PBS eyes U.S. growth


PBS Systems confirmed its about to wrap up its eight-year re-write of its entire DMS offering. Currently beta testing in 10 stores in Canada, Aristo’s final component – a parts management application – should be available for the roughly 1,000 Canadian rooftops running PBS in the coming months.

“We started with accounting eight years ago and moved through customer and vehicle aspects and into financing, prospecting, ups management, fixed ops and more,” explained PBS director of development Dan Beaton, referring to the work involved in moving from the company’s Titanium product to Aristo.

“We’ve been a windows-based DMS for more than 20 years and there are not many DMSs around with contemporary language. Most are based on systems built two decades ago that have new technology built on top. We have completely re-written and redesigned our system based on our experience.”

The news of Aristo’s near completion wasn’t the only tidbit shared by the staff at the Calgary-based software company.

Shelly Scott in company communications confirmed 2014 would also see a concentrated push by PBS into the competitive and crowded U.S. DMS market.

She said they recently hired six salespeople in the U.S. that are focusing on expanding American presence in the southeastern part of the country.

“They are on the ground focusing on the Carolinas, Florida, Louisiana and Missouri right now,” she said. “We are aggressively going after this business.”

 “We do a really good job in Canada and we’ve always had sales guys in Canada. That business continues to grow and grow steadily. The growth remains solid at 20 per cent every year in Canada. Now we’ve added a sales team and we want to see what they can do down here.”

The move isn’t without precedent as there are U.S. dealerships that have run PBS offerings dating back to 1995. The company said it had “decent penetration” in places like Michigan, Wisconsin and other northern border states. The new office in North Carolina joins current offices in Colorado, Florida and Michigan.

The anticipated expansion in the U.S. mirrors the actual increase now being undertaken at the company’s head office. Scott noted the team was essentially doubling its office space meaning an increase in install capacity, support desk staff and added development personnel.

One way PBS is looking to secure a foothold south of the border is with its Managed Services division. Scott said Managed Services, which includes marketing, BDC, lost soul reporting, call tracking and more, helps get a foot in the door for dealerships already under contract with a DMS provider.

“Let’s say a dealer has ADP and three years left on the contract, our DMS might not be able to get in there, but our Managed Services can help manage part of their business.”

Beaton said the reason for the drawn-out and lengthy eight-year re-write period was because they staggered the development through stages.

“We evolved software so it was always reverse compatible with older versions. It slowed the development down significantly but it made it much more stable for users,” he said.

A full rollout of Aristo’s last application, expected in the coming months, will see conversions for Titanium customers done remotely.

“It does require some training and preparation as the tools and screens are changing.”