DMS Central | Your Dealership Management System Resource | Auto/Mate
12Aug/140

The History of Auto/Mate’s Dealership Management System

Remember the term "Wang It?" Mike Esposito shares the 40-year history of the development of Auto/Mate's dealership management system (DMS), starting with Wang Computer's F&I System

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11Aug/140

Auto/Mate Celebrates Fortieth Anniversary as a Leader in Dealership Management System (DMS) Technology

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ALBANY, N.Y. – August 11th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com) is celebrating its fortieth anniversary as a leader in dealership management system (DMS) technology. Auto/Mate was originally developed as an F&I system and was introduced to auto dealerships by Wang Laboratories in 1974. Over the past forty years Auto/Mate has evolved into one of the industry's premier DMS solutions and has twice been voted the "highest rated" DMS in the Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

"Many auto dealers don't realize that Auto/Mate was an established technology solution long before any other DMS provider; even ADP and Reynolds were just service bureaus at that time," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate Dealership Systems.

 

In the 1960s IBM was one of the only companies that sold computers, but the computers were large mainframes that filled an entire room and were not practical solutions for small businesses. In the early 1970s Wang Laboratories, Digital Equipment and Data General introduced "mini computers" about the size of a table, and began to market them to businesses. Wang was the leader in word processing computers and wanted to expand into different markets. Wang identified the dealership market as ripe for computerization and introduced the first in-house F&I system that did all the financial calculations and printed all the forms. Wang called their in-house F&I system Auto/Mate. What soon followed was the addition of an integrated accounting module that allowed the deals to be electronically sent to accounting and booked. This was something completely unheard of at that time. At one point in the 1970’s, of all the dealerships that had a computer system in house, 70% of them had Wang computers running Auto/Mate. In fact one of the colloquialisms in the dealership market at that time, when working a deal, was to “Wang-it”!

 

When Wang Laboratories closed its doors in 1992, the lead developer of the Auto/Mate F&I system acquired the rights to the technology and started Auto/Mate Dealership Systems. Shortly after, Esposito started with Auto/Mate as a sales representative, was soon promoted to Vice President of Sales & Marketing, and became the President and CEO in 2005 when the company was sold to a private investor.

 

Under Esposito's guidance, Auto/Mate's software development team has evolved the system into a cutting-edge, full-featured DMS solution currently in use by more than 1,100 auto dealerships nationwide. Today Auto/Mate's DMS is user friendly and the company is known for having the best customer support and the highest level of customer satisfaction in the industry. Auto/Mate's policy of hiring employees who have experience working in car dealerships ensures that the developers and support staff know exactly what auto dealer employees are dealing with on a daily basis.

 

"We're really proud that Auto/Mate's product and the company has been around this long, and we will continue to focus on doing one thing: being the top DMS for customer satisfaction in the industry," said Esposito.

 

About Auto/Mate

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships, typically saving dealers thousands of dollars per month from their current provider. Our Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,100 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the "Highest Rated DMS for Customer Satisfaction” in 2012 and 2013 in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

This is a testament to the more than 900 years of Auto/Mate employees' combined experience working in franchised auto dealerships, the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. Auto/Mate is committed to winning their customers' business each and every month, which is why they require no long-term contracts, free software upgrades for life and free training for life. For more information visit www.automate.com, follow them on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to their blog at http://blog.automate.com

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28Jul/140

Auto/Mate Honored with Platinum Award in Auto Dealer Monthly’s Dealers’ Choice Awards

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ALBANY, N.Y. – July 28th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com), a premier dealership management system (DMS) provider, has received a "Platinum" award in the 2014 Auto Dealer Monthly Dealers' Choice Awards. This year marks the first time that Auto/Mate was honored with a top ranking in the magazine's annual award program that recognizes the industry's best product and service providers as selected by hundreds of dealers and dealership personnel.

 

"To receive this recognition is a real honor because the votes for Auto/Mate came from our customers, and this Platinum award lets me know that we are successful in our primary goal which is to be the top dealership management system provider in customer satisfaction," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate.

 

In May, voters weighed in to recognize their favorite partners in 27 categories. Providers were scored on the product or service itself, customer support and service, value, and whether they would recommend the company to another dealer. To qualify for a first-place “Diamond,” second-place “Platinum” or third-place “Gold” award, a company must be among those that scored above the group average score in each category.

