from closed-end and open-end to municipal leases.
To apply for a credit line, potential customers will need to provide a current financial statement and the business’s last two year-end financial statements along with the application. Ally may start the company with a small prequalified line that can be brought higher with further consultation and information, Manzo says.
FLEET FUNDING SPECIALISTS
Though most contact with Ally would happen through the dealer, fleets can call a central number to be put in touch with a local Ally representative who will answer finance product and funding questions.
“When customers apply for a line of credit, a lot of times they start off with preconceived ideas of what they like,” Manzo says. “But once we work with them and outline the different options, I think we can help them manage their cash more efficiently to meet their growth needs.”
As a fleet funding specialist, Ally understands the challenges of fitting the myriad of products to the application. The benefit to fleets, Manzo says, is that “We can give them a quick approval and get them on the road quickly.”
Fleets can also take advantage of the consultation opportunity at the end of term, as Ally can liquidate an asset through Smart Auction, its online auction division.
With an array of services for fleet customers, Ally might be better viewed as a fleet resource and consultant for different financing options, Manzo says. “I think that fleets should look at us as a partner as well as a financial provider,” he says.