Auto Dealerships Will Be Just Fine In 2019

New & Pre-Owned Sales signAccording to NADA News, Senior Economist for NADA, Patrick Manzi, said trends are looking good for both new and used vehicles in 2019.

He continued on and said in a recent speech in San Francisco: “The current posture of the U.S. economy is strong. A tight labor market continues to put upward pressure on wages, which are rising. Consumer spending, a significant contributor to GDP, remains solid. It’s a positive sign that consumers are spending money.”

In 2019, NADA expects there to be roughly 16.8 million sales in light trucks and new cars– a 3% decrease from 2018’s fourth straight year of 17 million units.

However, Manzi warned that the rising interest rates for auto loans will impact the affordability of vehicles for consumers in the coming year. With rates and monthly payments expected to rise, he says younger consumers will shift to the used car market. “This is a great opportunity for dealers to get these customers into nearly new certified-pre-owned vehicles.”

With the used car market’s expected increase, software companies have developed software to make the reconditioning process as efficient as possible to maximize profits. Products like ReconMonitor can help you track each vendor or employee task and identify what order those tasks are being performed. This helps you execute auto remarketing at maximum speed, and ensure you have the stock available to meet consumer demands.

Best Software For PDR Commissions

Running PDR business, you understand how much time it can take to track and calculate commissions. Your back-office has to put in a lot of time and effort to record complete and accurate data. Beyond that, if you’re running your back office manually, you’re probably still using paper documents, dry-erase boards, spreadsheets, and maybe even sticky notes to record information. It demands a lot of time and attention and can even take away from focusing on growing your business.

Management software has become a standard in the auto industry to record information and improve workflow. And the best software for managing commissions?

ReconPro

ReconPro is one of the best management software solutions for PDR businesses. You can create invoices, estimates, approvals, and even track vehicles statuses at the click of a button. The software can also automatically calculate and track commissions from simple splits to complex multi-tiered and team commissions. ReconPro is feature-rich, including access to a number of hail and insurance matrixes, conventional repair costs, parts management, and a host of other useful functionality. It has fully customizable templates for print and email documents, so your business and brand are well supported.

ReconPro is a native software app that allows PDR businesses to keep their back-office running smoothly while also making it easier to access information on the fly, and keep technicians up-to-date on everything they need to know.

Beyond that, ReconPro provides you with visibility and control, eliminates manual and duplicate data entry, automates commissions and vendor payments, offers the most detailed reports on the market, can easily integrate with QuickBooks and crash management systems, and eliminates any need for IT staff to install or maintain– all on your mobile devices and back-office computer.

To speak with a specialist and arrange for a demo of ReconPro, click here.

Why Your Dealership Should Prioritize Convenience And Transparency

Why Your Dealership Should Prioritize Convenience And TransparencyAccording to Dealership News, research from a Cox Automotive Service Industry Study showed dealerships are losing out on roughly $266 billion dollars a year in service revenue. Beyond that, the biggest contributing factor to it all is customer trust and inconvenience. Unfortunately, many dealerships aren’t doing enough for customers to feel completely comfortable with their purchasing process.

Released back in January, the study also showed that 70% of all customers who bought or leased a vehicle from a franchised dealership did not return for continued vehicle service. The reason behind this? Well, they’d rather take their chances with established body shops and independent repair shops. In fact, the study showed customer service satisfaction with dealerships was about on par with the small body shop you may see down the street.

With the average age of vehicles out on the road sitting at around 11.5 years old, it isn’t too surprising that dealership services see a reduction in visits as a car ages. However, on the plus side, dealerships still lead the way against third-party businesses for overall customer visits– but lag in customer service, convenience, and transparency.

Dealership News suggests a few simple fixes for this would be:

  • Providing customers a way to pay online.
  • Schedule appointments with customers via their mobile devices.
  • Picking up and delivering serviced vehicles to and from customer locations.
  • Provide simple repairs to their vehicles outside of the shop setting.
  • Providing customers with information, such as trade-in value, services, price ranges, estimates, and competitive ranges.
  • Give customers a way to monitor their vehicle’s service remotely.

Jim Roche, Vice President of Marketing and Managed Services with Xtime told Fixed Ops Journal: “Dealers have to figure out how to get your vehicle to the service, or the service to your vehicle.” Which is in line with the study that also suggests customers are willing to pay more or travel longer distances if the customer service is great.