 

Recently Auto/Mate was also honored with the "Highest Rated" dealership management system (DMS) vendor award in the 2012 and 2013 DrivingSales Dealer Satisfaction Awards. In 2014 Auto/Mate also received a "Top Workplace" award for the third consecutive year by the Albany Times-Union, and a "Best Place to Work" award for the fourth year in a row by the Albany Business Review.

 

Auto/Mate's DMS is a full-featured, user-friendly solution that is scalable for any size dealership or dealer group. The system comes with the best customer support in the industry, has an open API for third-party vendor integration, is currently in use at more than 1,000 auto retailers nationwide, and is available in both web-based and in-house server solutions.

 

For more information call Auto/Mate at 877-340-2677.

 

About Auto/Mate

 

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships. Its Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,000 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the “Highest Rated DMS of 2012" and the "Highest Rated DMS of 2013" awards in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

Auto/Mate’s employees have more than 850 years of combined experience working in auto dealerships – the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. For more information visit our website, follow us on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to our blog at http://blog.automate.com

 

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9Jul/140

Is It Time to Take Another Look at Auto Dispatch? (Part One)

Larry_Colson

by Larry Colson, Auto/Mate Dealership Systems

 

You’ve got the finest, best-trained technicians around. You’ve purchased and installed some expensive diagnostic machines. Your parts manager always has what you need in inventory, and you’ve optimized the process of getting parts to your technicians. Tech efficiency ratings are the best in your 20 Group – heck, they would be the best in most 20 Groups – yet you’ve still got more work than you can handle and your dealer principal keeps asking for you to do more with what you have. Sound familiar?

 

This might sound more like a fantasy – all except for that part about the pressure from your dealer to move more work through your shop. In response to this pressure, service managers are constantly on the lookout for ways to get more efficient. If you’re not already using an automated job dispatch system that is integrated with your DMS, or if you’re using one but you’re not happy with how it’s working, now may be the perfect time to take another look.

 

The basic concept of auto dispatch is pretty straightforward. It’s all about getting the Right Job to the Right Technician at the Right Time. To help do this, most dispatch systems have two major functions. First, they allow skills such as ‘brakes’, ‘electrical’, and ‘engine’ to be assigned to both technicians and job lines.  These skills are typically customized by the service manager and are defined to whatever level of specificity is desired. Second, the dispatch system will provide some method of allowing one job line or RO to be prioritized against all the others. The priorities are defined by the user with attributes such as 'RO Create Time,' 'Promised Time,' 'VIP,' 'Waiter,' 'Come Back,' 'Appointment,' or 'Walk-In,’ used to help prioritize the order in which jobs should be dispatched.

 

Armed with all this data, when a technician asks for work, the computer determines a list of possible jobs that the technician has the skills to do. It then eliminates certain ineligible jobs, such as jobs on cars that are currently being worked on by someone else, or jobs that are on hold. Finally, it sorts those jobs based on the attributes mentioned above and voila – the “best” job is the one at the top of the list. Simple.

 

Simple, except that it’s not. Due to the many setup options, sometimes the system does exactly what you told it to do, but not what you want it to do given the conditions in your shop right now. And unless your technicians are the perfect choirboys from the service shop mentioned at the beginning of this article, they’ll be constantly searching for ways to game the system.  Because of this, some service managers try auto dispatch but give up on it, while some others simply never try it, afraid they’ll lose control of their shop.

 

Is Dispatching an Art or a Science?

Most dispatchers will tell you that dispatching is an art, yet with a computerized auto dispatch system, we’re specifically trying to make it a science. They can’t both be true, can they?

 

The reality is that most of the time, it’s a science. The artistry usually comes into play in two circumstances. One is in truly unusual situations, when the creativity of the human mind is required to overcome a unique circumstance. The other is when the “science” rules have been bent, ignored or misapplied, and the resulting situation just appears to be unique and difficult. Proper definition of the rules and proper application of those rules will naturally lead to conditions when “artistry” is needed far less often, and that’s when the efficiency starts.

