Dealer Management Systems: An Industry Ripe for Change

General, Industry

So, how do you really feel about your dealer management system (DMS)? Is your customer support center available when you need them? Are you limited in your third-party options? Does your DMS improve the customer experience at your dealership? Does your DMS help you streamline your deals?

Autosoft recently conducted a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey that revealed the current overall state of opinion regarding the DMS industry is low. Frustrations are reaching a boiling point.

We conducted the study after realizing we were receiving an unusually high number of DMS inquiries this year (especially from people currently using one of “the Big 2” providers). As we talked to inquirers about their frustrations with their current DMS, we heard, too often, that instead of helping a dealership achieve its goals, the DMS was simply getting in the way.

Autosoft NPS

According to our study, on a scale of -100 to +100, the DMS industry’s overall NPS score came out to approximately -37, meaning there were far more detractors (unhappy customers who will speak unfavorably about the product or service) than promoters (loyal, enthusiastic customers who will repeat business and refer others).

This score for the DMS industry is comparable to consumers’ views of the airline industry, where consumers generally harbor low opinions of the airlines and feel their choices are too limited.

Luckily, when it comes to a DMS, you do have options.

Are you ready to re-evaluate your options? Are you one of the many already seeking a different solution?

In your search for a better dealer management system, here are some suggestions to consider:

1. Drill Deeply Into Customer Support

Most dealer management systems don’t really differ all that much in terms of functionality. Ultimately, all will get the job done. So, a different, and just as important, question to ask is, “Can I rely on this company for support when I need it?”

Some providers have outsourced their support call centers to other countries. Others have segmented their customer base by various criteria and only focus on a certain top percentage. Still, others have become so large, the company is simply spread too thin to properly assist customers.

If you are considering changing your DMS provider, be sure to get an intimate understanding of the support and service you can expect from a provider. Ask to meet the head of support and hear an explanation from their own lips. The way a provider structures and delivers support will tell you a lot about the provider themselves and how important you are to them as a customer.

2. Confirm You Have the Freedom to Choose Your Partners

A DMS system should give you the flexibility to choose the partners with whom you want to do business. Whether it’s CRM, marketing, F&I, vehicle inventory, or another area where you want to partner with a third-party vendor, you should have the freedom to do business with the partners that help you generate the best customer experience while maximizing profits.

Does the DMS provider permit you to choose? Do they force you to do business with only those companies in which they have a financial claim?

3. Use Independent Reviews

The automotive retail industry is still very much a “word of mouth” business. Many dealer principals rely on their 20 Group and trusted colleagues for benchmarking and advice. You should definitely continue to do that, but you will also want to seek out additional opinions from other sources.

DrivingSales is one place to look for additional insight. They collect ratings from dealerships all across North America, and each rating is independently verified by the DrivingSales team.

These unfettered views can provide deep insights into what you can expect your experience with a particular provider to be like. These ratings are truly independent and not affected by sponsorships or advertising. Do your homework. Your fellow dealers won’t let you down.

4. Seek Out Measurable Value

Not only should a dealer management system NOT get in the way of doing business your way, but it should help you deliver tangible results.

When looking for a DMS ask questions like:

  • How long does it take to desk a deal?
  • How will this system help me deliver a complete sales experience in a short amount of time?
  • How will it help me keep service techs in their bays and spinning wrenches?
  • What will be the impact on the lines at the parts desk?
  • What are all the ways this DMS will help my sales consultants save time?
  • How easy is it for the dealer principal to understand the financial state of the dealership?

A good DMS will save you time and money, help you sell more cars, and help you create a better experience for your customers. Don’t settle for a standard DMS—especially if the standard doesn’t meet the mark.

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