 

AutoMobile Technologies

AMT offers software solutions designed to make your dealership more efficient, provide your customers with the information they need, offer you better visibility, and give you peace of mind knowing that your back-office is always up-to-date and you’re building a positive relationship with customers.

ReconMonitor is a state of the art workflow automation software for auto recon, dealerships, and auto marketing companies. ReconMonitor dealership software decreases reconditioning cycle time and increases your control and profitability.

How Finance & Insurance Helped Dealerships In 2018

How Finance & Insurance Helped Dealerships In 2018

It looks like Finance & Insurance were great for dealerships last year. In fact, prepaid maintenance programs (38.9%) and vehicle service contracts (43.9%) were their most profitable sellers.

According to Auto News, Protective Asset Protection created a paid survey in December to look at how well dealerships handled Finance & Insurance (F&I) over 2018.

More than 150 dealerships opted in, completed the survey, and reported their gross margins were unchanged from the previous year (35% of dealerships said the same thing). However, 32% of sellers reported their F&I revenue had increased by 10%. While another 30% reported increases between 5% and 10% in comparison to the previous year. Beyond that, 42% of dealerships reported that vehicle service contracts (VSC) and maintenance programs were their biggest hits.

As we move more and more into 2019, experts suggest VSCs will continue to grow in popularity as consumers shift towards purchasing used vehicles. According to NADA, used vehicle sales were 39 million in 2018. Whereas new vehicles sales were 17.3 million. However, the expectation is for new vehicle sales to drop down to 16.6 million. With this change, consumers will need VSCs and other maintenance programs for taking care of their trucks and SUVs.

Senior Vice President of Protective Asset Protection, Rick Kurtz, says: “We believe the demand for many F&I products will continue to grow in the upcoming years, especially as more consumers use pre-owned vehicles to combat the affordability of new automobiles. What’s more, the continued trend of off-lease volume will place additional focus on used vehicles, where VSCs and maintenance programs will significantly help to ensure consumers keep their automobiles on the road and running. Also, we all see dealer-owned warranty company applications, in particular, helping dealers offer top quality F&I products designed to satisfy the needs of their customers.”

With the increase in F&I business, now is the time to evaluate how your business handles service contracts, and what systems you have in place to manage the work. AMT can help. If you’re working with F&I contracts, ReconPro can help you initiate a claim, schedule a repair, and maintain all records associated with the Service Contract. Apply Service Contract terms directly into vehicle records to create correct invoicing and improve customer satisfaction.

Four Tips to Keep Customers Coming Back to Your Dealership

In 2019, dealerships have a lot of competition when it comes to returning buyers, servicing, and simple repairs. However, if you focus on the customer experience first, you’ll keep them coming back for years to come. Nowadays, it’s not just their time at your dealership that counts, but also their convenience when visiting your website or waiting for their vehicle to be serviced.

The auto industry is evolving every day, and the way your customers experience your business is changing, too. Below, we have four tips that will keep customers coming back to your dealership.

 

Prioritize A Simple, Effective, & Informative Online Experience

Obviously, smartphones are everywhere. We all know it, and because of this fact, the way customers experience your business begins with a Google search. Typically, they’ll see a list of businesses (on Google My Business)  in their area that match what they typed in. They’ll go through, read reviews, look at pictures you upload, and then they’ll go to your website.

Customer service begins at first touch– your website. If it’s easy to navigate, provides useful information, and puts simplifying the customer experience first, then you’re much more likely to gain their business– and keep it.

 

Be Transparent With Customers

First and foremost, this will gain your customer trust. People know when salesmen are just trying to close a deal. It’s also safe to say many dealerships believe front end sales are where all of their money is made. However, in today’s market, it’s not so simple.

If you treat a customer well and prioritize their comfort, they’ll be more likely to come back for business and refer you. Beyond that, when you set expectations,  provide exact costs, estimates, rebates, and work with them through every step of the process, you’ll develop a positive relationship.

However, as you’ll probably guess, this transparency doesn’t end with the in-person meetings. The best dealerships have software in place that will calculate everything a customer needs to know, instantly, for their purchase– including all of the things (and more) that we listed above. Whether it’s for service, or simply offering information, you can send out automated text alerts for customers to stay updated, giving them another easy way to connect with you.

 

Keep In Touch With Customers

Whether it’s through emails, texts, or phone calls, it’s important to check in with customers every now and then. This isn’t to suggest you should pester them on a regular basis (don’t do that), but sending out promotions every now and then is never a bad idea. Beyond that, if you have a social media page, that can be a great way to stay in contact with customers and provide updates on anything you’re doing that they may be interested in.

