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Time for an upgrade?

By Jackson Smith

Jackson SmithDealer management software systems have become a mandatory part of any modern powersports dealership. Thanks to these systems the amount of data we can collect and share is astronomical. The systems also help streamline daily customer interactions, allowing staff to focus more on customer relations and less on clerical duties. However, the systems and the data are only as good as the information inputted and the benefits to production are only recognized by implementing the correct use of these systems. Our dealership recently switched to an updated version of our current DMS so I thought I would share our experience.

The switch or implementation of any DMS really starts before the purchase. You will need to look at what your company wants out of the system. There are many benefits including faster processes for customers, data collection for department management and marketing plans to name a few. I would suggest coordinating your immediate company needs to your long term plans. By ensuring the system you choose has the ability to match your long term needs you can eliminate unexpected future cost.  The next phase of the switch is to meet with the DMS representatives and decide which program will work best for you and your staff. I would suggest at this point contacting other dealers who have the systems you like and the ones you don’t to see how the systems are working for them.  Sometimes what is promised by a DMS representative does not work so smoothly in the real world.

Next include your staff in your implementation plan. Tell them what the system is designed to do and request there feedback or how that would work in their daily operations. Getting staff to buy in on the change is paramount to a successful implementation. They need to understand that the initial change over will produce benefits for them and customers.

Once you have their input meet with the company representatives and plan the roll out of the new system. Make sure someone on your staff is trained on how to use the system before you implement it. Inevitably, after the initial roll out there will be questions and if no one knows how to use the system correctly frustration will soon follow. Lack of proper training will result in the system not working to its full potential which is a waste of your investment. A worse result of improper training will be your staffs jobs’ becoming harder which usually causes the customer experience to suffer. The initial roll out will work best if you can pre set each departments operational functions. It is very time consuming to run around to each computer making changes individually as staff find they cannot do needed operations.  

Once you have planned out how the system is to work you schedule a two to three day training period for your staff. This should be an intense immersion in the system. Make sure your company trained staff member is free those days to help with each department and has direct access to a DMS representative to help with any unforeseen issues.

A new system is only as good the implantation plan and execution of training allow it to be. If you want to get the most return for you investment plan carefully and give whatever support staff needs to make the system work efficiently. If you are looking to install a new system soon and would like to hear more about our experience just email me and I will be glad to contact you to discuss our roll out in more detail.

Jackson Smith is the parts and service manager at Destination Powersports, a multi-line OEM dealership located in southwest Florida. Jackson has more than 30 years experience in both the automotive and powersports industries.

Contact:  Jackson.S@destination-powersports.com

One comment

  1. I loved your article. I used to be an implementation consultant and still work from time to time in that capacity. Here are some additional thoughts that come from my experiences:
    1. The dealer decides when to implement, not the sales person. I have seen too many DMS sales people dominate the decision and move the dealer way too fast. Remember DMS salespeople are commission based.
    2. Most DMS providers are more willing to "deal" when it is close to the end of their fiscal year. Find out when that is and then slow your roll on dealing with pushy DMS salespeople.
    3. Onsite training is a must but I disagree with 3 days. It needs to be a week bell to bell. If you are closed on a Monday then have your trainer or trainers fly in Sunday night and work till the close of business on the last day of your work week. They work for you and not the other way around. I have seen trainers say I have a flight to catch at 2 on Friday. If this is the case only pay for fractional days.
    4. Accounting Accounting Accounting! Many trainers are not fluent in all areas of the system. Ask for the DMS providers best trainers that understand parts, service, sales, and ACCOUNTING. If need be have two trainers onsite if one does not understand accounting.
    5. Remember that YOU the dealer need to take charge, control the sales process, and be engaged in every aspect of the system conversion.
    6. Ongoing training. Training does not occur in a vacuum. The best implementations that I have ever seen were ones that had follow up training after the dealership went "live".
    7. This is the most important thing. If your DMS provider leaves you in the lurch or in a big mess give me a call.....I understand the beast within.

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