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People don’t get into the car business because they love using software.

Todd Lawson

Published in the January 2019 Issue of AutoSuccess Magazine
By Morry Patoka, COO & EVP

They want to sell cars, service customers, have fun, and make good money doing it. So why do software purchase decisions end up creating the opposite effect to what your people want to spend the majority of their time doing?

Start with expectations.
There are no silver bullets and there isn’t “one ring to rule them all” when it comes to software. Each software platform is designed for a specific purpose.

Along the way platform providers come up with the notion to add features that are used in other platforms in hopes they can become all things to all dealers. The reality is that the people who build add-on features into their platforms are not experts in all things.

Look at some of the platforms you’re already using.
CRM’s exist to manage customer data through their lifetime with your dealership allowing your team to better facilitate deals.

DMS’s are there to provide management control over your data providing the ability to connect the dots between your financial systems and your operations.
Scheduling platforms are there to schedule appointments so you don’t overbook or leave big expensive gaps in your capacity.

All three of these software platforms, to varying degrees, have add-on features, like emailing, for example.
Using an email feature within a platform designed for another purpose is as risky as using an online email blasting service. It is missing fundamental marketing, relationship building and strategic logic required to most effectively produce engagement experiences that convert to deals. It’s the difference between making a sale or pushing a prospect to competitors. It’s the difference between building relationships or losing the opportunity to ever engage with that customer again. It’s the difference between knowing when to email or when direct mail is going to result in a better outcome.

Remember the old days of marketing before digital?
You used to blast the same message to everyone who happened to be sitting in front of a TV, listening to their radio, flipping through a newspaper or driving by a billboard.

Today’s marketing software platforms offer an advanced and unique opportunity to be laser-focused on identifying consumers in a purchase window and – this is equally critical – creating an engagement experience that makes the prospect or customer feel three things:

  • I’m important enough that my dealership thinks about what is important to me
  • I’m valued enough that my dealership has gone the extra mile to provide information, education and offers that help me make the best decision…for me
  • I’m appreciated enough by my dealership that instead of wasting my time and filling my inbox with irrelevant offers, they communicate respectfully with me

You’d think that blasting messages to big groups of consumers in a database is over. That we’ve all learned what made the old days of marketing overly expensive and inefficient.

Email blasting ends up killing more sales opportunities than it stimulates.
It’s easy to understand the downside. When you ‘blast’, you fatigue your database and those people stop paying attention to your messages. Many more than usual unsubscribe over the course of the year. That means you can’t tell them about a special service offer perfect for their vehicle or that they are still eligible for an extended warranty. You can’t even introduce the new model of their car or invite them to an exclusive VIP event.

You abused the relationship and they’re out. They don’t want to hear from you anymore.
The upside is that smart dealerships are pulling ahead of competitors still stuck using sledgehammers to do the work of scalpels.Instead of thinking about all the different features a software platform provides, they look at how well that platform will deliver on its primary purpose and how easy it is to use.

Having lived, breathed and bled automotive retailing, we understand the big problems with software at dealerships. Just because a software executes a function that other software can do, doesn’t mean it does it well enough to use. If a platform requires extensive instore training, it’s just too complicated for a business that has high turnover. If the software is only used for one department, it better be built perfectly for that department, or it usually ends up costing more money and time than it’s worth.

And finally, if anything takes more than 7 minutes to use, your team will avoid using it, so it better be push-button easy and quick. Your people all have other jobs to do, and as we know, nobody goes into the car business to use software.

It comes down to a simple truth. Time is money.
You know your numbers. There isn’t a dealership out there that can’t afford to accelerate their time and their sales to boost revenue, increase productivity and decrease holding costs on inventory, whether it’s on the lot or stacked up on dusty shelves.

When considering how to most effectively, efficiently, and profitably dial up revenue numbers across the dealership, and across the group, you want to decrease the time your people spend using software and increase their time closing sales in each department. Look for platforms that work for you and your internal workflows, rather than taking up lots of time to train, manage and execute.

Use the right platform for the right job. When it comes to marketing platforms, make sure it’s built to make it quick and easy for your people to consistently deliver incremental sales for each department every month.
And finally, involve your people in the decision so they can embrace the tools and continue to do what they love doing at your dealership. Selling and servicing!

  • business
  • car sales
  • crms
  • dealership
  • dms
  • software
  • software strategy
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