Organize Your Dealership Systems
Rekeying issues can occur often as dealers typically utilize numerous technological devices within the dealership, Bill Bok, vice president of DMS sales for Dominion Dealer Solutions, says.
Prior to Dominion Dealer Solutions, Bok worked at Reynolds and Reynolds for 20 years, where he became vice president of global sales, and later worked as a partner for Dealer Tire and later a partner at a General Motors dealership in Cincinnati. In Bok’s position today, he services dealerships across the country.
According to Bok, utilizing a DMS is a necessity in fixed ops.
“You pretty much have to have one,” Bok says. “It’s the heartbeat of the dealership; it houses the truth—and that is accounting.”
Besides keeping your dealership updated on different systems occurring within your departments, it keeps tabs on customers that come into the dealership as well.
“There’s a lot of third-party solutions out there that provide different services and different pieces of data, but it’s the DMS that the dealer goes to for [answering], ‘Where am I?,’ and ‘How am I doing?’” Bok says. “Current and future planning happens through the DMS.”
As technology has grown and times have changed, Bok says relying only on a single DMS system is not the case anymore for most dealerships.
“Those older legacy DMS systems could not provide dealers with what they needed, so that spawned this cottage-industry of third parties,” Bok says. “The average dealer will have upward of 15 or more third-parties that are providing valuable services to them that the DMS does not provide them.”
Pam Guyer, manager of Kindred Chevrolet, uses multiple systems throughout the dealership in Smithville, Mo. Today, the dealership only uses the CDK Dash from CDK Global.
Challenges—such as rekeying—stem from having multiple systems in place at once where the systems are not properly working together, Bok details. In order to avoid rekeying issues in your DMS, Bok and Guyer discuss how setting company-wide goals, as well as developing a plan to utilize the system, can alleviate the strain of using multiple systems.
Make the system user-friendly.
When working within a DMS, it’s important to have guidelines that lay out specifically who will deal with what, Bok says. Additionally, the system needs to be made available at the end-user level, according to Bok.
“Reporting and dashboards are good
for a manager for responsibilities, but it’s good to be able to provide specific tasks within a dashboard to the end user so that they’re working transactionally, [and] they’re not waiting to go back and fix something,” Bok says.
If staff members are assigned to roles within the DMS, then it’s easier to fix or handle a situation on demand right in front of them instead of waiting to fix the problem later, Bok says.
According to Guyer, each department in the dealership can access their information on the DMS.
“Each department has at least one person that utilizes [their area in the DMS],” Guyer says.
The departments are matched on the system, and the general manager, general sales manager, and dealership owner is able to review the information and look at the reports.
“Some reports are [viewed] daily, some reports are weekly, and all of the reports are [reviewed] monthly,” Guyer says. “They’re accessible at any time.”
According to Bok, making customer appointments online is an easy way to avoid a rekeying issue. Customers can later be looked up by license plate, bar-code scan, or geofencing, Bok says.
“[It’s] best to encourage customers to ‘cut the line’ and create an appointment,” he says. “That helps the shop move most efficiently.”
Learn the system.
It’s also important to take time to properly train staff members who are working on the DMS system, Bok says. At Dominion Dealer Solutions, customers receive training once the product is brought in.
“Training is really important,” Bok says. “We have a customer-friendly learning management tool that allows pre-training on demand the way people like to learn now. Now, if you learn something, you YouTube stuff.”
Bok says it’s common practice for a company to be present during the initial introduction stage of the equipment.
“When you go live, you really need to have personnel on site that are familiar with the industry and the product to help with training as well,” he says. “Training is critical.”
Keep your systems close.
It’s common that service advisors will likely work with multiple systems at once in a dealership, Bok says.
“Quite often, you can go into a dealership and look at an advisor and they’ll have more than one screen in front of them or they’ll have multiple tabs open,” Bok says. “They’re really challenged with juggling [multiple systems] between third parties.”
When utilizing multiple systems at once, it can be beneficial to keep companies in the loop that supply the products in the instance that issues arise, Bok says. Although systems may differentiate from one another, it doesn’t mean that the companies don’t have to work together, Bok says.
“Work with your DMS and your third-party to try to get those guys to play nicely together and share the data that you need,” Bok says. “[You have to] let them know what additional information you need to make your life smoother.”
When you work with a company, they likely are going to help you in the instance that you run into an issue, Bok explains. For Guyer, she’s reconnected with a company through a helpline that was provided.
“They’re very knowledgeable,” Guyer says. “If the person on there can’t help me, then they escalade it to the second tier—I almost always get an answer immediately.
“They’re also very open to suggestions for change.”
The dealership should ultimately try to have a good relationship with the provider, Bok says.
“If you’ve got a good relationship with your provider and you can call a number of different trusted advisors in order to give you the current updates, or just to come in and help out for an hour—[that’s helpful],” he says. “Try your best to have a good, open, collaborative team relationship with the provider.”