Let’s start with an important reality about replacing your dealer management system; it is going to hurt. The goal as an owner or decision maker of a dealership is to minimize the hurt. Most dealerships do not have a strong internal change management process and most employees of a dealership are already operating at 100% capacity before any contemplated change. So, replacing your dealer management system is going to be a pain.
The reward is that, assuming you make the right choice in systems, your business will run more smoothly on the other end. After a learning/conversion period that can last from one to six months, you should start to see meaningful productivity gains. Less trumpeted but equally important will be a rapid improvement in employee and customer satisfaction. Employees appreciate when you invest money to make them more efficient at doing their job. Similarly, current and future customers will appreciate it when visiting your dealership doesn’t feel like stepping back into the 1980’s – the 80’s were only cool in music and movies, not technology.
So how do you choose a dealer management system? Some say you should build lists of requirements and gaps in your current system and this is great. But choosing a system based on existing features is always a backward-looking exercise. What about the next ten years of your dealership’s existence?
Even on the subject of supported manufacturers (has the vendor integrated yet with Walker, for instance), whether or not a vendor has completed the required interface is not all that important; a new interface to a manufacturer is very straight forward programming work. Most manufactures do not offer very much in terms of interfaces. Volvo, Peterbilt, John Deere, for instance, are exceptions but for the most part, interfacing with a manufacturer comes down to digesting monthly or annual pricing files and building report formats for quick cut and paste parts ordering – lame, I know – but that is where we are at.
The real reason you are contemplating a change in systems is that your current vendor’s offering still looks like it looked ten or twenty years ago. Yes. Spend time thinking about your “needs” list but what you really want is a better technology partner – one with some vision and energy.
Pick a dealer management system that is on the edge but not the bleeding edge of technology trends. Today that means a true cloud, SAAS (software as a service) offering. You know you are in trouble if during demos, or worse yet, contract negotiations, they start talking about “hosting” or “virtual servers” or “dedicated bandwidth” or things like that. This all means that the product is an old design and simply going to be hosted off your premises. There are multiple ways to do this and, in truth, they are better than a dealership managing their own hardware. But they are all signs that you are looking at yesterday’s DMS. At Flyntlok, we can start up a new customer instance in less than a minute – that is the same for a dealer with 30 locations as it is for one. Of course, this doesn’t include setting all the settings or uploading your current data. But it does mean that we are not worried about any infrastructure needs. Flyntlok is built like a true cloud SAAS system and is not a retrofit of some older technology.
Pick a dealer management software provider that knows what it like to be a dealer. Better yet. Pick one that owns a dealership. We at Flyntlok use our shared ownership of various dealerships to drive innovation and to test our offerings. We can’t relax because we are dealers just like you. And that makes all the difference.
Pick a DMS provider that is trended. By this we mean, find one that is constantly innovating. A trended software vendor, regardless of whether they are perfect today, will ultimately get there and will be there for you as the market continues to evolve. Flyntlok releases enhancements once per week. Our other partners are also iterating their offerings equally as fast. You want to choose for where the market will be, not where it was yesterday.
Pick a DMS provider with energy. Generally, after the founders and entrepreneurs leave a software company, the intensity and innovation declines. Look for a company still invested in being the best as opposed to one simply trying to stay alive. At our dealerships we look for employees that are always looking for the next task to complete. When it is quiet, they are checking inventory or following up on customer special orders or reaching out to new owners of equipment. We avoid employees that show little initiative or start thinking about their lunch at 10:00am in the morning. The same is true in a technology partner. We at Flyntlok are invested in running a high-octane software company.
Contact us and see why Flyntlok represents a new future for Equipment Dealer Management.