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Best-Practices: Vendor Management and Consolidation

Jun 06, 2013

There is not a lot of published data about CRM utilization rates. Interestingly, CRMs at car dealerships remind me of those folks that buy SUVs that never leave the asphalt both are powerful machines that are rarely used to their fullest. My (educated) guess is that usage follows the all-too-familiar 80/20 rule trend perpetuating the chasm between those that produce, and those that flounder.

First of all, Id like to note that this is not only a technology problem, it is actually a three-pronged problem involving your talent, your showroom, and your technology. And as your salesforce becomes younger, YOU WOULD THINK, this problem would subside. But it doesnt.

True, Gen Yers have stronger technology skills, yet, their experience seems to be less incompatible with the traditional car business culture, philosophy, and compensation keeping us at 80/20.

Bare with me Im not digressing, rather, setting the stage for the root issue up for discussion.

Technology is advancing rapidly and we are not using it (as we could). Todays customers respond to an evolved fusion of a modern dealership (showroom) culture and a technologically driven sales process. See this case study published by Bloomberg Businessweek and their Audi case study.

Popcorn, hot dogs and balloons arent cutting it anymore!

All dealers by now have heard of CRM, and thankfully most have signed up for one. And now dealers are supposed to entertain Big Data?

So we know we have a talent problem. Showroom culture is a problem. We also know that we have a technology problem in the sense that, a) we under-utilize what we have, and, b) are often behind the times with respect to other industries. So why dont we look (and work) closer to those who provide this technology to discover how can we improve our relationships and achieve better utilization (which will lead to all the +X# cars/month they promised when they sold it to you, right?!)

First of all, I for one believe that when properly trained and managed, most technology investments do pay off in incremental sales that produce stated ROI.

What I would like you to think about is consolidating technology and vendors. This can be accomplished several ways.

- Work (and invest) with larger consolidators of technology (get one bill with multiple tools.) - Work with multiple vendors that are highly integrated.

One important note many large companies acquire technology and therefore, they may not be the best integrated. In other words, be warned that even though the billing is centralized, this might not be good consolidation of technology from a functional or data viewpoint.

You should search for vendors that both stack or integrate solutions (integrating push-pull data) to improve the sales process, and focus on the integrity of back-end data for automation, analyzing sources, tracking performance by stage, compliance, accountability, etc., etc.

In summary: Consolidate providers so long as it does not sacrifice integration, data integrity, access or cost savings. Often times you can find a vendor to consolidate services while saving you money on integrated services / features.

I will give two examples of vendors I know well:

1) DealersLink An advanced dealer-to-dealer marketplace that integrates a trading platform with big boy used car management, valuation data, and analytics tools.

2) Advent Resources, Inc. A high performance sales system / emerging DMS develops proprietary integrated features (CRM, etc.) and they manage to keep up with technology, marketing, and social media trends. Their development method and value proposition works well for both them and their dealer clients.

These are just two excellent examples of vendor-partners at the forefront of industry technology and progression that save dealers money, streamline data, increase utilization, and better enable the consolidation and management of vendors.

The objective here is to think about ways to:
- Save money.
- Manage vendor reps, support, and training your staff to utilize technology.
- Preserve, access, and recall better/bigger data.

To learn more about DealersLink
CONTACT: Travis Wise at 877-859-7080 x302 travis.wise@dealerslink.com