But what does all this consolidation mean for dealers?
Geoff Miller, sales director at Pinewood and Kerridge ex-director, says things have changed in the UK DMS market post Block Exemption. He says: “The top players got complacent, even arrogant. I think they felt like their products were unbeatable and their position within the market unassailable. Post Block Exemption a number of smaller DMS providers appeared and began to take share from the established names.”
Integrating a system
Arguably, the events which led to a profound change in the DMS market can be traced back further still. Miller feels it was Kerridge’s courage in the recession-hit Nineties that helped propel the company to number one spot in the UK.
“A lot of providers made redundancies in a bid to reduce costs and batten down the hatches. Being a family-owned business, Kerridge decided to reinvest and re-tool, meaning they came out that period streets ahead of the competition,” he says. Miller recalls Kerridge’s share being around 54% of the market by the late Nineties.
In the past, a dealer would phone the manufacturer for its approved provider, which essentially meant a choice between Kerridge or Kalamazoo. Now, once a DMS provider has written an interface, all other providers have access to it – meaning if a provider wants to aggressively go for a relationship with a retail group, they can write the same interfaces as the carmakers’ endorsed products.
Integration is the buzzword in today’s DMS market. To fully integrate a system with the needs of the car manufacturer is a long, hard and expensive undertaking, though a vital one, as MMI Automotive managing director David Hayward explains.
“Integration is becoming far more important than endorsement. Today there needs to be a two-way flow of information between the DMS provider and vehicle manufacturer. Dealers look at a DMS and want to know, ‘does it work’, and ‘does it talk to the manufacturer?’,” he says...(Continues in August 25 issue of AM)