“Don’t take it lightly!” warns Mark Allen, V-P Quorum Information Technologies Inc.
“However, with diligence and a partnership approach with your vendor, it can be far less painful than you might think.”
Allen says the experience a dealership has during the installation will have a lasting effect on the store’s ability to take advantage of the investment made, on the relationship with the vendor and even on employees’ satisfaction.
Why change at all?
There are many good ones, he says, such as gaining technological advantages, saving money and ending a poor relationship with the store’s existing DMS supplier.
Whatever the reasons, he says the dealer is investing time and money and putting the business through a challenging period so the dealer has a vested interest in making sure the change goes as smoothly as possible.
“Here is a shocker,” he says. “It’s not your vendor’s responsibility to implement the system! That approach is a recipe for disaster. Think about it. You identified the need to change. You selected the product and company to change to. It’s your business. It’s your implementation, not theirs!”
He says the supplier the dealer wants is one who brings an approach to the change that is well-defined and managed, process-driven and emphasizes joint planning, preparation and responsibilities.
“The old approach is throwing bodies at it and training your staff after the system is up. That is a surefire way to have a terrible experience,” Allen insists.
The keys to success are planning, preparation and measurement.
“Things that are measured and tracked are things that get done,” he says.
Getting as much as possible out of the way (like set-up and training) before going live on a new system will minimize the hardship the day it does go on. The way to do that is to get dealership staff ready for the switch is to plan and then execute the plan.
The plan is developed jointly with the vendor right from the get-go.
Unlike the dealer, the vendor should have the experience – they do it regularly, after all – and should bring that experience to bear with the right plan to each dealership’s unique situation.
But, remember, it’s a joint plan, not the installer’s.
“The successful implementation happens when you and your staff embrace the change. When it is planned and everyone knows what to expect and when both sides ‘fire on all cylinders’ to meet the plan.
“It really happens, and it works! But, sadly when it doesn’t, it takes an incredible effort for both the dealer and the vendor to get things back on track.”