The potential of many of the UKs dealerships will never be realised unless they start to use the tools they are provided with in the correct way. There is also a good argument that some dealerships are working so hard to achieve their potential that their old antiquated DMS cannot provide the tools needed. Many dealerships need to change their DMS solution because of this. However some view change as troublesome and worrying. There is a simple question that needs to be levelled is your dealership achieving what it should if the answer to this is no then a review of your DMS is essential.
I am often asked about what changes are needed to dealerships to gain that competitive edge? The simple reply to that is you know your dealership, staff and customers better than I. What I can say is that without dedicated, trained and motivated staff even the best DMS in the world will fail. People and process are the most important things in any dealership. Lets be clear about this, DMS is just a device used to achieve set down objectives. It helps if your DMS contains all the tools necessary.
Many in the industry now see that tools such as Showroom systems, Customer relationship management (CRM), analytical reporting, Internet marketing and time management systems are essential. These all should be available integrated into the DMS. There are many of these products available as stand-alone but few integrate, this means yet more work for the user duplicating information.
Choosing a DMS that suits your business is a bit like choosing a business partner, it needs very careful thought and consideration. The following were listed in the last issue as relevant questions to ask and are still essential today.
How will it give us a return on investment and over what time?
Where will it cut costs/enhance efficiency?
Is it designed to grow with our business?
Is it capable of operating multi-company, multi site, multi-franchise?
Will it communicate efficiently with customers on the web, in the call centre and on the dealership floor?
How good is the CRM part of the system?
How easy will it be for staff to adapt to the system? What training is required?
From talking to other users of the system, how good is the suppliers customer support?
Once you have chosen and implemented the DMS that’s where it begins. So many dealers forget that constant training and reviews of process need to be addressed. It is recognised that the average dealer should book at least two days training a year. A decent DMS provider should always be prepared to share their experiences on good working practices. I also think that as business partners the dealer and the DMS provider should document process controls. Simple but effective training training training.
I’d echo other industry observer’s recent comments about the current obsession with running a hosted DMS solution. It’s imperative for a DMS to have access to web services providing third party data delivery, and indeed using the internet as a transport mechanism for multi-site connectivity is a cost effective solution. However, running a DMS over the web where the server is in a datacentre all too often ends in tears. The UK communications infrastructure is not mature enough to reliably run a remote web server based application as intensive as a DMS with adequate performance. How many problems do you have with slow Internet connections? We offer the service, but we don’t actively promote it. Keep your DMS server within your business.
Most dealers owe it to their potential to review the DMS market. I believe that Gemini Systems Dealer Management Systems should be one of the systems reviewed.