5 Things You Must Know Before You Purchase Dealership Management Software
The time has come for you to buy new software for your dealership. You are ready to start the research process but before you begin, whether you run a Buy Here - Pay Here, Lease Here - Pay Here or Independent Retail dealership, you need to know these 5 things to make sure you purchase the right dealership management software to meet your needs:
1. Existing Technology
Knowing your existing technology will enable you to know whether the software products that you study can utilize your existing technology infrastructure or whether you will need to purchase additional or replacement hardware in addition to the new software. You should assess your current computers; operating system, RAM memory, processor speed, etc. to determine whether they have the capability to run any new software you may look to purchase. You also need to know about your existing printers, Internet access, local networking within your operation and your staff's comfort level with technology in general. Sharing this information with the dealership software providers you look at will help them make sure they recommend the correct solution for your dealerships.
2. Business Goals
What are you trying to accomplish by acquiring new software for your dealership and how does it relate to your overall goals of selling more cars or collecting more money? Knowing your expectations for the software you intend to purchase and, again, sharing that with the vendors you are looking at to possibly do business with will help achieve the proper solution to meet your needs and goals. Communicating and managing your expectations for your new dealership management software will help to make sure you get what you are looking for.
3. Business Processes
Most management at a BHPH, LHPH or Independent Retail automobile dealership understands the process that is supposed to happen between when a potential customer arrives on the lot until they agree to purchase a vehicle. Fewer dealers understand, at least on a step-by-step basis, what happens between that time and the customer leaves the dealership with their new vehicle. It is critical that you understand each step in that process to make sure that flow matches the flow of the process in each potential new software. It is difficult to change an ingrained process and get compliance from your staff to match a software that follows a different progression and your people will 'fight' the software and not be happy with it.
Once you have an assessment of your current technology, expectations for your new dealership software and a clear understanding of the flow of each sale or lease, you can begin to look at a budget for the project. This does not have to be very specific in the beginning. Every BHPH software, LHPH software or Independent Retail software has a different pricing structure depending upon their capabilities and features. You may end up adjusting your budget several times as you find that more expensive, feature rich software may meet your needs, goals and processes better. Be aware that there should be two components to your budget. Most software has upfront or licensing costs and continuing expenses for support. You will find that high quality support will be instrumental in your success with a new product so don't ttry to minimize the ongoing expenditure just to try to save money.
5. Time Frame
When do you want to have the new software operational? It is not common to buy a new dealership management system and have it operational in a short period of time. The new software must be installed on your system and configured to meet your needs. Your staff must be trained on its use. Often, there are specific forms for your state and your operation that must be programmed. This process can routinely take several weeks. If you are moving from one software to another, additional time is required to migrate your existing data. This is particularly important for a BHPH dealer or LHPH dealer. Depending on the number of accounts in your portfolio, this conversion process can add several weeks to the process. If your intention is to have your new DMS up and running by a certain date, make sure you leave enough time in your purchasing process for these critical steps.
Doing the proper research and being prepared can make the process of buying new dealership software much less painful for both you and the vendors you choose to look at. The best, most accurate proposals and quotes for software that best matches the needs of your dealership comes from sharing this information. Most quality software vendors will try to work with you to configure their product in the way that best meets your needs because that is the process the leads to the happiest, most long-term customers. If a vendor you speak with does not take this approach, move along to one that does. You'll be happier in the long run.
Al Mosher is the General Manager for Constellation Automotive Solutions. Al has almost 30 years experience in the auto industry; having served in both sales and finance management at new vehicle stores before spending the last 13 years as a Manager, General Manager and consultant in the Buy Here – Pay Here industry.by Al Mosher
Al worked as a consultant for CarBiz USA beginning in 2000 and joined Constellation’s DCF Consulting Group in 2008. He added the role of GM in January 2012. He has written numerous training manuals and conducted seminars for dealers in the Buy Here – Pay Here business. Al has also been featured as a speaker by the NIADA and his articles regularly appear in industry publications.