“You have to think of your DMS not as your computer system, but as the system that manages your dealership,” explains Pat McGarrity, sales manager of Shamrock Systems. “Implemented correctly, set up correctly and used correctly, your DMS can be the system that keeps track of everything that needs to be done, follows up to make sure chores are completed on time and on budget, and tracks the accounting for all this stuff so you know, at any time throughout the month or year, how well you are doing and, perhaps, what has to be changed to improve.”
“While many dealers are working their heads off just to survive,” McGarrity continues, “It might seem odd to think in terms of growth. But the old adage, grow or die, means as much now as it did in the go-go days.”
So, how do you use what you’ve got, right now, to pursue growth in your dealership, and how does your DMS fit in?
Nurture the Value of Each Customer
Are you making the most of the customers you presently have? “You may not be getting as many hours per repair order as you could, and upselling, if done right, can greatly enhance your revenue,” says Tony Hale, ADP Lightspeed national sales manager. While the best upseller is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable rider behind the parts counter, your DMS can help by putting information about the customer’s make and model at the service writer’s or parts person’s fingertips.
“Packing for a trip?” the parts person could say. “Did you know we sold five clutch levers in the last month for your model bike? The clutch lever breaks if the bike falls over.” Providing this information to a customer makes it likely that you will sell a sixth clutch lever. “Your DMS gives you the ability to take maximum advantage of each customer,” Hale continues.
Your DMS not only enhances your ability to sell to your existing customers, it will also let you know if the deal you are getting into is actually profitable for you. “Our DMS will help you remain in business,” Jay Hubelbank of NextStep points out. “You can check the profitability of everything before you make the sale.”
Cultivate Customer Satisfaction
Good customers are not easy to come by, and you want your customers to be happy, so they will keep coming back to you. Your DMS serves as your institutional memory, so your customers get what they’re paying for when they want it.
“When you take an order for parts, you don’t have to remember to order them, Lizzy [the nizeX, Inc. DMS system] will remind you. You don’t have to remember to call the customer when the parts arrive, Lizzy will text them or send them an email,” points out Glenn Hancock, nizeX president.
“You have to take care of the customers you have with ever better customer service in order to have any chance of growing,” says Shamrock’s Pat McGarrity. “If you can’t keep your customers coming back because of consistent excellent service, don’t expect them to recommend you to a friend.”
Another way your DMS can help you provide excellent customer service is by quickly locating all the options a customer has. Say a customer wants a new set of mufflers. “Counterman has a stock check screen that can find like items from multiple suppliers, giving you your customer’s options just by entering one part number,” says Ralph Weaver, Counterman program manager. “You put the OEM part number, or most other vendor’s part number in, and you can get full ordering information on many aftermarket suppliers that make the same mufflers for your customer’s bike.”
Harvest New Contacts
“Our Databank tracks zip code penetration, so you know where your customers live,” explains Hale. “CRM tracks the past performance of each customer, so you know when they tend to buy. Lightspeed can also track birthdays and anniversaries. Your DMS helps the memory of your staff and assists you to understand your customers and react to their needs.”
“You can target email blasts or flyers to specific groups,” Hubelbank points out. “Want to sell to off-road riders? Send out an email blast with local riding information and a deal on suspension service to your dirt bike enthusiasts just before the beginning of your off-road season. Want to sell to friends and family? Send out flyers with a 15 percent off coupon and gift suggestions just before Christmas.”
One important way to connect with your customers is through your shop website, and Lightspeed has teamed up with 50 Below to help dealers keep their websites up-to-date. “We have found that many customers base decisions on viewing your website,” Hale says. “We have also found that one of the more difficult tasks for a dealer is to keep that website updated and fresh, so your customers will keep checking it. It’s your virtual window display, your front door before your front door.”
Another important way to connect with customers is to let them know what you are doing. “It’s easy to generate lists to send out email blasts. It’s easy to generate your own labels or a list to give to a mail order company,” says Weaver. “Flyers and cards may be more expensive, but remember: Flyers and postcards don’t get lost in the spam folder.”
Grow in Size and Complexity
If you succeed in growing your business, it will not only become larger but more complex. Like that plant you have been watering, your business will send out branches and side shoots. Most DMS systems can start small, at a price you can currently afford, and grow with your business.
“In addition to having the right system in place for your current level of operations, you have to make the right choice when you’re smaller so that your system choice can grow with you,” says McGarrity. “If your system won’t scale up when you grow or down when you shrink, it can’t be a good long-term investment.”
Help Your DMS Knowledge Blossom
To take full advantage of the growth potential of your DMS, you have to understand how to use all of its features. After all, if you were going to take up gardening, you would want to figure out what you were doing before you headed down to the local garden supply store. All software providers offer training, and most offer several different ways you can learn about their products, often free or at a low cost. “Going to one of our trainings can have side benefits,” says Hubelbank. “You get to interact with other shops, share information and find out how they are solving problems.”
Online training can be accessed whenever you or your crew have a spare minute, and it is often free. “You are not getting your dollar’s worth if you don’t do the training,” says Hubelbank.
“With Lizzy, you get access to online training videos that are integrated into the system,” says Hancock. “This simplifies not only the initial learning curve, but the training of new employees as they come and go.”
“Our goal is to help each dealer be more productive, more efficient, and, most important, more profitable,” says Hale. “Our system is designed not only to help you grow, but to help you grow smart.”