Home Business A basic guide to understanding dealer management systems (DMS)

A basic guide to understanding dealer management systems (DMS)

A basic guide to understanding dealer management systems (DMS)

Managing a dealership is a demanding job. Several aspects need to be taken into consideration to run the business smoothly and effectively. Using business management software such as a dealer management system (DMS) can help ease this process. Efficient DMS can assist you in effortlessly managing different aspects of your business through unified software. This includes pre-sales, sales, purchases, post-purchase, financial accounting, inventory management, CRM, human resources, and more. Read on to learn more about DMS.

What does a dealer management system do?
The main objective of a dealer management system is to ease operational tasks and enhance operational efficiency. It takes the load off of excessive paperwork by streamlining and providing a centralized location for all your important data. A good DMS will also improve communication across different departments within your organization, encouraging better business awareness for your employees.

Dealer management systems can help you with the following:

Inventory management
This is a crucial feature for dealerships with large inventories. It can help you store records in a single location and retrieve them at the click of a button. It can also help you monitor your expenses for reconditioning and flooring and provide industry-standard book values.

Customer management
Instead of looking through physical records for each of your customers, a DMS can help you store and access customer data more smartly. Some software also allows you to call or chat with your customers in real-time. These software applications are generally equipped with features that allow you to record conversations and categorize your contacts to easily follow your leads.

DMS can help you automate all your accounting tasks, such as inventory, point of sale, and transaction costing. This will enable the quick generation of financial reports that can be shared with the rest of the team. It can also help you develop an operational budget, monitor performance, and analyze the profitability of every aspect of your business.

Service management
Your DMS can also help you organize and manage the dealership’s service schedule to help you meet deadlines. It can help you streamline the service write-up process, schedule service work to maximize billable hours, allow your team to clock in and out easily, and make repair and warranty claim handling easier.

Features to look for in a dealer management system
The goal of an effective DMS is to improve your service capabilities while offering a great experience for your customers. While all businesses do not operate in the same manner, here are some standard DMS features that every business could benefit from:

Inventory management
Integrated accounting
POS and retail management
Reporting tools and analytics
Customer relationship management (CRM)
Service scheduling and productivity tracker
Repair order and billing estimates
Deal structuring, forms, and contracting
Lead management quoting

If you are keen on a DMS that offers more, look for the following features:

Multi-location management
Embedded text messaging
Slips and storage management
Cloud hosting
Employee training
IT support
Price file updates from major manufacturers and distributors
Availability across major phone/computer operating systems
Integration with third-party solutions (such as CRM, ERP, Chatbots, RMA reporting, and smart search features)
Prices for dealership management software can vary depending on the features offered, setup fees, number of systems installed, inventory list, and other factors.

Tips for choosing the right dealer management system for your business
If you’re in the market for a new dealer management system for your company, following these tips can help:

Prioritize the list of features
Classify all the features into three categories: needs, wants, and nice-to-have. This will help you prioritize your requirements and choose a DMS that is suitable for your business.

These are the non-negotiable features that a potential DMS must have. It may include inventory, unit tracking, sales, management, scheduling, accounting, etc.

Although these are not crucial for the functioning of your business, these features can help improve efficiency and provide insights. Some common features companies want include CRM, sales pipeline management tools, automation tools, sorting, report generation, and third-party integrations.

These may be considered frill features by many. While they can help improve your experience with the DMS, you can also comfortably continue your operations without them. Some nice-to-have features include training tools, mobile functionality, internal communications, cloud-based software options, and accessible customer support.

Create a list of vendors
This can help you find the right vendor for your business. Create a list of vendors that meet your priority list. You can scour the web for businesses, speak to your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances for suggestions, check industry publications, read online review listings, or even post on a public forum. Once you have a list of potential vendors, it is time to start shortlisting.

Request a demo
Conduct a thorough vetting of your list of vendors. You can reach out to their contact person and ask for more details to make an informed decision. Request a demo session once you have shortlisted two or three potential options. A formal demo session with the vendor can help you fill any remaining gaps in your knowledge about their offering and ensure the provider meets all their claims.

Once you have finalized your vendor, it’s time to make a proposal. The ideal DMS will help you streamline and support your business as you scale it to greater heights.