Warren Buffett is quoted as saying, “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” Are you wasting time trying to plug the leaks of your old or bargain DMS system? In my previous articles, I’ve discussed three of the five factors to selecting a DMS; Report writer, Price per user and Integrated CRM. In this issue, I’d like to discuss a key factor in selecting a DMS; Productivity Features.
In the next issue I’ll address the final factor; Multi-company ability. If you missed my previous articles, send me an email to the address below.
My suggestion when picking a new DMS is that you add at least 5 new productivity features that you didn’t have in your previous DMS. In addition, ask your staff and managers for a few productivity features in your current system that are important. You certainly don’t want to go backwards! Examples of this are Core Tracking and Integrated Time Clock. Let’s discuss Core Tracking first.
Core tracking notifies technicians when they clock onto a repair order that they still owe the parts department the core for the part they are replacing. In addition, the parts department can at all times monitor the status of core returns and know the value of the dirty cores they haven’t received a credit for yet. If you want to see if you truly have this feature, find a repair order with a core due and watch a tech log onto it to start working. Was there an alert?
Next, ask your parts manager for the current extended value of “dirty cores”. If you get a handwritten list on a yellow legal pad, then your system probably doesn’t track clean and dirty cores. As a controller, I hated having to total this during parts inventory reconciliation, so I made sure cores were tracked electronically when I designed DealerStar. How does this productivity feature help you make profit? All too often, a core credit is applied to a repair order, but the core is never returned to the parts department – nor is it returned to the factory or vendor for a core credit. A major theft area can be core credits given to customers on parts tickets and then refunded – but again no core returned – or it was a phantom core. If you want to audit this, go to your Clean Core inventory list and find a vendor that charges for a core.
Next, pull the AP folder for that vendor and add up your core charges for 2013 for one part number and then add up the core credits. You’ll need go back to your clean core inventory and filter by the Vendor and add up how many you still have in stock of your random part number. How do they compare to each other? Run a report of all your checks last year for core refunds – did these parts get returned? If you’re finding a shortage for just one vendor and part number, think how huge it must be for all vendors and all cores. This is a feature you must have in your next DMS – or don’t want to lose in your current DMS. Your boat is leaking!
What about an Integrated Time Clock system? This feature can show you who is clocked in right now and from which terminal they clocked in. It should also have an overtime watch feature to alert your managers that their staff might be going into overtime. I knew from experience that running an overtime report AFTER the expense happens isn’t productive. Your boat has already sunk. Again, I designed this feature into DealerStar. In addition, I can’t tell you how much productivity I have lost trying to find or page an employee – only to discover later that they were out for the day.
If you are thinking of changing DMS systems, now is the time to find out what features your staff and managers depend on to maintain the current productivity level. Ask your prospective DMS vendor for a list of all productivity features in their system and use that to compare to your old system and other systems you are considering. Price is only one of my major factors and as the saying goes, “sometimes you pay one way or another for a bargain!”