Dealer Kevin Reilly offers nine “takeaways” on selecting, launching and implementing a CRM system at an auto dealership:

  1. Shop and compare, especially at the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention where nearly 70 CRM vendors occupy exhibit floor space.
  2. Set a firm timetable for consideration and purchase. “This is easier said than done, but you can be paralyzed by too much analysis and spend years looking at companies.”
  3. Utilize a “phased” approach to CRM functionality purchases. Otherwise, the staff may become overwhelmed.
  4. Provide the CRM consultant a written overview of the dealership's people and processes. “It helps your vendor if it is on paper. It helps tech people develop a program and gets you up to speed faster.”
  5. Identify CRM champions to handle post-installation issues. “It's easy at the beginning when the CRM firm's tech support staff is at your dealership. It's different when they are gone.”
  6. Launch the system in the beginning or middle of the month. At month's end, the staff is focused on sales goals.
  7. Focus immediately on the 20% that will yield 80% of results. “You want people to feel successful, so they can do more.”
  8. Incorporate CRM metrics and reports into regular staff meetings. “Cover who's doing what well; who's not.”
  9. Incorporate CRM into pay plans and reward activities, not just results. “I told my staff they won't get bonuses if they don't meet metric standards. That's what the factory does to dealers when it says: ‘We'll pay you this if you do that.’”

Tongue in cheek, Reilly offers a final piece of CRM-implentation advice: “Set up monthly payment plans through American Express. If all else fails, at least you'll earn points towards a well-earned vacation.”