"Auto sales will be the worst in the industry's history this year," he said. "But our sales for the first three months of 2009 are 16% higher than last year for the same period." He noted that in February, 25% of all auto loans went to credit unions, compared to 15% in February 2008.
Boutelle, whose Ontario, Calif.-based CUSO is a packager of lending products, added that automobile dealers are starving for lenders and credit unions will find many dealers eager to make deals. There are approximately 50,000 independent automobile dealers and 19,700 dealers affiliated with a specific car company.
He also said that credit unions can "mitigate a lot of risks" from lending by thorough due diligence. But he noted that some steps, such as getting information on the financial health of auto dealers once a year, don't necessarily give credit unions the full picture because it's just a snapshot of conditions. He noted, however, that automobile dealers might be reluctant to provide more frequent financials.
Boutelle said the goal of credit unions should be to get in the top three lenders for the dealers in the area that they serve. It is easier for smaller credit unions to get attention from dealers because "they are more engaged and eager to work with you."
He answered questions posed by Credit Union Times Editor-in-Chief Sarah Snell Cooke.
Ariz. CU Video
Thanks to one of those Internet quirks, the $3 billion Desert Schools Federal Credit Union is getting wide national mileage out of a specially produced news clip on joining a credit union.
"It's kind of nice to get this kind of viral exposure on any number of news outlets, which are hungry to provide consumers financial advice on financial institutions," explained Jason Meyers, director of marketing/public relations for Arizona's largest credit union.
The clip discusses membership benefits and CU safety and soundness. It was paid for by Desert Schools this year to appear on a Phoenix independent station, KTVK, and was picked up by a clip syndicate and distributed to other online outlets.
"That clip is certainly making the rounds," said Meyers, adding the video segment
is getting good play in the Phoenix market since KTVK has a popular morning show. The Desert Schools clip has aired on that show as well.