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The closing of more than 3,000 GM and Chrysler dealerships this year won’t shock the credit union auto lending system, but it will force credit unions to refocus and restructure. “It brings credit unions back to the big picture. From the credit union perspective the world hasn’t fundamentally changed. Members are going to buy a car somewhere, and they’re going to look to their credit union to finance it,” said Joe Greenwald, vice president of marketing and communications for CUDL. Credit unions that have developed relationships with dealers that are now closing need to stop and think what the impact will be on members and where members will go to shop for cars now, Greenwald continued. For some credit unions, this may mean growing and adding relationships, and for others it may just mean strengthening relationships they already have. Credit unions that have a consumer auto shopping experience driven by the credit union, such as CUDL’s AutoSMART program, will have more control over where members go to shop for cars, Greenwald said. Credit unions that have this type of program in place can decide which dealership’s inventory to highlight and where to direct members. This will shift members to a dealership that the credit union has a relationship with. CUDL released a list of tips last week to help credit unions minimize the impact of a dealership closing. The list, Greenwald said, is a set of good dealer relationship practices that CUDL tells credit unions to do at any point in time, but now it is especially important to go back and make sure they were prudent in their practices. “In normal times things do get relaxed, and you may have a title sitting out there for a longer period of time, which is something you certainly don’t want right now.” For credit unions affected by the shutdowns, the list advises:

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