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IT-savvy dealers leading industry out of recession

A new generation of IT-savvy dealer managers are playing a key part in starting to lead the dealer sector out of the economic downturn, says Pinewood.

The dealer management software company identified an “iPod generation” of dealer managers in early 2008, and says that their arrival at the start of the recession proved timely.

Managing director Neville Briggs explained that through the work that Pinewood had done with dealers over the last 12 months, it could see that those who were most confident with technology were usually the most adaptable in business and were also achieving the best financial results.

He said: "One of the few upsides of a recession is that it can prompt businesses to investigate and adopt ideas that would otherwise perhaps be seen as simply too radical.

"This has been the backdrop against which ‘iPod generation’ dealer managers have come to the fore during the last year because they are often more dynamic than their traditional peers, making better use through technology of the reduced number of opportunities present in the dealer market."

Briggs said the key area where iPod generation managers had scored over the last year was in making the best use of CRM – especially when it came to aftersales and used cars.

He said: "The best dealers have for many years made intelligent use of the technology available to them, recording information about customers and applying it to effective CRM strategies. However, they have been in the minority.

"Now, dealer managers in their 20s and 30s who grew up with PCs, own an MP3 player and have a Facebook account, have been using DMS technology to a much fuller potential.

"They have worked hard to ensure that customers are closely tied to them through a high quality of communication for aftersales activity and that used car sale opportunities are maximised by matching vehicles to potential buyers."

Briggs added that these managers had frequently abandoned traditional marketing methods in favour of newer technology.

He said: "As an example, you only need to pick up a local newspaper to see that used car advertising by dealers is vastly reduced. Instead of using broad marketing methods of this type, younger dealer managers instead work to target customers on a much more individualised basis.

"A good example of this is by ‘vehicle matching’ used cars – taking successive trade-ins on a cascading basis to enable sales to two or three customers with different budgets."

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