The CRM is arguably one of the most essential tools for the dealership other than the DMS. However, one thing to note and consider are all of the hidden fees associated with the CRM; everything from integration fees (from the DMS) and third-party vendors. More importantly, too, is how the third party tools are integrated into the CRM. Such as but not limited to phone call tracking, trade-in tools, texting, and email marketing, to name a few. That said, here are two things to consider when it comes to the vendor integration fees.
The Cost to Connect the DMS.
The CRM is often connected to the DMS, and the purpose of the DMS being connected is so that the sales and fixed-ops transactions can be sent to the CRM. Having that data in the CRM is valuable for many reasons. One of the top reasons to have the DMS connected is so that you are easily able to pull reporting on your customers total spend. In addition to being able to effectively market to those customers. In order to do all of this, however, you generally have to pay a fee to so that the systems communicate. And depending on both the CRM or DMS system you use, the fees can quickly add up. This is also a fee you pay monthly, which can be as much as $600 a month! Take a minute to see what you are spending and make sure that all of the data is coming over correctly. The one data point that is imperative to have sent over to the CRM is the DMS ID of the sales consultant or service advisor that completed the transaction. As a result of doing that, you can easily see what they contributed to individually. More often than not, you will see "house deal" in the CRM regarding a sold deal or service RO. The main reason this occurs is due to the DMS ID not being setup in the CRM. Or if the sales consultant has not yet obtained their sales license. And in many cases, if you try and 'add' or 'change' the DMS ID in the CRM, by the next morning it reverts back to the 'house deal' DMS ID. This is because the DMS imports data nightly, which is another reason why your reports might not be accurate and or showing multiple 'split deals' as it is splitting a deal with both ID's.
Are Third-Party Integrations Always Necessary?
This is a hard question to ask. I offer that because even if the vendor is connected to the CRM - having paid the monthly fee - does not mean that you will be able to use the tool in the way you thought. Namely, a lot of the vendor integrations are not always able to function as they would if you were using the tool separately. For example, two of the biggest third-party integrations used today on the dealer level are inbound call tracking and trade evaluations. When it comes to integrating inbound phone calls, it is essential as most vendors are able to ensure that the inbound call is linked to the customer's profile. However, when it comes to managing both the call and reporting, it is often easier to accomplish directly in their platform. Where some of the call tracking vendors do not relay any information added and or changed into their system from the CRM. For example, it is much easier in many cases to listen to the sales calls in the CRM, no? But if your GM were to review the "calls reviewed" report from the platform - not taking into consideration that you listened to them in the CRM - then it can cause for frustration on both ends. That said, while it might cost you money to integrate the vendor, it is worth it as it is essential to have the calls linked to the customer. Making it much easier for your BDC Agents, Sales Consultants, and Sales Managers to manage the customer correspondence.
With regards to the trade-evaluations, in many cases, the sales consultant still has to use the third party-app to in-put the trade information, which is then sent over to the CRM. That still causes there to be double data entry. As a result, most sales consultants are required to enter the trade-in information manually into the CRM tool at which point the sales manager can use that data - in the CRM - to run the trade evaluation. That said, it comes down to a personal choice, and it is still a good idea to have it integrated into the CRM as you will then have accurate data regarding the trade. Not to mention, as you know - especially for those who print deal packets from the CRM - it is imperative that the trade-in information is correct. Anything to make this easier and more accurate is the way to go.
Bottom Line: While we cannot get out of the fees we pay to have a vendor integrated, we do need to make sure that all of the data we need to be pushed over is pushed correctly. In addition to making sure that for those with third-party integrations are not just setup correctly, but that you are able to easily manage the integration. Being able to access the elements of the platform without having to use both the CRM and the vendor platform.
What Are Some of the Tools That You Use But Are Not Integrated Into the CRM? What is holding you back from having the tool integrated?