Can integrated CRM systems replace the DMS?

Some dealers have a love/hate relationship with the Dealer Management System (DMS). They depend on the functionality that the software brings but they hate long-term contracts and the cost associated with the technology.  Placing a value on DMS is not the point of this article.  I would like to focus on the death of DMS systems, as we know them today.

Rarely do I see online forums discussing the latest updates or features in DMS software.  This may just be a reflection on the “boring” nature of DMS software or the lack of real updates from DMS vendors.  What I do see are article about the new features added to popular CRM systems.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software was originally a way to track leads and customers in a database.  Early CRM software made it easier to create follow-up systems via phone or email.   The CRM software had a defined role.

Today, when you look at automotive CRM software, the scope of features and functionality are significantly larger than the original definition.  CRM software is becoming the operational “dashboard” for the dealership.  Automotive CRM software is integrating data from dealer websites, Adwords, Analytics, inventory, merchandising, leads, phone systems, mailing houses, and the list goes on.

I found a marketing flyer produced by VinSolutions about 2 years ago.  This excellent marketing tool asked dealers to write down the costs associated for software products and tools used at dealerships.  At the bottom of his long list, the dealer was asked to total up all those costs.   The punch line was that the VinSolutions website technology and CRM replaced all those individual expenses.  It made an impact on me and I’m sure on dealers as well.

That was two years ago!  Since then VinSolutions has added dozens of new features to their integrated marketing platform, which stirs up some questions for us to discuss on DealerRefresh:

  • Is the new breed of CRM products designed to eventually replace the DMS?
  • Will the best integrated website and CRM companies get dealers stay glued to their integrated tools and reports?
  • Will DMS become a secondary player; a plugin to the integrated marketing platform’s dashboard?

VinSolutions is not the only company that has and will redefine the term CRM and integrated marketing tools.

I have had the pleasure to see the new Dealer.com CRM software, which will be introduced to the marketplace later this year.  The CRM software tools and dashboards, which integrate seamlessly into their single login platform, were honestly breathtaking.  There is a tsunami of change coming to the automotive industry for companies that have integrated, end-to-end software solutions.

Dealer.com’s CRM will give their dealers unprecedented access to data, which will allow their teams to run more efficiently.  The ability for dealership employees to work anywhere, access data on any device, and be held accountable for business processes and workflows is without peer. Dealer.com has a wide range of products on their single integrated platform. CRM was the only glaring hole in their product strategy and now it has been expertly filled.

The product roadmap, although not shared with me, was obvious to me.  Create an indispensable, robust software platform that gives dealers valuable insights into all areas of their business. It is clear that if accounting is on their feature list, DMS as we know it, may become history.

The companies that can provide an integrated platform will, over time, squeeze out single solution companies and our industry will take a major step forward in productivity and profitability.

Are the CRM products, produced by VinSolutions or Dealer.com, really just CRM?   Absolutely not, they are and will increasingly become the primary dashboard for dealership operations.

A few months back I wrote an article that the new Autotrader.com companies just needed to purchase a DMS vendor.  Now, I am ready to take that statement back.   Why purchase a software company that has a limited, decreasing role when VinSolutions’ own marketing platform can be expanded.

As I look at things from this perspective, will the ADP/Cobalt technology marriage also produce a very strong, integrated software platform where the lines that were once CRM and DMS are blurred?  Will VinSolutions’, Dealer.com’s, and ADP/Cobalt’s integrated marketing platforms shrink the automotive website marketplace from 50+ vendors down to a few dozen?

Time will only tell but the role, function, and future of integrated marketing platforms based around intelligent CRM software looks like DMS killers.

Brian PaschBrian Pasch is the CEO of the PCG Digital Marketing and an active writer for the automotive community. You can also reach Brian at 732-450-8200 or by visiting his Automotive SEO website.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.