Most dealerships I talk to are hyper-focused on building a better business for their employees and customers. The most successful automotive groups I work with are always one or two moves ahead. They’re putting in the work to make sure the tools and technology are streamlining workflows so they can focus less on the busy work and focus more on their customers and staff. It’s not always easy. But the tools and capabilities exist to ensure the success of your business—and with the right partner at your side, you can most certainly get there. If you’ve partnered with a DMS who has your best interests at heart, they can help you get there. Here are some of the key areas of focus—in my experience—that will ensure the overall success of your dealership.
Focus On Delivering a Better Payment Process
Simply put, you need to take a hard look at the number of slow, manual processes taking place at every transaction, payment process, and accounting capability within your business. And then modernize it. Conveniences like point-of-sale and contactless payment in our day-to-day life are normal and expected everywhere else—why shouldn’t they be expected within your service lane? If you can both improve cash flow to your dealership via email billing services and get paid faster, why wouldn’t you? I would take this concept one step further (if you’re not convinced) and explain that automation and digitization of payment processes not only will reduce human error, but also creates digital receipts for all your transactions. Everything a dealer can do to protect themselves and improve accuracy is a major win in my book.
Focus on Digital Documentation
As we’ve seen over the past several years in the automotive industry, compliance and security rules are becoming stricter. In my opinion, this trend will continue to the benefit of both the dealer and the consumer. Protecting yourself as a business is going to require you to become more and more diligent as contracts and transactions are digitized. The good news is that, with the right DMS partner, you should have the ability to sync back your data every time you engage with your customers. Whether you’re capturing signatures automatically within the DMS or auto-filling form during the financing process, you’re not only offering more convenience for your buyer, but you’re also creating a (digital) paper trail that helps protect both parties. A secure document management solution will streamline your workflows and simplify your back-office operations. Compliance and fraud risk are real issues that are, unfortunately, a matter of when, not if, they will occur for most dealerships.
Focus on the Data That Matters Most
The daily data battle has long been an issue for dealers. I don’t need to remind you that your DMS is a gold mine of information that can help you make informed business decisions now and in the long run. But knowing which reports to run and where to begin to optimize efficiency without wasting your time can save countless hours. First, if you’re not partnered with a business consultant who has your best interest at heart, I feel for you. A Performance Manager with years of real dealership management experience can hold your team to task on things such as data extraction, KPI tracking, and goal setting. Are you tracking your Effective Labor Rate in the Service Department? How are you managing your contracts in transit in the business office? Are you using Dealertrack Digital Contracting to improve your cash flow? While everyone likes to review information differently, your DMS has the data, and your Performance Manager can help you manage it.
Focus on People Power
In my experience, staff turnover continues to be one of the biggest challenges for dealers, whether times are “challenging” or not. In fact, last time we checked, a dealership will need to rehire and retrain over 80% of its sales team every year. Your back-office team has a difficult job. Hiring and onboarding are only part of their role. If you’re considering optimizing any one key area of your dealership this year, it needs to be your HR and Payroll. Tax laws, compliance rules, and payments get beyond complex the more your business grows. As you add rooftops and expand your business, your needs will grow—and change—consistently. Your investment in this area will pay off immensely if you can integrate the technology you use into your people solutions as you make onboarding more professional.
Technology is never a “set-it-and-forget-it” process. Fortunately, the technology capabilities exist, today, to adapt. My team is constantly learning how to empower our dealer partners and set your dealership up for continued success. If you’re interested in learning how to optimize and streamline, your Dealer Management System for the future, reach out today.
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About the Author | Jade Mitchell, Sr. Manager of Client Performance Management
Jade Mitchell is a Sr. Manager of Client Performance Management who works with dealerships to maximize DMS utilization, as well as drive processes and profit improvement. Jade believes that the Automotive Industry is a game of inches in today’s world, so taking a deep dive with our dealers into their financials and processes by using the data that the DMS provides can make a huge impact on their success. Jade came to Cox Automotive in 2019 after working in automotive dealerships for over two decades. He started washing and detailing vehicles when he was only 13 years old which led to him becoming a finance manager at a very young age and spending the next decade in management. In addition to his passion for the Automotive Industry, Jade runs his nonprofit organization: Stay Positive Stay Aggressive Inc, which he established in 2013 to assist local families struggling with medical bills due to life-threatening illnesses. Recently, Jade and his wife Aubrey welcomed their first child into the world so between Dealertrack and daddy duty he is truly working 24/7 these days.