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ALBANY, N.Y. – May 19th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com) announced today that Five Star Dealerships, an auto group in Aberdeen, WA has transformed its culture to one of managerial empowerment and has increased productivity with the help of reporting and dashboard features in Auto/Mate's dealership management system (DMS).
"Any time you make a big change like a DMS, it takes some getting used to," said Mike O'Dell, Corporate General Manager of Operations for Five Star Dealerships. "I expected it would take some time for employees to learn how to do certain things differently, but what surprised me was how the changes empowered our managers by making access to information so much easier."
Five Star Dealerships is an auto group with two locations in western Washington near the coast. One location handles the franchises of Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and the other location handles Chevrolet, Buick, Toyota and Scion. Three years ago the group's contract with a legacy DMS provider was nearing its end, and for the first time the principals realized they had additional vendor choices as Auto/Mate and another DMS provider had recently been approved by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. After a thorough review, Five Star principals chose Auto/Mate for three reasons: significant financial savings, robust capabilities of the DMS and Auto/Mate's reputation for superior customer support.
Once the switch was made, O'Dell immediately realized a benefit he had not anticipated; the simplicity of Auto/Mate's Daily DOC (Daily Operating Control) reporting system. Previously, if managers wanted to view financial reports, they'd have to refer to a chart of accounts with different account numbers, they'd have to know which general ledger the information was located in, enter the account number, pull up a separate executable, enter dates, and then finally get the detail of what was posted that into account. "Out of 120 employees, there were probably four in accounting who knew how to run those reports," said O'Dell. If accounting employees were busy with payroll or other priorities, report requests would have to wait.
With Auto/Mate, if a manager wants to view financial reports, all they have to do is pull up the Daily DOC menu and choose the report they want from pull-down menus. If they want to drill down to see more detail, they simply click on the dollar amount or line item of interest. O'Dell says the ability to run their own reports makes both the managers and the accounting department more productive. Yet an even bigger benefit has been realized as departmental managers have become more empowered.
"Now managers run financials more often and can easily see where they are spending money, where they are saving money, what the trends are and more," said O'Dell.
For instance, if a sales manager wants to see what his advertisement expenses are for the month, he can pull up the DOC in a few seconds, double click on the expense line, then double click on any expense to see the detail. It's also easy to choose different time frames; with a simple click the report can be changed from a current month view to a 12-month trend chart.
The ability to pull up DOCs on demand allows managers to instantly know which models are selling, how the sales department is performing relative to the forecast, which invoices in service are paid and which are unpaid, and more. The level of knowledge enables managers to identify and address problem areas immediately, and ultimately leads to better decision-making and higher profitability. "It's really a whole shift in culture and has changed how we run things, in a way that wasn't possible with the last DMS we had," said O'Dell.
Another feature that O'Dell quickly learned to appreciate is Auto/Mate's dashboard, a visual display of key metrics displayed at the bottom of the computer screen. Users can define virtually any metric they'd like to track; such as rate of new vehicle sales, the percentage of gross estimate met in the service department or the number of vehicles sold with extended warranty contracts. Then the user chooses a 'widget' to represent each metric, such as a bar chart, thermometer, digital clock or other graphical element. This allows users to view critical metrics at a glance.
"The dashboard gives us a snapshot of everything we need to see on a daily, weekly and monthly basis," said O'Dell, who routinely looks at total store sales and total store gross figures, as well as the expense and net figures for every department. "Ten days into the month I can glance at these widgets and know in my head where we are relative to our forecasts without having to run any reports. If there's a weakness somewhere you can see it right away and go talk with that department manager."
The dashboard also enables users to click directly on the widgets to drill down for more detail. "Let's say I'm looking at finance chargebacks for the month," said O'Dell. "I click on the widget and it will take me directly into that account. I can see immediately what has been posted such as insurance contracts, finance products, a gap chargeback, etc. Then I click on a posting and I can see there's been a warranty cancellation, and I can see the dollar amount, customer name and other information. In four clicks I can get every detail without having to run a report."
The productivity savings achieved with Auto/Mate's reporting and dashboard features have been difficult to quantify but O'Dell compares it to buying a new computer that's ten times faster than an old computer. "Imagine when you click on something on your computer, and you have to wait for the circle to stop spinning. It slows you down. That's similar to how the wrong technology can slow down processes in our store. Imagine if someone is trying to do their job and then has to stop and wait for something. But with the right tools, there's no slowing down. It makes all of our processes faster, and the time and cost savings from that are immeasurable."
In addition to the DMS reporting and dashboard features, O'Dell appreciates Auto/Mate's customer support. "What we like the most is that for anyone to work in Auto/Mate's customer support department, they had to work in a car dealership. Their Fixed Ops support person used to be a Fixed Ops Director, and same with the F&I support and hardware guys" said O'Dell. Prior dealership experience enables Auto/Mate's customer support team to understand the questions, challenges and problems their clients may be having. "Their level of personal involvement with their customers is great; it doesn't feel like you're dealing with a big corporate entity at all," said O'Dell.
The principals at Five Star Dealerships chose Auto/Mate for three reasons, all of which have proven to hold true. The auto group has achieved significant cost savings, enjoys the DMS' robust capabilities and Auto/Mate's exceptional customer support. In addition, O'Dell was pleasantly surprised by the accessibility and ease of use of the reporting system and dashboard. "It's changed the way we run our business, empowering managers to make better decisions while increasing productivity."
Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships. Its Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,000 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the “Highest Rated DMS of 2012" and the "Highest Rated DMS of 2013" awards in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.
Auto/Mate’s employees have more than 850 years of combined experience working in auto dealerships – the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. For more information visit our website, follow us on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to our blog at http://blog.automate.com
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