The data dillemma

Posted by

spend a lot of time talking with companies that provide business software to dealers. It’s part of my job to try to figure out who is who at the zoo, what exactly it is that they do, and how they can benefit dealers.

There’s just no getting around the fact that software is playing an increasing role in helping dealers better manage their business operations, their employees and most importantly their relations with their customers.

If you think back even 20 or 30 years ago, it’s a wonder dealers were ever able to sell cars using old fashioned tools like a customer list, a desk telephone and getting out in the community to meet customers!

But fondly remembering the “good old days” won’t help dealers thrive in today’s hyper-automated dealership world. These new advanced software tools are able to capture, parse, assess, analyze and distribute data at lightning speed.

The urgency attached to responding to this data, particularly to leads, often in real-time, has also created a much more stressful world for people working within dealerships.

As I walked the aisles at NADA this year, and talked with many, many software providers, I was feeling very sympathetic for the dealers trying to make sense of which of the dozens of vendors in their giant booths were the ones that had the right “solution.”

I saw some weary Canadian dealers, and heads of dealer groups, going in and out of the various booths for demos and pitches to try to make sense of it all.

Buyers need to frankly assess their own needs, assess the real value the data is providing and then build their processes around a way to make the best use of it.

After days of interviewing these providers, some of the functionality and features all started to sound the same. No one sells software they sell “solutions,” they are built on “robust platforms” they deliver higher levels of “transparency” and “ease of use” and above all offer more “integration” than the other guys.

In some conversations, the vendors were trying to stretch what their software could provide to some very rare, or frankly not that beneficial use case scenarios. Those scenarios are sometimes designed in the marketing and sales offices to help them differentiate their products from the dozens of similar ones available but don’t connect to every day life in the dealerships.

The key questions I would be asking my software providers, would be these: what type of “actionable” data can your software provide, whom will it provide it to within my organization, how will the information be distributed automatically, and how will I measure its impact on my business? And of course, what are the total costs per month I can expect to pay.

There are many more questions, but that’s a good cheat sheet to get started with.

Don’t get me wrong, today’s software
tools are remarkable, and can do things no dealership has ever been able to do before.

But the buyers need to frankly assess their own needs, assess the real value the data is providing and then build their processes around a way to make the best use of it.

Oh, and one more thing. Once you get all that sorted out, you have to attend NADA 2018 to see the next version of everything that makes everything you just learned kind of yesterday’s news. Welcome to the wild world of automation and data!

Comments are closed.

Canadian auto dealer