 

Have A Management Software System In Place

We touched on it a little bit above, but it’s crucial to have a system in place that helps make the customer experience as easy and informative as possible. In 2019, the majority of the most successful dealerships have a software system in place that not only increases operational efficiency, but also can create custom forms, email templates for promotions, provide customers with text message updates on services, and inform them of pricing and estimates on the fly.

 

AutoMobile Technologies

AMT offers software solutions designed to make your dealership more efficient, provide your customers with the information they need, offer you better visibility, and give you peace of mind knowing that your back-office is always up-to-date and you’re building a positive relationship with customers.

ReconMonitor is a state of the art workflow automation software for auto recon, dealerships, and auto marketing companies. ReconMonitor dealership software decreases reconditioning cycle time and increases your control and profitability.

NADA Chairman Says Dealerships Need To Be Active “Now More Than Ever”

According to NADA News, the new NADA Chairman, Charlie Gilchrist, strongly recommended that franchise-owned dealerships need to be active in NADA “now more than ever.”

He continued on with his recent speech in San Francisco and said: “I want you to think of your association as your second identity. It’s always a part of you, and it’s always there. That’s a big deal, whether you’ve been working in this industry for decades or you’re just getting started.”

President of Gilchrest Automotive, Charlie Gilchrist, has franchises including Ram, Nissan, Ford, Volkswagen, Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler all in the DFW area of Texas. His obvious success quickly reminded everyone in the Moscone Center that being a franchise owner is the best way in the world to distribute vehicles. However, he also discussed some of the major challenges dealerships of all sizes are familiar with and will have to prepare for down the line.

“My challenge to each of you today is to get involved,” Gilchrist said. “You are not just ‘a member’ of NADA. You are NADA.” He then followed up with: “Profitability in our new-vehicle department is a serious issue. This means we have to be better, and more creative, at running the rest of the store. We must adapt to this reality to survive in this new world.”

Beyond that, according to NADA News, Gilchrist urged the entire auto industry to unite together to help tackle the issue of technician shortages in the retail sector by supporting the NADA Foundation Workforce Initiative.

With the shortage of technicians and the many challenges ahead for dealerships in 2019, software companies are working hard to help manage and automate the workflow of dealership operations. Among the leading products is ReconMonitor, a state of the art workflow automation software for auto recon, dealerships, and auto remarketing companies. ReconMonitor dealership software decreases reconditioning cycle time and increases your dealership’s operational control and profitability.

When Should You Update Your PDR Workflow Process?

It’s challenging knowing exactly when you should update your workflow process. But if you’re finding that vehicle repair cycles are taking longer than they should, or are simply overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork and approvals you need to sift through, it may be time for some change.

 

Who’s Accountable?

First and foremost, one of the biggest challenges in the PDR business involves accountability. When a job takes too long or a problem arises, who exactly is responsible? In most cases, it would simply be in the hands of the operational manager, regardless of whether it’s actually on them. It’s important to know where the constraints are, who made the mistakes or isn’t pulling their weight, and to incentivize your team to work as efficiently as possible. To do that, you need reliable and timely information.

 

How Fast Are Vehicles Worked On?

At the end of the day, the shorter your cycle time, the faster the throughput. If vehicles with small dents are taking 8 hours when it should be a 2-hour job, then it’s time to reconsider your PDR process. Each vehicle holding up space in the shop and demanding technician time is preventing your business from working on the next one, and thereby making more money along the way.

 

Other Shops Are Making The Updates, And So Should You

Right now, the most successful shops are the ones leading the charge in constantly adapting to the PDR world. You don’t want to fall behind or simply follow the trends, but rather predict where the trends will go. Running a PDR business should involve constant improvements so you can stay profitable and competitive. If the most successful businesses are doing it (and some are your local competition), chances are it might not be a bad idea to upgrade and adapt in your own way.

For many PDR shops across the US, implementing a workflow management system has been a complete game changer. Workflow management systems let you access vehicle information, repair costs, perform PDR and hail damage estimates, create invoices, monitor vehicles statuses, and much more in real-time on your desktop or mobile device. To stay ahead of the curve, you want to constantly adapt, and to adapt effectively, you’ll want to use the best tools available. Having complete visibility of your back-office operations as well as your repair work is the best way to constantly improve your PDR process.