 

Just a little KISS

The biggest mistake made by first time users of auto dispatch is to over complicate the setup. Modern auto dispatch systems have many options and it’s tempting to want to use them all, but it’s important to resist, at least at first. The more complicated the setups, the more likely it is that they will interact in strange ways, yielding unintended consequences. Overcomplicated setups make the system seem buggier than northern Minnesota in the summer after a wet spring, but it’s probably doing exactly what you told it to do. Regardless, it’s infuriating, and can make you want to throw the computer out the window, right after you throw out the salesman who sold it to you.

 

The KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) concept ought to be your guiding principle when first setting up a new auto dispatch system. Start small. It’s not a bad idea to start with only 'Waiter' and 'RO Create Time' being the main attributes to determine job ordering. Set that up and see how things go. Tweak it if your waiters have too much or too little priority, but barring catastrophe, do your best to be patient. Don’t change too much too fast.

 

After a week or so, you might add in some user-selected priority value. Your system might have a 'VIP' flag or a 'Priority' value, both of which would be selected by the advisor when the appointment is created and/or when the RO is written up. However, be prepared for situations when priority is incorrectly used.  If everything is important (e.g. Priority 1), then nothing is important, a concept that we in the computer world call GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

 

For skill setup, you can be a little more creative, but try not to get too crazy. A good rule of thumb is that eight to twenty skills for a normal shop is somewhere in the ballpark of the right number of distinct skills. Depending on your specific circumstances, such as number of OEMs you typically service or if you have a truck shop, it may be convenient to define more. The more granular the skill and the fewer technicians that have that granular skill, the harder it will be for the dispatch system to find a tech for a particular job at a particular time.

 

With a little persistence and customization to your shop's needs, auto dispatch can boost productivity and ensure that the right techs are working on the right jobs, which ultimately helps to boost customer satisfaction and retention levels. For service managers who are hesitant about making the switch, the best recommendation is to start slow and monitor how jobs are being dispatched, making small adjustments when necessary.  When you’re comfortable, then you can take it to the next level.

 

In Part Two of this article, we'll discuss: Care and Feeding, Handling Special Circumstances and Cherry Picking

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24Jun/140

Empower Employees with Commander’s Intent

Commanders Intent

by Mike Esposito, President & CEO, Auto/Mate Dealership Systems

As Appeared in the June 2014 issue of Auto Dealer Monthly

 

Everyone knows how important the chain of command is in the military. But during battles, emergencies and other times of duress, it's not always possible to run decisions up and down the chain of command. This is why soldiers are empowered by something called the Commander's Intent. The military commander gives his leaders a clearly defined goal (the mission) and the forces needed to accomplish that goal, along with a time frame for when the goal must be accomplished. Then the leaders are free to execute that goal however they feel is best.

 

During D-Day in World War II, the commanders' intent (of Britain, Canada and the U.S.) was to secure key bridges, road junctions and other locations in Normandy that would allow the ground invasion forces to advance inland. The plan was executed but the air invasion went horribly awry; only 10 percent of paratroopers landed in their drop zones, troops could not be united into fighting units due to a shortage of radios and difficult terrain, and one of the airborne divisions failed to capture their assigned bridges. In fact, none of the Allied objectives were achieved on the first day as the situation became chaotic, but everyone on the ground knew what the Commander's Intent was and were committed to carrying it out. They improvised, changed plans and within a week the primary objective of connecting five bridgeheads was accomplished and the Allies held a united front more than 60 miles long.

 

In the business world, Commander's Intent can also be used to empower employees. At FedEx, CEO Fred Smith's (a former U.S. Marine Corps officer) intent is clear: get all packages to their destination in a safe, damage free, cost effective manner within the shipment period specified by the customer. So if a snowstorm prevents planes from taking off or shuts down a highway, the FedEx employees must adapt. They are empowered to re-route drivers, schedule extra planes in another city, and change schedules. They do not stand around and wait for approvals and wait to be told what to do. They know that "the truck broke down" is not an acceptable excuse for not delivering a package. Commander's Intent is their primary objective every day.

 

I have a Commander's Intent also. I sit down with every new hire and explain to them that Auto/Mate is and will always be the number one DMS in customer satisfaction. All of our employees know this, so when they are dealing with a customer's problem over the phone or on site, they know they are empowered to solve the problem, take care of the customer and do whatever it takes to keep the customer happy. Whatever their job title, that is their primary job objective every day.

