Every dealer has a few great employees, but few dealers think of their CRM as one of them. I’ve always thought otherwise. There are 10 reasons you should feel the same way

1. Your CRM does exactly what you tell it to do. I’ve had some pretty good employees over the years. They paid attention and followed instructions when it came to working a deal, working the phone or mining the database. But they were human and deviated from our processes. Deviation leads to defects and hinders timeliness. Your CRM doesn’t deviate. It says what you want it to say when you want it to say it, and it even knows who should receive the message through the media you choose.

2. Your CRM works 24/7. Your CRM is a dutiful soldier. It is ready anytime to receive that after-hours lead and respond. It can record those Sunday afternoon phone calls. In the middle of the night, it gets all your data cleaned up and synced with your DMS. It also sends broadcast e-mails, loads the letter queue and prepares prioritized daily work plans so your teams are organized and focused.

3. Your CRM can be in multiple places at once. When your CRM is integrated into your profit streams, it is covering all the points of contact. It can simultaneously handle walk-ins, phone ups, Internet leads, service lane traffic, the body shop, parts counters and the accessories store. It accepts data from all points concurrently. A good CRM unifies activities throughout the organization and can be a single looking glass into all areas of the dealership.

4. Your CRM is personable. It delivers a personalized message to an infinite number of customers at all the critical moments in the shopping process and ownership cycle. It reminds your customers when it’s time for service, asks for their feedback and thanks them for their business.

5. Your CRM can deliver your value proposition consistently. Remember the game telephone? A message is whispered to a person in a circle, then they repeat it to the person next to them, and that person repeats it to the next person until it goes around the room. Finally, when it gets back to the original speaker, the message is all mixed up. You put a lot of time, effort and energy in defining your value to your prospects and owners. Your CRM won’t garble the message. It will consistently repeat that value proposition verbatim, boosting the impact of the message.

6. Your CRM has a great memory. Used correctly, your CRM should be able to put your customer’s entire business history in front of your frontline employees. If the customer in your service lane has bought three cars from you, the advisor should know that; the customer certainly thinks he should. Likewise, your sales reps need to know about current service issues and marketing promotions before attempting to cross-sell to a specific customer. Managers should be able to leverage customer information from both sales and service to better target campaigns and offers. Support personnel require quick and complete access to a customer’s sales and service history in order to perform their jobs efficiently.

7. Your CRM can make everybody better.
Like a great point guard on a basketball team, CRM systems make everyone perform at a higher level. It makes your employees more organized, knowledgeable and capable of nurturing all of your customers, not just a handful of hot prospects. It reports all activity back to you with a broad a stroke or microscopic view, whatever you need at the time. This makes everybody accountable and provides the data you need to coach where it’s needed and reward when it’s earned.

8. Your CRM is customer-centric. CRM systems accelerate your processes, making transactions faster and easier for your customers. The longer a customer spends time in your store, the less they like you.

9. Your CRM doesn’t judge your customers. It performs with complete absence of human tendencies to decide who not to call, e-mail or otherwise follow up. While frontline employees can mark a task complete without performing the task, smart CRM systems look at the phone system to verify if a task has been completed.

10. Your CRM is a team player. Good CRM systems are collaborative. They can integrate with other technologies and have no lines of demarcation between departments. It helps the slow learner learn with inhuman patience and does not undermine other initiatives going on in the dealership.

There is one thing your CRM can’t do. Your CRM can’t make you use it. A great CRM culture takes discipline, accountability, performance standards and commitment.

According to Forrester Research, customer relationship management spending will top $11 billion by the end of 2010. Unfortunately, adoption can be poor, resulting in wasted time and money. Ground-level support as well as support from the top is critical.

A client recently told me that he hasn’t invested in a CRM because he doesn’t think he has the right people to execute the campaign. I understand his concern, but CRM use for frontline employees is normally simple. In my experience, depending on your role, you have a handful of interactive tasks that are performed over and over. I have seen the most reluctant employees pick up their aspect of using the CRM quickly and with ease. If they can send a fax, pull a credit report or run a CarFax, they can use a CRM tool.

Vol. 7, Issue 3