 

AutoMobile Technologies ReconPro

ReconPro is the industry’s most versatile and powerful software solution built for auto recon professionals. With essential tools for performing PDR estimates, hail and insurance matrixes, parts management, paint code lookups, integrations with body shop crash systems and accounting systems, too. ReconPro manages the details of running your business so you can focus on growing your business.

Retired NADA Chairman Says Dealerships Are Writing The Future

Wes Lutz – Former NADA Chair

Recently in a speech in San Francisco, now retired NADA Chairman, Wes Lutz, advocated for dealerships in America to fully embrace the changing times for dealerships. Advising them to truly listen to their customers and discussing what the future of the auto industry holds.

According to NADA News, Wes Lutz is the president of Extreme-Dodge-Chrysler-Ram in Jackson, Michigan. Lutz was the head of NADA and was there to see new-vehicle sales go beyond 17 million units. However, he also predicted that personal vehicle ownership would eventually end.

“As I traveled around the world in 2018, my biggest takeaway was this” So many people want to write our narrative. They say that dealerships are fighting the inevitable, that change is coming and we don’t like it,” he said during his speech. “The truth is that we love change. Change is not happening fast enough for us. Dealers aren’t fighting the future, we’re writing it.”

Lutz continued on: “People prize convenience above all else. People value freedom above all else. The ability to just get up and go without waiting for anyone is a luxury that people don’t want to give up – they can’t afford to. Which is why people have very little interest in giving up their keys, despite what Wall Street or Silicon Valley says.”

With customer convenience at the forefront of dealership focus, software companies have management software available to help make dealership operations, and the customer’s life as easy as possible. Products, like ReconMonitor, have fully customizable forms and triggers that can notify customers of their vehicle’s status, and alert vendors and employees when their work is coming up. No more phone calls required to keep everyone informed.

3 Ways To Improve Your PDR Business

Whether you’re a traditional collision repair shop or a PDR business, it can be challenging adjusting your workflow. Even within some of the most successful businesses, there are constraints that could be tackled better. A good way to improve on your PDR workflow is by looking at all areas of business, but before you can even consider that, you should prioritize connecting your PDR technicians to your back-office and to whoever is handling the customer invoices.

In PDR, speed and efficiency play the biggest role in how much your business will make on a daily basis. Once you understand this, you can begin to look at how you can re-organize your business’ workflow management system. Fortunately, because of the already fast nature of PDR, it’s pretty easy to adapt to a more efficient management system. While PDR is already a lucrative and fast endeavor, better workflow in all aspects, especially the back-office, will not only increase the number of vehicles you work on in a day, but also make it easier for your technicians.

 

Track Your Data

In the PDR business, the back-office is one of your biggest headaches. You don’t want to spend hours on paperwork, but you also don’t want to track invoices, estimates, employee compensation, or more based on information that isn’t completely accurate. What you do want to track, though, are PDR estimations and the exact amount of hours your technicians are spending on each repair. Beyond that, you’ll want to look at it all in real-time to accurately measure how you can reduce your cycle time and increase throughput. No matter what, it’s important to use a database to track and record important information about the vehicles you’re working on.

 

Upgrade Your Workflow Management System

First thing’s first, in 2019, your PDR business shouldn’t be relying on spreadsheets, dry-erase boards, or even sticky notes. They can get easily lost or misplaced, and create unnecessary bottlenecks in your workflow. Right now, the most successful PDR businesses out there are using management software to track their entire PDR process from estimate to the paid invoice accounting entry. Management software applications can manage your entire workflow, invoices, estimates, upload documents and photos, track individual vehicles, customer pricing, and employee commissions.

 

Find Your Biggest Constraints

After you’ve improved on your workflow management, simply embrace the newest technology available. For a lot of PDR businesses, the biggest constraints lie in the back-office. Whether it’s misplaced paper, poor filing, or communication issues on approvals, the back-office is definitely one of the biggest struggles for anyone in PDR.

 

AutoMobile Technologies Can Help

AMT offers software solutions designed to make your PDR business more efficient, provide you with better visibility, and give you peace of mind knowing that your back-office is always up-to-date.

ReconPro is the industry’s most versatile and powerful software solution purpose-built for auto recon professionals. With essential tools for performing estimates, hail/PDR and insurance matrixes, parts management, paint code lookups, integrations with body shop crash systems and accounting systems, too. ReconPro manages the details of running your business so you can focus on growing your business.