 

Do the employees at your dealership know what their Commander's Intent is? Dealers like to focus on process improvement, but what is the ultimate goal for improving your processes? Commander's Intent is a concise expression of the purpose of the operation, not an explanation of how the operation should be carried out. I am a big fan and believer in the benefits of process improvement, but only if the people who are following the process know why they are doing so. What is their ultimate goal? Is it to make their manager happy or to make the dealer as much money as possible (neither of which are motivating Commander's Intents), or is it to play an integral role in helping your dealership achieve a desired customer retention rate, or to achieve a reputation of being one of the best places to work, or to be a respected business in your community?

 

In the military, Commander's Intent is an important leadership philosophy that encourages all decisions to be devolved to the lowest possible level, so that front line soldiers are allowed to exploit opportunities that develop (within guidelines of course). Do the employees at your dealership have leeway to achieve their objectives? Empowering employees with Commander's Intent is a simple way to accomplish goals and keep your customers happy.

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16Jun/140

Auto/Mate Announces Integration of DMS with SMI, Improving Customer Retention in Dealership Service Departments

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBANY, N.Y. – June 16th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com) announced today the integration of its dealership management system (DMS) with SMI's DriveService and DriveSales solutions. For auto dealers using both solutions, the integration ensures that customer information updated in the DMS will be updated in SMI's customer communications.

 

"The key to a successful integration is for the dealer's data to be transferred instantly, securely and seamlessly between a DMS and a third-party solution provider," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate Dealership Systems. "Our Open/Mate platform makes it very easy and inexpensive for any third-party vendor to integrate with our DMS, resulting in more vendor choices and cost savings for dealers."

 

SMI's products are designed to increase customer engagement and response, proven to translate into higher closing rates on service recommendations in the fixed ops department. Following an inspection report, personalized communications encourage customers to share their information, offer choices regarding their service recommendations and build trust between the customer and service advisor.

 

"Integration between our service solutions and a dealership's DMS makes both technologies more accessible," said Garrett Jockel, CEO of SMI. "Technology should never get in the way of maximizing fixed ops profitability; it should make it easier."

 

Auto/Mate's fixed ops module offers a wide variety of tools to help increase service department volume and streamline the repair order (RO) process; including real-time status updates and appointment integration, OEM integration, service history, service merchandising, automated dispatching with electronic ROs and more.

 

Third-party software vendors interested in integrating with Open/Mate should contact Auto/Mate at (518) 371–4331.

 

About SMI (www.smidrive.com)

 

When Nick Jockel, a founder of SMI, worked in his father’s garage as a kid back in the 1960’s he remembered the simple measurement of the garage’s success as a handshake, a smile, or a phone call from the customer when they had a question. SMi increases customer loyalty by building more customer relationships. Customers demand more communication than dealers have time so we created a sales process of service recommendations that builds trust before you sell.

 

About Auto/Mate

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships. Its Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 900 auto dealers nationwide. In 2013 Auto/Mate received the “Highest Rated” DMS award in the fourth annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

Auto/Mate’s employees have more than 800 years of combined experience working in auto dealerships – the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. For more information visit our website, follow us on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to our blog at http://blog.automate.com

 

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28May/140

How to Measure Customer Loyalty. Hint: It Has Nothing To Do With Your CSI Score.

Measuring Loyalty

By Mike Esposito, President and CEO, Auto/Mate Dealership Systems

This article appeared in the March issue of Auto Success magazine.

 

If your dealership consistently receives higher-than-average CSI scores, you may believe that a good percentage of your customers are happy and therefore loyal. But you may be wrong. Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are two completely different things.

 

For example, I am a very loyal customer of Southwest Airlines. I fly Southwest because they don't charge change or cancellation fees, checked bag fees and they usually get me to where I need to go on time. But I am not always a satisfied customer. Sometimes they are late, I wish they had assigned seating and I wish they didn't charge for wi-fi. So if I was to fill out a customer satisfaction survey, I may take the opportunity to voice my dissatisfaction and they would think I was not a satisfied customer. But the reality is, I remain a loyal customer and choose to fly Southwest before any other airline.

