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Business Management

Dealer Software Continues to Evolve

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Running a motorcycle and powersports dealership today is like running at least four separate businesses under one roof. You’ve got to deal with vehicle sales, parts & accessories, a service department and an accounting department.

It is virtually impossible to manage all of these areas without some sort of computer system in place, and preferably one that ties these all together so you can pull out any relevant data you may need, whenever you need it.

We spoke to some industry-specific software solution providers to find out the latest features and gain insights to help you run your dealership more efficiently, and ultimately add more to the bottom line.

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Browser vs. Desktop
According to DX1’s Kim Rocco, director of marketing, the DX1 cloud-based platform offers unique advantages because it is a self-contained dealer management system (DMS) built on Microsoft technology.

“Using Microsoft Azure enables our development team to scale the product on demand, minimize operating expenses and grow rapidly,” says Rocco.

DX1 recently introduced a new cloud-based desktop application for Windows 10. The new desktop app has all of the functionality of the DX1 browser-based platform, while offering enhancements only available through the desktop app. One of the advantages of using a desktop app over a browser is that a desktop app affords better hardware integration, according to Rocco.

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“The DX1 desktop app improves speed and performance inherently because it’s integrating with hardware on the computer,” she explains. “If you’ve ever tried to print something from a Google Doc, for example, it relies on the browser. But if you print an Excel document straight from your desktop, it prints immediately.

“Similar to this idea, our new desktop app makes label printing easier and faster. For a lot of dealerships, label printing is sometimes slow if they’re trying to print a large quantity of labels. But with the desktop app, you can print 100+ labels quickly thanks to preloaded data and PDF presets.”

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One of the other key features of the DX1 desktop app, according to Rocco, is that it enables the DMS to integrate with Verifone’s EMV chipcard technology platform. “Dealers will be able to process secure, EMV-compliant chipcard transactions to protect their dealership data and sensitive customer information.”

Rocco says the desktop app makes installation easier for dealers because the app itself will check the computer system to ensure all requirements are available; if not, the app will alert the dealer as to what requirements are missing. “The app will also assist with set-up for receipt and label printers, and installation of supported pole displays,” says Rocco.

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Dealers only have to install the app once. Rocco says the app will automatically update on their computers when features and enhancements are added to the platform. So dealers will always have access to the latest technology; they don’t have to do anything to upgrade it manually.

“We’re trying to make it a lot less cumbersome for dealers to have an efficient software platform,” Rocco explains. “The new desktop app will increase performance and speed, giving dealers more time to focus on their customers. And it’s free for DX1 users.”

Schedule Power software subscription gives dealers better control over their service department appointments.

Data Standards
DX1, CDK and other software providers are beginning to integrate their platforms with OEM data using Powersports Data Standards (PDS). Manufacturers such as BRP, Polaris and Kawasaki use these standards to reduce the cost and time required to provide dealers with better retail systems.

PDS is providing OEMs and software providers a clear path to develop next-level software solutions, giving dealers access to the benefits of full retail integration with their chosen DMS system.

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“Integrating the systems used by dealers with manufacturers and other key players is imperative for the future health of the industry,” says Delton Bohlman, director of dealer development at BRP. “The arrival of a standards based approach will improve the software available to our dealers, helping them to continue to flourish.”

Powersports dealers frequently sell multiple brands under one roof. This means they have to keep track of multiple product and part inventories, use complex accounting processes and often use different software systems from vendors or the OEM. This often translates into having software systems that are not connected.

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The end result is a business that is inefficient and costly to run. By integrating all of the software systems used in your dealership, dealers can greatly reduce manual, error prone data entry, improve customer experience, and have a better view of all aspects of their dealership.

Power of Scheduling
Joe Arcuch of Schedule Power, says they have solutions for helping service departments improve workflow efficiency that are especially helpful for small shops that may not have a DMS.

“We have small shops that do not use a DMS system, that are just a couple of people, maybe even a one-man shop that may use Quickbooks for their accounting software,” says Arcuch. “They may also order parts directly from their distributor or even have a parts ordering system.”

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But what do they use to keep track of their service department? Schedule Power offers a solution to many dealers in this situation. One of the keys to a profitable service department is being able to effectively manage your workflow.

Arcuch says the program is very affordable at $49 per month and will work for any size service department, but is more suited if you have at least three techs.

“No matter how large or small your service department is, you’re still dealing with the same complex dynamics that exist between your customer, the technician, the vehicle and all the parts,” he says.

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If you’re not keeping things straight, Arcuch argues that sooner or later you’re going to end up upsetting a customer at some point. “Each one of these little chinks in the system are hurting your reputation with your customer base instead of actually building your business and making your customers happy.” Ride Now is a satisfied Schedule Power customer, according to Arcuch.

“They have dealerships that range from two technicians up to 15 technicians. They’re seeing the value of the program across the board.”

Software such as MotoLister, which simplifies uploading to eBay, is making what was a time consuming process much quicker for dealers.

Linking Service
Service Manager Pro links several thousand OEM models with factory service schedules, enabling the user to generate a printable checklist based on the OEM suggested service intervals. This web-based motorcycle labor guide includes labor times, technical specifications, service schedules and diagnostic trouble codes.

However, Service Manager Pro is not just a motorcycle and ATV labor and technical specifications guide, it also includes an estimating program.

Last year SMP came out with its Spec Link technology that integrates with Yamaha’s data. The software allows any DMS system to connect with it and have two-way seamless integration. Spec Link enables dealers to associate recall documents to part numbers and models, and those tech bulletins to labor times and service intervals.

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“Dealers can look up to see if there’s a tech bulletin from Yamaha showing how to do a job faster and more efficient, and it automatically shows up next to that labor time. It means huge time savings,” says C.R. Gittere, owner of Service Manager Pro. He adds that they will soon announce some new features to SMP, so stay tuned.

Our software experts conclude that what dealers really want today are tools that integrate seamlessly into their workflow, and delivers powerful mobile and desktop capabilities as well. Most importantly, dealers want software systems that make them more productive, more efficient and more profitable.

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