Thankfully, the automotive industry has by and large embraced the technology available to it. Handwritten buyer’s orders, Sharpies and four-squares, prospecting from index cards — all are finally becoming extinct at dealerships. Today’s automotive consumer wants efficient communication and speed of transaction, and though it has been a relatively slow process, we have responded.
So what is the next step? Technology adoption is a great start, but if the technologies do not speak to each other effectively, users become frustrated and the potential for profitability is just as limited as it was in the past. Underutilization and lack of data integration (or underutilization because of lack of data integration) make the overall experience for users and customers dysfunctional and disjointed.
For example, when a salesperson struggles to log an UP, search for a vehicle, enter trade information, and negotiate numbers between the customer and desk manager in a timely manner, gross and CSI slowly diminish. When a sales manager is required to switch between technology platforms to ready a deal for handoff to F&I, the process is slow and the number of vehicles that can be delivered in a day lessens.
Even the most dedicated user cannot overcome software limitations. When a dealership invests in a technology platform, it expects the platform to integrate its data across multiple solutions. In many cases, this is simply not the case. Twenty-nine percent of leads are generated by dealership websites, but valuable website visitor data often is not shared with a store’s CRM solution. Now imagine if your website was fully integrated with your CRM, allowing you to message those website visitors in a manner that maximized the possibility of converting them to showroom visitors.
In the near future, we will see a shift in technology that is even more disruptive than when the industry shifted away from pen-and-paper processes. This disruption will change the way business is done and shift how automotive consumers view our reputation-challenged industry. Dealers will see a new generation of technology platforms emerge that feature streamlined user interfaces and data integration across solutions to provide optimal user experience.
Instead of multiple solutions, dealerships will use an integrated platform that operates out of a single, user-customizable portal. With fewer clicks, intuitive navigation, and built-in guidance, less time will be spent on training or developing workarounds for a specific need. We will likely see an increase in the digitization of the remaining vestiges of paper transactions with the further adoption of mobile desking, texting solutions, CSI back-stops integrated within CRM, call management functionality, and state-of-the-art data-mining technology, bringing clarity and speed to to the prospecting, sales, and follow-up processes.
Unfortunately, even small changes come slowly in automotive. Customers have become accustomed to a lengthy and adversarial transaction. Salespeople are willing to settle for a 12-hour work day only to deliver a few vehicles. Dealers are prepared to meet with multiple vendors delivering hour-long presentations on expensive solutions that don’t save anyone time due to lack of integration. It’s time to take technology to the next level. Acceptance is only the first step!
Major change is on the horizon. Will you be ready?
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