In these thinner times, you can’t afford not to have everyone who works at your business working as hard as they can. So, is your dealer management system doing its best for you?
“The thing about dealer management systems,” explains Pat McGarrity, sales manager of Shamrock Systems, “is that the guy that owns the dealership often really doesn’t want to deal with computers — after all, he is in the motorcycle business, not the computer business. So, he pushes the operation of the dealer management system off on a younger employee. The employee doesn’t know as much as the owner about the motorcycle business, and the owner never learns as much as he should about how the software works, so he misses out on some of the best features that could help him manage his business.”
Take a little time out of your busy day to investigate how you can use your dealer management system to its full potential; learning how to use all of its resources will pay you back ten times over.
“Successful dealers have learned to take full advantage of the tools that their DMS has available,” says Tony Hale, national sales manager of ADP Lightspeed. “Lightspeed gives you all the tools you need to analyze your business and maximize cash flow, which is even more important in slow markets. Not everyone takes advantage of these tools.”
You may say the reason you haven’t learned to take full advantage of your DMS is that you have no time. However, your DMS can free you up by helping you deal with that ringing phone while letting you and your staff concentrate on actual business, such as sales and repairs. “A unique feature of c-Systems Software is Customer Connect,” says Joe Miller, marketing director of c-Systems. “Customers can log in through a secure web connection and check the status of their repairs, back orders, repair history, promotions and specials, allowing dealership personnel to do things other than answering phones.”
Do you know if you are making money? Can you identify areas of your business that are unprofitable? Your DMS can check the profitability of each sector of your business with the touch of just a few keys. Jay Hubelbank, CEO of NextStep, boasts that his software can even check the profitability of any particular item at any stage during the sale, not just afterward. “As manufacturers have cut sales prices — but not the cost to the dealer — the dealer has to be on his toes to make sure he is not losing money on any particular deal.”
Do you know what inventory you have on hand? Your DMS can make inventory management simple; you can easily determine what is moving and what isn’t. For example, did you buy riding suits in fashionable colors? From your office, it might look like the suits aren’t selling. Your DMS will tell you that the ladies’ sizes are flying out the door, while the men’s XL suit in pink and purple is collecting dust. “Perception of what is moving isn’t always reality,” ADP’s Hale points out. “Proper purchasing based on demand and seasonality is the key to making more money. Knowing exactly what moves at your dealership and when (and not what you are told moves) ensures sales and decreases unnecessary costs.”
c-Systems, for example, allows customers to interact with your website and post sales orders online. “The DMS has the ability to automatically replenish stock, track back orders and e-mail customers when product has arrived,” Miller explaines. “It boosts efficiency, lowers cost and provides better service to the customer.”
Create Marketing Materials
On the other hand, sometimes you actually want to communicate with customers. You may want to tell them about store news, promotions, specials or your open house. Again, your DMS can help.
Your DMS can design flyers and e-mail blasts to be delivered to all your customers or just a targeted selection of them, such as just the motocross people, or just the folks who bought a new bike in the last year. “You can select and drill down to the people you want to contact,” Shamrock’s McGarrity points out. “There’s no need to get a third party involved. You can design professional looking ads and do it all in house. If you send out e-mail blasts, there’s no cost for the printing or mailing.”
As dealer management systems have developed over the past few years, they have become both more sophisticated and easier to use. For example, NextStep’s system includes monthly updated vendor price files. With this, you can be assured you are getting the most current information.
Both NextStep and ADP Lightspeed provide related and superseded parts. You may not have an oil filter that matches the part number for a 1991 Wazzit, but you may have another filter in stock that will fit, and your DMS will tell you where it is. The end result: A happy customer who may buy oil, a t-shirt and a chain in addition to the filter, and who will tell his friends that you were able to help when other dealers simply could not.
Utilize The Tools You’re Paying For
Now, how are you going to learn to use all the great features in your DMS? All DMS vendors include training upon purchase of their software. In addition, most have ongoing training available. Recognizing current economic realities, DMS vendors are now offering low cost or (in the case of PartsLookup) free classroom training seminars.
“We have flexible training that we have created to fit the needs of dealers,” ADP’s Hale says. “We have started to offer webinars that are quick, free training classes. The goal is to show how to use our software. For example, we have started a new free series, ‘Find Hidden Cash,’ that covers how using Lightspeed can uncover additional cash flow.”
“Properly utilized, your DMS is not going to let you get rid of anyone who you shouldn’t have been fired anyway,” Shamrock’s McGarrity says, “but it allows you to make the best use of your employees’ time. It also gives you the most accurate information about your best customers: The people who are already buying from you.”