Does your dealership desperately need new technology, but the idea of making a huge change keep you up at night? The longer you wait, the worse it feels to face the challenge. Change management for technology transitions is a hard role. But with new technology comes new opportunity, and the outcome is worth it. We spoke with Cox Auto’s Senior Director of Field Services, Susan Moll, to learn Leadership Lessons on technology transitions, and to get her perspective on using best practices for making the switch to a new DMS. Susan is responsible for all Dealertrack DMS transitions for franchise dealerships across the USA. With over 35 years of automotive industry experience, she’s seen the good, the bad, and the downright scary when it comes to technology transitions. Here are her top three technology transition tips.
#1 Let Go Of Legacy Processes
When your dealership decides to invest in new technology, and you begin the process of transitioning, it’s time to let it go. This is your golden opportunity to take a step back. According to Susan, “A new DMS installation is the perfect time to think through old processes that were put in place to support the technology.” Just because your dealership has been running reports one way since you were onboarded years ago, doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Susan explains, “Today’s dealers need to think about the right process to run their businesses and let their processes drive the technology—not the other way around.” Often, the most senior member of your particular team came onboard to a legacy technology or platform that was adopted years before they were hired. The original setup may have been lacking, or the reports your dealership required at that time have likely changed. Talk to your vendor about your needs – now – and go from there.
#2 Standardize Your Systems
If your dealership operates with multiple locations, implementing a new technology—especially a new DMS—is a great opportunity to set up standards across multiple departments in different stores. For example, your location across town might have a unique way for handling internal RO’s. This may have been overlooked when you acquired that store. Susan explains, “This is an excellent chance for your whole organization to start fresh and aim for increased efficiencies, reporting, more cost effective processes.” Get everyone on the same page and build SOPs: Standard Operating Procedures. This also makes hiring and moving team members to different locations, and even group trainings, more fluid.
#3 Have a Plan and Get Support
The best thing you can do before installing a new DMS or any other technology is to determine the game plan and get buy-in from the top down. “Having the senior leadership on board with the change and supporting the change sets the expectation and example for all the dealership employees to also support the change,” says Susan. This is your chance to decide if you’re going to have each department move all at once, or move the company in chunks. You need to decide if each store will flip the switch together, or if one team will pilot your technology first. Whatever you decide, make a plan, and make sure everyone is aware. Your dealership can hold a town hall meetings, distribute emails or hold weekly standing meetings to discuss progress; just be sure to have leadership drive the change. If you leave this major change to the front-line, you’re missing a major step. Susan explains, “This is a major success factor: We are in this together and it starts at the top of your organization. Change is hard and we need support.”
Technology change is intimidating. But, it’s also a chance for new opportunities. Nothing in the automotive industry stays static for very long. “Business requirements change, personnel requirements change…,” Susan says, “…and dealers are facing increased competition and an increased focus on the consumer from the OEMs.” Your team is ready to make the move, and you can do it. With a solid strategy of letting go of old, outdated practices, a focus on standardization, and with strong leadership support, you’ll be on your way, fast!
Join Susan Moll and Automotive News on July 16 at the live webinar: New Technology, New Opportunity: How One Dealership’s Transition Drove Immediate Success.