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Cox Automotive

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Spring Cleaning for Your CRM

After what has been a long, snowy winter for many across the country, spring is finally here! That means it is time for an annual dose of spring cleaning. Spring cleaning isn’t just for the storage shelves in your garage and that closet of random items, though. Most dealership CRMs could use a good spring cleaning too.

For a CRM to do your dealership any good, your team has to actually use it. Just like the miscellaneous pile of poorly-writing promotional ink pens and out-of-date pizza menus keep you from getting to the one thing you actually need in the junk drawer, the clutter that can build up in your CRM can keep you from being able to properly use the tool.

Your dealership and your customers are always changing, so the way you use your CRM should always be evolving too. There are three key areas in your CRM that could probably use a good spring cleaning: your data, your processes and your training.

Your Data
In conversations about CRMs, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Garbage in, garbage out.” It is said often for a reason; it’s true, and it’s important. Keeping your data tidy is critical to CRM success, and the cost of failing to keep your data clean is high.

Bad data costs quickly add up. First, there are the opportunity costs. With missing or inaccurate data, such as a wrong phone number, you miss out on sales opportunities. Second, there are the wasted marketing costs. Sending customers promotions in the mail can be a valuable marketing tool – but only if you keep their physical addresses updated. If customers’ addresses aren’t up-to-date, you might as well be tossing dollar bills out the window. Finally, there are the lost productivity costs. If your salespeople are directing half of their follow-up to incorrect email addresses and phone numbers, half of their time is wasted.

Even the most stringent of CRM users likely accumulate some garbage data over a year’s time, so take stock of what you have and clean up what’s not right.

Your Processes
Your CRM should work for you, not the other way around. Take the time to ask yourself if your current CRM gives you the flexibility to customize processes to best fit your needs.  

There is some trial and error involved with getting processes right, so do some spring cleaning of every process you have built in your CRM. You may find that you don’t need some of the processes you currently have, or that there are big gaps that you need to build new processes to fill.

Start your process spring cleaning by looking at overdue tasks. Too many overdue tasks often indicate that your processes are overly complicated or unrealistic. On the flip side, if you do not have any overdue tasks, your processes are probably not complex or thorough enough.

Your Training Programs
I see many dealerships begin and end their CRM training with new hire onboarding. Training new hires is critical to CRM success, but new hire training alone isn’t enough. To keep utilization high, CRM training must be ongoing. High CRM utilization means high ROI, so it is worth cleaning up your training programs this spring.

To begin your training clean up, think about common problem areas in your dealership. Could the root cause of any of those problems be solved with training? For many dealerships, key CRM issues are caused by poor utilization, not the tool itself.

A good CRM is always changing, and people are forgetful, so it is critical to work regular training into your staff’s responsibilities. Be realistic about it, though, and start small. If you only have training once a quarter currently, try shooting for once a month.

It’s also important to take advantage of the training resources you have at your disposal through your CRM provider, such as online training sessions, in-person conferences and performance managers. The dealers that are most successful with their CRM are the ones who take advantage of all of this training and take it seriously.

This spring, give your CRM a good spring cleaning, and start seeing even greater success.

Mark Vickery is senior director of performance management for VinSolutions.

Derrick Woolfson

Great article, Mark! I will offer, though that a lot of CRM's sadly do not offer much in the way of cleaning up the data. There are some that offer an "auto-merge" tool that is constantly scanning for duplicates. But as we know (and you mentioned) this does not clean up bad data. Another issue with many of today's CRM's is that they do not allow you to delete leads. I am cognizant that dealers would be concerned with this as a feature, BUT a bad lead is a bad lead. And "hoarding" bad leads will only leave your sales consultants/BDC Reps constantly sifting through the work-flows weeding out the bad leads. 

Joe Webb

Great stuff as always, Mark. Though I'd say your list works best backwards. Training on the importance and utilization is the first step. Methodically improving processes through testing and best practices comes second. Guaranteeing the data is collected, analyzed and protected is third. Nonetheless, spot on.

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