by CDK Global | 05/03/2017
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Is the Cheaper DMS Really Better?

A couple weekends ago, Chicago saw its first glimpse of summer —70-degree weather, cloudless skies and new buds popping from the trees. As I rolled down the window and turned up the music in my car, I started to imagine how much better the music would sound on a boat floating out on the lake. On a whim, I started browsing the internet to look for different boats. Scrolling through, I ended up on Craigslist and a 19-footer, or more accurately the price tag, caught my eye. $300! Talk about a steal! As I continued to scroll, the nicer boats for $20,000 seemed almost ridiculous. Why would I pay so much for a boat when I could get a cheaper option? Obviously, I knew I would be giving up some of the comforts of the more expensive option, but did I really need them? I just wanted something that could get me out on the lake.

As I looked closely at the $300 boat, it seemed comparable to the more expensive one, just a little older with a little less shine. The truth came out in the fine print: “project boat, bad engine.” I took a closer look and saw that the motor wasn’t even attached. Sure, I could get it for a steal, but the maintenance and additional parts to get it to be lake-ready would surely add up. Not to mention the time and sanity I would have to sacrifice putting it back together. Was it really worth it?

Thinking about which DMS to choose for your dealership can look a lot like my boat shopping experience. The allure of a cheaper option is sometimes irresistible, especially if a dealer thinks they don’t really need all the bells and whistles of a more expensive DMS. And while that’s a legitimate thought, the reality is that some of the bells and whistles are needed to get the most out of your dealership. And some features aren’t as optional as you might think – like having a working motor on a boat.

Because what good is it if I launch my wonderful new boat in the harbor, get out to the middle of the lake and don’t have seats for my friends, can’t listen to the music because of the broken radio, or get stranded by a faulty motor? All of a sudden, my perfect summer dream has turned into a nightmare.

The truth is, you get what you pay for.

When you’re evaluating systems to power your dealership, think about your business and all your needs. Make sure you have a full understanding of the capabilities of each solution and are willing to shoulder the additional investments, time and stress that are likely to come down the road if you need more functionality. For example, take your dealership network. Some DMS providers have you outsource your network to third parties that don’t understand the specific needs of a dealership. Those additional costs — and headaches —may not show up on your initial bill, but they will add up in the long run. It’s also important to consider your customers’ needs and evaluate if the end experience is intuitive and up-to-date. Cutting corners on price may mean cutting corners on the customer experience. For example, DMS providers that offer incomplete electronic form signing aren’t just a hassle for you, they’re a negative experience for your customer.

A cheaper DMS means missing pieces.

As any good business person knows, you need to understand the full picture to make the right decisions for your business. And this includes having accurate information when you need it. You can’t think and act strategically if every report you run spits out different numbers. More importantly, you can’t serve your customer well if the information you have on their experience with your dealership is incomplete, inaccurate, or simply missing.

You need a DMS that plays well with others.

A DMS can’t stand alone. It needs to work seamlessly with F&I, Parts & Service, Sales, Accounting and even OEM integrations. Miss those connections and you miss valuable revenue or run up unnecessary costs. Instead, systems that speak to each other not only save you time and money, but they optimize the customer experience and your profit. Understanding your customer’s sales history allows you to better serve them in the Service department. Having accurate data from your Parts and Service departments allows payroll to properly compensate their employees. When different parts of the business can’t talk to each other, they might as well be on their own.

Inexpensive options are always appealing, but the initial price tag doesn’t always tell the whole story. Before you sign on for the least expensive option, make sure you’re aware of what it actually gets you — and what it doesn’t. Additionally, make sure the bells and whistles on the more expensive “boat” work the way you need them to. Talk to your sales representative or support teams at your DMS provider to make sure that you’ll be happily floating along, enjoying the summer sun and the gentle waves (while making a profit all the while).

We’re committed to listening to our customers and providing solutions that solve for all of their needs. We don’t have all the answers, but we’re committed to working with our customers to remedy the situation and create better solutions to fit their business. Talk to us today.