Just because spring is almost over doesn’t mean you’re in the clear when it comes to cleaning. Tidying up the house or clearing out the garage is on very few people’s lists of fun things to do. That’s why they’re often pushed to the backburner, or never completed. But, remind yourself how good it feels when you finally unpack, organize and reap the benefits of your efforts. You wonder why you waited so long in the first place.
The same thing applies to your dealership’s DMS, which requires periodic reviews, clean-ups, and updates. All too often, however, fear of change can hold you back from sorting through your outdated technology, cleaning up data or taking that first step toward a DMS switch.
Having overseen thousands of DMS installs throughout my career, I know how hard it can be to let go of old technology. Many dealers have been using the same system for decades, with years of accumulated customer lists, outdated setups, old reports, records and files that need to be dusted off and sorted through. However, just like cleaning the garage, decluttering your dealership’s systems can help rejuvenate your staff and make way for better, more streamlined processes.
One customer I worked with shared that their 20-store group had been with the same DMS provider for more than two decades. They had 200,000 customer names on file, with some going back 25 years. Do you think those customers still own the original cars sold to them by that dealership? Are they all still in the area? The customer list was the first clean-up priority for this group looking to switch systems. They recognized that an updated list was critical for staff to focus on the best leads for new sales, while still maintaining a service and sales history for active customers. This is a perfect example of why you need to use your DMS switch as a time to house clean, take inventory and get rid of old data.
After implementing a new, modern DMS, your staff is better enabled to focus on what matters most: accessing information quickly to help drive your dealership’s business strategy and success. A Dealertrack survey found that 83 percent of dealers who continued using their legacy DMS felt the technology was not prepared to help them move toward the future, and 91 percent felt their DMS was not delivering ROI. There is absolutely no reason to continue using a system that is not paying returns. In fact, the same survey revealed that the number one benefit for dealers who did switch systems was the value they gained. When the barriers to effectively doing their jobs are lifted, staff members can focus on what they do best, whether it’s car sales, customer service, fixed operations or something else. Technology is no longer impeding their progress and operational efficiency.
How do dealers know their new DMS technology is working? I hear from dealers all the time that they can tell by the feedback they receive from their employees. They find the new system valuable and feel better supported in their jobs. There are also benchmarks like being able to submit monthly financial statements to the manufacturer accurately and on time. Cash clearing accounts are being reconciled to zero every day rather than accumulating. In the service department, open repair orders are being closed and monitored daily.
After switching over to a new DMS not too long ago, Barbara Condon, controller at AutoFair, quickly saw what efficiency could mean for her dealer group. “The way the new system is set up, you no longer have to run month-end reports because they are already in there. You can always get them. Closing is no longer a case of, ‘Hey, everybody, get out of the system so I can close.’ I can now go in and switch it from a Y to an N, and we’re closed. It’s seamless.”
There are countless reasons why a dealership might be motivated to make a DMS switch. While changing to a new system will save some dealerships money, other factors for DMS cleaning include creating standardization across a group’s rooftops, the flexibility of open integration, a mobile-friendly platform or finding a vendor you can form a true partnership with. Dealers have differing needs and the best technology providers focus on building and maintaining customer relationships, supporting them at all times.
No matter the season, cleaning up is a chance to look at how you’re running your dealership, knowing that you don’t have to run it the same way it’s always been done. Just as consumers are buying cars in new ways, dealers need to find the best technology to help them in the current sales market, while moving toward the future. It’s worth stirring up the dust, and if you find the right vendor, they will be with you the entire way.