The finding from research by Pinewood shows that the sector is well behind IT developments in other retail industries and, as a result, customer service is suffering.
Neville Briggs, Pinewood's managing director, says: "The problem here is a historical one. For many years, motor manufacturers specified to dealers exactly which DMS systems they could use and, as a result, the leading DMS providers were handed an effective monopoly, soon became complacent and eventually failed to innovate.
“Dealers therefore came to expect very little from their DMS. It was almost seen as nothing more than part of the cost of running a franchise, and expectations that it would actually help the efficiency of the business were very low.”
Briggs says this scenario has created an attitude among franchise dealers where IT opportunities are treated with suspicion and where technological innovation is rare.
He explained: “Dealers feel that they have invested in IT in the past and got little in return, so why should they bother again? This contrasts strongly with other retail industries where IT is seen as an investment that will create new efficiencies, higher service standards and new business opportunities.”
Examples of new technologies that Pinewood say are passing many dealers by include online credit card processing, text notification of services and advanced methods of marketing data mining.