Supporting Automotive Retail Business Objectives with Intelligent Retail/Dealer Management Systems (Annex to White Paper)
By Robert Arvedson, Automotive Consulting
In our whitepaper «Envisioning Automotive Retail and its Impact on Retail/Dealer Management Systems», we approached the rapid developments in the environment of the automotive industry, mainly from a retail perspective, and the impacts these have on Dealer Management Systems DMS.
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In chapter 3 of the Whitepaper, we described the objectives we wanted to achieve with proaxia VSS. In this annex we would like to go one level more operational and show some practical examples from the daily automotive retail business on how we believe an intelligent DMS should actively support retailers to achieve their defined business objectives. These are just some of the features of the «proaxia Vehicle Sales and Service».
For this article we have selected typical business objective from the main business areas within automotive wholesale and retail, i.e., marketing, sales and aftersales. In the example we follow the customer journey throughout the prospecting-, purchase-, and ownership process.
The purpose of aligning IT with Business in this specific area is to support retail to maximise Sales and Aftersales performance – online and offline.
In particular with the retailers’ efforts to:
- Increase prospect satisfaction
- Convert more leads to opportunities
- Convert more opportunities to sales and reduce lost sales
- Increase sales efficiency and sales of cars
- Increase profitability in sales
- Increase profitability in aftersales
- Increase workshop efficiency and effectiveness
- Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty
proaxia VSS proactively supports automotive retail to:
1. Increase prospect satisfaction
proaxia VSS offers a fluid and efficient online and offline experience with the objective to maximise prospect satisfaction in the research and information finding phase. The efficiency increase gained through proaxia VSS can be used by the retailer to focus on prospect needs and to build an authentic relationship to become the prospect’s first choice.
The automotive industry spends large amounts on lead generation. Turning a lead into an opportunity is not only a matter of the likeability that the lead will purchase a vehicle, but also of the ability of the retailer to ensure genuine added value and prospect satisfaction in the process.
2. Increase sales efficiency and sales of cars
There are no silver medals in sales – you sell, or you don’t.
proaxia VSS is intuitive, it adapts to the flow of the customer and is simultaneously ensuring a defined sales process is applied. Of course, the sales process can be adapted to the requirements of a brand or the retailer.
proaxia VSS creates transparency in the sales process and helps sales consultants and sales managers to understand the individual and the team activity performance and KPIs in the sales process. The best sales consultants want to work with professional systems that support them in achieving their objectives.
proaxia VSS also challenges the retailer to define how the sales target for the sales team
shall be split between conquest and loyalty sales. Too often we see that sales targets are general and don’t capture the often higher conversion potential in the existing customer base, neither in new-, nor in used car sales.
3. Increase profitability in sales
An optimised balance between loyalty and conquest sales also helps balancing the total cost of sales which in general is lower with existing customers than with new customers.
Structured processes allow the sales consultants to focus on the customer instead of on the system. Attention to detail can be given and sales consultants shouldn’t miss natural and value-adding opportunities to up- and cross-sell.
If a sales consultant has challenges with adding value in the sales process, the customer is, most likely, less willing to pay for something it hasn’t received. Sales managers can actively coach their sales consultants based on their individual KPIs in the sales process.
Adding value in the customer purchase process pays off and proaxia VSS supports the sales consultant in the process.
4. Increase profitability in aftersales
Lean and efficient service processes which ensure that standard customer repair orders can be invoiced and explained to the customer on the day of vehicle pick-up.
Less gets forgotten and the customers understand the invoice.
proaxia VSS enables the right approach with the right customer, some prefer mainly online, and others prefer offline interaction with the service partner, and some want both. In some cases, a dialogue reception at the car is the preference, in some cases a direct reception in the workshop is required. In all cases proaxia VSS and the proaxia Mobile Service Advisor offer the possibility to take the customer through a professional process, where upselling and cross-selling is not seen to be push-sell.
5. Increase workshop efficiency and effectiveness
proaxia VSS generates real-time focused workshop reporting and analyses automatically which include the key workshop KPIs by workshop employee, workshop teams etc., e.g., productivity, efficiency, actual vs. standard times and effectiveness. We wanted to automate this as we often get the feedback that generating these reports manually or with Excel is normally very time consuming. That is true, it takes more than ensuring the time clocking by category is robust and that the used definitions are correct …
The parts’ sales analysis ensures an eye can be kept on sales by customer and categories as well as on the ratio parts sales : labour sales.
The proaxia VSS workshop analyses give the workshop manager all required information to understand where areas of improvement occur and hence can timely action and not wait until the results drop.
Utilising the proaxia VSS reporting to the advantage of aftersales is a key feature for the service-, workshop- and parts manager in their joint daily planning of the job orders short- and mid-term.
6. Increase customer satisfaction
proaxia VSS not only offers the prospect and customer fluid online and offline experience and allows the retail staff to focus on adding value in the process. It also helps removing the perceived or real silos between sales and aftersales, e.g., an automatic invitation is issued to customer service to introduce themselves at vehicle delivery.
The bigger the positive contact surface is between the customer and the retailer, the stronger the relationship can be. A customer who has purchased a new car should under no circumstances feel like a stranger when making a service appointment.
With proaxia VSS the natural touch points with the customer can be used, e.g., when a customer makes a service appointment, an automatic message can be sent to the allocated sales consultant that the customer comes to the dealership and a quick joint cup of coffee or catch-up can be arranged. Done the right way, it is far more effective than sending a boring standard birthday card which most businesses do.
Satisfied customers indirectly often sell more cars and service than retailers realise – alert retailers and sales consultants understand that sales is a result of a successful process and not just a transaction. There is a saying in the industry that many cars are «sold» when two neighbours meet outside their garages and discuss the new car and if they were happy with the retailer.
In service and repairs, research and customer satisfaction surveys often show that if an invoice is presented and explained to the customer when the car is picked up, there is less risk for customer dissatisfaction, compared with an invoice that is mailed at a later point in time. If an unhappy customer receives an OEM/Importer customer satisfaction survey, they are likely to either not reply, or give less positive feedback. Both are not good for customer loyalty.
We have understood what some of the drivers for customer satisfaction are and continuously work on adding innovative value for the retailer.
7. Increase customer loyalty
Successful retailers and we at proaxia understand that the product itself is not a differentiator in intra-brand competition, but the retailer staff and the customer moments-of-truth are. Loyalty is an emotion and is not always a result of a process.
We see our role in providing the tools we can for the retailer to maximise the probability that the prospect and customer is happy. Increasing background efficiency through intelligent sales and service systems to make sure sufficient time is available for building authentic and value adding customer relationships is becoming more important than ever.
Thought Leader in
Automotive Retail Management Systems
This document was prepared by:
Dr. Robert Arvedson
Robert is an automotive distribution channel specialist with 30 years of broad automotive industry experience. Both senior line responsibilities in Sales positions with several hundred million turnover responsibility as well as executive Retail Network Development positions at OEM central operations and National Sales Companies, with placements in different countries.
Robert also represented a manufacturing group at ACEA, the European Automotive Manufacturers Association, Brussels, in Automotive Block Exemption matters and in the lobbying with the European Commission.
More than 20 years consulting experience to the automotive industry with 20+ brands in the premium and volume segments.
proaxia and Robert Arvedson have been co-operating in several automotive projects during the last 20 years.
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