It is hard to remember the days when auto dealerships weren’t chock full of technology. Many vehicles today have more technology in them then a typical auto dealership had just a couple of decades ago and faster internet than just 15 years ago. Technology is no longer something “neat” or an option; auto dealerships need to utilize technology to stay competitive and because customers demand it. If you whip out a typewriter for a loan document, you’ll see many customers cringe and some will walk out the door, not to mention that you’ll deter younger employees from working for your company. Auto dealerships need to make technology a priority in order to succeed in today’s marketplace.
7 Technology Priorities for Auto Dealerships
1. Dealer Management Software (DMS) – Every dealership that we’ve worked with lives and breathes with their DMS, regardless if it is CDK, Reynolds & Reynolds, DealerTrack, or one of the other dozens of systems on the market. A DMS can track vehicle and part inventories, manage service orders, organize sales leads and contact information, and run a litany of reports to keep a dealership running smooth. (For more info, read 9 Things to Consider When Selecting a DMS.)
2. Need for More Bandwidth – Since most DMS systems are cloud-based, auto dealerships need internet access to utilize the software. With sales, accounting, service, parts, and other departments all accessing the DMS throughout the day, plus checking email and using other cloud-based applications, auto dealerships need a “bigger pipe” because their internet needs are great. A good IT firm will recommend a secondary internet connection with a different carrier to ensure you’re never without
3. Wireless Everything – Many auto dealerships are using tablets for sales and service, which requires wireless access points across your lot. Additionally, customers now expect free Wi-Fi while waiting for their vehicle to be serviced or waiting for sales documents to be drafted.
4. Smarter Cars – The Internet of Things (IoT) is everywhere from our homes, offices, and in our cars. Today’s vehicles are full of technology and auto dealerships need to understand this technology because customers are seeking it out. Some dealerships now have an auto technology specialist on hand to train customers how to use their new car, to assist marketing teams on promoting this auto technology, and to be the go-to person at the dealership for everything auto tech.
5. Customers from All Angles – Walk-ins, phone calls, emails, texts, web leads, social media, and more – Customers can communicate with your dealership in a multitude of ways and it can be overwhelming, and costly if you don’t do it right. I’ve seen numerous reports recently that 1 in 3 customers can’t connect to the service department; that is money left on the table and potentially a lost customer for years to come.
6. Software Licensing – This challenge is nothing new, but it has become even easier for software companies to track down unlicensed software and the fines can cost over $1 million dollars! Thankfully, getting legal is easier nowadays thanks to subscriptions. Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars to get Microsoft Office for everyone in your dealership, you can subscribe them to Office 365 for a few dollars a month. A good IT firm can help you manage your applications and monitor your computers to see if employees are using rogue, unlicensed software.
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7. Cybersecurity – With all the good that comes from technology, there are of course bad apples that try to take advantage of it. Hackers want your dealership’s data because it contains credit card numbers, home addresses, social security numbers, credit scores, and more. Or, they will hold your data hostage because they know you can’t work without it and you don’t want the public to know you’ve been breached. The most likely way hackers will access your data is via your employees, such as sending them a phishing email and the employee clicking on a malicious link. (Learn more about your Biggest Security Risk: Your CEO and Employees.)
Luckily, much of this technology makes auto dealerships more efficient, more protected, and more profitable. Systems like the lot management software gives the customer a better experience and can protect a dealer’s inventory from theft, including internal “borrowing” of vehicles.
A good IT firm that understands auto dealerships can help you determine the ROI of technology and how to best implement that technology to maximize your dealership’s profitability.