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Will your sales staff want to use the CRM only while sitting at their desks, or will they need access from the showroom floor or perhaps the lot?

Four Toughies for Moving Past 'Just-OK' Car Dealership CRM

A car dealer’s customer-relationship management system really matters.

If you’ve seen AT&T’s ad campaign, "Just OK Is Not OK," you’ll understand that mediocrity might work for some goods and services, but not for those that really matter.

A car dealer’s customer-relationship management system really matters.

Dealers making do with substandard CRM software often use excuses for why they haven’t switched yet.

They don’t want to spend the upgrade time or money. Choosing and implementing a new system is work. It means deciding what data to keep and what to clean out.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. The old system works well enough – if you know what you’re doing, and you know just the right way to query and run reports.

Inertia is a powerful force. 

Dealers are often so focused on the customer that they don’t pay enough attention to their own needs. It’s like the cobbler not having good shoes. Before dealers can address consumer expectations, they need to know themselves and have a clear vision of their own unique business workings and strategy.

Dealer profitability doesn’t start with selling the customer a vehicle and F&I products. It starts with the efficiency and effectiveness of technology solutions. The right CRM can make all the difference in driving up CSI scores and closing the knowledge gap between customers and dealers. According to Nucleus Research, every CRM dollar spent returns $8.71 to a business.

Despite this, not all CRMs are created equal. If your dealership’s CRM is “just OK,” you’re likely managing “just-OK” customer relationships. That means “just OK” customer satisfaction and loyalty.

As a dealer, “just OK” is not OK. Ensure you’re getting the most out of your system. That means selecting the best CRM technology and provider for your needs.

To do this, ask four tough questions:

  • What internal business processes will my CRM support?
  • What are the basic technology requirements at my dealership?
  • What other systems will the CRM need to integrate with?
  • Will the CRM be easy to use?

Internal Processes

Every dealership sings its own tune when it comes to internal sales processes. With a rigid CRM, you have to shift the way you do things to work squarely within the confines of your technology. That means your technology drives the usage, not the other way around.

The right CRM will be able to harmonize with you. Dealership staffers should be able to work the way they want and need to, with CRM technology supporting them.

Basic Requirements

Will your sales staff want to use the CRM only while sitting at their desks, or will they need access from the showroom floor, or perhaps the lot?

Wherever they are, a CRM that facilitates easy web and mobile access keeps up with rising customer expectations of a personalized, transparent and seamless car-buying experience.

If your staff currently only uses the CRM at their desks, think about the advantages of having access elsewhere. Imagine how the ability to access the CRM and necessary customer information on the go will help sales efforts and enhance the customer experience.


The average dealership today uses multiple systems. Your CRM will need to integrate with almost all of them. If the systems aren’t talking to each other, you lose efficiency and risk compromising accuracy.

With so many different data sources simultaneously in use, dealerships often find themselves with incorrect customer information. This can cost time and money.

Easy Use

Don’t underestimate the impact of intuitive technology. According to an Inside CRM report, 65% of CRM users list ease of use as their most-demanded feature.

If it’s not easy to use, sales staff won’t leverage the system to its full extent, putting the dealership at a disadvantage and leaving untapped value.

Find a CRM system that will make life easier for personnel. Comprehensive customer-communication tracking and insightful reporting features help maximize CRM utilization and empower managers to hold their team accountable.

This ultimately helps streamline implementation and enhance long-term usability and results.

mark-vickery.jpgDealerships have lots of assets: staff, inventory, facilities, service offerings, technology and, most importantly, customers who know the difference between a dealer who’s “just OK” versus one who knows them, caters to them and works to get their business. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Mark Vickery, left)

By knowing yourself and investing in the right CRM, you better serve your customers and your own needs as well.

Mark Vickery is senior director of performance management for CRM provider VinSolutions.

TAGS: Dealers
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