By Steve Johnson
Improving efficiency, streamlining business processes or making life easier are or should be on the to-do list for every dealer’s IT systems. Furthermore, enhancing profitability and competitive advantage and meeting customers’ heightened expectations are more important than ever.
Dealers looking to develop their use of their IT systems have plenty of opportunities available, whether in their core dealership management system (DMS) or in more specialist applications. There are good reasons, therefore, to regularly assess the value of what these systems are delivering, rather than just ticking the functionality boxes.
AM asked a selection of suppliers for their opinions and advice in five areas – digital marketing, used car stocking, aftersales management, demonstrator and courtesy vehicles, management information and finance reporting.
Dealers looking to maximise the value from their digital marketing activities face a clear choice – either focus on using the DMS with its integrated functionality or choose an additional solution with dedicated capabilities.
If the DMS does the job, it would seem logical to keep things on a single platform and avoid the data management issues that may arise with bringing in a parallel solution. To make the most of DMS functionality, it helps to have staff who not only understand how best to drive the system, but also have the necessary blend of marketing skills and experience.
However, given the specialist and fast-moving world of digital marketing, a solution that is purpose-built is likely to be more successful. Notwithstanding the challenges of DMS data integration, it’s results that will count for most dealers.
Jeremy Evans, managing director of Marketing Delivery, said customers’ expectations have moved on considerably in recent times.
“In our experience, DMS developments in mobile responsive emails, link triggering, conditional content, social media etc, are lagging somewhat behind and are expensive.
“Outsourcing digital marketing makes it much easier for dealers to keep up to date with technology and best practice, allowing them to focus on managing inbound contact activities.”
Although digital marketing is geared mostly towards improving conversion rates and customer retention activities, Marketing Delivery reported that the best results were achieved when used alongside personal follow-up contacts, whether in sales or aftersales areas.
The future appears to be about achieving a blend of using available technologies in best practice terms, harmonised with the personal touch in the dealership. The ‘big company’ approach, with contact or customer service centres, provides the efficiencies. Conventional contact types, whether by phone, email, SMS or social media, build the relationships.