5 Reasons Why I Hate CRM Software for Car Dealers.

5 quick reasons why I hate CRM software for automotive dealers.

  1. Lack of strong ILM utilities – Most CRM software fail to include a strong ILM (internet lead management) utility.
  2. Workflow never works right -€“ when I say “€œworkflow”€ I mean your pre-determined automatic scheduled follow-up that you set up in your CRM tool. This might be a scheduled phone call on day 1, 3, 5 etc. or
    scheduled emails and/or letters. I have yet to find a CRM that is able to change its follow-up on the fly according to where a sales person determines what phase the customer is in.
  3. Sold deals get LOCKED – If your CRM updates your Sold customers by pulling from your DMS, many CRM’€™s “€œlock”€ the Sold opportunity, making it impossible to make necessary changes to the customer or vehicle information.For example; you title the car in the business or company name and this overwrites the customer’s name that you have entered into your CRM. Now your “after sold” follow up letters are addressed to the business name rather the customer. Another example; a front end or back end gross changes but the CRM doesn’t  allow you to edit this since the opportunity has already been updated by the DMS.
  4. They allow dealers to SPAM! – Yes..it’€™s SPAM. If you’re using your CRM to broadcast email specials to customers that inquired about a vehicle from your website or a 3rd party lead you bought from Dealix, AutoUSA, Cars.com, etc. and they have not opt-in for your specials email, you ARE SPAMMING! Remember, SPAM is the customer perception. (I’€™ll write more about this later).
  5. Too much maintenance – You almost need a full time person to handle the administrative duties and the phone calls to tech support.

I could go on with another 5-10 more reason why I hate most CRM’s software. I’€™ll keep that for another continued post someday.

Jeff Kershner

I’m the founder of DealerRefresh. I got my start in the dealer business when I was 18. From there I've worked throughout several departments within fixed to variable ops. Whether it’s managing the desk, perfecting sales process or studying online marketing and media trends, I absolutely love this business and the challenges it brings. On top of keeping up with DealerRefresh, I consult with dealerships and key industry businesses. My passion has been and continues to be helping dealers leverage new media to sell and improve customer service.

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

44 comments
URABUS
URABUS

Dealer socket was designed by idiots. The displays are childish, remote server access is terrible, it crashes all the time, the software is disfunctional and poorly conceived. You have to click 12 times to send one email.

URABUS
URABUS

Dealer socket was designed by idiots. The displays are childish, remote server access is terrible, it crashes all the time, the software is disfunctional and poorly conceived. You have to click 12 times to send one email.

Scott
Scott

Jeff,
I am trying to think of the name of a dealer CRM Software and for the life of me I can't.

If I am not mistaking it was created by a dealer, does that ring any bells?

I used it briefly at a small store and it worked really good for the whole store, but this was several years ago.

Any idea?

Scott
Scott

Jeff, I am trying to think of the name of a dealer CRM Software and for the life of me I can't. If I am not mistaking it was created by a dealer, does that ring any bells? I used it briefly at a small store and it worked really good for the whole store, but this was several years ago. Any idea?

Brian
Brian

I posted this earlier today and thought you dealers out there may find this useful:

If there is one thing I have figured out working for multiple dealers, multiple lenders and now multiple CRM companies, no product is any better than the people who use it. What I always find is negative feedback about how bad someone is yet the person posting isn't even a good user of the product.

When I served my dealer community as a lender, I had many times where in just an attempt to improve relations with a store, I would get management to agree to approve anything within set basic parameters, (I won't bore you with the criteria but trust me when I say I took the leash off). Did dealers take advantage of it? No. Why? This may be the central issue.

It seems to me that dealers seldom become and maintain a certain level of progressive thought and execution. What's the proof? I have heard that 80% of all dealerships change their technology vendors when the agreement reached full term. This may not be 100% accurate but I wouldn't doubt it. Recently both VinSolutions and DealerSocket made big time lists of natioanlly recommended publicists for high achievement in growth. Is that proof?

Some online postings will support my claim. Take Kevin's comments from 4/07 on DealerRefresh as support for my claim. He used Higher Gear, then iCar, then VinSolutions. All since 2007? Proof?

Bottom line is that you are only as good as your commitment to utlize fully a product. Cars are complicated things. Do you just pour juice in them and they go? No. Do you really expect your CRM to be simple to? Reality is that you can pull back the filters on anyone's CRM and never follow up on anyone or anything that it tells you to. There is so much horsepower behind these things through automated responders and triggers that the dealership will sell more cars without your staff even using or touching the CRM just beacuse it will farm that hard.

