A car dealershipâs customer-relationship management system should touch virtually every profit center, from the new-car showroom to the service department.
But employees of some departments are easier to train on the high-tech systems that are designed to cultivate and keep customers.
Service department staffers in particular catch on faster, says Brad Perry, founder of Dealer Socket, a CRM firm based in San Clemente, CA.
He cites three reasons. For one thing, service employees, such as technicians and advisors, are more technically oriented, and therefore more adaptable to learning how to use a new software system. âThey are used to dealing with computers,â Perry tells Wardâs.
Secondly, they work in a department that is more process oriented, making them more inclined to use a process-driven system, he says. âSales is arts and science, but a lot of sales people lean more towards the art side.â
Finally, service department employees tend to stay at their jobs longer. The turnover rate for dealership sales personnel is much higher.
A big obstacle to implementing a dealership-wide CRM system is training employees, only to have them quit soon afterwards.
Perry sees a vicious cycle: âA lot of dealerships donât use CRM systems because of high employee turnovers, but often the turnover is because employees arenât succeeding at their jobs, and theyâre not succeeding because they arenât using CRM.â
As a prelude to designing their CRM technology platform, Perry and business partner Jonathan Ord went to work at a Southern California dealership. For free. For one year.
âWeâd sit together and unload all the ideas and insights we had absorbed and come up with ideas to make things work better,â Perry recalls. âThen the next month, weâd move to a new department.â
He says their research convinced them a successful CRM system has much to do with the culture of people in different departments that make a dealership work on a daily basis.