Five First Tasks to becoming the Digital Dealer
Guest writer Mets Kramer continues his series on the Digital Dealership with today’s post: Five First Tasks to Becoming the Digital Dealer.
When I started as a service supervisor, part of my job was closing invoices. On average, I probably opened (and therefore should have closed) 2 work orders per day. Yet my metric target was 9 days average invoicing cycle That meant 9 days between the last day someone worked on the machine and when the invoice was sent. At the time I thought that seemed quite reasonable. There were always some outstanding items on the work order, or more commonly I was too busy to close them faster. The metric was an average number of days, so some work orders were much slower to invoice. Unfortunately, as we all know, invoices sent well after the end of work are more likely to be disputed and less likely to be paid.
Years later, now responsible for all service operations, I started to ask myself where the 9 days came from. Why not 10 or 8 or 7 or any other number? There was always some reason to be found why an invoice couldn’t be sent yet. Then I started wondering why, when I send my car in to get work done at the dealership, do I get an invoice right when I want my car back. Why don’t they wait 9 days to send me my bill? I came to realize the reason was because the car dealership had figured out how to make sure every part and charge was on the work order before the work was done. They do this because they won’t get paid if they give your car back before they send a bill, and they can’t hold your car until the bill is ready.
The car dealership had done the work and created tasks to remove all the problems that delayed getting everything on the work order on time. So, I started the same process at the branches. Finding out what stopped invoicing the same day and found ways to remove the hurdle. It included using purchase orders with confirmed values, real-time digital service reports and even just better vendors. We even changed the metric on invoicing cycle. 75% of work orders had to be closed within one day, 25% could average up to 5 days. This new metric created tasks for people to figure out how to prevent delays and we showed it was possible to invoice same day in almost all cases.
It’s what Ron calls the Art of the Possible.
In 1993, I got my first dial up internet access, via my 14.4 modem, on my IBM ThinkPad 700. That’s almost 30 years ago. Clearly the internet has been around for a long time. Now, in 2021, here we are talking about the digital dealership and still have open tasks and reasons why we aren’t as digital as most other industries. The truth is, it is possible! Possible to have our dealerships capable and positioned where we want them to be.
The Art of the Possible, is about completing the tasks you know exist, to achieve your goals. It might be a matter of getting some additional help to complete the task. Either because of manpower, knowledge, or technical limitations. Sometimes it’s as simple as implementing what you already have in existing systems. Many of you will agree, you have software systems in the dealership with capabilities you don’t use. Even though it would make the dealership better.
We’d like to help. Make some time to send Ron Slee or myself a list of 3 – 5 tasks you want to complete. These tasks should be oriented toward a goal aligned with becoming a Digital Dealership and from any department. Examples can include “I’d like to allow customers more flexible ways to communicate with us” or “I’d like to store and use information properly to drive sales”. Send us your open tasks and we will help you work through implementing them.
A few years ago, I went to see a dealer after my presentation at AED. I presented on using customer fleet data to predict sales and drive sales activities. This dealer had all the capacity to implement this concept, and even agreed they should be doing it, but it was still an open item on their list, for the last 20 years. Don’t let small hurdles get in the way of being a better dealership for your customers, don’t let a list of POSSIBLE tasks stop you from becoming a Digital Dealer.
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