Next time you evaluate a CRM ask yourself the following:
1. Will they support me and proof of it.
2. Does the tool support as much or more of my fixed operations as it does my variable operations? Fixed ops are the key to nearly every store.
3. If it is easy to use a salesperson should be able to make 3 - 5 hash marks for the number of times their fingers had to type something on a keyboard leading up to taking a deal to the tower.
4. Your next CRM should be able to "Stop" or "Cease" it's automated workflow plan (Day 1, 3, 5, 7, etc follow up tasks) tasks or actions anytime someone in the dealership owns and is being responsible for the deal. Many CRMs will fire automated redundant work tasks even though the sales person has already set up a plan of action in the system.
5. Your CRM must and should be certified and real-time integrated with your DMS. This isn't always possible but many CRM providers will disguise the truth to earn your business. A nightly file drop is not what I am talking about here. Pull but not push doesn't cut it either. And just beacuse your DMS and CRM came from the same place doesn't mean it works better. I know one that argues with itself: CRM says, "Sold" tonight but the deal paperwork was finished tomorrow and marked, "Sold" in the DMS. Now reporting is offline for "Sold" units and you have to rectify.
6. How does your CRM show you it's ROI? I only know of one CRM that will literally show you when it's working and can be credited for business. With the average car salesman forgetting their non-sold customer in 2-4 weeks, (Or so I have been told / experienced) your CRM can't, shouldn't and when used right, wont't.
7. I think your CRM should create a culture of tranparency and a culture of accountability. I am not talking about just for the dealership either. Will your CRM display when there is a push error wih the DMS with out burying the info? This little feature will save you painstaking troubles down the road...trust me.
8. Finally, service after the sale. I have only experiencd one CRM that on their own dime partners with you on a regular and consistant basis, even coming to the store to consult on the tool so that your results can be targeted and modified as you grow and change. Most CRM companies focus too much on selling you the product and not ensuring your success. Does your CRM reps pay get negatively affected when your usage drops or you are not performing? That is commitment.

Brian
Brian

I posted this earlier today and thought you dealers out there may find this useful: If there is one thing I have figured out working for multiple dealers, multiple lenders and now multiple CRM companies, no product is any better than the people who use it. What I always find is negative feedback about how bad someone is yet the person posting isn't even a good user of the product. When I served my dealer community as a lender, I had many times where in just an attempt to improve relations with a store, I would get management to agree to approve anything within set basic parameters, (I won't bore you with the criteria but trust me when I say I took the leash off). Did dealers take advantage of it? No. Why? This may be the central issue. It seems to me that dealers seldom become and maintain a certain level of progressive thought and execution. What's the proof? I have heard that 80% of all dealerships change their technology vendors when the agreement reached full term. This may not be 100% accurate but I wouldn't doubt it. Recently both VinSolutions and DealerSocket made big time lists of natioanlly recommended publicists for high achievement in growth. Is that proof? Some online postings will support my claim. Take Kevin's comments from 4/07 on DealerRefresh as support for my claim. He used Higher Gear, then iCar, then VinSolutions. All since 2007? Proof? Bottom line is that you are only as good as your commitment to utlize fully a product. Cars are complicated things. Do you just pour juice in them and they go? No. Do you really expect your CRM to be simple to? Reality is that you can pull back the filters on anyone's CRM and never follow up on anyone or anything that it tells you to. There is so much horsepower behind these things through automated responders and triggers that the dealership will sell more cars without your staff even using or touching the CRM just beacuse it will farm that hard. Next time you evaluate a CRM ask yourself the following: 1. Will they support me and proof of it. 2. Does the tool support as much or more of my fixed operations as it does my variable operations? Fixed ops are the key to nearly every store. 3. If it is easy to use a salesperson should be able to make 3 - 5 hash marks for the number of times their fingers had to type something on a keyboard leading up to taking a deal to the tower. 4. Your next CRM should be able to "Stop" or "Cease" it's automated workflow plan (Day 1, 3, 5, 7, etc follow up tasks) tasks or actions anytime someone in the dealership owns and is being responsible for the deal. Many CRMs will fire automated redundant work tasks even though the sales person has already set up a plan of action in the system. 5. Your CRM must and should be certified and real-time integrated with your DMS. This isn't always possible but many CRM providers will disguise the truth to earn your business. A nightly file drop is not what I am talking about here. Pull but not push doesn't cut it either. And just beacuse your DMS and CRM came from the same place doesn't mean it works better. I know one that argues with itself: CRM says, "Sold" tonight but the deal paperwork was finished tomorrow and marked, "Sold" in the DMS. Now reporting is offline for "Sold" units and you have to rectify. 6. How does your CRM show you it's ROI? I only know of one CRM that will literally show you when it's working and can be credited for business. With the average car salesman forgetting their non-sold customer in 2-4 weeks, (Or so I have been told / experienced) your CRM can't, shouldn't and when used right, wont't. 7. I think your CRM should create a culture of tranparency and a culture of accountability. I am not talking about just for the dealership either. Will your CRM display when there is a push error wih the DMS with out burying the info? This little feature will save you painstaking troubles down the road...trust me. 8. Finally, service after the sale. I have only experiencd one CRM that on their own dime partners with you on a regular and consistant basis, even coming to the store to consult on the tool so that your results can be targeted and modified as you grow and change. Most CRM companies focus too much on selling you the product and not ensuring your success. Does your CRM reps pay get negatively affected when your usage drops or you are not performing? That is commitment.

Brian
Brian

If there is one thing I have figured out working for multiple dealers, multiple lenders and now multiple CRM companies, no product is any better than the people who use it. What I always find is negative feedback about how bad someone is yet the person posting isn't even a good user of the product.

When I served my dealer community as a lender, I had many times where in just an attempt to improve relations with a store, I woudl get management to agree to approve anything within set basic parameters, (I wont bore you with the criteria but trust me when I say I took the leash off). Did dealers take advantage of it? No. Why? This is the central issue.

