What are the most important feature/functionality that dealers should expect from their DMS?
Well, that's a pretty broad statement. That their DMS provides them the ability to sell cars, service cars, and sell parts on a daily basis.
In today's world we have gone to extra levels of diligence to provide a system that is going to be open and available for the dealer when they need to do business. Whether it's a single-point store, or a multi-point operation, we're designing networks and putting in a system so that there is no single point of failure for them. We want them to always be able to sell a part, service a car and deliver a new car, because that's the main goal and without that there is no real reason for them to be there.
We want to deliver an inexpensive or affordable, simple and hopefully innovative dealership management system as an alternative to the original venders that were in the marketplace. We keep these three words — affordable, simpler, and innovative — at the forefront of our minds as we engage customer and prospects to ensure we work with them rather than forcing them to abandon investments they previously made in technology, as they migrate to the AutoSoft solution.
Many dealers claim they use approximately 50% of their system's capabilities.
From initiation of the sales process, we don't mandate the number of days of training or the type of training our customers may avail themselves of, however we have a strong recommendation in all of our sales proposals that understanding and knowing what the dealership is like we will provide them with a suggested training regime that they can take advantage of. After the fact, we have direct access from our program for online help. In many cases there is a thin line between a call that comes in from an existing customer whether it may be purely a support issue or a training issue. We are looking at many different ways to address and alleviate that type of support issue. We do provide on-site training at any given time at any given request. System utilization and on-going training is left to the dealership.
Many dealers say their monthly bills from their DMS vendors are confusing. And the sales reps often cannot explain the bill themselves. How does AutoSoft solve this issue?
For AutoSoft that whole topic is actually a sales tool. In our organization, the bill goes out as a three-line bill. It will show their monthly fee and that's basically it. It is very easy for us to substantiate what the bill is and why they are getting it. We do not have a lot of the other charges that the other companies have that show up on their bills that they need to explain or defend. Our simple monthly software support fee includes it all. As part of our monthly support, we redistribute the OEM parts pricing.
Your company does not have a contract?
That is correct.
So you basically have to earn your business each and every month?
Each and every day.
And if they don't like doing business with AutoSoft they can serve you a 30-day notice or something like that and exit?
How does AutoSoft help the dealer manage all of the data that is being created and turn it into meaningful reports to run the business effectively?
One of our approaches is rather than giving people involved complicated report generator tools, and we do provide some of those, we provide a series of preprogrammed reports, which are both in the DMS and F&I. We'll ask the employees in the dealership to review those. If they find one that's close but not exactly the way they are used to seeing the data, or they want to manipulate it a bit, we'll create and upload the report into their system at no additional charge. Most customers are pleased with that, rather than find a line- item charge for a report they wanted built for what might be a onetime need, like they are use to from the other vendors.
Many dealers complain that extracting data from the DMS and providing it in a usable format is difficult — if not impossible.
In the respect that the AutoSoft product has always been described as an open system. Our existing database does allow that the data files be read by Excel or perhaps Access. Going from the DOS program to the Windows development platform, we went through a conversion.
This conversion allowed us to use the same stable database that we used before. In most cases we've developed ActiveX controls, for the third party product vendors, integrated F&I companies, and anyone else the dealers wish us to provide it to. We've built direct-export capability in the individual modules for things such as parts inventory, payroll information and customer lists.
There is direct-program functionality for those individual applications within the DMS. Taking it a step further, the need to extract or exchange data from our database to either third party vendors or manufacturers. We've developed an automated data extraction utility that is monitored and maintained by Autosoft in the respect that it is between the dealership and the other vendor.
Other vendors charge for EIP's (Enterprise Integration Points). In your case is there a charge to get to this information?
There is not a charge to get to this information when requested by dealers, either for themselves or on behalf of a third party they are dealing with.
We partner with the third-party providers at the request of our users. We make the data available; ultimately it is at the request of the dealership.
What about customer data? Does it belong to the customer, the dealer or your company? What about rights to access this information?
We simply allow our customers to use our software product on a monthly basis. The data that resides in that product belongs to the dealership itself. Autosoft does not assume any rights to that information. The access is left up to the dealerships themselves.
What measures has AutoSoft taken to maximize your clients' data security and integrity?
Eeven prior to this becoming a common topic at the dealerships, our solution has always had the Microsoft firewall in it. We had that prior to security becoming as big of a topic as it is today.
This year we have addressed the situation even further by evaluating the offerings in the marketplace and incorporated a solution in our product so we now have an external firewall appliance device that provides anti-virus protection and anti-spyware functions, and has intrusion protection and detection, as well as a web filter service.
What does AutoSoft offer that helps service personnel generate more revenue and make valid recommendations to each customer? How are you able to manage and track this activity?
Within our service module, we have a way for the user to define “fast quote” menu capability for suggested service and related pricing, as well as the applicable parts that would pertain to that. At this time we don't have customer pay service pricing guides integrated into the system, which is something that is becoming a prevalent request from our new customers and some of our prevailing customers.
Scouting Report — One Customer's Perspective:
As a dealer principal one of the ongoing things you need to look at on a daily basis is expenses, AutoSoft is very cost effective.
John Laria — Dealer: Principal, Laria Chevrolet
There so many good things to say about the AutoSoft system but I will just name a few. You can tailor the system to your needs. I like the ease of training a new employee on the system. I like how you can look for documents for either the current month or previous months right on the computer. I find it very helpful that you can build a D.O.C. report to let the dealer principal and managers know where they are at any time during the month.
I would like to see automatic deposit as an option in payroll.
Paula Barbas — Controller Laria Chevrolet
AutoSoft At a Glance
We are cognizant of the fact that the customer is number one.
We are an old-school business company. Our word means something. If we say we are going to do something, we'll do it. If you need to get a hold of someone, we're accessible. If we hear there is something going on, we'll pick up the phone and call you because we care. Because we want to give a strong product, with a strong value at a fair price in the market and be there to help you do your business that you try to do everyday.
Headquarters: West Middlesex, PA
Notable clients: Jack Burford Chevrolet, Richmond, KY; Buddy Jones Ford Lincoln Mercury and Buddy Jones Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Greenwood, MS
New Developments: New General Manager module based on ASI's popular Dealer Principal tool, with access to all of the key business metrics in real time. Added DCS integration in 2005 for Mazda, Volkswagen, Audi and Hyundai.