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CRM WARS!!!
In the last three weeks, I have had more customer requests to change the email address connecting my network websites to their NEW CRM tool than ever before. The CRM providers (Vin, ADP, ReyRey Higher Gear and others) are more active and competitive than ever before. Is it the Chicago area or everywhere. Who is winning? Why?

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Steve, I think the problem is that the DMS (Data Management System) is typically the nucleus of all other dealerships software, just as an operating system like Windows underlies all other software in your computer.  Companies like Reynolds and ADP are DMS companies and also offer CRM solutions.  However, they have not sold the product as well as some of their competitors.  The competitors must deal with the DMS company so that their software can communicate or interact with the DMS.  Reynolds, for example, charges big bucks to do that.

There are other companies trying to put out a combo DMS/CRM but have not made significant inroads, partly because changing DMS systems is a huge undertaking.  The DMS runs every department in the dealership.

I see the value of Jason's plans but question the ability of the average dealer implementing it successfully.  Seeing GM utilize it in Columbia is one thing; doing it on a local level with little expertise and money is another.  Dealers are not software designers and tend to like packaged goods that already do everything they want to do with minimal customizing.

I can see a very large dealer group taking this on, but I think most dealers can't even conceive of it.  Just my opinion, admittedly based on a limited experience with what he is doing or proposing.

I think the expense comes from paying someone else a lot of money and relying on their solutions for your dealer. These solutions will become more affordable in our future as dealers take advantage of Open Source programming. It's actually expensive to ignore it. It takes effort to design it. The money is easily in the budget. Your data should be in your control. Obviously, our future is data driven. Those who make it will control their data like an industry secret. Why else are all these vendors going after dealer data? They serve it to the consumer and get paid by advertising...your dealer dollars. That's what I call double dipping by vendors and dealers losing twice their power.

Jason Manning
This makes me think that the dealership of the future will have their own programmers on staff, running their own systems.

They will or they will hire them at average expense.  It's funny that many dealers and groups try to emulate Carmax, but they really don't know where their power and edge come from.  Much of it is from their custom data and control of that data.  Everyone looks from the outside in.  There's more to that company than Appraisals, No Haggle Pricing, and the Internet.  They don't share their true secrets (with data).  The average dealer is giving away their data with every car they stock into inventory.  That's a Dealer Leak in my book.  Inventory site vendors, CRM vendors, DMS vendors, and even AAA wants your data.  Most dealers give it away in their contracts that allow vendors to pass it on to "affiliates, subsidiaries, partners" etc (FYI, it's going to the consumer folks).  Dealer futures must be secured.  Contracts must favor the dealer.  Carmax has been around for 18 years now.  In my book, we're still 18 years behind them in the way we treat our own data.  That's the gap that needs to close.

 

Dealers must move to independence and control their own data.  That is the power of their future.  Give it to a vendor and they have your power.  It's time to shake up the playing field.  It's getting too level.  Dealers hold the keys now.  Open Source programming is their power.  It is widely available.  It must be built, but that's what good businesses have done in the past.  They build their business.  They don't let someone else do it and lose control.  Let's get back to the basics and build dealers with their own data control.

 

Jason Manning

Hey Jason, you said, "It's time to shake up the playing field. It's getting too level. Dealers hold the keys now."  I take issue with that as someone who has spent 13 years on the Internet side of this business.  Just as the playing field began to level out because the slow pokes began to realize they needed a website and an "Internet Department" and put a little or a lot of money in it, the playing field changed with Social Media.  And the same ones who were slow on recognizing the importance (so they say) of the Internet, are now poo pooing Social Media, saying, "Where's the ROI?"

 

That's exactly what they said about the Internet 10 years ago.  I still feel, as someone who "might" be capable of open source, that it is not a viable option for most dealers.  As far as doing their own programming, you say, "They will or they will hire them at average expense."  To me, that means paying bucks to a company to do it for them at a rate that starts out reasonable and becomes increasingly larger.  You give up your power to a CRM company or you give it up to a programming company.  Hmmmm...

 

I spent 3 days in Kansas City last year helping to customize our CRM for my dealership.  I spent the last year still customizing sales processes and templates.  Where do we go with programming?

 

Well Tom, when you design your own CRM program, everyone has a say and the "buy in" is much stronger within your dealer/business.  I haven't found a CRM that does exactly what each dealer needs (that I've worked at).  I've used CRMs that have countless "updates" that have been added to them over the years and still don't see what I need in there.  I see "custom" additions that are for this manufacturer or that manufacturer, but I still don't see what my business needs.  I've even been turned down before, when I called in a fix.

 

It's more than just all that though.  It's about controlling data...local data...valuable data...customer data...and custom data.  The same data that every other vendor has attempted to gather lately.  I had a AAA representative ask me for our sale data on their leads they send to us.  I abruptly shut him down.  Sorry that's on lockdown.

 

As far as the Internet and Social Media goes and "shaking up the playing field," I don't understand how you take issue with something that would secure your job more at a dealer level.  We're talking about dealers controlling their future.  The ROI on Social Media is part of regular Marketing.  It has to be done.  There's nothing to argue about it.

 

"Programming" is a foreign word to dealer owners and managers.  That's ok.  Tom, do you think all these vendors that create all these programs for the automotive industry don't have their own programmers?  They are building a smarter business.  Dealers must do the same.  The resources are available now.  In the past they were not.  Now they are and dealers now need to hire programmers...just like vendors have.  Take away a programmer from a vendor and they lose control.  I understand how this is out of most dealer's comfort zone.  Change is never easy.  It is necessary to survive though.  We're in an age of computer growth.  We need to get with the program.  Programming is common throughout the world.

 

Jason Manning    

Mark O'Neil knows the power of data.  He was the #2 guy at CarMax during the period when they figured out how to collect and analyze all of the data.  Then he left...and now he runs Dealer Track.  Their approach to DMS is similar to Sugar.  It is rediculous how Reynolds and ADP are holding their customers hostage.  The dealership owns the data, but somehow Reynolds and ADP have figured out how to charge dealerships for the use of their own data.  Time for a revolution.

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