It seems to me that dealers seldom become and maintain a certain level of progressive thought and execution. What's the proof? I have heard that 80% of all dealerships change their technology vendors when the agreement reached full term. This may not be 100% accurate but I wouldn't doubt it. Recently both VinSolutions and DealerSocket made big time lists of natioanlly recommended publicists for high achievement in growth. Is that proof?

Kevin Frye's comments above further support my claim. He used Higher Gear, then iCar, then VinSolutions. All since 2007. Proof?

Bottom line is that you are only as good as your commitment to utlizer fully a product. Cars are complicated things. You just pour juice in them and they go. DO you really expect your CRM to be simple to?

Next time you evaluate a CRM ask yourself the follwing:
1. Will they support me and proof of it
2. Does the tool support as much or more of my fixed operations as it does my variable operations? Fixed ops are the key to nearly every store.
3. If it is easy to use a salesperson should be able to make 3 - 5 hash marks for the numbe rof times their fingers had to type something on a keyboard leading up to taking a deal to the tower.
4. Your next CRM should be able to "Stop" or "Cease" it's automated workflow plan (Day 1, 3, 5, 7, etc follow up tasks) tasks or actions anytime someone in the dealership owns and is being responsible for the deal. Many CRMs will fire automated redundant work tasks even though the sales person has already set up a plan of action in the system.
5. Your CRM must should be certified and real-time integrated with your DMS. This isn't always possible but many CRM providers will disguise the truth to earn your business. A nightly file drop is not what I am talking about here. Pull but not push doesn't cut it either.
6. How does your CRM show you it's ROI? I only know of one CRM that will literally show you when it's working and can be credited for business. With the average car salesman forgetting their non-sold customer in 2-4 weeks, (Or so I have been told / experienced) your CRM can't, shouldn't and when used right wont't.
7. I think your CRM should create a culture of tranparency and a culture of accountability. I am not talking about just for the dealership either. Will your CRM display when there is a push error wih the DMS with out burying the info? This little feature will save you painstaking troubles down the road...trust me.
8. Finally, service after the sale. I have only experiencd one CRM that on their own dime partners with you on a regular and consistant basis, even coming to the store to consult on the tool so that your results can be targeted and modified as you grow and change. Most CRM companies focus too much on selling you the product and not ensuring your success. Does your CRM reps pay get negatively affected when your usage drops or you are not performing? That is commitment.

Brian
Brian

If there is one thing I have figured out working for multiple dealers, multiple lenders and now multiple CRM companies, no product is any better than the people who use it. What I always find is negative feedback about how bad someone is yet the person posting isn't even a good user of the product. When I served my dealer community as a lender, I had many times where in just an attempt to improve relations with a store, I woudl get management to agree to approve anything within set basic parameters, (I wont bore you with the criteria but trust me when I say I took the leash off). Did dealers take advantage of it? No. Why? This is the central issue. It seems to me that dealers seldom become and maintain a certain level of progressive thought and execution. What's the proof? I have heard that 80% of all dealerships change their technology vendors when the agreement reached full term. This may not be 100% accurate but I wouldn't doubt it. Recently both VinSolutions and DealerSocket made big time lists of natioanlly recommended publicists for high achievement in growth. Is that proof? Kevin Frye's comments above further support my claim. He used Higher Gear, then iCar, then VinSolutions. All since 2007. Proof? Bottom line is that you are only as good as your commitment to utlizer fully a product. Cars are complicated things. You just pour juice in them and they go. DO you really expect your CRM to be simple to? Next time you evaluate a CRM ask yourself the follwing: 1. Will they support me and proof of it 2. Does the tool support as much or more of my fixed operations as it does my variable operations? Fixed ops are the key to nearly every store. 3. If it is easy to use a salesperson should be able to make 3 - 5 hash marks for the numbe rof times their fingers had to type something on a keyboard leading up to taking a deal to the tower. 4. Your next CRM should be able to "Stop" or "Cease" it's automated workflow plan (Day 1, 3, 5, 7, etc follow up tasks) tasks or actions anytime someone in the dealership owns and is being responsible for the deal. Many CRMs will fire automated redundant work tasks even though the sales person has already set up a plan of action in the system. 5. Your CRM must should be certified and real-time integrated with your DMS. This isn't always possible but many CRM providers will disguise the truth to earn your business. A nightly file drop is not what I am talking about here. Pull but not push doesn't cut it either. 6. How does your CRM show you it's ROI? I only know of one CRM that will literally show you when it's working and can be credited for business. With the average car salesman forgetting their non-sold customer in 2-4 weeks, (Or so I have been told / experienced) your CRM can't, shouldn't and when used right wont't. 7. I think your CRM should create a culture of tranparency and a culture of accountability. I am not talking about just for the dealership either. Will your CRM display when there is a push error wih the DMS with out burying the info? This little feature will save you painstaking troubles down the road...trust me. 8. Finally, service after the sale. I have only experiencd one CRM that on their own dime partners with you on a regular and consistant basis, even coming to the store to consult on the tool so that your results can be targeted and modified as you grow and change. Most CRM companies focus too much on selling you the product and not ensuring your success. Does your CRM reps pay get negatively affected when your usage drops or you are not performing? That is commitment.

Andrew DiFeo
Andrew DiFeo

We are a new dealership from the ground up and started with the Dealersocket product. I looked at well over 20 CRM's and it came down to two vendors. I felt Dealersocket was the most comprehensive product, priced competitively, and had the best install process and after-install support.

