The dealership management system (DMS) is the backbone of an auto dealership’s operations. This software controls and reports on a dealer’s functions and departments, including accounting, sales, inventory management, fixed operations, and F&I.
Savvy owners and managers use their DMS to streamline store operations and work more efficiently. This is especially important given the challenges and changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked. Here are three ways you can use DMS features to improve your efficiency, customer service, and bottom line.
A DMS usually includes a customer relationship management (CRM) component. However, many dealerships aren’t getting the most bang from their CRM that they could be. When used properly, a CRM can help you better manage customer interactions and target promotional offers to prospects in the market for a new or used vehicle.
For starters, employees must enter all customer information into the CRM system as soon as they have it. (Don’t just write the information on a piece of paper card and stick it in a desk or file folder.) This way, the data can be accessed quickly and easily throughout the dealership, and leads can be followed up promptly while they’re still fresh.
A CRM isn’t just for sales, either — it also can beef up efficiency in the service department. For example, service technicians can take notes (including videos of vehicle walkarounds) and store them in the CRM system for reference. This makes it easier to offer personalized recommendations to customers the next time they visit, which may boost customer satisfaction, retention, and the bottom line.
Many customers today are comfortable receiving texts and emails about everything from doctor’s appointments to home repairs. You can capitalize on this by using your DMS to send text and email alerts to customers for a broad range of purposes.
For example, your service department can send messages to remind customers when maintenance work is due, confirm existing appointments, obtain work order approvals, or let customers know their vehicles are ready for pickup. This tends to be much less disruptive for customers and more efficient for your employees than making phone calls. You can even use text and email to send targeted marketing messages to customers and prospects, with their permission.
Some dealership management systems include a module that allows service technicians to greet customers outside the service bay with an iPad or tablet. This allows them to start the write-up process before the customer even exits the vehicle. Using the tablet, technicians can scan the license plate and VIN to access all the customer and vehicle information, including the electronic multipoint inspection (MPI) form, OEM information, and previously recommended service estimates. This can help speed up and simplify the check-in process so technicians can get to work sooner and turn vehicles around faster.
Auto dispatch is another common DMS module that can help boost service department efficiency and profitability. When technicians need a part, they can enter it into the system and it’s automatically brought to them in their bay, cutting down on the wasted time spent leaving the bay. And since technician notes are typed into the electronic repair order instead of being handwritten, service advisors no longer have to waste time deciphering illegible technician handwriting.
Thriving in the post-pandemic world will require a laser-like focus on efficiency — or, in other words, working smarter than ever before. Ensuring that your DMS integrates seamlessly with your third-party vendors or services is integral to maintaining an efficient and productive operation. Meet with your managers about how you can tap into your DMS to boost your store’s financial performance.
Your dealership management system (DMS) produces a range of reports that can help your store operate more efficiently and profitably — if you know how to use them. One of these is the daily operating control (DOC) report.
As the name implies, this report shows how each department in your store is performing financially by generating daily key performance indicators (KPIs). Examples include total dealership gross, selling and operating expenses, open repair orders, and operating profit or loss.
The key to getting the most benefit from your DOC report is ensuring rigorous, timely data collection. In addition, the parameters in your DMS must be properly linked between the Finance and Insurance (F&I) and accounting modules. Otherwise, the gross profits on vehicle sales in the report will be inaccurate.
Set firm deadlines for the F&I and sales departments to finalize their deals for processing and posting each day. For instance, you could require that F&I deals be completed for processing by 7 a.m. and car sales posted by 10 a.m. for them to show up on that day’s DOC report.
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