Building your Own Software

Jordan Walters
Curious to know why more dealers/dealer groups have not built their own software. With quite a few data companies willing to let you plug into their API what are the hangups? On a follow up, do you think we'll start to see more of the this going forward?
Jillian Marchewka
We use an adapted open source version of SugarCRM that I built specifically for our dealership's needs... We host it in-house, we own ALL of our data, and we don't pay a cent for it... And we aren't even a big dealership group or anything.
Chris K Leslie
Such a good question Jordan. I think it comes down to a not knowing where to begin really. Or even knowing that things can be built because, well.. technology.. It really isn't until just recently that more dealerships are starting to take more of the marketing burden in-house. It's easy to shuck and jive vendors with a bunch if of bolt on products. It's a lot harder to get totally involved in a campaign or long term strategy. The tech / software world is massive and unless you already either live in it or have a deep interest it's really hard to see what the possibilities are. Let alone building tools. Last thing is that it's easy to justify a sales person's paycheck. It gets really hard to pencil a salaried technology person. Not saying it can't be done. It just requires someone who knows the value of the role and what it provides. I do think we'll start to see more and more over the years simply by the fact that programing and software have become ubiquitous in schools and most jobs.
Carl Maeda
Jillian - we also highly customized SugarCRM to fit our needs. It works great! But for us, it was a long road to get there. Lots of trial and error, lots of time evaluating each feature, lots of programming hours, etc. We severely underestimated the commitment to time and resources. There was a huge commitment upfront but once we got over that hurdle, we have a system that works exactly the way we want. There is still monthly maintenance that we have to do so its' not totally free but it is cheaper on a monthly basis. That's the biggest barrier to writing new software for anything. The upfront commitment of time and resources.
Adam M
I'll speak from experience of working on a CRM for a dealership developed internally from the ground up. Developing your own software internally is a huge project to commit to. It takes A LOT of time to plan, develop, test, and implement your own software such as a CRM system.You might have an IT Manager with a degree in Computer Science. That is great but it doesn't make them qualified to develop and deploy software. Just because someone has the technical ability to do something does not mean they should within a business. Also, you will have to rely on a select individual or group to support and enhance the software. What happens WHEN that person or those people leave your company? These people become much more difficult to replace. No software is perfect. Every product has advantages and disadvantages. I think that you have to ask yourself if the advantages are worth the time, effort, and commitment these types of projects take. I know a couple have posted favorably to using a customized version of Sugar CRM. I'm sure using an existing platform such as Sugar is much easier than developing something from scratch. I still believe this requires a lot of time. If it is my money then I am using software by one of the many automotive vendors. I believe my time and effort is best spent implementing an existing system and working with the right vendor(s) to ensure it meets my needs.
Rob Chandler
Many of the large vendors out there can't even get CRM right with all of their resources...should give an idea of how difficult it can be to implement in-house.

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