Why spend thousands trying to get a new customer instead of retaining the ones you already have? This is the reasoning behind CRM and Equity Mining software. You could apply the same logic to your technology expense. Typically a DMS is only 35% utilized. Why not use the features and data you already have to make more profit instead of buying more and more “add-on” third party products?
I recently saw a few reporting tools that claim to increase profit. One showed you by zip code where your service customers live. Rather than letting a third party into your DMS and providing access to your valuable customer database, service history and financial information, you could export your repair orders and with a simple Pivot Table in Excel get the same information for free. Excel’s new Power View feature provides you with dazzling reports.
Another third party tool provides a report of your F&I performance and heat sheet. Most DMS systems already have heats sheets and an F&I summery by F&I manager. Why don’t dealers better utilize their DMS and run these reports? That is an easy answer – it is hard to learn and there is nobody with the time to do it. No matter what DMS you have, it is a complicated beast.
“No matter what DMS you have, it is a complicated beast.”
Our consultants have spent years becoming experts on a dozen or so systems, but even they don’t know how to do everything. How can you get better DMS utilization by your employees? A good place to start is to put your DMS Data on a diet. Make a list of all technology that is using data from your DMS. This used to be an easy chore; run a list of all passwords and match them to current users and the ones left over are your 3rd party providers that are getting into your system at night.
The major DMS providers have decided that wasn’t very safe, so now they are “selling” your data to various 3rd parties that hopefully you authorized. Contact your DMS provider and get a list of all data going out of your DMS. If anything is coming into your DMS or “interfacing” find out what that is too. A typical interface is a button that uploads a deal from a desking tool into your F&I system. I once visited a dealership that was paying $500 a month for this button and the F&I manager refused to use it because the data came in wrong and it took more time to look for the differences than to enter the deal correctly from scratch the first time.
After you have a list of all the reports and interfaces, it is time to have a technology meeting. Find out who is actually using the feature and what type of decision is being made based on the information. A Power View of your customers scattered on a map might be neat to look at, but if you are not making changes based on this report, then why get it?
If you do depend on that report to determine parts delivery routes, hire staffing, focus advertising, etc., then the next step is to determine if you have the resources to create the report internally. Probably the biggest mistake is to expect your overworked office manager to do this. Most likely this person’s level of Excel is rather basic and level of available time to learn or perform the task is nil. What about an IT manager? That person is normally running around fixing computers and getting connections back up. The ideal person is a highly qualified marketing manager. By highly qualified, this means that you’re going to have to invest the time to get this person up to speed on your DMS databases and advanced reporting tools.
I often speak to marketing managers at Digital Dealer Conferences and I’m shocked to find out they don’t even know which DMS they have! Nobody has shown them the data or provided a login. They tell me that if they need a report, they get the office manager to run it for them because nobody wants them in the DMS system.
Amazing – a dealership will let any 3rd party connect at night and wander around, but what about a valuable member of your management staff?
Author: Sandi Jerome
Sandi Jerome is the owner of Sandi Jerome Computer Consulting. Sandi founded DealerStar, a web-based DMS. She is a former CFO, System Administrator, Fixed Operations Manager, and Controller with over 30 years experience in the auto industry.