Revelers cheer New Year’s fireworks in Valparaiso, Chile.  Photo by Andrés Aguiluz Rios

Revelers cheer New Year’s fireworks in Valparaiso, Chile. Photo by Andrés Aguiluz Rios

As we prepare for the emerging auto retail trends to surface in 2017, a major one will remain ever-present: Technology is changing the way dealers do business. From digital retailing tools to paperless contracting to smartphone appointment-setting in the service drive, technology radically changes traditional brick-and-mortar dealership operations and consumer interactions.

With these ever-evolving changes taking place, it’s time to ask yourself one critical question when it comes to your DMS provider: Are they exceeding your expectations?

Dealerships need more when it comes to managing and growing their businesses, and relying on a DMS that is antiquated or retrograded in its technology simply will not cut it moving forward.

After all, your DMS is the heart of your business. It fuels management and administration decisions, facilitates customer interaction and engagement, and helps grow your business.

Over the next several years, the key to the continued growth of your dealership will be the successful integration of your DMS with emerging technology trends in retailing. Let’s take a closer look at how technology will impact your dealership, and what a modern DMS solution can do to allow you to get the most of your business in 2017.

Technology Is Driving Change to Your DMS

Technology’s quick and ever-changing immersion in auto retail is great for your dealership, opening the possibilities for growing your business. But if you don’t have a DMS solution that allows you to get more out of your dealership and deliver real value, you are cheating yourself and your customers. You need a solution that can propel your business forward with purpose-driven functionality, and a modern DMS provides that and more.

Prior to the early 1990s, dealers used various standalone technologies to manage their business and operations. Once the general adoption of the DMS began, we started to see the centralizing of some back-office functions and administration. In the late 1990s, a few third-party providers began connecting to the DMS.

Today, further integration of the DMS is an industry priority and will be critical for the ongoing success of our industry. The future of dealer technology will be in the full secure, real-time and bidirectional integration of your DMS with various other solutions that work best for your business.

The DMS will have a bigger role in helping to power your entire operations across functional areas moving forward. Ultimately, the DMS will integrate with your CRM, inventory, desking, menu, service and parts, marketing and HR applications to create a seamless ecosystem. This type of integration is a direct solution to the technology demands in the market today.

Ask the Tough Questions

As you assess and evaluate your technologies and providers in the New Year, there are a few simple questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your current relationship with your DMS provider a truly efficient and productive partnership?
  • Is your provider addressing your business and technology concerns and helping move your business forward?
  • Is your provider making it easy for you to integrate with other technology providers and applications?
  • Is your provider aligned to respond to changing market dynamics and your needs five or 10 years down the road?
  • Do you agree with your provider’s vision for the future of automotive retailing?

If the answer to any of these questions is “No” or “I Don’t Know,” it may be time to look for a new provider. A provider who will enable you to ride the wave of technology and integration that will ultimately drive our industry and everything we do both online and instore in the coming years.

Ultimately, by working with the right technology partner, your DMS can be the foundation for tremendous long-term growth. A true partner will help you to continuously leverage the latest technology and business innovations, along with your DMS, to transform and evolve your business for years to come.

Kai Nielsen is director of strategy and business operations for Dealertrack (div. Cox Automotive), where he is responsible for the development, management and execution of DMS strategy and planning.