Dealership Communication Tools

Blueprint Series: CRM revisited

At the PCG Bootcamp, Jeff Collins requested we bring the Blueprint Series back.  He was especially adamant that we cover CRM.

We last posted a Blueprint Series article on CRM in February of 2008.  A lot has changed in the last three years and we felt this was a good one to revisit.  The biggest change has been the overall acceptance of CRM by the dealership community.  Many have realized the power of this tool and quite a few of the systems available to us have matured.  So let’s ask our vendors for even more maturity in this technology.

Use the comments to post your thoughts and wants.  Many of the comments from the old thread are still valid today, but it is certainly okay to revisit those again….in fact, we encourage it!

Redefining the rules of the Blueprint Series:

Vendors, do not come in here with comments saying “we do that” or “I am the solution for you”, etc.  WE WILL NOT ALLOW VENDOR SPAMMING IN THIS THREAD.  If you have a selling message, contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

Let’s get our thoughts out!

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
  • J
    Joe Turner
  • April 28, 2011
I think that a CRM vendor should be flexible and work with a dealer's other vendors to integrate where possible. So that when a salesperson get a key from the key machine that activity is logged and attached to the record of that customer. Many of the more progressive companies out there will share data so we are trying to choose vendors that fit that model.
  • M
  • April 28, 2011
I just want my CRM to be easy to use, i'd like to see folders to organize the leads perhaps? I have an internet / bdc department and i'd like to see better reporting for them. I see constant conflict with sales and management, using the system. The CRM is only as good as the data you put into it. I am a huge fan of CRM.
The reason I asked Alex Snyder to revisit this topic(The CRM Arena)is due to the explosive growth in technology not to mention the numerous vendors that have seemed to have whithered away. Why is this? Though technology has improved have we inturn improved our utilization? If so, how? What are voids in the CRM arena today? Fixed ops? Video? DMS integration? Inventory Module? Desking? Currently I use VinSolutions and love the tool. In the past was a avid iMagic user and was also involved with implementing what was then FireSocket commonly known as DealerSocket at Pinnacle Nissan/Infiniti for Vantuyl. Is the answer a holistic platform integrating website, CRM/ILM and inventory module? Kevin Frye seems to think so and I must say he made some very valid points in his session at DD10. So I say to the entire DealerRefresh Community. Let the games begin!!
  • C
  • April 29, 2011
As a % of total product use, I'm interested to hear feedback on the "explosive growth in technology".
Just because there is more on the menu, can a store really do more with it? Is your answer the same as the Dealers?
What % of your CRM product do you think your store really utilizes? Not just you as an individual, but your store as a total.
Does your store get today out of the product what they forecast at time of purchase?
Have you been through multiple CRM launches because someone wanted new functionality when they didn't even use 1/3 of what you had?
If you'd had to use your 1st CRM offering (with included upgrades) for the last 10 yrs, would you be better off because you'd be such a better user than your shiny new toy that "does it all?"
CRMsalesguy nailed it. Word to the DR community, if building a CRM was easy, then... where is it?

Building a CRM that ALL users like is very very difficult. Another way to say it is building CRM for one store is easy. The design challenge comes from 10000 managers that need a custom CRM solution that works for them.

CRM product managers, please find a way to HIDE THE HORSEPOWER behind an ultra-simple design.

One way is to hire OUTSIDE players (3rd party User Interface(UI) consultants and independent CRM consultants) to go out into the field to record and SCORE your current UI. SilverBack is a great way to use video at the dealership level to bring back user research Silverback will help you see what reps & managers use, don't use and don't understand. Find ways to bury complexity, yet, make it accessible for power users. A real design cluster F*! Another way is to gather data is to fly all the CRM consultants to a summit, put them in a focus group and pay them to tear your UI up.

More Data Points:
CRM product managers, Score yourselves! Design a usability test!
#1). How long does it train a NEW HIRE on how to use CRM?
#2). How long before the rep masters his daily tasks?
It's should be 30 minutes & few followups and master it in one to two days.

More Data Points:
Create a test to give to current reps & managers that already have been "trained" and have them perform tasks from simple to complex to gauge their understanding of the UI (are we helping them get the job done?).

Let these results drive your design.
The UI should be intuitive.
The UI should be intuitive.
The UI should be intuitive.
The UI should be intuitive.

Anything else = FAIL.

If you find UI bottlenecks (aka confusion), see vAUTO. They have looked at each and every touch point and added little hyper-linked "question marks" that contain great info on that helps the user move forward (hello REYREY! Anyone home!??!)

Also, If your dealers are using 10% of the CRM's potential and they don't call your support, you need to fill that hole too. The managers need for you to supply a personal CRM genius to help them as needed, but, they don't call (because they don't know how to ask the right question!). Pay/reward this CRM genius based on the on the dealers depth of use. See CallRevu's brilliant staffing model. Also, see dealer relations model. My gal calls me each and every week & I never need her, but if I do, I've got her name burned in my head (Jen!).

Crmsalesguy and Uncle Joe both have touched on what seems to be a struggle for most. But, is utilization % really a UI issue or a training issue? If it's a UI issue I must question how much homework was done prior to making the decision to partner with the vendor. If your situation is training then this opens up a myriad of questions such as middle mgmt buy-in, dealership implementation, vendor support and ofcourse dealership approach to accountability which Uncle Joe broke down in the typical Uncle joe fashion. Nice job Joe!
Hi ya JC!

UI issue = Dealer purchase error?
Well... kinda. That's like saying SEO issue = Dealer Purchase Error. There's some product evolution goin' on here. 4-6 years ago, SEO and CRM were rather new to the world and only the most progressive dealers knew of SEO and knew of CRM's usability problems.

The dealer forms a partnership with the vendor. The vendor understands they must evolve their platform or lose the client at the contracts end.

Next, Dealers are not experienced in buying technical tools. Most dealers do not have an in-house player that has technical knowledge, business knowledge and knows how to get a car over the curb. I've seen web vendors show off SEO skills by ranking #1 for ridiculous low volume car search terms. The unknowing dealer sees the #1 rank and therefore assumes that lots of free traffic will come from this vendors "secret formula".

Hell, DR ranks #1 for: social media rainbows fairies unicorns :),or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=2be2441b25e78025
Should DR be making dealer websites? hahaha

I believe there is a BIG opportunity for independent consultants in our industry because now more than ever, DEALERS NEED SKILLED ADVICE.
Uncle Joe stated "4-6 years ago, SEO and CRM were rather new to the world"
This is precisely why I asked Alex to revisit this topic. So, with today's CRM what are the strenghths and what are the weaknesses? For instance, back in the day it was server vs web-based. What's the niche today? Integration with DMS? Who has the best Fixed Ops solution?