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Ian Tomlin

Ian Tomlin Director

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Advances in Dealership CRM - What have we learnt?

f42a4f983fbb12359c0a11433fecddc5.jpg?t=1At NDMC we've been busy over the past 6-months developing a new Marketing Portal on the Encanvas platform to overcome the many and varied issues facing motor dealerships.

Thanks to Encanvas, we're able to bring new software applications to-market without coding. This doesn't overcome the bigger challenge of making sure the applications we produce 'fit' the processes and user expectations, but it does at least mean that we can afford to make mistakes - an inevitable consequence of bleeding edge development.

Much of the development work we've undertaken over the last few months has involved working with major dealer groups in the UK to actually establish 'what's not working' and then chasing our tails behind the scenes to overcome the issues.

So what have we found?

The top 5 weak-points are:

  1. The way data is held in a dealership (even when in a single DMS) creates a fragmented view of customer data.
  2. No central campaign management approach risks under-marketing/over-marketing. 
  3. DMS systems have no means of managing 'relative dates'. This means when a reminder flag has past, the opportunity is lost forever. Furthermore, there exists no mechanism to 'optimise' how leads are progressed and load-balanced to sales and marketing people (and systems) resulting in 'always poor' data.
  4. There exist no effective tools for automating the harvesting of data from third party systems, quarantining and cleansing data resulting in ‘always poor’ data. In consequence senior sales and marketing managers spend far too much time crunching data to produce campaign lists. 
  5. Executive managers have no means of real-time enquiry into their customer data. This means reports have to be created to answer any idea or questions.

​Okay - great. So lots of challenges. How do you solve them?  Well there are many ways to skin a cat.  In our case we've solved the problem for our clients by creating a marketing portal that does the following things:

Solution 1: Aggregation and cleansing of data.  We've created a 'data engine' that automates the harvesting and cleansing of data. It automates much of the ugly work of treating poor quality data.

Solution 2. We've created a campaign management platform that supports relative dates together with the ability to store queries.

Solution 3. We needed to help dealers to maintain their data quality so we created a system that formalizes their internal process of managing data quality (by identifying poor quality data through searches and then generating task lists to have the data cleansed).

Solution 4. We wanted to provide execs with tools to ask questions of their data.  Presently they come up with questions in their mind and then have to produce reports to source data to see if they're right or not.  You can imagine how wasetful this process is!! The solution we came up with is a CRM Diagnostic portal that includes interactive charts, grouped tables and maps to really make the customer data accessible.

But have we reached an end-point?  I think not.  So far my impression is that we've managed to solve OBVIOUS problems that most dealerships should be able to do in this day and age with all of the available technology that surrounds us.  They may be obvious but they're definitely not easy issues to solve. One of the reasons for this lies in the complexity of the data environment and the sub-optimal quality of software tools in the sector (though this may be a 'UK' issue rather than a global one;-).

If you have had similar experiences I welcome the opportunity to learn of them.

Ian.

Grant Gooley
Sounds like some great solutions here Ian! It seems CRM is the highest paid, most purchased and under utilized software for many of the reasons you outlined in this post. Now working for over 15 different dealerships all shapes and sizes, I have come to a conclusion. The tough part is not the technology, it's finding resources to employ an effective data capture and outbound marketing process using CRM. You could have the best technology in a set of golf clubs but if you don't have a pro swinging at the ball, there is a good chance you end up in the water or the woods quite often. The best CRM companies are the ones with the best leadership and training skills.

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