8 Things You Should Be Looking Out for When Shopping for Dealership Management Software

Despite the numerous technological advancements in dealer management software over the last 30 years, many RV, marine and trailer dealers don’t have an industry-specific, fully-integrated system for managing their business.

The systems they do have tend to cover only a small portion of their business and are typically not made with their industry in mind. That’s because many systems are designed to be “generic” – to cover only one specific business area, such as accounting for example, while targeting as many businesses as possible. As a result, they don’t have enough features to satisfy all the needs of one particular business or another.

In our experience, the most common reason why so many dealers don’t have a proper industry-specific system is because they don’t know how to properly evaluate the solutions and vendors available to them. So, instead, they opt for the more generic options.

To help you and other dealers in the same position pick a good system for your business and avoid any potential headaches down the road, we put together a list of the things you should be watching out:

1. Overall System Capabilities 

IDS Overall System CapabilitiesWhen shopping for a system, your number-one priority should be its overall usability. You want a system that’s easy to learn and was built from ground up with your industry in mind.

So, when looking at various systems, make sure that it’s able to do the following:

  • Handle all your locations, departments and business processes
  • Provide easy access to the information your employees need, no matter where they are
  • Generate a variety of customizable reports on a daily basis
  • Integrate with your suppliers’ systems to streamline your interactions with them
  • Eliminate any form of double entry to save time

If the system you’re looking at is missing any of the features mentioned above, then at its core, it’s not a system for your business. Look elsewhere.

2. Accounting Capabilities

Accounting CapabilitiesIf you’re used to QuickBooks or any other proficient accounting software, you probably wouldn’t want a system that’s a step back. At the very least, a system should be able to seamlessly integrate with your existing accounting system for ease of use.

With that in mind, here’s what a decent-enough dealership management system should be able to do when it comes to accounting capabilities:

  • Allow to easily produce accurate financial reports in a timely manner
  • Make it easy to view the profitability of a particular department or product category
  • Efficiently manage cash flow and payables
  • Deliver sufficient access to historical vendor information and transaction detail
  • Simplify the creation of operating budgets and performance tracking
  • Allow you to monitor and collect outstanding balances in an efficient manner
  • Automatically create all the transactions relevant to unit inventory and sales

What you see above is the bare minimum in terms of what a decent accounting module should have, so if the system you’re looking at is missing any of these, then it’s probably not right for you.

3. Sales and Prospect Management Capabilities

Sales and Prospect Management CapabilitiesA good dealership management system should allow your sales team to easily manage their pipeline and customer interactions – to maximize the amount of closed deals.

Make sure the system you’re looking at can do the following:

  • Allow you to standardize your follow-up processes and track individual salesperson productivity
  • Make it easy to build and sell custom-order units
  • Offer enough flexibility in creating and modifying packages for individual units
  • Let you track the true cost of a unit, including preparation charges, internal work orders and overhead allocation
  • Provide real-time access to customer data and unit details anywhere in the dealership

Given how vital salespeople are to any dealership, a system that leaves them without any tools is not worth your time.

4. Parts Management Capabilities

Parts Management CapabilitiesParts management is another vital component of any competitive dealership system. It should make it easy for your employees to order and track parts at all times to ensure maximum profitability.

With that in mind, a proper system should be able to do the following:

  • Allow you to create accurate gross profit reports on a daily basis
  • Let you regulate your inventory levels based on seasonal fluctuations and other variables
  • Allow you to purchase from the vendor with the best pricing
  • Provide you with sufficient controls to eliminate theft or employee fraud
  • Streamline inventory transfers from one store to another
  • Provide you with enough pricing levels to handle various discounting policies
  • Handle the special ordering of parts and accessories automatically
  • Include a point-of-sale functionality that lets you process counter transactions quickly and efficiently
  • Let your techs take photos of failed parts and instantly upload them into the system for warranty purposes

In the end, the lack of a parts management functionality is yet another indicator that the system wasn’t designed with your business or even a dealership in mind.

5. Service Management Capabilities

Service Management CapabilitiesAnother vital component of a proper dealership system is service management. This functionality can significantly boost the profitability and efficiency of your service department, so you should take its absence into account when looking at various systems.

Here’s what a decent service management module should be able to do:

  • Streamline your service write-up process
  • Provide effective service scheduling capabilities to help maximize billable hours
  • Automatically create new work orders whenever a unit is sold
  • Help you track warranty claims, so that you can always claim all of them
  • Allow your techs to clock in and out of labor lines and take relevant photos whenever necessary

Without any of these features, your service department may never live up to its full potential. Worse yet, it can earn poor reputation over time since other dealerships may step up and offer better service than you.

6. IT Support

IT SupportOnce you’ve established whether the system has the features you need or not, you should take a long and hard look at the IT support offered by the vendor – because it can easily make or break the system, no matter how capable it may seem on the surface.

Here’s what you should be watching out for when examining a dealership vendor’s IT services:

  • Critical information should be protected from being lost due to natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and so on
  • Business data should be automatically backed up and stored offsite each evening
  • Adequate security controls should be present to protect certain data from being accessed by your employees and other unwanted parties
  • The IT support should be sufficient enough to manage your dealership’s anticipated growth
  • An IT professional should be available to keep your system running properly at all times

If you believe the vendor’s IT support is subpar, consider looking elsewhere, because this may have a huge impact on your business down the road – probably when you least expect it.

7. Customer Support and Training

Customer Support and TrainingAside from decent IT support, a vendor should also offer good customer support and training. After all, what good is a system if there’s nobody there to help you use it?

So, when examining a vendor’s support and training options, look out for the following:

  • The support is available on the days and hours that fit your needs
  • There is more than one method of submitting and tracking a support incident, including telephone, email and web portal
  • The support staff consists of industry experts with real-world knowledge
  • Training is available via prerecorded online tutorials, remote sessions over the internet and in person
  • Training can provide you with sufficient beginner and intermediary knowledge
  • The software documentation is available online and in printed form

If you’re paying big bucks for your system, then you should have all the tools you need to make proper use of it. Otherwise, there’s no need to bother with it.

8. Vendor

VendorFinally, once everything checks out, take a solid look at the vendor itself. Has it been around long enough? Is it going to stick around for decades into the future? You should know the answers to all of these questions before signing any contracts.

When examining the vendor, make sure:

  • It has adequate experience in the industry
  • It’s financially stable enough to stay around for many years
  • It’s willing to expand the system to accommodate your dealership’s future growth
  • It has a clear vision of where it’s going several years down the line

In the end, a vendor should be a company that you trust. If it gives you even one reason to doubt it, then you should likely look elsewhere.

 

Develop a Checklist

As you can tell, there are plenty of things to consider when shopping for a dealership management system. That’s why we recommend that you come up with a detailed checklist that you can use every time you want to determine whether a system meets your specific criteria or not. To get started, download our free checklist and go from there!

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