 

Conversely, I may be very satisfied with a service but not be loyal at all. There's a nice bookstore not far from where I live. Occasionally while my wife is shopping I drop in for a cup of coffee and to browse through a magazine. If I were to fill out a survey, I would have nothing but nice things to say about the bookstore, so the bookstore manager might think I am a loyal customer. But that would be wrong because I don't buy my books at that bookstore; I buy all my books online.

 

The CSI may have some use for the manufacturers, but the CSI survey process leaves much to be desired. The surveys are too long with poor response rates, and both sales and service employees game the system for financial incentives. A dealership's CSI score is a not an accurate representation of customer loyalty and retention.

 

Customer retention rates are more useful to dealers than CSI, but still may not offer an accurate reflection of loyalty. You may have a customer with a number of repeat visits because their vehicle has had a lot of problems; but once the issues are resolved he may not return to purchase a vehicle or for future service visits. Or, you may have a customer with a new vehicle who has not visited the service department yet but who is very loyal.

 

A better, and very simple way to measure customer loyalty is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Thousands of businesses in the U.S. use the NPS to effectively measure the percentage of their customers who will not only purchase again but also resist pressure to defect to a competitor.

 

Every company’s customers can be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. The NPS survey asks one simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?”

 

Customers respond on a 0-to-10 point rating scale and are categorized as follows:

 

Ÿ Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.

Ÿ Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.

Ÿ Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

 

To calculate your company’s NPS, take the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtract the percentage who are Detractors.

 

For example:

 

You have 100 surveys returned

50% of them score you as a 9 or 10

20% of then score you as an 8 or 7

30% of them score you as a 6 or below.

 

In this situation your NPS would be 20 (50%- 30%)

 

Asking one question greatly increases the response rates. You may however, choose to expand the survey by asking one or two other questions. For instance, if a customer scores you an 8 you may want to ask one question: What do we need to do for you to score us a 10?” If a customer gives you a 6 or below you may want to ask them why they gave you that score. The survey is sent to every customer immediately after every transaction, so if there is "detractor" who had a poor customer experience a dealer can take immediate action.

 

Studies have proven that businesses with high NPS scores are more profitable than their competitors. The majority of businesses average an NPS of around 5-10, but extremely profitable companies such as Apple and Harley Davidson have scores in the 50-80 range. The same studies show that companies with more detractors than promoters are more likely to suffer stagnant growth or go out of business.

 

If your goal is to increase customer loyalty and retention, don't rely on your CSI scores or retention rates; instead, try a NPS survey to get a more accurate picture of how many customers would buy from you again versus how many are actively detracting others from ever visiting you in the first place. The results are more accurate and will be eye-opening.

 

 

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19May/140

Auto/Mate’s DMS Empowers Managers, Increases Productivity at Five Star Dealerships

5star

ALBANY, N.Y. – May 19th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com) announced today that Five Star Dealerships, an auto group in Aberdeen, WA has transformed its culture to one of managerial empowerment and has increased productivity with the help of reporting and dashboard features in Auto/Mate's dealership management system (DMS).

 

"Any time you make a big change like a DMS, it takes some getting used to," said Mike O'Dell, Corporate General Manager of Operations for Five Star Dealerships. "I expected it would take some time for employees to learn how to do certain things differently, but what surprised me was how the changes empowered our managers by making access to information so much easier."

 

Five Star Dealerships is an auto group with two locations in western Washington near the coast. One location handles the franchises of Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and the other location handles Chevrolet, Buick, Toyota and Scion. Three years ago the group's contract with a legacy DMS provider was nearing its end, and for the first time the principals realized they had additional vendor choices as Auto/Mate and another DMS provider had recently been approved by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. After a thorough review, Five Star principals chose Auto/Mate for three reasons: significant financial savings, robust capabilities of the DMS and Auto/Mate's reputation for superior customer support.

 

Once the switch was made, O'Dell immediately realized a benefit he had not anticipated; the simplicity of Auto/Mate's Daily DOC (Daily Operating Control) reporting system. Previously, if managers wanted to view financial reports, they'd have to refer to a chart of accounts with different account numbers, they'd have to know which general ledger the information was located in, enter the account number, pull up a separate executable, enter dates, and then finally get the detail of what was posted that into account. "Out of 120 employees, there were probably four in accounting who knew how to run those reports," said O'Dell. If accounting employees were busy with payroll or other priorities, report requests would have to wait.