My feelings have so far been backed up by their 4 day in house installation and training. Our staff quickly learned the system and have embraced it for the benefits it gives them. I am also impressed with the responsiveness of their support via email and phone. Although we have only used the system for about a month, I would highly recommend Dealersocket.

Andrew DiFeo
Andrew DiFeo

We are a new dealership from the ground up and started with the Dealersocket product. I looked at well over 20 CRM's and it came down to two vendors. I felt Dealersocket was the most comprehensive product, priced competitively, and had the best install process and after-install support. My feelings have so far been backed up by their 4 day in house installation and training. Our staff quickly learned the system and have embraced it for the benefits it gives them. I am also impressed with the responsiveness of their support via email and phone. Although we have only used the system for about a month, I would highly recommend Dealersocket.

Bob
Bob

I really like DealerSocket, they handle Showroom Traffic, Internet Lead Management, Service, Desking, marketing and CSI. It is very easy to use.

They have helped us increase profits even in this decreasing market.

Bob
Bob

I really like DealerSocket, they handle Showroom Traffic, Internet Lead Management, Service, Desking, marketing and CSI. It is very easy to use. They have helped us increase profits even in this decreasing market.

Matt Young
Matt Young

Any one out there using Dealerpeak? I spoke with a group that had been using it for six months and switched to AVV. They said the front end was great but the processes and triggers would not work correctly. Anyone else have any other experiences?

Matt Young
Matt Young

Any one out there using Dealerpeak? I spoke with a group that had been using it for six months and switched to AVV. They said the front end was great but the processes and triggers would not work correctly. Anyone else have any other experiences?

Greg Taylor
Greg Taylor

I have used Dealer Socket, iCar, AVV, Autobase and Buzztrak. In short. EASE OF USE. Seeing all customers, email history, customer history and everything on the fly with 1 or 2 clicks max. Why because salespersons tend not to follow through and BDC reps get busy with a load of leads. EASE OF USE being the key, I would have to go with AVV or Buzztrak as an ILM and let floor, service and follow-up rest in the hands of a CRM.

Greg Taylor
Greg Taylor

I have used Dealer Socket, iCar, AVV, Autobase and Buzztrak. In short. EASE OF USE. Seeing all customers, email history, customer history and everything on the fly with 1 or 2 clicks max. Why because salespersons tend not to follow through and BDC reps get busy with a load of leads. EASE OF USE being the key, I would have to go with AVV or Buzztrak as an ILM and let floor, service and follow-up rest in the hands of a CRM.

Marc Kovitz
Marc Kovitz

Check out DealerSoft, LLC of Illinois. Their website is www.KeepYourCustomer.com. They charge $300 per month, $99 more for E-Lead module, no contract, minimal onetime upfront for installation, training, setup. Not a web based program, rather client server based which reduces all the security issues you don't realize you have with all the web based CRM products out there

Marc Kovitz
Marc Kovitz

Check out DealerSoft, LLC of Illinois. Their website is www.KeepYourCustomer.com. They charge $300 per month, $99 more for E-Lead module, no contract, minimal onetime upfront for installation, training, setup. Not a web based program, rather client server based which reduces all the security issues you don't realize you have with all the web based CRM products out there

Art
Art

I'm not familiar with blogs. I hope this post isn't in an inapropriate place. I have some questions.

I'm looking for a CRM with a sales process application, automated follow up, inventory, showrooom control, ILM and CRM features. I don't care if it works with a DMS. I want something to control sales and follow up primarily.

What's out there? How much can I expect to pay? Is it per frnachise, per roof or what?

Art
Art

I'm not familiar with blogs. I hope this post isn't in an inapropriate place. I have some questions. I'm looking for a CRM with a sales process application, automated follow up, inventory, showrooom control, ILM and CRM features. I don't care if it works with a DMS. I want something to control sales and follow up primarily. What's out there? How much can I expect to pay? Is it per frnachise, per roof or what?

RWCRA
RWCRA

Great points above. A few points to expand and contrast:

1) ILM's typically lack CRM capabilities too. They typically lack the database of prospects and customers and the ability to market to that database effectively as I understand it. The market is going to converge. Who has the advantage and will win? How?

2) IMO workflow flexibility must be balanced with accountability that managers demand. ILM's allow more flexibility IMO because the Internet department is typiclly small and can held more accountable for results, as opposed to findng where the sales process breaks in the scope of the whole floor sales and sales management force.

4) CRM's have weak email engines, I agree. eMail specialists are preferred to the CRM email tools IMO, because they manage whitelisting and blacklisting issues effectively. It's slightly more difficult for server-based CRM systems to manage opting-in and opting-out IMO. I believe this issue can be fixed, and I'd love to know what CRM's are fixing it in their toolset and email services.

Do you think ILM's don't face so many spamming issues because people have inherently opted from via the internet or by giving their email out via phone typically?

5) This does seem to be an issue CRM companies haven't handles well. I wonder when or if it will change, becuase they are highly complex tools with great value if used effectively. Yet dealers also need to take responsibility for having people who know how to use them effectively. I suspect dealers fail in that capacity more often than they succeed.

