Info Tech Isn't a Solo Act

Dealers too often view technology alone as the answer to customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. Actually, technology is on equal footing with three other critical factors: a dealer's business process, employees' skill levels and the quality of the data being used. Focusing on all four areas is key to dealer success and profits with CRM. Looking at only part of the equation almost guarantees

Dealers too often view technology alone as the answer to customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

Actually, technology is on equal footing with three other critical factors: a dealer's business process, employees' skill levels and the quality of the data being used.

Focusing on all four areas is key to dealer success and profits with CRM. Looking at only part of the equation almost guarantees you'll be back reworking your initial “solution” later, stopping and restarting again and again; undermining your profitability and return on investment.

Find a CRM solution that focuses on customer focus, maximum return on investment opportunities and success through integration. Here's what that means:

Customer Focus

All areas of your business, and everything supporting those areas, must be aligned towards a customer focus.

So ask yourself: Even if I had the right technology, would something my people routinely do on a daily basis undermine the results? Are my people prepared and willing to do what is needed to manage our success? Can the data I gather and use in my business even support a successful CRM initiative? Will technology help or add to an already disjointed process?

Let's look at your data, for example. How can you tell if or how much it may affect your CRM returns? One easy way is what I call “The Five Cs of Data Management”:

  • Capture data correctly

    It must be easy for the users to capture customer information accurately and correctly and integrate it into the system.

  • Cleanse data routinely

    Out-of-date information is useless. Despite even the best employee efforts, it's difficult to keep data updated manually especially if it's not standardized to begin with.

  • Correct data proactively

    Take a big-picture view of your data and business process. You may discover issues that could ensure failure before you even begin CRM. Correct historical issues and processes within a dealership, and identify data problem areas.

  • Consolidate data

    You have multiple dealerships, offering multiple products and services, doing business in the showroom, in the service drive, on the web, and on the phone. So, see the customer doing business with you across your various locations as still a single customer.

  • Consistency of data

    “Right tools, wrong implementation” will still yield bad results. A bad business process or improperly trained people can undermine even simple CRM initiatives.

Maximum ROI Opportunities

Many dealers simply want to capture customer information and manage follow-up activity. However, the greatest profit opportunities for dealers are not generated with a simple contact management tool in the front-end.

Sustained success for dealers comes by augmenting the traditional business model of selling what comes in the door. Train your people in the most effective follow-up, provide them with tools to do it and develop strong managers to guide it.

In addition, identify sales opportunities among current and repeat customers. Target those opportunities with effective marketing campaigns. It will generate the greatest ROI.

Success Through Integration

Since the abundance of profit opportunities go beyond simple contact management, an effective CRM solution needs to integrate with all areas of dealer business including:

  • Showroom (collecting prospect information)
  • Entire front-end (sales desk, F&I office, credit sourcing and contracting)
  • Service
  • E-commerce activities (dealer's Web site or Internet lead management)
  • Marketing activities (current customers and prospects)

Finally, CRM should drive the productivity and accountability of employees and provide metrics for these goals.

Mark Przybylski is ADP Dealer Services' director of marketing for CRM and front-end solutions. He's at [email protected] and 847-397-1700 x4104.

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