 

With Auto/Mate, if a manager wants to view financial reports, all they have to do is pull up the Daily DOC menu and choose the report they want from pull-down menus. If they want to drill down to see more detail, they simply click on the dollar amount or line item of interest. O'Dell says the ability to run their own reports makes both the managers and the accounting department more productive. Yet an even bigger benefit has been realized as departmental managers have become more empowered.

 

"Now managers run financials more often and can easily see where they are spending money, where they are saving money, what the trends are and more," said O'Dell.

 

For instance, if a sales manager wants to see what his advertisement expenses are for the month, he can pull up the DOC in a few seconds, double click on the expense line, then double click on any expense to see the detail. It's also easy to choose different time frames; with a simple click the report can be changed from a current month view to a 12-month trend chart.

 

The ability to pull up DOCs on demand allows managers to instantly know which models are selling, how the sales department is performing relative to the forecast, which invoices in service are paid and which are unpaid, and more. The level of knowledge enables managers to identify and address problem areas immediately, and ultimately leads to better decision-making and higher profitability. "It's really a whole shift in culture and has changed how we run things, in a way that wasn't possible with the last DMS we had," said O'Dell.

 

Another feature that O'Dell quickly learned to appreciate is Auto/Mate's dashboard, a visual display of key metrics displayed at the bottom of the computer screen. Users can define virtually any metric they'd like to track; such as rate of new vehicle sales, the percentage of gross estimate met in the service department or the number of vehicles sold with extended warranty contracts. Then the user chooses a 'widget' to represent each metric, such as a bar chart, thermometer, digital clock or other graphical element. This allows users to view critical metrics at a glance.

 

"The dashboard gives us a snapshot of everything we need to see on a daily, weekly and monthly basis," said O'Dell, who routinely looks at total store sales and total store gross figures, as well as the expense and net figures for every department. "Ten days into the month I can glance at these widgets and know in my head where we are relative to our forecasts without having to run any reports. If there's a weakness somewhere you can see it right away and go talk with that department manager."

 

The dashboard also enables users to click directly on the widgets to drill down for more detail. "Let's say I'm looking at finance chargebacks for the month," said O'Dell. "I click on the widget and it will take me directly into that account. I can see immediately what has been posted such as insurance contracts, finance products, a gap chargeback, etc. Then I click on a posting and I can see there's been a warranty cancellation, and I can see the dollar amount, customer name and other information. In four clicks I can get every detail without having to run a report."

 

The productivity savings achieved with Auto/Mate's reporting and dashboard features have been difficult to quantify but O'Dell compares it to buying a new computer that's ten times faster than an old computer. "Imagine when you click on something on your computer, and you have to wait for the circle to stop spinning. It slows you down. That's similar to how the wrong technology can slow down processes in our store. Imagine if someone is trying to do their job and then has to stop and wait for something. But with the right tools, there's no slowing down. It makes all of our processes faster, and the time and cost savings from that are immeasurable."

 

In addition to the DMS reporting and dashboard features, O'Dell appreciates Auto/Mate's customer support. "What we like the most is that for anyone to work in Auto/Mate's customer support department, they had to work in a car dealership. Their Fixed Ops support person used to be a Fixed Ops Director, and same with the F&I support and hardware guys" said O'Dell. Prior dealership experience enables Auto/Mate's customer support team to understand the questions, challenges and problems their clients may be having. "Their level of personal involvement with their customers is great; it doesn't feel like you're dealing with a big corporate entity at all," said O'Dell.

 

The principals at Five Star Dealerships chose Auto/Mate for three reasons, all of which have proven to hold true. The auto group has achieved significant cost savings, enjoys the DMS' robust capabilities and Auto/Mate's exceptional customer support. In addition, O'Dell was pleasantly surprised by the accessibility and ease of use of the reporting system and dashboard. "It's changed the way we run our business, empowering managers to make better decisions while increasing productivity."

