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Why Imperial Cars shunned an off-the-shelf DMS - guest opinion

Neil Smith, operations director, Imperial Cars

Over the past decade, the industry has been progressively investing more time and resource into streamlining internal processes through management systems.

Although it’s common to find a compromise in off-the-shelf products (which can no doubt be cost effective and massively helpful to small dealers), it’s also common for these products to rarely meet specific business needs.

Finding the right and most profitable solution was the reason that led us to invest into our own in-house development team to build the bespoke dealer management system Imperial Net featuring the tools buyer assist, pricing, CRM, preparation flow management and advertising.

Each one of these tools is a bespoke solution to needs we - and, arguably, the majority of the players in the industry - couldn’t fulfill simply plugging in off-the-shelf management softwares. Just a few of these needs were:

  • Creating a fully data-driven buying process
  • Automatically repricing stock daily, in-line with current market values
  • Integrating enquiry data with contact management system and showroom sales process
  • Managing all incoming stock through the vehicle preparation process

The tool that helped us find the biggest efficiencies to date is, undoubtedly, preparation flow management.

The tool intelligently tells us where the vehicles are and where they need to be next to get through the preparation process as quickly as possible; all this by looking at workload and allocating jobs in a certain order to maximise the time in each queue. 

It currently takes six to eight days on average to take a car through the preparation process, compared to 14 days on average before the tool was implemented.

Another tool that  significantly contributed to revenue increase is pricing. Since pulling all pricing data in from platforms such as AutoTrader and Cox Automotive’s Vehicle Insight, we’re able to automate some of that pricing and make sure we’re tracking market values way more accurately than if we were manually pricing the cars.

Last but not least, we’ve also registered dramatic improvements in process and efficiency since implementing buyer assist, specifically improvements to the way acquired vehicle data are captured, and the ability to share information regarding transport arrangement and preparation centre workload planning.

Buyer assist also allows for remote management of multiple auctions and catalogues, and makes structural appraisal of vehicles at auction lot numbers possible by bringing together useful market data related to the vehicle, which may not be available from the auction house data. 

Author: Neil Smith, Imperial Cars

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