One misunderstanding appears to be that ILM does not equal CRM. ILM's are incredible valuable. I too hear iCar is great, and I hear some of the same about AVV. But they are simple ILM's, managing a lead through the sales pipeline. They are marketing engines to target customers and prospects for specific campaigns AND follow them through the floor sales process. In fact, I hear of one dealership using AVV for phone and internet leads, then switching to another CRM provider for floor activity and follow up.

Another reflection on an item above-------------
"I think it also says a lot when there is no contract with iCar while there is a 36 month + agreement with Higher Gear."

It does say a lot, but not what may be implied above. These CRM companies aren't out to ripoff dealers, get their money and pay no attention to them. That's not their intent.

They simply have so much invested in installing and training people on highly sophisticated tools that profitability has to be achieved over a long period of time. In fact, profitability appears quite fleeting in this space, despite what you may hear or believe.

Interesting, automotive CRM appears to be a reflection of CRM's issues in the rest of the world. Siebel has been a disappointment if not a failure for much of corporate America it seems. Achieving great results with all these tools, requires great investment of time. I have come to believe that CRM must be supported by either a) services to help dealers use the tools well or b) services that do it for them.

Reflections appreciated. Full disclosure - I work in a company that owns a CRM company as well as ILM products.

RWCRA
RWCRA

Great points above. A few points to expand and contrast: 1) ILM's typically lack CRM capabilities too. They typically lack the database of prospects and customers and the ability to market to that database effectively as I understand it. The market is going to converge. Who has the advantage and will win? How? 2) IMO workflow flexibility must be balanced with accountability that managers demand. ILM's allow more flexibility IMO because the Internet department is typiclly small and can held more accountable for results, as opposed to findng where the sales process breaks in the scope of the whole floor sales and sales management force. 4) CRM's have weak email engines, I agree. eMail specialists are preferred to the CRM email tools IMO, because they manage whitelisting and blacklisting issues effectively. It's slightly more difficult for server-based CRM systems to manage opting-in and opting-out IMO. I believe this issue can be fixed, and I'd love to know what CRM's are fixing it in their toolset and email services. Do you think ILM's don't face so many spamming issues because people have inherently opted from via the internet or by giving their email out via phone typically? 5) This does seem to be an issue CRM companies haven't handles well. I wonder when or if it will change, becuase they are highly complex tools with great value if used effectively. Yet dealers also need to take responsibility for having people who know how to use them effectively. I suspect dealers fail in that capacity more often than they succeed. One misunderstanding appears to be that ILM does not equal CRM. ILM's are incredible valuable. I too hear iCar is great, and I hear some of the same about AVV. But they are simple ILM's, managing a lead through the sales pipeline. They are marketing engines to target customers and prospects for specific campaigns AND follow them through the floor sales process. In fact, I hear of one dealership using AVV for phone and internet leads, then switching to another CRM provider for floor activity and follow up. Another reflection on an item above------------- "I think it also says a lot when there is no contract with iCar while there is a 36 month + agreement with Higher Gear." It does say a lot, but not what may be implied above. These CRM companies aren't out to ripoff dealers, get their money and pay no attention to them. That's not their intent. They simply have so much invested in installing and training people on highly sophisticated tools that profitability has to be achieved over a long period of time. In fact, profitability appears quite fleeting in this space, despite what you may hear or believe. Interesting, automotive CRM appears to be a reflection of CRM's issues in the rest of the world. Siebel has been a disappointment if not a failure for much of corporate America it seems. Achieving great results with all these tools, requires great investment of time. I have come to believe that CRM must be supported by either a) services to help dealers use the tools well or b) services that do it for them. Reflections appreciated. Full disclosure - I work in a company that owns a CRM company as well as ILM products.

Jeff Kershner
Jeff Kershner

Nate, I was on Higher Gear for over a year and did everything that I could to make the product work for our dealer. The program is very "Big Brother", it does a decent job with showroom traffic but severely lacks in the ILM department.

The big problem that I had with Higher Gear was that opportunities were based on vehicle of interest and that is fine but it's the way the system implements it that makes it a pain. If you have a customer that is interested in 2 vehicles, Higher Gear generates a separate workplan for each vehicle. This is not a huge deal for showroom logins but a huge pain for internet leads.

If a customer submits more then 1 lead from your website or 3rd party lead provider you have just as many workplans for each lead. This forces you to go into each and every customer with more then 1 vehicle of interest and delete the work plan for each vehicle "opportunity".

Another obstacle that my sales team found annoying was the fact that you would not view all of your active customers on the fly. My sales people were use to AVV Webcontrol and liked having the flexibility of placing your customers in different status within the "active folder". This allows you to view all of their active customers on the fly. With Higher Gear you are forced to run a report each and every time you want to view customer customers in a designated status.

When working your customers in Higher Gear you are forced to work your workplan. Not a bad thing but you will find yourself jumping from screen to screen to achieve different tasks. Many things (like deleting those duplicate lead opportunities) you have to have a managers access do. I found myself spending too much time managing the CRM rather then performing real CRM/BDC functions.

Customer service was average to "sometimes" above average when compared to many other CRM vendors in this business (which basically sucks).

A nice plus is that they would send a trainer out to the dealer every month . A big props to Jeff White - he's one of their best trainers and knows the product in and out. If I were to implement Higher Hear at my dealer I would insist upon having Jeff there for the install and training.

