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Jared Hamilton
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What to Look for When Choosing a Dealer Management System Part 1

Dealers are regularly approached by vendors selling their wares. Not only is it challenging to know what will be a valuable asset for your particular dealership, but it can also sometimes be downright confusing!

Of all of the various software and data services available to dealerships, none is more essential than your Dealer-Management System. Take a minute and think of all the technology a dealership adopts as if it were a human body. Well, in this analogy, the DMS is the brain that runs the whole operation. Choosing one that is the right fit can be incredibly difficult. And, shiny objects can easily seduce a dealership into selecting a DMS that isn’t the right fit.

So, how do you choose which one is right for your particular dealership?

This blog is the first in a 3-part series where I plan to share the research a dealership should do, the questions you should ask and what in particular you should look at when vetting each of the dealer management systems available. I hope that this can help you find the right partner. Yes, I am a DMS vendor. But it is also my passion to share my experience to help others. And, as I have been in this particular field for many years, I hope my observations are helpful!

To start with:

1)   Choose the right business partner:

First and foremost, you want to look for a partner, not merely a technology vendor. Look for complementary skills, similar values, and like-minded goals. I am sure you value your customers, so likewise, look for a dealer management system provider that values its dealer customer – you.

Similarly, I am sure you strive for an excellent customer experience. So, seek a provider that strives for the same great experience for its dealer client, and that demonstrates mutual respect through their customer service. Also, ensure that their software and data services are a good fit for your dealership. Not all technology is created equal so, if you feel that something is lacking in their technology; or that they lack innovation and that your dealership can create better ways to operate without them; then your focus should be on choosing a business partner that is an extension of the technology staff at your dealership.

2)   Ensure they can Integrate with your key vendors:

An incredibly important thing to consider when choosing a DMS is integration. There is nothing more frustrating than encountering friction and problems in integration with other key vendors.

No dealer wants to feel handcuffed by any technology provider. To ensure flexibility with any of your other third-party software and data services, chose DMS providers that do not limit integration. Some providers restrict access to new technologies through high fees, or they limit your functionality. For example, several third-party services provide a mobile write-up solution, yet many DMS providers limit your ability to use some of these tools to create ROs. Look for a partner that excels at providing secure, real-time, and unfettered integration to any third-party your dealership wishes to use, both now and in the future.

3)   Evaluate Security:

Cyber threats are increasingly common as hackers penetrate systems containing sensitive personal customer information. Any DMS provider you choose must be prepared to deal with threats and should provide your dealership with continuous improvements when it comes to data access and security from external threats.

Another thing to consider is the two types of data platforms utilized by DMS providers: hosted (in the cloud) and on the premises in the dealership.

If you are considering a hosted service, be sure to evaluate where the data center resides, whether it meets current certification and data security standards, what their backup and recovery procedures are and how often all are reviewed for vulnerabilities.

On the other hand, if you are considering a DMS that is based on your premises, your dealership maintains a bit more control. It is crucial to evaluate your own internal controls, procedures, and who has access to this data. 

A DMS provider can, however, play a significant role in providing best practices and training your staff in ways to secure your data from unwanted and unauthorized access as well as provide advice and guidance to management on what internal safeguards should be put into place.


These are just three best-practice suggestions your dealership can use when considering a DMS provider. I hope you find them helpful! Stay tuned for the next part in this 3-part series.

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