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Auto dealers have a lot to cope with, but luckily this multi-billion dollar industry has a lot of support services available to assist with both back-end and front-end business operations. Dealers of all sizes rely on third party providers to streamline their processes, improve efficiency and provide better customer service.
So if you’re an auto dealer searching for some help, then look no further. Read on for our handy guide to the variety of service providers available to you in Canada.
Running an auto dealership - for any type of vehicle - poses a multi-faceted challenge that requires skill and manpower across a wide range of disciplines. We’re not just talking about sales; everything from logistics to customer support can prove to be a major headache for those without the necessary staff or resources to dedicate to them. That’s why there is such a variety of auto dealer solutions available to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the major areas third party providers can help in:
Effective marketing is a core need for any successful auto dealership, but in such a competitive industry more is required than simple advertisement. Marketing providers can help your dealership elevate its game from old-fashioned techniques to cutting-edge, digital methods to maximize audience reach and impact. Among the many areas a good marketing sub can help with are:
These methods can significantly streamline and professionalize a dealer’s marketing message, leading to more leads, more vehicle views and more sales, as well as increased brand recognition and reputability.
Website creation and support can come as part of a good marketing strategy, or be offered as a standalone service to those looking for more targeted help. In this day and age, a dealer can’t get anywhere without a slick, functional and impactful website that properly reflects both your brand and your real-time inventory. Using valuable support staff to keep a website up-to-date (as well as to make sure the site syncs well graphically and content-wise with other customer-facing aspects of the business) can quickly become burdensome, which is why website providers offer multi-page site development and management solutions to free up your staff’s time.
Professionals in this field can ensure the website hits SEO and keyword targets and maximizes your dealership’s visibility and accessibility. And because websites come in all shapes and sizes, this does not need to be an expensive outlay - very cost-effective solutions are available for even the smallest dealers, including simple existing site audits to judge efficiency and suggest possible areas for improvement.
Keeping accurate track of inventory is a necessity, but a busy dealership can waste valuable time doing so manually. Inventory tracking solutions simplify the inventory management process by automating a significant portion of the work. By integrating vendor databases with sales information, these solutions can provide real-time logs of available vehicles, and can even help with accounting data such as revenue per unit or vendor cost breakdowns. Many of these inventory solutions have options for both vehicles and parts, thus catering to both sides of a dealer’s business.
The majority of auto dealerships offer parts and service, and this can quickly become a complex side of your business. It’s not just about appointment booking - everything from the customer-facing aspects of your service offerings, to inventory management of parts, to payment solutions needs to be addressed. That’s why parts and service solution providers are big business in and of themselves. They can help with everything, including:
Sales and customer management are one of the biggest concerns for auto dealers, and there are dozens of providers available to help you with this aspect of your business. They come in many forms - some cloud-based, some software-based - and can cater to businesses of all sizes. They offer tools to:
For auto dealers worried about loaner fleet management, logistics software can be a big help. Many of these software solutions are cloud-based, and eliminate the mess of paper rental and vehicle forms. Some even integrate a vehicle’s built-in GPS to allow for real-time geographical tracking! Most allow for customizable consumer-facing forms and platforms, meaning your business looks professional and operates seamlessly, with minimum input from you.
Transport logistics can be a headache, but with such an active auto industry across Canada, there’s no avoiding it. Many dealers regularly rely on province-wide or country-wide vehicle transportation, and logistics specialists can help bear this burden by connecting dealers, auction sites, vendors, commercial clients and retail clients. This includes both turnkey solutions and fully customizable options, depending on the size of your business, and streamlines pickup and delivery. It also removes the hassle of vetting and managing carriers yourself.
Not every auto dealer has their own in-house accounting, legal or human resources teams, and outsourcing these important but time-consuming and tricky aspects of your business can free up your resources to focus on sales and customer service. Various companies offer one or all of these services, as well as more general financial or insurance assistance. Some off-the-shelf software solutions addressing these needs are available to use in-house, to simplify your internal staff’s time spent on these mundane activities. As compliance is key in these areas, there is a flexible range of options so that even the smallest dealership can get professional assistance and meet the rigours of Canadian automotive market regulation.
When considering what solutions would best suit your dealership, it’s worth noting that plenty of auto dealer solution providers offer more than just one service. Many boast that they are all-in-one solutions tailored specifically to auto dealers, and designed to help you with everything from marketing to inventory to CRM. Some of these are better than others, and they (as with all of the provider types listed above) come with differing:
So when considering one or several providers to use at your dealership, remember to compare like-with-like; those that cost more may provide more, and the most cost-effective is not necessarily the cheapest!
Now we’ve seen the variety of providers able to help auto dealers manage their businesses, but what are the benefits and drawbacks of actually using them?
Auto dealer service providers can help dealerships with every aspect of their operations, including marketing, sales, customer management, inventory management, logistics, fleet management, web development, accessibility, legal and accounting tasks, HR and finance and insurance. There’s no shortage of providers willing and able to help auto dealers streamline their processes.
CRM tools come at a range of price points, with some free to sign up for but costing a per customer or per monthly fee, and others charging a set subscription cost to use. There are free options available too, but these usually come with embedded ads and have limited functionality. For some of the better auto dealer CRM providers on the Canadian market, take a look at the table at the top of this page.
How long is a piece of string? Websites can be very cheap or very costly to build, depending on the complexity of what’s required. Some website developers will, for just a few hundred dollars, help you set up a simple, one or two page site with basic functionality, using your dealership’s pre-existing graphics. And at the other end of the spectrum, developers can design, create and manage complex, multi-page sites with enhanced mobile accessibility, automated real-time inventory updates and brand new graphics - and this can cost thousands. It all depends on what your dealership needs, and your budget.
Some auto dealer solution providers do require a time commitment to use their solutions, and these commitments are usually laid out in the sign-up contract. A standard commitment is often a year. However, many other providers do not require a commitment, have no sign-up fees or contracts, and work on an as-you-go basis, allowing for maximum flexibility. If you’re uncertain which provider to use, avoid signing any long-term contracts until you’re sure.
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