4 Key Steps to Upgrade Your Dealer Management System (DMS) Successfully

Transitioning your Dealer Management System (DMS) is crucial for staying ahead. Many dealership owners delay this upgrade due to fears of change and disruption among staff. But switching your DMS doesn’t have to be overwhelming. To help guide you through this transition, we tapped into insights from Susan Moll, Vice President of Client Implementation at Cox Automotive.

Dealer principals and general managers often postpone this move until it’s absolutely necessary. Susan Moll explains that many dealerships have stuck with the same system for years, leading to outdated customer lists and records that need sorting through. In a recent interview with the team at Jim Browne Auto Group, Moll reassured that transitioning to a new dealer management system doesn’t have to be intimidating.

Here are Susan’s four essential keys to a successful DMS switch:

Step 1: Planning Is Key

Before diving in, collaborate with your management team and future partner to outline a clear roadmap for implementing the new technology. During this planning phase, identify the key stakeholders who will be involved and determine their roles and responsibilities. Establish a timeline detailing how and when the transition will occur – typically taking around 90 days from start to finish. This timeline should include specific milestones and checkpoints to ensure the project stays on track. Additionally, incorporate planning and training sessions for your team to ensure they are well-prepared and confident in using the new technology. Regular updates and open communication channels are crucial to address any issues and make necessary adjustments throughout the process.

Step 2: Engage Your Team Champions

Successful dealer management system transitions rely on dedicated team members throughout each department who are eager to learn and drive change forward. Identify these champions early in the process and provide them with the necessary resources and incentives as you roll out the new technology. These team champions will play a vital role in facilitating learning and training initiatives by acting as liaisons between management and staff. Their enthusiasm and commitment can help motivate their colleagues and ensure a smoother, more efficient transition. Additionally, consider offering regular feedback sessions and training updates to keep them engaged and informed throughout the implementation process.

Step 3: Foster Open Communication

Develop your change-management skills as they are crucial during significant technological shifts like adopting a new Document Management System (DMS). Aligning organizational goals with core values is a great starting point. It’s essential to maintain an open-door policy for employees to voice their frustrations, concerns, and suggestions. Ensure there are transparent and regular communication channels from leadership down to every team member. This can include town hall meetings, regular updates via email, or even dedicated time for one-on-one discussions. Moll emphasizes that successful implementations begin with top-level support, which sets the tone for the entire organization and promotes a culture of openness and adaptability.

Step 4: Familiarize Yourself with the New Technology

Getting acquainted with the new dealer management system requires time and practice. Your team will access training sessions within a “sandbox” environment to get hands-on experience with the system. These sessions are designed to simulate real-world scenarios, allowing team members to explore various functionalities without risk. Although Dealertrack is rated as the #1 user-friendly DMS, it will differ from your current tool, presenting new features and workflows that you will need to understand thoroughly. Taking the time to master these differences will ensure a smooth transition and maximize the benefits of the new system.

Ready yourself for a smooth transition between DMS solutions by covering these fundamentals. Effective preparation ensures your staff is well-equipped once you make the switch.

Looking for more insights? Dive into our tips below to seamlessly embrace your new dealer management system solution today!


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