No remote access is a huge disappointment for me (since it's server based) and up to the time we stopped using them (a little over a year ago) they still could not page my phone when I had a new customer.

With all of this said, at the end of the day a CRM is only as good as the people working it. All CRM's have their issues and shortcomings but figuring out how to work the system and implementing into your dealers process is the real answer not the software itself.

I made a pact with myself after signing our last CRM contract with eLEAD CRM. From here on out I want a working demo account that I can log into and use/test the system for at lease a month OR visit a dealer for a few days that is utilizing the vendors CRM to it's full potential.

Most CRM vendors install the system at your dealer and "train" you how to use the software..let me repeat, they train you how to USE the software! Many to most DO NOT train you how to implement the CRM software and a CRM process. There is a huge difference!

Choosing the right CRM the first time is very important. If you are constantly changing CRM systems, your sales people will recognize this and will never take it serious. Do your homework and don't base your decision on price. You get what you pay for!

Jeff Kershner
Jeff Kershner

Nate, I was on Higher Gear for over a year and did everything that I could to make the product work for our dealer. The program is very "Big Brother", it does a decent job with showroom traffic but severely lacks in the ILM department. The big problem that I had with Higher Gear was that opportunities were based on vehicle of interest and that is fine but it's the way the system implements it that makes it a pain. If you have a customer that is interested in 2 vehicles, Higher Gear generates a separate workplan for each vehicle. This is not a huge deal for showroom logins but a huge pain for internet leads. If a customer submits more then 1 lead from your website or 3rd party lead provider you have just as many workplans for each lead. This forces you to go into each and every customer with more then 1 vehicle of interest and delete the work plan for each vehicle "opportunity". Another obstacle that my sales team found annoying was the fact that you would not view all of your active customers on the fly. My sales people were use to AVV Webcontrol and liked having the flexibility of placing your customers in different status within the "active folder". This allows you to view all of their active customers on the fly. With Higher Gear you are forced to run a report each and every time you want to view customer customers in a designated status. When working your customers in Higher Gear you are forced to work your workplan. Not a bad thing but you will find yourself jumping from screen to screen to achieve different tasks. Many things (like deleting those duplicate lead opportunities) you have to have a managers access do. I found myself spending too much time managing the CRM rather then performing real CRM/BDC functions. Customer service was average to "sometimes" above average when compared to many other CRM vendors in this business (which basically sucks). A nice plus is that they would send a trainer out to the dealer every month . A big props to Jeff White - he's one of their best trainers and knows the product in and out. If I were to implement Higher Hear at my dealer I would insist upon having Jeff there for the install and training. No remote access is a huge disappointment for me (since it's server based) and up to the time we stopped using them (a little over a year ago) they still could not page my phone when I had a new customer. With all of this said, at the end of the day a CRM is only as good as the people working it. All CRM's have their issues and shortcomings but figuring out how to work the system and implementing into your dealers process is the real answer not the software itself. I made a pact with myself after signing our last CRM contract with eLEAD CRM. From here on out I want a working demo account that I can log into and use/test the system for at lease a month OR visit a dealer for a few days that is utilizing the vendors CRM to it's full potential. Most CRM vendors install the system at your dealer and "train" you how to use the software..let me repeat, they train you how to USE the software! Many to most DO NOT train you how to implement the CRM software and a CRM process. There is a huge difference! Choosing the right CRM the first time is very important. If you are constantly changing CRM systems, your sales people will recognize this and will never take it serious. Do your homework and don't base your decision on price. You get what you pay for!

Joe Pistell
Joe Pistell

I have to agree with Jeff:

>>Have yet to witness a dealership implement any consistent follow-up with their database of customers; sold, unsold, or service- electronically or otherwise.

Joe Pistell
Joe Pistell

I have to agree with Jeff: >>Have yet to witness a dealership implement any consistent follow-up with their database of customers; sold, unsold, or service- electronically or otherwise.

Kevin Frye
Kevin Frye

We have both Higher Gear and iCar - and I have to say that iCar is the better product. I could go on and on with a list of details, but suffice it to say - Higher Gear works well, but iCar offers a lot more, and is much easier to use. IMO, if you want the best, and are looking to lead in your market, then iCar is the way to go, as it is on the cutting edge and is constantly upgrading to be the best. Some of the best tools we use within our internet department our only available with iCar, and not even an option with Higher Gear. I think it also says a lot when there is no contract with iCar while there is a 36 month + agreement with Higher Gear. Kevin Frye/eCommerce Director/Jeff wyler Automotive Family

Kevin Frye
Kevin Frye

We have both Higher Gear and iCar - and I have to say that iCar is the better product. I could go on and on with a list of details, but suffice it to say - Higher Gear works well, but iCar offers a lot more, and is much easier to use. IMO, if you want the best, and are looking to lead in your market, then iCar is the way to go, as it is on the cutting edge and is constantly upgrading to be the best. Some of the best tools we use within our internet department our only available with iCar, and not even an option with Higher Gear. I think it also says a lot when there is no contract with iCar while there is a 36 month + agreement with Higher Gear. Kevin Frye/eCommerce Director/Jeff wyler Automotive Family

Nate Marine GSM WVAP
Nate Marine GSM WVAP

We are looking at the Higher Gear CRM tool. The demo was impressive and it seemed to be highly adpatable to fit any process, including intergration with Dealertrack and R and R. Any thoughts on this one?

