Another lender expanding in the motorcycle industry is Reno, Nev.-based FreedomRoad Financial (FRF). A group of former Harley-Davidson Financial Services employees formed the company in late 2006 as a division of Evergreen Bank Group. "So it was easy to bring Harley-Davidson dealers on board," says FRF head honcho Tom Collins. "They knew who we were."
OEMs soon began calling, and in June 2008 FreedomRoad and Triumph inked a deal. Indian and Ducati signed contracts this year. FRF is now signing up only franchised dealers of these brands, though it continues to offer lending to the Harley-Davidson, Moto Guzzi and independent dealerships already signed up with it.
"We're physically at capacity because I don't have room for any more employees," Collins explains. "But we're doubling the size of our operation as far as square footage goes in September or October." So by the quarter of next year, he says, FreedomRoad may be able to sign up dealers beyond their OEM programs.
"And we're looking to do another OEM relationship maybe later this year," Collins says. "We've had a few OEMs call us."
FRF dealers often participate on the installment loans. When they do, the company pays 60 percent of the difference between the buy rate's financing charges and those of the contract, at the time of funding. Plus, it pays a finder's fee ranging from $125 to $225, depending on the amount financed. "When we took over Triumph and Ducati," Collins says, "dealers would say, 'Thank God you let us make some money on financing. GE never did.'"