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CRM For Car Dealers Released By FireSocket
[September 28, 2006]

CRM For Car Dealers Released By FireSocket

TMCnet Contributing Editor

Software vendor FireSocket has announced what company officials call "significant enhancements" to its enterprise-wide customer relationship management (CRM) platform, DealerSocket.

The upgrade focuses on the automotive service department and includes dynamic appointment scheduling, service management and follow up support tools that promise to optimize a critical but often neglected part of a dealer's business operations.

With as much as 60 percent of the average automotive dealership's profits coming from automotive service and repair departments, these new features stand to be welcomed by dealers. Most CRM technologies focus solely on a dealer's sales and customer service operations.

"Controlling and managing the pace of service is one of those 'make or break' issues in creating the ideal customer experience for a service department's customers," said Ord. "Unfortunately, it's often left to chance at most dealerships."

For some reason selling cars isn't one of the tasks that's covered by much of the CRM studies, except at the high end like tracking Mercedes' service programs, one feels it's almost like it's too dirty shirt of an industry to merit serious coverage. That's puzzling, since it's one of the industries well-suited to CRM, one in which customer loyalty is of great importance.

For instance, earlier this month software vendor 5square released a Web-based system automating every part of the sales process, including lead management, CRM, showroom control, desking, F&I, inventory, customer marketing campaigns, and dealership analytics. It guides the sales team on every lead and every deal, improving sales processes, customer satisfaction, and closing ratios, and integrates with both ADP and Reynolds and Reynolds DMS systems.

NADA statistics show that the average dealer spent $571 in 2005 on advertising and lead generation for each new vehicle sold. This investment dwarfs the cost of all management systems combined -- DMS, CRM, Desking, F&I, etc.

"How the dealership manages its leads and its sales process determines whether this investment is a gusher or a dry hole. Effective follow-up will substantially increase sales," said Yuri Pikover, chairman and CEO. integrates the entire sales process and company officials claim the product "has demonstrated consistent results in improving customer satisfaction, closing ratios, and gross." They point to a recent five-month study of eight pilot dealerships which "produced a 21 percent increase in closing rates, equal to 34 additional units per month per dealership."

According to John Anderson of the California-based John Anderson Group (which includes one of the largest Honda dealerships in the world),'s structured sales process and improved follow-up has, as good, salesperson-friendly CRM always does, help sell more cars and improve closing ratios: "We're capturing more than 90 percent of the ups, as opposed to 50 percent with CRM only software. Salespeople are happy to log an up because it guarantees them protection on the deal."

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles please visit David Sims’ columnist page.

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