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Virtual DMS Installations in the Reimagined Dealership Environment

by Lindsay Lauck
on April 20, 2020

 

Virtual Technology Transitions – An Interview with Susan Moll, Sr. Director of Implementations

The recent restrictions, regulations, and safety measures sweeping the world are forcing dealerships—and the industries that support them—to rapidly innovate. The digital transformation taking place is literally bridging the digital gap between every step of the buying process for consumers, as well as the operational efficiencies and processes within the dealership itself. And it happened fast. Some dealers were caught in the middle of a technology transition, others about to make the move to a new Digital Management System (DMS), and some still considering the switch. Switching to a new DMS is a big decision for you and your business, but what does it look like now that the process has had to adapt to a completely virtual environment? We spoke with Susan Moll, Senior Director of Implementations to learn how our partners are making the transition to a new DMS in the new, reimagined dealership environment.

Reimagining Dealertrack’s DMS Installation, Virtually

According to Susan Moll, who has overseen implementations for DMS technology for over 25 years, making the move to a virtual process for many dealers was an easy decision. “We transitioned eight dealer groups in March and kicked off five more franchises this week.” While the team has certainly scaled back their normal numbers, with some dealership groups opting to wait until in-person training becomes an option again, having an uncertain timeline made the virtual option more appealing to some of our partners. “We still have plans to return to the partners who have transitioned to Dealertrack DMS once restrictions are lifted, but without knowing when the quarantine will end, it was better to make the move now. We can always come back out later.”

What changes, safety measures, and updates are being made?

We made the decision mid-March that we weren’t traveling,” Moll explains. “So we called our partners and offered to take them live in a virtual environment. We’re taking them live now and planning on revisiting then for a few days in person once it’s safe to do so.” Keeping your dealership staff safe and healthy is priority number one. We’re here to help maintain business continuity.

Positive outcomes from the new virtual environment…

In addition, the Dealertrack team has updated the standard five-day readiness agenda, which normally includes two-days of travel, and can now use the entire five days for training. “We’re ready to go when the dealership opens, now, and we’re able to spend more time with our partners…We’re able to flex our hours to support the customer bell-to-bell.” As Moll explains, without the limitations of catching flights, travel itineraries, and basic logistics, her team can log on to video calls with any department in the dealership at the time that best meets the needs of that team.

What do dealers need to do to prepare for a virtual Dealertrack DMS installation?

“It’s no different than if we were onsite,” explains Moll. “We’ve just switched to using Microsoft Teams and GoToMeeting to make it happen. We’re facilitating meetings, answering questions, training, etc.” Making the move to an online environment is a move that most businesses are facing at the moment. (For tips and best practices for optimizing your dealership, check out the recap from Brad Horton’s presentation on Optimizing Your Dealership Network Environment.)

Positive outcomes from the new virtual environment…

“Dealers have less foot traffic and customers aren’t slammed with millions of people in the showroom. It’s given us some time for dealers to really spend on the conversion during this slow period,” Moll explains. This is a tough time for dealerships and many dealers chose to switch their technologies to a Cox Automotive solution to optimize their business efficiencies, saving money on integration fees, and upgrading their processes. With the economy set to take a downturn, “…dealers don’t want to wait six more months to go with us. There’s a lot of thought put into making the switch to Dealertrack DMS.”

“I think we’ll come out of this with a lot of lessons learned about what we thought we could do and what we didn’t know we were capable of doing.” – Susan Moll, Sr. Director of Implementations at Dealertrack DMS

Getting started with your dealership.

The most important thing a dealership general manager or owner should do to prepare their team is to set the expectations as if the installation were happening in person. “The best dealership transitions happen when the leaders keep pushing the team forward,” explains Moll. In the case of one dealership who just made the transition, their DPO recently shared that “(having a virtual installation) forced our staff to take additional ownership of their tasks and learning, resulting in a better outcome.” Showing up to daily and weekly training meetings, completing assignments, going through all the details is key to a solid transition.

Positive outcomes from the new virtual environment…

From road warriors to sales professionals to office managers alike, having more time to focus on training and learning a new DMS technology without the normal distractions of standard dealership hours is rare. That’s not to say that working remotely comes without its own challenges. However, these are unique times, and the present unique opportunities for learning. “I think we’ll come out of this with a lot of lessons learned about what we thought we could do and what we didn’t know we were capable of doing,” says Moll.

What new tactics have we learned?

“When you have no choice, you need to figure it out. It was literally all hands on deck,” Moll explains. For a few very busy weeks, everyone on Moll’s team pulled together to ensure the very best solution would be provided for our partners. “Our first customers just finished the full implementation process. I think they’re in good shape, and we’ll be coming back to visit in person. We’re doing everything we can to help them so they can achieve their goals.” Moll acknowledges that there’s still more to learn and that dealers are facing many challenges right now. Turning this crisis into a valuable learning opportunity that benefits our partners feels like the right thing to do.

Further Reimagining Dealertrack’s DMS Installation Process

Dealerships are proving to be incredibly adaptive and resourceful during this unusual time. Moll points out that many of the new services provided by dealer service centers, for example, are bringing great customer experiences directly to the driver. “I don’t think things will ever truly go back to normal,” Moll states. “When you see service departments advertising they’ll come pick up your car and use digital services to accept payment, it just shows that there are all sorts of opportunities. I think when we look back on this time and all of the things we’re going to learn, these best practices are going to stick with us.”

Helping our clients maintain business continuity is a top priority. Visit our Business Continuity Tools & Resources Center for more.

Tags: DMS, Switching DMS technology, Virtual

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