The latest National Automobile Dealer Assn. survey of dealership system providers (DPS) shows overall dealership satisfaction (“very satisfied” and “somewhat satisfied”) with vendors slipped to 78% last year.

That compares with an 82% satisfaction rate in 2003, the year of the last bi-annual survey. Eleven top suppliers were involved in the latest polling.

Only 48% of dealer principals and general managers say they would recommend their vendors to another dealership.

Other surveyed dealership personnel are kinder.

Seventy-one percent of parts managers, 69% of office managers, 66% of sales managers and 60% of service managers say they would recommend their existing systems.

Overall, the survey of 1,434 dealership principals and managers falls short of the 90% satisfaction goal set by dealership executives.

Those who say they would not recommend their DSP vendor to another dealership most often say it is because their system is not “user friendly.”

Satisfaction with systems integration also fell. Currently, 67% of dealerships say they were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with software flexibility for their business needs, vs. 71% in 2003.

System speed satisfaction dropped from 83% to 75%, with the top decision makers — dealers and general managers — again the least satisfied.

Dick Malaise, NADA's chief information officer, says one of the surprises concerning the survey results is “that overall satisfaction was down again.”

DSP vendors develop and support dealership computer systems that help dealerships manage various operations including inventory, sales, service, parts, training and personnel.

The top two technology providers are Reynolds and Reynolds Co. and ADP Dealer Services Group. Between them, they handle more than 80% of the estimated $2 billion dealer business in the U.S.

Nine other vendors mostly split the remaining business. They are: ACS, Adam Systems, Arkona, AutoMate, Autosoft-ASI, DPC Systems, Dubuque Data Services, Jarvis Computer Systems and PBS Financial Systems.

NADA invites vendors to study and discuss survey results “to better understand the changing needs of dealerships as they move forward.”

An eight-page NADA summary and a complete survey for dealership members is available at www.nada.org/technology.

The survey focuses on three main drivers:

  • Satisfaction with overall customer service and the speed of making dealer-requested application changes and modifications.
  • Flexibility of software to adapt to a dealership's business needs and the speed of the system in its daily use by dealership staff.
  • Effectiveness of technical training for dealership staff.