The business of selling cars is increasingly technical, and “business intelligence” (BI), also called data analytics, has become a big aspect of the dealership business, helping Dealer Management Systems (DMSs) make sense of all the data coming in.
The range of software and cloud-based programs available to auto dealerships expands constantly from CRM tools, Carfax, inventory and lease management, OEM management, reconditioning and pricing software, staff training, payments, payroll and staff incentives, service department management, localized market updates, accounting and tax systems…it can be overwhelming to manage.
Justin Barker is the president of Bruce Auto Group, a company with eight dealerships across rural Nova Scotia. “We didn’t have the resources to build the system we needed in-house, or the time,” he told Canadian auto dealer in an interview.
The National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA) estimates that the average dealer is using up 24 different IT systems, each one producing specific statistics, numbers and measurement data, expressed in spreadsheets, graphs or reports. This information is extremely valuable, but the vast amount of it isn’t used efficiently or optimally.
Intent on using their human resources for selling, financing and managing the car business, not figuring out complex computer systems, the Bruce Auto Group partnered with RWA Automotive, a BI company based in Ireland, that has a large dealership clientele in the U.K and across Europe.
The goal was to pull the data from all the systems in each separate dealership to create a cohesive, accurate and nimble interface accessible to every manager across the company, to help them make timely and informed business decisions.
“Working with RWA on our business intelligence has been a large project for us that we see as transformational to our business,” says Paul Jobson, Bruce Auto Group’s Director of Marketing and Strategy. “It really shines a light on many of your internal processes and highlights areas where we can improve customer experience and competitiveness.”
Conall Lavery is RWA’s Commercial Director and co-founder, along with CEO John Hogan. “The RWA solution is the one place where our dealer customers can manage all of their operations, using one dashboard with actionable insights into every aspect of their business,” he explains. “In North America right now, there is no other company doing what we do.”
The philosophy behind what RWA does is “what gets measured gets done”. “BI tools are excellent at providing high level dashboards and reports, so that all department managers can see what is working and what needs attention. A good BI program visualizes the insights, so they are quick and easy to absorb,” says Lavery.
To make these results actionable, the specific information to change an outcome needs to be delivered further down the chain, says the company. Whether it is to the CEO/CFO, brand manager, the general manager, the head of sales, the fixed operations manager, or the parts manager in the store, this data can then be used to improve business performance.
“RWA provides dealer-driven data,” says Barker. “It is great for anyone with multiple stores where you have comparable data, and the challenge is to get it into a readable format where it’s accessible to different managers. It helps them understand where they are at in terms of the expectations of their performance as well, where it’s working, and the things they need to fix.”
Everyone involved in the auto business knows that the automotive retail industry is changing all the time. Many dealers find it a challenge to stay on top of the market, be dynamic and react swiftly. Having the full picture of the entire business operations is the first step to become agile and respond quickly to changes. For example, over the last year, used vehicles have increased in price and the margins are maximized. With a good BI system, a dealer will know as soon as the prices start to drop, so they can avoid inventory problems.
For many dealer groups, the data is already being collected, they just need to make the data work for them. “Honestly, understanding ‘big data’ is the key to the future of our business,” says Barker. “We use it for predicting trends and recognizing opportunities before they pass us by.”
“RWA’s system is pulling info from our DMS, manufacturing data, market data… they can take any data and bring it in. Matching Google analytics with our inventory is pretty powerful. RWA are data scientists, and we’re car dealers. They say, ‘This is a trend you might want to look at,’ and we say, ‘oh, you’re right’.”
Partnering with RWA has been key to Bruce Auto Group’s success over the past year. Says Barker, “We’re able to measure our customer satisfaction in-house, both sales and service on our own platform with RWA. It shows us where we should be incentivising staff, where we should be rewarding staff. I don’t think there’s anyone else out there that does that. It’s pretty amazing what they have built. And they are top notch people to work with—true professionals.”
RWA Automotive is an expert in data analytics in the automotive retail industry and is dedicated to helping dealer groups to take their digital transformation to the next level and ultimately drive their business growth. RWA has been working with 20+ dealer groups of different sizes across the UK, Ireland and Canada.