Ford dealership test-drives CRM ‘Revolution’

Executives with Australia’s oldest Ford dealership say they are set to achieve savings of close to $400,000 in the first year of implementing a Revolution Dealer Management System (DMS).

Harrigan Ford’s new system, which was also implemented at sister dealership Keira Ford, boasts an integrated sales process that drives every aspect of the sales cycle from lead generation, product configuration and deal pricing through to contract and forms processing, accounting, fulfillment and customer follow-up.

The advanced CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities in the system have drastically improved efficiency and provided a more targeted advertising spend and marketing campaigns.

Developed by incorporating Progress Software’s relational database, the Revolution DMS went live last month.

Harrigan’s dealer principal, Mirko Milic, said acceptance of the new system has been extremely high.

“The Revolution system makes life much easier for our salespeople, both in the showroom when configuring and pricing cars for customers and in our after-sales follow-up and marketing to prospects”, Milic said.

“Showroom capabilities are particularly important since Ford allows customers a great deal of choice in the way different models can be configured.

“Previously salespeople had to rely on their memory as to what features and options were available with each car, which greatly increased the risk of errors in designing and pricing each vehicle.”

Milic said Revolution provides a direct link to the Ford factory system which ensures that any changes to model options and pricing are automatically downloaded into the system.

“Our salespeople can sit in the showroom with a prospect and walk them through a process of custom-designing their vehicle, with the system guiding them to select only the options that are available on that model”, he said.

“There’s no more guesswork and no more mistakes, so the customer knows exactly what options are available on their vehicle, how long it will take to deliver and what it will cost. That alone has made a huge impact on customer satisfaction.”

The CRM capabilities are geared toward a high degree of loyalty and repeat business. For example, each prospect is entered into the system at the first point of contact and the software provides an on-going log of all subsequent interactions, prompting staff along the way to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

“After the point of delivery, the system will prompt the salesperson to contact the customer within 48 hours to ensure they are satisfied with the vehicle, and then our CRM manager will receive a reminder to follow up with an additional call within seven days”, Milic said.

“There were often instances in the past where customers had to call the dealership to chase a missing part or accessories that wasn’t on the car at delivery, but the solution now enables both dealerships to be more proactive in addressing customer concerns.

“The system provides a process for us to stay in regular contact with our customers, whether by phone, direct mail or e-mail to maintain those relationships. We want them to come back when they’re ready for a new car, whether that’s three years, five years or even 10 years down the track.”

Customers can also book a service, order parts or make queries online, with the Revolution-driven Web site.

The site not only reduces demand on salespeople’s time, it captures every interaction that identifies the customer and it is logged on their account information.

Reporting capabilities in the system have allowed both dealerships to measure the effectiveness of staff and improve conversion rates.

“For example, we can identify where a salesperson isn’t achieving as much success as others in the test drive stage. We can now optimize the entire sales process with all our salespeople to enhance their results and improve our profitability”, Milic said.adding there has been additional savings in areas like warranty and service management, and general administration.

Milic said the automated workflow capabilities for warranty assessments and approvals has allowed the dealerships to redeploy staff.

“We have reduced total headcount by four people”, he added.

“This has reduced costs by A$250,000 per annum, and we’ve also cut our advertising spend by 30 percent, which saves another A$150,000.” Milic admitted Ford customers tend to stay loyal to the brand.

“So when a new Falcon is launched we can write to customers who purchased a Falcon three to five years ago, offering a special deal to encourage them to upgrade”, he said.

Revolution Software Services director, Anthony Nadalini, said the Progress technology boasts a high level of flexibility and scalability. “We have customers all over the country, from Tasmania to remote locations in outback Western Australia, so we can’t afford to work with technology that corrupts or breaks down”, Nadalini said.

“Not only is the database extremely reliable, but we can scale from one user to several thousand without even having to think about it.

“The development platform allows us to provide a seamless solution by quickly and easily developing interfaces to other systems, and we can deliver updates over the Internet so there’s no need to visit hundreds of sites around the country whenever we upgrade the software.”

Harrigan Ford has been trading since 1907 and employs 70 staff.

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