Are you getting ready to change your DMS, CRM or install another new software program? Have you hired a new manager that is starting soon? Are you buying or selling a dealership? Change is stressful for your staff. They would like everything to stay the same. But change is great for you as a person. It wakes up your brain, creates hope of better things, and trains you for the next change that comes along. Change can be easier if you let your employees help make some of the decisions or at least get them involved in the change process. If your key management is involved, then they have a vested interest in making sure the change goes well.

If you’re changing DMS systems or buying new software – make sure you get as many of your employees involved in the selection process as you can. As a computer consultant and now a DMS provider, I always recommended assembling a technology committee of a parts manager, controller, service advisor or warranty clerk, Internet manager and the dealer/GM. They should see the new options and vote on the one they like the best. If you’re hiring a new key manager, you might want to make an interviewing committee of a few key managers. Nobody likes the new guy or gal –unless they were the first to find them!

What is a good time for change? If you’re converting computer systems, the best time of the year is after a quarter ends and the best time of the month is between the 10th and 20th. New employees also do better mid-month (never hire someone to come during the close – they will get ignored!) Make a plan for everything that can go wrong. Let’s say that you’re changing computer systems. What if you can’t open up a repair order on the morning of “go live?” Do you have a plan to get the work order to your technician even if it won’t print? We used to fix cars all the time without a computer! How can you calculate payments? Make sure everyone has a link to
a website that will do this for you (there are many.)

Can you hand-write bank contracts? I suggest the F&I department do all contracts on the old DMS system and then re-enter into the new one for the first few days. A good backup plan for not being able to write service on the new or old computer would be to have a download of your parts inventory into Excel – so you can charge out parts and your customer’s history and vehicle file downloaded so you can figure out what they have had done (if you’ve gone away from hard copies.)

Do you have some blank repair orders? Great. Otherwise, what can you use to create a repair order? Excel? Quickbooks? Clear your schedule and everyone else’s. During change it is important that you focus on this one change and not have meetings planned, vacations scheduled and even ask employees to delay doctor’s appointments. Have each key manager prepare a staffing plan of how they are going to get through this change with the current staff and if you might need some temporary help while your staff goes through training. If you are asking someone to train a new person all day – they are going to only be about 25% productive. How is the other 75% of their work going to get done? Are you okay with only 25% of the bank deposit getting to the bank? Let’s hope that all the changes this year are good changes and that you get through them smoothly!

Sandi Jerome is a former controller, CFO, system administrator, F&I, assistant GM, and fixed operations manager with over 20 years experience in the automotive industry. She is the owner of Sandi Jerome Computer Consulting. You can reach Sandi at:

Callout: Change can be easier if you let your employees help make some of the decisions – or at least get them involved in the change process.


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