Customers get antsy and salespeople get embarrassed when vehicles can’t readily be located.
I’m an evangelist for the value technology brings to customers and dealers in the sales process.
Affordable new technologies can help dealers maximize their bottom lines by eliminating inefficiencies, lowering operating costs and saving time.
Too much manual effort is spent on behind-the-scenes logistics. It can waste time and frustrate customers. The goal of technology at a dealership should be to simplify processes so salespeople can focus on their “real” job: selling.
An example of technology that lowers dealers’ costs while improving customer experiences is inventory management. Until recently, inventory-management tools have been like fleet-management tools. They were the domain of companies with hundreds of trucks traveling thousands of miles a day. Managing that was a fulltime job often for an entire team.
Obviously, these expensive vehicle-management solutions wouldn’t make sense for a local dealership with a hundred cars, most of which are stationary 95% of the time. Why would a dealer invest in technology like that?
Because inventory-management solutions no longer are expensive nor do they require a fulltime manager. Instead plug-and-play GPS tools can enable a dealer to better manage all lot vehicles, even if there are multiple locations and franchises.
These tools can help lower insurance rates. In some cases, banks offer better rates to dealers who use them. More importantly, inventory management can help dealers improve customer experiences and close sales.
For instance, a dealership may face the frustration of not immediately being able to locate a vehicle. It could be out for a test drive, at home with an employee or on a different lot across town.
Meanwhile, an interested customer rapidly loses patience. When buyers want to see a car – the specific car they came in to check out – they don’t want to wait while the dealership calls around trying to find out who took it, where it is and when it will be back.
Walking all around a big car lot can waste valuable time and open windows for a waffling customer to exit. GPS-based inventory management tools can track and identify the locations of vehicles in real-time.
Simplified formats, including applications for mobile devices, allow a salesperson to find a vehicle in seconds without leaving the customer’s side.
These tools can help dealers reserve cars customers have expressed interest in, and ensure that they are gassed, washed and ready to go when the potential buyer arrives.
Ever have this happen? A customer comes in for a test drive. You locate the vehicle of interest and get ready to drive it when you discover… the battery is dead. The sale becomes jeopardized by an avoidable inconvenience.
Technology can make sure cars are in the best condition for a customer test drive. With diagnostic solutions from simple installed devices, dealers can do more than check battery levels.
They can manage vehicle test-drive miles, see fuel levels and even set “geofences” or electronic boundaries of where a car is allowed to travel. Managers can get text alerts if a test-drive goes wayward or an employee decides to take a vehicle on an unauthorized road trip.
These technologies enable dealers to control fuel costs as well as keep vehicles in the best possible condition. Sale-blocking embarrassments don’t occur.
Another technology is particularly helpful to buy-here, pay-here dealers. Unfortunately, some of them must repossess vehicles if an own fails to meet payment obligations.
With GPS tracking devices, dealers can locate a vehicle in seconds. Some of the nation’s largest used-car dealership groups, including DriveTime, use GPS technologies to lower repossession expenses and make the entire process simple and safe.
Complicated technology can be a handful. But easy-to-use, palm-of-your-hand solutions make life easier for dealerships.
Michael Maledon is the CEO of Inilex,, a provider of SkyLINK vehicle theft-recovery and monitoring solutions, as well as GPS-based fleet-monitoring technologies.