How DMS Solutions Make Dealership Operation Easier
and More Mobile-Friendly
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]any of you got into the powersports industry because you are an enthusiast who loves the sport and you wanted to try and make money doing what you love. However, you may have found that running a dealership in this industry can be quite challenging and, more often than not, complicated.
Over the past few years, the adoption of Dealer Management Systems (DMS) has done wonders for making business life easier and more efficient for dealers. Processes are streamlined, information is readily available, and in general this technology is helping dealers become more profitable.
“The software is based around profit margin and making sure the dealer is making money in this tight net profit business,” says Ralph Weaver, program manager at Santa Maria Software, Inc. dba Counterman DMS. “Everyone wants to make as much money as they can and do it with as few keystrokes as they can.”
While the end goal of DMS solutions has always been to help dealers make more money, these solutions have been increasingly moving toward more mobile capabilities. Efficiency, functionality and ease of use have remained top-of-mind as well, but DMS providers are catering to the dealer on the go.
“Mobile is going to continue to be a big part of DMS going forward,” says Kris Denos, general manager of CDK Global Recreation, providers of LightspeedEVO. “The question in development these days is no longer, ‘Do you build it for mobile?’ Today, and in the future, we will be building our solutions in mobile first because everyone has a mobile device and you need that information to travel around with you. The beauty and the challenge of mobile is that it forces you to make it simple. If you don’t make it easy on a mobile device, it won’t be used.”
Dealership operations can be complicated. DMS and the affiliated software is meant to take the stress and uncertainty out of a lot of processes during the dealer’s daily routine.
“We made our technology as ‘simple’ as possible,” says Kartik Kakarala, founder and CEO of CyclePro. CyclePro’s solutions also place a big emphasis on mobile capability, namely with its Sales Management solution.
“Everything today is mobile,” Kakarala says. “Customers are pretty technologically savvy and our dealers need to be as savvy as the customers, so all of our solutions are mobile-based.”
Rather than a salesperson needing to look at his phone all the time, what CyclePro did was develop a “bump chip” that hangs on each unit. If a customer and salesperson are talking and looking at units on the sales floor, the salesperson can “bump” his mobile device to the bump chip and pull up all the information on that unit.
“A customer looking at a certain unit is going to ask specific questions about it,” he says. “In the existing situation, the salesperson would need to go back and look most of that information up. However, with the bump chip he will be able to pull up all the details of the unit in a snapshot on his mobile device.”
He can also take the customer’s first and last name, send the customer the bike information, walk through a 10-step process until the sale, and even print out a buyer order from his mobile device.
“If a salesperson is unable to sell a customer on a unit, what happens today is the salesperson goes to his manager, leaving the customer alone, and then comes back,” Kakarala says. “The customer is left to walk around on his own or might even leave. Instead of the salesperson ever leaving the customer alone, he just clicks on a button called ‘Call Manager’ and all of the customer’s and unit information goes to the manager as a notification.”
The manager can see all of this information and what the status is of the potential sale. The manager can now come over and greet the customer and help in the sales process.
Again, the solutions are all about ease of use and efficiency while making you more money. It’s become obvious that dealers need and want more information at their fingertips, and DMS solutions are making those requests a reality.
Turn up the Value
While mobile capability is becoming increasingly important, dealers still need to be able to use a DMS at their desks and counters, too. That’s why DMS providers are increasing the functionality of these solutions as well.
“Our biggest focus recently has been to provide more value as a DMS,” says CJ Pedler, director of customer support, DX1. “We’ve increased our footprint and capabilities in the website and marketing sphere. We’re focused on creating one complete platform for dealers where they can not only enter their units and inventory and process sales, but continue engaging with their customers and create future opportunities with their customers and new prospects. We listen to customer feedback and build upon the tools they need to deliver a bigger and better platform for our customers.”
With technology, social media and the Internet continuing to expand, dealers have to be able to put their information out there for all to see. One of the problems in this industry is that dealers used to have to manage multiple systems. Somebody managed the website, managed the website inventory and managed actual inventory.
“For us to be able to bring those pieces together and make it a much easier process to save dealers time and money, and limit the number of errors was a big deal,” Pedler says. “We got it to the point where a sales manager can enter a unit, double check that all the vehicle information is correct, upload a couple photos, and choose where to post the unit. Once the unit is sold, it’s automatically removed.”
Another trend of DMS systems revolves around marketing. DMS providers are now helping dealer’s market their business from websites to social media tools to help get the dealer’s name out there.
“For a long time, dealers relied on multiple vendors,” Pedler says. “DX1 provides one complete platform that includes a DMS, website and online marketing tools.”
CDK is an example of another DMS solution focused on offering all it can to dealers in order for them to run a better, more efficient business.
“Recently, we came out with a DOC report (Dealership Operator Control) to allow a GM or owner to see at a glance how their dealership is performing, whether it be for the day, month or annually, and can also be broken down by department,” Denos says. “We have key metrics on there such as units sold, how many invoices you’ve cashiered, revenue, profit, gross profit percentage, and more to allow a GM or owner to understand at a glance how the dealership is performing. It’s available on a desktop or on a mobile device.”
