By Steve Johnson
Automotive IT companies are increasingly concentrating on integration and mobile technology in developing dealership management systems that meet customers’ needs to boost efficiency, reduce costs and improve the customer experience.
Mobile technology is making a measurable impact in how dealers are using IT as part of the sales and vehicle presentation process and DMS providers are moving to extend its usefulness to other areas of the dealership.
CDK Global, which signed network-wide deals with Toyota and Volkswagen this year, recently launched Mobile Showroom – a tablet-based extension of the company’s Autoline Drive system. The company said the new system would enable dealers to interact more productively with customers by blending traditional desk-based processes with mobile technology.
Neil Packham, UK managing director, said integration is at the centre of CDK’s product strategy.
“We have a proven track record of meeting the changing expectations of customers in today’s retail environment. Dealer groups are looking for consistency across networks and CDK is the only company offering fully integrated solutions that still provide flexibility for individual franchises.”
The significance of tablets as a sales tool is echoed by James Hill, sales operations director of Dealerweb.
“So far this year, 19% of sessions recorded on our cloud-based Evo 8 showroom system have been carried out on iPads.”
Dealerweb recently launched DealerwebPro – a part-exchange appraisal app. Also iPad-based, it’s designed to provide a more professional and consistent approach to valuing vehicles.
“Mobile technology is making a measurable impact in how dealers are using IT as part of the sales and vehicle presentation process and DMS providers are moving to extend its usefulness to other areas of the dealership”
On the integration front, manufacturer-dealer communications remains a significant area for system development.
DMS Navigator, which said it has just had its best-ever sales period, has been adding more manufacturer interfaces to its catalogue.
Managing director Simon Verona said: “DMS Navigator now plays with the ‘big boys’. While we plan a major role in the Ford and Renault networks, we are also ensuring that the dealers who make up our current customer base continue to benefit.”
The company recently launched its integrated AutoVHC system, which gives dealers the ability to generate additional aftersales revenue.
With pricing an ever present consideration in IT buying decisions, DMS Navigator is pressing ahead with a particularly competitive strategy to win business.
“We pledge to deliver free, lifetime updates for all of our users,” said Verona.
Pinewood, too, makes a robust case for the benefits of fortnightly updates for every user. With every customer on the same cloud-based software, the company only has a single product platform to support.
Pinewood said it has strengthened its development team to support its customers.
Managing director Neville Briggs said: “With our system being updated every two weeks, we are continually providing our customers with an ever more powerful business tool. This allows them to develop new profit opportunities, enhance their customer service offering and gain process efficiencies throughout their business.”
Pinewood’s recent acquisition of Ebbon Dacs’s business has given the company the opportunity to migrate more users to the Pinnacle DMS.
”The more established groups are becoming frustrated with poor, slow product enhancements twinned with unfounded upgrade fees. They have chosen Pinnacle for its ever evolving functionality and our approach to help them achieve financial and customer experience goals,” said Briggs.
Cooper Solutions reported strong demand for its specialised FullForecast and FullControl business information tools.
The company has integrated its software with financial data from sources such as Experian and CAP to support dealers’ decision-making processes.
Director Dean Pipitone said: “The software centralises the key information via self-service reporting, empowering the user and increasing the visibility of actionable data that is otherwise difficult to produce.”
The company said customer feedback was a primary driver for its recent installations. Dealers called for changes allowing them to standardise, automate and streamline business processes, particularly where their current systems lack the required capabilities.
Cooper Solutions said the scrapping of the paper counterpart driving licence has led to an increased demand for its FullCover product. Capable of validating driving history in just a few seconds, it is used as part of the underwriting process for courtesy vehicle insurance.
“We now have 1,675 dealers using FullCover,” said Pipitone.
Razoom said interest is also growing in its cloud-based, aftersales suite, CustomerVue. Moving away from delivering traditional productivity and efficiency-centred functions, CustomerVue applications are designed to address customer engagement and communication processes.
Thom Rockliff, chief marketing officer, said: “We put a lot of emphasis on listening carefully to what dealers need and are taking a very open position with DMS integration. For us, a bi-directional flow of information is essential to deliver the best solutions for the marketplace.
“It all comes down to the bottom line and improving customer retention. We believe applications that improve the service department experience for the customer are the way forward.”