Nate Marine GSM WVAP
Nate Marine GSM WVAP

We are looking at the Higher Gear CRM tool. The demo was impressive and it seemed to be highly adpatable to fit any process, including intergration with Dealertrack and R and R. Any thoughts on this one?

Jeff Larsen
Jeff Larsen

They all want it, but...

Have yet to witness a dealership implement any consistent follow-up with their database of customers; sold, unsold, or service- electronically or otherwise.

Jeff Larsen
Jeff Larsen

They all want it, but... Have yet to witness a dealership implement any consistent follow-up with their database of customers; sold, unsold, or service- electronically or otherwise.

Brad Whitehead
Brad Whitehead

A good CRM offers a powerful process that provides transparancy and accountability. There is no question that a CRM is not only an asset but is essential to a online marketing strategy.

A CRM that has been developed by and for online car sales, intefaces with the dealership web site, considers the online sales cycle and have the flexibiltiy to adjust to the existing dealership culture is a tall order.

CRMs provide a permanent database and the process to manage it and can spit out accurate reports on you sales staffs perfomance or how succesful you marketing campaigns are.

Lets not kid our selves several companies offer CRMs that provide all of the above and are relitively easy to use.

The biggest challenge to implementing a CRM is the how well it is accepted on the lot. Every Dealership has a distinct culture that must buy in to any new process. The flexibility of the CRM to mimic the best practices of existing processes and its ease of use may contribute to it acceptance.

It is only a matter of time before all dealerships are using CRM technology many are just waiting for the right time and the right CRM.

Brad Whitehead
Brad Whitehead

A good CRM offers a powerful process that provides transparancy and accountability. There is no question that a CRM is not only an asset but is essential to a online marketing strategy. A CRM that has been developed by and for online car sales, intefaces with the dealership web site, considers the online sales cycle and have the flexibiltiy to adjust to the existing dealership culture is a tall order. CRMs provide a permanent database and the process to manage it and can spit out accurate reports on you sales staffs perfomance or how succesful you marketing campaigns are. Lets not kid our selves several companies offer CRMs that provide all of the above and are relitively easy to use. The biggest challenge to implementing a CRM is the how well it is accepted on the lot. Every Dealership has a distinct culture that must buy in to any new process. The flexibility of the CRM to mimic the best practices of existing processes and its ease of use may contribute to it acceptance. It is only a matter of time before all dealerships are using CRM technology many are just waiting for the right time and the right CRM.

William Phillips
William Phillips

We have found most Lead management tools to be very complicated and difficult to use by the sales team and management. To many reports to run and screens to go through to get what you need to know.

Process control is critical in any product you select and far out weights any other need with a lead management tool. You either believe that sales people do their job naturaly or that you must manage and direct them. As a current fact sales people do not naturaly do whats correct next and your lead management tool either helps them decide this or hinders them from knowing it.

Dealer Peak and AVV currently do the best job over all of making it simple for sales people to know what to do next and management knowing if they do it. Dealer Peak is currently the best one that allows good and simple work flow process change based on status change. It will also notify a manager when the status dictates it is needed. My company sees them all, uses them all and this is the opinion of a consultant of more than 30 stores who was in this prior to any tools existing and I have watched most ofthem over develope to the point of being useless with great reports.

William Phillips
William Phillips

We have found most Lead management tools to be very complicated and difficult to use by the sales team and management. To many reports to run and screens to go through to get what you need to know. Process control is critical in any product you select and far out weights any other need with a lead management tool. You either believe that sales people do their job naturaly or that you must manage and direct them. As a current fact sales people do not naturaly do whats correct next and your lead management tool either helps them decide this or hinders them from knowing it. Dealer Peak and AVV currently do the best job over all of making it simple for sales people to know what to do next and management knowing if they do it. Dealer Peak is currently the best one that allows good and simple work flow process change based on status change. It will also notify a manager when the status dictates it is needed. My company sees them all, uses them all and this is the opinion of a consultant of more than 30 stores who was in this prior to any tools existing and I have watched most ofthem over develope to the point of being useless with great reports.

Keith Latman
Keith Latman

this is quickly turning into an ad forum where vendors are writing way too much. Jeff be careful here, shouldn't this just be for the car guys? Cloaked ads serve no purpose

Keith Latman
Keith Latman

this is quickly turning into an ad forum where vendors are writing way too much. Jeff be careful here, shouldn't this just be for the car guys? Cloaked ads serve no purpose

Jeremiah
Jeremiah

I have worked with almost every major lead tool and I have to say ADP, Reynolds Contact Manager and Dealer Socket have to be some of the worst. Unless your sales staff all has computer science degrees, don’t waste your time or money.
If you want user friendly for your sales people then I would recommend DealerPeak or AVV. Out of AVV or DealerPeak I would have to say DealerPeak is the most user friendly when it comes to teaching your sales staff how to use. AVV on the other hand has a few more reports that make a mangers job a breeze.
One of the most positive things I have seen with DealerPeak is DealerPeak is open to new Ideas and they understand that a cookie cutter CRM is not the way to go. Ever try to get AVV to make a change? It has taken AVV three months to make AVV work with windows Vista.
In conclusion, when choosing a CRM don’t be blinded by all the bells and whistles. Make sure you sales team can use it and understand it. With the increases in internet business your team can’t spend half the day trying to find where a customer is in the system. If it came down to it and I had to choose I would go with DealerPeak. Good customer service, ease of use and flexible to some extent when it comes to making changes to fit your needs.