CyclePro offers a similar solution. Its Dynamic Dashboard tracks every detail of a dealership. At any point in time you can see what is happening in a dealership, how many follow ups are there, how many sessions are happening, which salesperson is working with which customer, etc. A dealership manager doesn’t have to run around to know what is going on.
[pullquote]“CyclePro software can help a dealership manage a customer from the time he is interested in a unit until the time he actually walks into the dealership,” Kakarala says. “Once the customer does come in, he never leaves the system.”[/pullquote]
One of the biggest problems for dealers today is consumers are more educated and spend a lot more time online shopping prepping themselves for when they go to the dealer. Getting the dealer on the same page as the consumer will really help change the dealer’s business model. DMS solutions are working to level the playing field.
“Our industry is trying to bring more functionality to dealers’ fingertips and give them easy access to information,” Pedler says. “Companies are looking at what they can add to the DMS to improve dealers’ businesses, save them time and make them more profitable. DMS systems are evolving into an even bigger part of dealerships as they provide increased functionality.”
OEMs and Distributors and Integration, Oh My
The next phase of how DMS is helping the dealer includes participation from the OEMs. Dealers have been asking for more cooperation from the OEMs. DMS solutions are integrating OEMs to answer dealers’ prayers.
“Everything from collaborative inventory replenishment to an automated way to communicate with OEM’s dealers is becoming a big deal,” Denos says. “We have a lot of OEMs coming to us to get integrated because they don’t want to be on the outside looking in. I think you’ll see more of that now than you’ve seen in the past. The probability for success goes up tremendously if we’ve got the OEM involved and promoting that with their dealer base. We also train OEMs on our DMS because the better educated they are, the better it is for
OEMs have been taking a much larger interest in the past year in which DMS provider their dealers are using and how that can help them, which should ultimately help expand the powersports industry overall.
“There has been a big initiative in the industry between OEMs and service providers to create data standards and better assist dealers by providing integration,” Pedler says. “Data integration has always been a challenge, and we have been working with the OEMs to define standards by which all data will be structured. Everybody has to come to an agreement and work to meet those standards.”
It’s not just the full DMS providers who are enticing the OEMs either. Other software providers are gaining interest from OEMs such as Yamaha.
“We did a licensing deal with Yamaha where all of their dealers have an account on our system provided to them through Yamaha,” says C.R. Gittere, owner of Service Manager Pro. “We’ve done some very special things for Yamaha in that we’ve also published its technical bulletin articles and original recall documents. Using our Spec Link technology we linked those recall documents to part numbers and model, and those tech bulletins to labor times and service intervals. What that means is if you get a motorcycle in with a shot clutch and you look it up in SMP, if there’s a tech bulletin from Yamaha showing how to do that job faster and more efficient, it automatically shows up next to that labor time. It means huge time savings.”
Service Manager Pro, at the request of Yamaha, is also coming out with a standard API that will allow any DMS system in the industry to bolt on to SMP and have two-way seamless integration allowing for OEM warranty job codes, labor times, part numbers, and standard job codes into any DMS system.
[pullquote]“Yamaha has really been at the forefront in helping me get this standard API underway, so their dealers can pick and choose what DMS they want to use and have this seamless integration,” Gittere notes.[/pullquote]
Over the Horizon
In speaking with many players in the DMS space, it seems safe to say that DMS software is going to continue down a similar path as it’s on today without too many changes occurring, at least not until a few more years down the road.
“In my opinion, I don’t think much is going to change in the next two years,” Gittere says. “I don’t see the ability for anyone to move that quickly. I think in three to five years time you’re going to see more consolidation of dealers, and more consolidation of dealers by automotive groups, and more and more corporate stores, and fewer family owned businesses in the powersports industry. That’s going to have an affect on what DMS systems are purchased and how they are used. It will force DMS systems that aren’t providing really good, strong data supply back to the dealer to hurry up and get that done. If a DMS can’t provide good accounting software and data analysis, those DMS solutions will be in trouble.
[pullquote]“As it relates to the parts application providers, we have to continue to develop our data sets and support those, and build out product to make the life of the dealer easier.”[/pullquote]
A big part of making life easier for the dealer comes back to integration. The future of DMS will continue to persuade OEM and third party participation.
“I see a trend coming with integrations, whether it’s from a DMS and OEM level, or DMS and third party level,” Pedler says. “As industry providers standardize data, we are going to see companies working together to provide data back and forth to give dealers the information they need to manage their businesses. DX1 is committed to this initiative, which will get us closer to creating an optimal consumer experience that drives profitable growth for dealers. Providing the dealer with multiple options is one of those things that’s going to be big.”
While the future is always uncertain, the thing dealers can count on is DMS providers and software solutions continuing to innovate with the aim of making dealers more money easier.