During my recent workshop at the 10th Digital Dealer Conference and Exposition, I discussed some of the best ways to select and accept your next DMS system. One of my favorite ideas is to use a technology committee that consists of a variety of members, including: your parts manager, controller, Internet manager, IT director and other volunteers like a cashier or salesperson.
Why use a committee? First of all, it only takes one staff member to sabotage an installation. Having your key managers involved in the selection process helps to gain acceptance of new technology. Next, no matter how carefully you plan for an installation and conversion, there will be things that go wrong and having a committee to work on issues takes the pressure off of the person commonly responsible for the decision like the dealer or general manager. In addition, a committee means that you’ll be less pressured by a talented DMS sales representative to make a quick decision at the last minute.
After selecting your technology members, you need to do two more things:
1. Create a budget.
2. Determine your needs.
Creating a technology budget for your DMS requires two items; your contract and addendums and your monthly billing. Carefully compare your contract to your monthly billing to determine your true “end of contract” date for each item. Sometimes the date that your contract expires has been extended by a recent purchase that required an addendum that extended your original term. Since paying for two computer systems can be an expensive mistake, assigning this task to a committee enables extra sets of eyes to pour through these agreements.
Nothing prepares your committee better for the task at hand than to see what you’re currently paying for and how the contract for that item happened. It is important to separate your monthly billing into various technologies: core DMS, CRM, Internet fees, network fees, credit bureau charges and forms. There are a few of the different types of items on a DMS billing that might not be considered by the committee while selecting the next DMS provider. For example, your DealerTrack Arkona proposal would probably not have any networking equipment or connection fees included since it is an ASP solution.
In addition most tier two DMS providers do not propose a full CRM product, so your committee might need to find a replacement provider for that element, or determine if your next DMS will interface with your current CRM. Your current billing could have network equipment or connection fees included so you might need to have the committee find someone else to maintain your network.
This brings me to the last chore for the committee and that is to determine the dealership’s needs. Over the years, a lot of technology has been purchased that various managers want, but what does your dealership need? For a dealership with a huge wholesale parts operation, a parts scanner or shipper upload might be “must have” items, but in a normal dealership, these items might be too much trouble to use. It takes only seconds to bring up the order and receipt in the parts compared to the time to connect the scanner, scan the parts, upload the results and run the scanner software.
By performing the previous step of comparing your billing to your contract, you should have a pretty good idea of what you “own” and having the committee go over these items helps to determining what you need.
If you have a cashier, warranty clerk, service advisor or manager on the committee, it would be an easy chore for this person to find out if you’re really using service pricing guides or a mobile service write-up tablet. Putting all this responsibility on one person means that you often end up buying the same unused products over and over again, because you assume that if you’re paying for it – someone must be using it!
There have been many jokes about nothing getting done by committees, but when it comes to spending this much money, you’ll like slow, cautious and sometimes painful process of selection by committee. If you didn’t get a chance to attend the 10th Digital Dealer Conference and Exposition – or my seminar, please send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the PowerPoint from the session.