In late July, the Valley Automotive Group converted the last of its four dealerships from the Reynolds and Reynolds dealer-management system to the Auto/Mate platform.

Corporate controller Bob Vine, having been through several conversions in his 26 years in automotive retail, knew what he had to do to make sure the group chose the right vendor and experience a smooth transition.

Last fall, he put together a team of various managers whose task was to develop 500 questions that addressed what they believed a DMS system should provide their clients. The questions were then put into a spreadsheet and provided to several vendors.

“We assigned points to each answer,” Vine says. “When we scored the answers Auto/Mate and Automotive Computer Systems were the closest.”

Formalizing the process gave Vine a much better perspective of what he needed and which vendor would be able to provide it.

“I've been through a lot of these,” he says. “COIN, EDS, Reynolds. What usually happens is the sales guys come in with their slick presentations. You remember bits and pieces and bring back the guys who had the slickest presentations. And the one you become friends with sort of is the one you choose.”

Why make the change?

“I loved the Reynolds' product and don't have anything bad to say about it,” Vine says. “But Valley is comprised of Buick, Pontiac, GMC and Chevrolet franchises in a tough Minneapolis market and we had to cut costs. Reynolds had become a big luxury and quite an expensive product. We decided not to go with Reynolds or ADP because we could operate without all of the bells and whistles.”