Midlands-based group Colliers also runs a dual platform, supplementing its DMS with Contact Advantage, which is preferred for its reporting suite.
Alison Minns, group marketing and database manager, said: “Our sales teams operate a daily diary of follow-up calls and the DMS is constantly monitored for data capture and maintenance.
"The time to obtain information is when the customer is in the dealership as back-filling of information is risky.”
Grants Seat is running tight processes with its Manheim and Gemini Evolution platforms.
Katie Williams, communications manager, said: “We can be totally targeted with our marketing to get key messages, event details and offers to the right people quickly and efficiently.
"We are getting excellent value from our systems, although this is largely down to the disciplines we have in place to keep our data clean and current, rather than particular functionality.”
Pentagon, an Autoline user, manages its prospecting using Reef and its on-going CRM activities using a combination of Reef and Autoline functionality.
James Reeve, marketing director, summed up how to make CRM work: “It’s all about process, with everyone having to do the same thing.
"We use a variety of trigger email and SMS tools at various points in the sales cycle and carry out comprehensive data cleansing cycles to maintain data integrity.”
Wessex Garages also runs a dual platform – again with Manheim sitting alongside its DMS and with its sales admin department responsible for managing data integration.
Jason Pritchard, group marketing manager, highlighted the main processes as activity recording, data capture, periodic cleansing using DVLA and HPI data, continual database cleansing and management reporting.
Across the retail automotive industry it is recognised that customers have more power than ever to acquire product information and locate the dealers offering the best terms, thus being better prepared to negotiate.
Taking that on board, Reynolds and Reynolds are launching Retail Management System (RMS), a comprehensive set of tools with elements designed to work together and share vital information.
Howard Barnett, R&R marketing manager, said: “The DMS continues to be a ‘dealership’ tool, but it is not a ‘retail’ tool.
"The new RMS reflects how we now view automotive retailing. Guiding dealership staff through their tasks, the integrated contact management component in the RMS connects multiple contact points to manage sales and service history and prevents leads slipping through the cracks.”
Also included will be an integrated telephone system and an F&I solution called DocPAD. An interesting development as part of the RMS is a full-service managed marketing solution whereby R&R provides a marketing analyst who will work with the dealer to create and deliver segmented marketing campaigns through a variety of media.
Incorporating management reports, R&R says its approach is to turn the DMS database into a ‘marketing engine’.
Social media is now widely used across the retail motor sector, but we have only just begun to scratch the surface of its potential.
CRM, with integrated social media content, will surely grow in significance for dealers and developers alike.
Marketing Delivery’s SmartMail, for example, already allows for customer CSI inputs to be pushed to Facebook with promotional messages sent to Facebook and Twitter.
Looking ahead, although there’s a fistful of uncertainties and imponderables, the automotive CRM products are functionally very capable and offer lots of opportunities.
It’s interesting that some dealer organisations have chosen to partner with non-auto IT specialists (see FordRetailOnline below) and more generic products such as Salesforce.
Irrespective of the platforms being used, there is a lot of marketing potential in exploiting the ‘management’ bit of CRM. Godbold believes CRM/data marketing will be the biggest area of growth.
“Marketers and dealers now need to up their game to transform raw data into advanced marketing strategies with proper foundations to do so,” he said.
“This means being clear about how to determine the quality data that will generate high-quality insights, which sources deliver quality data and how to analyse data effectively.
"CRM brings value by enabling dealers to predict their customer buying cycle, trends and behaviour.
"Actionable insights are then used to optimise the effect of marketing campaigns.”
It would be great to move towards a more open approach for data integration and a wider range of mobile devices. Top of Williams’s wish list is ‘integration’.
She said: “Progress in this area would give us more time to sell cars and service department hours.
"Despite there being lots of CRM systems that are ‘answers to our prayers’, no one has yet come up with a holistic approach.”