 

About Auto/Mate

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships. Its Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,000 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the “Highest Rated DMS of 2012" and the "Highest Rated DMS of 2013" awards in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

Auto/Mate’s employees have more than 850 years of combined experience working in auto dealerships – the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. For more information visit our website, follow us on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to our blog at http://blog.automate.com

 

# # #

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9May/140

Mike Esposito Featured on Car Biz Today News

CBTNews Mike Esposito Featured on Car Biz Today News

Click on this link to see Mike Esposito featured in today's Car Biz Today news program!

Dealers on Board with Loyalty & Rewards Programs

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7May/140

Do You Walk the Talk? How to Define Your Core Values.

Do You Walk the Talk?

Every year it seems that "hot topics" emerge in the automotive retail industry; this year much of the focus is on fixed ops and customer retention. Dealers spend a small fortune on websites and Internet marketing in order to capture customers; now they are realizing that an equal amount of resources and energy should be spent on servicing and keeping those customers.

 

If customer retention is the goal, keep in mind that true customer loyalty is achieved not by a product but by the customers' every day interactions with your business. And it's your employees who are responsible for those interactions. Are your employees giving your customers the experience they deserve?

 

Auto/Mate has one of the best customer retention rates (if not the best) among dealership management system (DMS) providers. My approach to customer retention has always been that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the customers. By "taking care of" employees, I don't mean offering perks and bonuses, although these do have their place. I mean building a culture based on core values that the best people in the business (the people who you want as employees) can align with and want to get on board with.

 

Why Are Core Values Important?

 

Core values are the essence of a company's identity; they define the company's philosophy and support its vision. Core values are the bedrock that a company's mission statement and culture are built on. Core values help in the decision-making process. For example, if a core value is "customer first," then your employees should feel empowered to take care of a customer without management approval needed--and then should be commended for it.

 

Are You Walking the Talk?

 

If you do have core values, it's critically important that the leaders in your organization exemplify those values in their every day transactions with both employees and customers. If your dealership advertises honesty as a value, does everyone (from the principal down to the service technician) exemplify this value on a daily basis? If you claim to the "honest" dealer yet a sales manager or service manager advises an employee to mislead a customer about something, how do you think the employee interprets that? If it's okay for the manager to mislead customers, it's okay for the employee to mislead customers. Then take that one step further; if the manager is misleading customers, is he misleading employees? That's a reasonable assumption, and if so, then it's okay for the employee to mislead his manager and other employees.

 

 

How to Define Your Core Values

 

1) Create a list of values. Gather together a small group of senior management and have them brainstorm a list of values that your dealership currently exemplifies, or would like to exemplify.

 

2) Let your employees choose. Give your employees the list of values and ask them to choose the top three to five values that define your dealership's culture. Are their choices in alignment with yours? If they aren't, you've got some additional work to do in Step Four. If your employees choose the values you were hoping they would, then the next step is a lot easier. At Auto/Mate, we found that our employees values were very much congruent with those chosen by our senior management team.

 

3) Define your values. Whether you let your employees choose, or combine their choices with the senior managements' top choices, choose three to five values that best define your company culture and the people who work there. Keep in mind that when choosing values, it's best to come up with values that are already built in to your culture; rather than just picking a value out of thin air and trying to fit it into your culture. At Auto/Mate, our core values are: Be Passionate and Enjoy What You Do; Customer Centricity; Honesty & Integrity; Humility and Family.

 

4) Communicate and reinforce your values to employees and customers. There's a saying that if you repeat something loud and often enough, eventually people will believe it. You want to communicate your values as often and loud as you can until they become ingrained in every employee. Have the list of values posted in the break room, showroom and other visible places. In meetings, ask employees to provide an example of a transaction or customer interaction they saw recently that exemplifies a core value. Public recognition of values both reinforces your employees' awareness of a value system and inspires them to live up to it. If your dealership chooses an employee of the month, make it a criteria that they are chosen based on the extent to which they live up to your core values, not on how much gross they generated. Recognize and rate management not only by their performance, but by their ability to embody core values.

 

Core values create a sense of unity and help to create an environment where the employees know how to behave and what is expected of them. If your employees feel good about where they work and the company's vision, and if their values align with yours, they will know what needs to be done and they will do it--this includes taking care of the customers. What better customer retention program do you need than that?

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