How should a Dealer Management System be benefiting your dealership in 2023?

How should a Dealer Management System be benefiting your dealership in 2023?

Written by Simon Verona

Does your existing Dealer Management System do all that it can do for you ?

You don't know what you don't know !

Here at DMS Navigator, we write the Navigator Dealer Management System.  This puts us in a excellent position to answer this question from a generic perspective.

To help answer though, it's important to understand the role of the Dealer Management System in your business in 2023.

You system should carry out the following key generic functions :-

  1. Build and support business processes
  2. Be a central source-of-truth for information
  3. Distribute information to everyone who needs it
  4. Record and account for every transaction in the dealership

These are all reasonably generic and high level items so let's dig a little into each one :

Build and support business processes

This is the crux of what a Dealer Management System should do for your business.  

A business process is effectively a list of actions carried out in sequence which complete a transaction.

The problem is that business processes can be complex and involve multiple "systems"

The more "hand-offs" between "systems" the more the business process needs to include instructions, checks and management of the transfer between systems.

So, take the process of handling Sales Enquiries

Enquiries can come in the form of

  • Web Site enquiries,
  • Enquires through third parties such as Autotrader
  • Online Chat Sessions
  • Emails
  • Dealership walk-ins

This list isn't exhaustive - it can get very complex.

Many dealers will have a process which handles each of these individually.    So maybe an administrator will monitor Autotrader enquiries and forward these by email to the Sales Team.    This is reasonably simple in concept, but what happens if the administrator is on an afternoon off?  

But then this requires further "Management" - how do you then manage that these enquiries are responded to?  How can you tell how long it's taken to respond to each enquiry?   How do you measure the ROI of each source of enquiry ?

As you can see, this process becomes ever more complex.       Multiply the process for each of the sources of enquiry you get and suddenly it's massively complex.

This is just one simple process in the business!

A Dealer Management System can simplify this by simply automating the collection of these enquiries and distributing automatically to the Sales Team.    

This has a number of advantages :-

  • There is no manual process to document and follow
  • Because there is no manual process, the process doesn't need active management
  • All the secondary processes described above are easy to keep track of

Just one simple interface makes this process so much more simple.

Add in that customer details don't need manually adding to your CRM, saving your team more time and ensuring data accuracy.

Take another process further down the chain.   Let's assume you have collected the customers Part Exchange details and want to value and gain a provenance check.   These both use third party services.  

So, you could enter the vehicle details into the Third Party Valuation application - e.g. CAP Valuation Anywhere, and gain the value.   Which could be typed into the CRM Enquiry record.  

Similarly, the Provenance check is another web application - you enter the vehicle details into the app and can download the provenance check - eg from Experian  - and save on a shared folder.

Again, you can see that this requires several manual processes and re-entering of information to carry out.     Retrieval of the information later requires additional process.

The role of the Dealer Management System is to make these sorts of process easier - by providing buttons on the Sales Enquiry to "Value PX" and "Download Provenance Check" which do all the above automatically on a single click.

This makes the process simpler - controlled by the DMS - and it's much easier to audit that the process has happened.

If you think around all the business processes across the dealership, and think where processes could be improved by this sort of automation, then it's easy to see where the DMS can make like so much easier across the dealership.

By making processes simpler, you gain efficiency.   Efficiency saves time which can be used more productively.  This will benefit the bottom line!

In addition, by making the processes simpler and controlled in this way can make it much more consistent and repeatable - making life easier for the dealership team, and enhancing Customer Service.

Be a central source-of-truth for information

Every customer and transactional interaction that occurs in a different system means that when searching for information every one of these systems may need review.

Let's take the example of a customer enquiry.

If you wanted to review the customer enquiry process, you may need to check the following : -

  • The customer transaction history in Aftersales
  • The customer's last vehicle purchase
  • The details of the customer's last enquiry
  • Emails sent to and from the customer
  • Details of test drives
  • Provenance checks on his part exchange
  • Part Exchange Valuations
  • FCA Compliance checks (has he been sent an Initial Disclosure for example)

Looking back on the business processes, and how your DMS should be simplifying these, you can see that the DMS becomes the source of truth.

Looking at the above items, whilst there are several separate processes and systems involved, if the DMS is interfacing and controlling each of these, it becomes the "Source of Truth".   It should be possible to simply review a customer enquiry in your DMS and see all of the above in a single system.    It should be easy to check which sales enquiries haven't yet had an Initial Disclosure sent for example.

Your Dealer Management System should be the complete source of truth of all customer and prospect interaction.  

The benefits in terms of efficiency in Management Reporting, maintaining consistency should be clear.

Distribute information to everyone who needs it

Again, this follows on from the two items above.

Information is power.

Information empowers your team to deliver great customer service.

Information delivers sales and profit.

So, for example, if a customer books in for a service, and your service team can see that the customer has enquired on a new car - seeing which model they are interested in can ensure that they offer a courtesy car of the model he's interested in.    

If they can't see this information, the opportunity is lost.

Similarly, if a Sales Executive can see his prospect is booked in for a service, they can use this as a call to action to complete a sale ie "Buy a new car now, and you won't need to pay for that service...."

This builds on the Process and Source of Truth details to use information collated and distributing it to the people that need to know it.

The list is endless.    If a Sales Executive needs to know if the preparation of car due for handover the following day is complete, they should be able to tell in a single click in the Sales Enquiry.  

Your Dealer Management System should be able to facilitate this.

Record and account for every transaction in the dealership

This is the traditional concept that a Dealer Management System is used for.    For creating invoices, keeping control of Stock and generating Accounting and Financial Management Information.

Even here though, the Dealer Management System of 2023 is different.  These tasks should be integrated into workflows to minimise the process.

A great example is the raising of a vehicle sales invoice.

Traditionally, whilst the vehicle sales order is generated by a Sales Executive, an Administrator would need to re-enter this into the DMS to record the Sales Order and then be able to process the invoice.

This would potentially create several issues.   Firstly, delays.    A sales order might be created today, but not entered into the DMS by the administrator until tomorrow, so the vehicle would appear as unsold for an extra day.    Cars can easily be sold twice if the DMS stock list is created daily for the Sales Team!  

Similarly, if an administrator copy-types a sales order into the DMS, this creates administrator time requirements and also a risk of error.

Today, it should be expected that a Sales Executive should build a sale in the Sales Enquiry - linking the Sales Vehicle, Creating the Part Exchange and adding on the finance products and add-ons as they naturally go through the sales process.  

The actual sales order becomes a simple button process which collates all the information entered as they go along to generate a Sales Order.     This is automatically linked to the Vehicle record, marking it as sold and making subsequent invoicing a single click process.    The administrative role becomes a simple "Sales Order sense check" rather than a copy-typing role.    

The Sales Executive generates the sales order very quickly with very little additional administration time as most of the process is integrated into the sales process anyway.

This highlights one item in your dealership that a Dealer Management System should be making in 2023, but there are literally dozens of others.

For example, why shouldn't the multi-point vehicle check on used vehicles - carried out by the workshop - be automatically available on a vehicle stock record - without anybody in the dealership doing anything specific to do so ?

Conclusion and Next Steps

Hopefully, this article has highlighted the potential of a Dealer Management System in 2023, so you can look at your existing solutions to check that you are using them to their maximum.      

If not, then you also have an insight of some of the advantages that other systems may provide.

in 2023, Does your existing Dealer Management System do all that it can do for you ?

You don't know what you don't know !

Read our article on the subject

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Would not hesitate to recommend Navigator DMS.

John Macleod
Lawrence of Kemnay
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