Best Auto Dealer Management Software Picks For 2019

If you’re reading this, you’re likely aware of all of the moving parts involved when running an auto dealership. Complications can arise from a poor workflow system, technicians making mistakes, and even simply going through paperwork. There are many things to consider, and inevitably, even the most successful auto dealerships run into productivity shortfalls.

We know that many of the problems tend to involve employee mistakes and miscommunication. If you’re like most auto dealerships, you’ve seen the shortcomings and have already implemented management software, such as ADP or Reynolds & Reynolds. It’s a step in the right direction; however, systems like the two we just named often have gaps in sales efficiency, inventory, and F&I information.

In auto dealerships, employee mistakes happen. Beyond that, you know there is always room for improvement– whether it’s updating your layout, installing a management software system, or simply eliminating inefficient and unnecessary steps. But management software, such as ADP or Reynolds & Reynolds have their limitations as well. Luckily for you, in 2019, there are plenty of software solutions out there that can help you fully digitize your inventory acquisition, marketing, inventory management, and reconditioning statuses. There are software solutions out there that can fill in those missing gaps.

Finding the right management software can be a long, headache-inducing, process. To help you out, we’ve created a list of our top 4 management tool picks that can make your auto dealership more efficient.

 

For Your Sales And Marketing

Hubspot

Each year, more and more auto dealerships (and companies in general) are seeing the benefits of Hubspot for their businesses. Hubspot is a software solution that helps your auto dealership with online marketing, tracking sales, and managing customer relationships. There are plenty of options within the software suite that you can choose from. While they’re all really helpful and beneficial for your auto dealership, they’re even better together.

In 2019, almost every search for a new vehicle begins with an internet search engine, such as Google or Bing. When people start that search, they’re looking for a business near them that provides the right answers to some of the most common questions buyers have. We call this inbound marketing, and it is one of the best ways to garner new customers and sales. You draw in customers through websites, blogging, social media, brand, and optimizing your content to draw in customers and rank high in search engine results.

Hubspot lets you create and publish content that you can track, measure, and target to generate leads.

 

For Your Social Media

Hubspot Marketing

While Sprout Social was our top social media management software pick just a year ago, Hubspot Marketing has begun to dominate even the social media market.

For any auto dealership’s marketing team, the number one goal has always been to advertise their business across the best and most efficient channels possible. In 2019, the internet (especially social media) is one of the best avenues that currently exist. Almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket. Beyond that, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, nearly everyone from your grandparents (or parents) to elementary school students use social media platforms.

Hubspot Marketing allows you to to create social media marketing campaigns, has end-to-end marketing automation (publish content in a specific format in timed intervals), let’s you personalize your lead management, has an extremely user-friendly interface, customizable HTML and text messages, and SEO (search engine optimization).

 

For Your Accounting

Intuit Quickbooks

Intuit Quickbooks is probably the most fully fleshed-out accounting software there is. You can purchase Quickbooks for either Windows or Mac. However, as of 2019, Quickbooks is focusing more and more on a cloud-based subscription service where you pay a monthly fee for their software.

While the software is offered for both Mac and Windows, the Mac version doesn’t have nearly as many features as the Windows or cloud-based versions.

Whether your dealership is large or small, Quickbooks is very widely used by almost everyone in the market. It’s very easy to go online and look up information, guides, tutorials, and videos explaining exactly how all of the features work. Quickbooks works well for just about any business and offers quite a few monthly packages that can range from $5 to $25 a month; however, payroll, payment services, and enterprise installations do cost a bit more.

 

For Your Reconditioning Workflow Automation

AutoMobile Technologies ReconMonitor

ReconMonitor is one of the best software solutions out there for auto dealerships. You can monitor and manage any vehicles that are in the reconditioning process. The software allows you to track inventory and auction purchases from the time you acquire the vehicles, all the way to through the process to when they’re front-line ready. It enables tracking of each individual vehicle, the reconditioning stage it is in, the teams responsible, and alerts you to any workflow bottlenecks in real-time.

ReconMonitor is software that allows dealerships to track back-office operations, reconditioning processes, and front-end sales from anywhere on their desktop or mobile device.

Beyond that, it can alert you of potential problems in resource planning or process in order to maintain proper workflow momentum. Unlike common spreadsheets or whiteboards, this software solution is always available, in the office, on the lot, or in the field, at the push of a button.