And, no, I do not work for or get paid by dealerpeak.

Jeremiah
Compliance manager
Automotive Internet Management

Jeremiah
Jeremiah

I have worked with almost every major lead tool and I have to say ADP, Reynolds Contact Manager and Dealer Socket have to be some of the worst. Unless your sales staff all has computer science degrees, don’t waste your time or money. If you want user friendly for your sales people then I would recommend DealerPeak or AVV. Out of AVV or DealerPeak I would have to say DealerPeak is the most user friendly when it comes to teaching your sales staff how to use. AVV on the other hand has a few more reports that make a mangers job a breeze. One of the most positive things I have seen with DealerPeak is DealerPeak is open to new Ideas and they understand that a cookie cutter CRM is not the way to go. Ever try to get AVV to make a change? It has taken AVV three months to make AVV work with windows Vista. In conclusion, when choosing a CRM don’t be blinded by all the bells and whistles. Make sure you sales team can use it and understand it. With the increases in internet business your team can’t spend half the day trying to find where a customer is in the system. If it came down to it and I had to choose I would go with DealerPeak. Good customer service, ease of use and flexible to some extent when it comes to making changes to fit your needs. And, no, I do not work for or get paid by dealerpeak. Jeremiah Compliance manager Automotive Internet Management

Jeff Larsen
Jeff Larsen

Many CRM vendors, like many website and vehicle management tool vendors, have a tendancy to overpromise and under-deliver.

Before leaving my last dealership, I intentionally brought in 3 CRM vendors for demos since I was only masterful with one, just to see what else was out there.

Since, I was able to assist some friends that had two of those three vendors. Upon seeing first hand, nothing like the presentation or demo.

Even if one is able to understand how to set it up, will it work how it's supposed to? More importantly, will the end users easily understand how to use it according to their responsibility, sold deals may get locked if you're lucky enough to have quality consistent pulling from the DMS, how easy is it to pull reports? I do agree there many things not easy to do in some CRMs.

I do believe a full time person for maintenance is essential though, especially if it's mulit-rooftop. Even if the tool can be set up properly while it's implemented, processes usually need to be adjusted afterwards. Also, the CRM tools are designed to do so much, and must integrate with so much (DMS, inventory, websites) that it's always an ongoing project.

Just as someone is needed to post specials on the dealer website weekly, monitor inventory feeds to and from vehicle management tool to website to vendors, someone is needed to know the CRM tool for adjustments, glitches, and full utilization. However...

This is where the dealership needs to decide who's responsibility it is for such work but most still don't see beyond the current sale being worked in the showroom. If a CRM tool is properly utilized to even 75% of it's capacity, that salary should be easily covered many times over.

Jeff Larsen
Jeff Larsen

Many CRM vendors, like many website and vehicle management tool vendors, have a tendancy to overpromise and under-deliver. Before leaving my last dealership, I intentionally brought in 3 CRM vendors for demos since I was only masterful with one, just to see what else was out there. Since, I was able to assist some friends that had two of those three vendors. Upon seeing first hand, nothing like the presentation or demo. Even if one is able to understand how to set it up, will it work how it's supposed to? More importantly, will the end users easily understand how to use it according to their responsibility, sold deals may get locked if you're lucky enough to have quality consistent pulling from the DMS, how easy is it to pull reports? I do agree there many things not easy to do in some CRMs. I do believe a full time person for maintenance is essential though, especially if it's mulit-rooftop. Even if the tool can be set up properly while it's implemented, processes usually need to be adjusted afterwards. Also, the CRM tools are designed to do so much, and must integrate with so much (DMS, inventory, websites) that it's always an ongoing project. Just as someone is needed to post specials on the dealer website weekly, monitor inventory feeds to and from vehicle management tool to website to vendors, someone is needed to know the CRM tool for adjustments, glitches, and full utilization. However... This is where the dealership needs to decide who's responsibility it is for such work but most still don't see beyond the current sale being worked in the showroom. If a CRM tool is properly utilized to even 75% of it's capacity, that salary should be easily covered many times over.

Eric Biro
Eric Biro

I have to agree. We use UCS, so nothing can be updated through the DMS (ergh...UCS), so that's not a huge issue for me personally.

What really kills me is the sales process, like you said. The only CRM I've ever used that has worked well is Compass. (AutoNation's in-house CRM). I would gladly pay twice the money to use Compass. Everything works so fluidly.

You can tell the difference between the company that believes CRM is the way to go, and has spent tons of dough to get it right (AN) vs. the company that put something together to make an additional couple hundred bucks a month from us.

Eric Biro
Eric Biro

I have to agree. We use UCS, so nothing can be updated through the DMS (ergh...UCS), so that's not a huge issue for me personally. What really kills me is the sales process, like you said. The only CRM I've ever used that has worked well is Compass. (AutoNation's in-house CRM). I would gladly pay twice the money to use Compass. Everything works so fluidly. You can tell the difference between the company that believes CRM is the way to go, and has spent tons of dough to get it right (AN) vs. the company that put something together to make an additional couple hundred bucks a month from us.