Hold Software Providers Accountable for Better Technology ROI

Dealers stop using software tools for several reasons. A particular technology not performing as promised is one explanation. More often, though, the decisive reasons are less obvious:

  • Mastering a technology’s features can be difficult.
  • Training often falls short of properly educating users to achieve product mastery.
  • The revolving door of staff turnover means a continuous stream of inexperienced users.

A different support model would address all three reasons providers abandon technology investments or use them inefficiently. One attribute of this new model is providing dealers with a single connection/account manager as a dedicated technology-adaption and utilization resource for their stores.

All technology suppliers have a stake in helping their customers adapt to their tools and master their applications. Traditional postsale follow-up calls and training webinars are a good start, but not enough. Demand more attention from the companies you do business with. As you evaluate their products, ask:

  • How extensive is support? Is a specific team assigned to your dealership, and does it providetechnical and application help and training,as well as share regular updates with upper management? Does it conduct technology utilization, reporting, and ROI analysis? Is there one-on-one, group, and instructor-led online training to develop best practices and help users master tool proficiency? Satisfied, productive workers are a remedy for turnover. What do other dealers say about the provider’s ability to communicate and resolve IT issues promptly?
  • Who is our contact? Insist that the individuals providing client care have prior dealership employment experience. They will have the practical experience to match the product to the dealership’s processes and culture.You want individuals assigned to your dealership who become integral to your success. Are they able also to provide new-hire development, guidance, and ongoing help, work with upper management to identify and implement long-term process road maps, and provide in-store training and consulting?
  • Why should we choose you? How committed is the vendor to ensuring that its product lives up to its promises? Is the technology adaptable to your culture and processes? Does marketplace experience validate the claims? Does it help you sell? Beyond the basics, does the company offer a mobile application—and if appropriate, does it provide marketing or retention support, such as microtargeted campaign initiatives, to support the dealership’s financial goals?

When a software provider commits to delivering better technology ROI for its customers, the users of its product become more proficient, which improves confidence, performance, and job satisfaction. Dealers deserve to get maximum ROI from the products they buy. Click here for an example of how to do so.

Brian Skutta is CEO of AutoAlert, Inc., North America’s premier data mining, customer retention, and sales opportunity provider. Skutta brings to AutoAlert more than a decade of leadership in helping auto dealerships sell more vehicles and retain more customers. He has a proven history of successfully managing innovation and growth, most recently at VinSolutions and Autotrader.com’s Trade-In Marketplace. Reach him at brian.skutta@dealermark.com or visit www.autoalert.com.

Brian Skutta


  1. Avatar
    Ron Greer March 16, 2015

    Brian, you are on the track of some real solutions to improve overall dealer efficiency.

    The missing premise is figuring out how to make it pencil for the Dealer and the Dealer System Provider. The real ROI for a dealer vastly varies based on the dealership, volume and the specific agreements for service from the DSP. A dealer paying $5k/month for a core DMS can’t really expect a dedicated Account Manager or Team. Yes, may dealers claim to pay 5, 10 or 20 times that amount, but you have to look at shared accountability.

    Factor in the multitude of software applications from multiple vendors, the onus ultimately lies with the dealer to make good decisions about their investment, tools and most important – their hiring and on-boarding practices.

    The challenge will not be solved in a single conversation, but the position that the vendor is ultimately responsible for dealer ROI dismisses the dealer from individual accountability.

    • Avatar
      Brian Skutta March 16, 2015

      Thanks for your comments. I could not agree more. The dealer will always be the driver of their own success. I think that highlights the need for the dealer to make smart vendor decisions an ensure the ROI pencils for their individual store as you pointed out. My experience as a provider has been the best results occur when both the dealer and vendor hold each other accountable. The ability to do that requires a good selection process, an open and direct dialogue, and clearly defined goals. All things I would advocate a dealer to discuss when evaluating providers.

      Thanks again for your response.



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