Mobile Business Platforms: Necessity Or Convenience For Dealerships?

By Amy Corr

Business intelligence platforms are essential for companies; they help analyze and mine data, predict future statistics and assist in setting/altering KPIs (key performance indicators), among other tasks.

At dealerships, people aren’t always at their desks, so when a problem takes root, it’s crucial to know in real-time when and how to proceed.

Enter mobile business intelligence platforms. Information and data is accessible by desktop and mobile forms and may vary from already existing information accessible to dealerships. 

Dealer News Today spoke with dealerships and a mobile business intelligence manufacturer to learn what problems these tools can solve for dealerships and whether or not a mobile business platform is actually viable or doubling up on already existing information that dealerships have access to, via desktop and mobile.

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should 

Size matters to dealerships when discussing mobile business intelligence platforms. The dealerships Dealer News Today spoke with have dual-screened desktop computers to view dashboards and data simultaneously sans squinting and enlarging. 

“All vendors give us the capability to see things on mobile devices,” said Stephen Gill, Business Development Manager at Tracy Chevrolet Motors in Plymouth, MA. “Whether it will be used by people on the ground is a different story.”

Gill sees mobile business platforms as more of a hindrance than anything else, noting that mobile doesn’t offer much visibility to someone working off multi-screens at the office. While helpful when an emergency might present itself, Gill also points out that if/when an issue arises, multiple people are notified, so if one person is out of the office, there will be someone in-house who’s available to address the situation.

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” added Gill. “AI and Blockchain were recent buzzwords and now it’s this [mobile business platforms]. Forced adoption vs. getting a workflow that actually works are two very different things.”

Dwight Coblazo, Internet Director at Colonial Ford in Plymouth, MA, attributes this discussion to society’s need for real-time answers.

“We’re used to immediate satisfaction. Our current CRM and DMS systems already forward an email, text, or lead to our phones if we’re away from our desks. Everything on the company website funnels through our CRM tool. What’s on the phone is on the desktop. When a computer gets an update the phone does, too,” said Coblazo.

Interest and demand for mobile business intelligence platforms is on the rise across countless industries

One company intent on changing the way local dealerships view mobile business platforms is Dealer Intelligence, a start-up company in the midst of a soft launch. 

The product, which costs $995 a month, is currently running as a yearlong pilot program with a handful of early adopters, allowing Dealer Intelligence to prove its concept and make major changes, updates to the product. 

The company added an additional two clients in the last six months, with one more  joining within the next few weeks.

“There’s no mobile business intelligence product in the automotive dealer space,” said Farra Majid CEO and co-founder of Dealer Intelligence. “It’s a problem. If you think of the market, most dealerships run like small businesses. There’s a need for a deep dive into data analytics.” 

Majid explains that dealer management systems (DMS) don’t provide this deep, analytical dive; rather, DMS offers dealerships rudimentary reporting.

“We can slice and dice dealership data and present it in an actionable way. We’ll find it, you build it,” added Majid.

But what real-life problems can Dealer Intelligence solve that a typical dashboard cannot?

If you’re a sales manager, for example, you’re paid on the number of cars you sell. A sales manager could look at data on their phones and see that the dealership sold 35 cars last month which is down from the previous year. The product could tell a dealership if it was down in sales for just the month or has the decrease in sales been happening all year?

Dealer Intelligence users could also allow C-level executives to see on their mobile devices what everyone in the dealership(s) is/are seeing, like the service manager in store one out of a handful of local dealerships owned and operated under the same umbrella.

A final example involves service managers and repair orders. A service manager can monitor hours per repair order and break down the number of repair orders that were paid out of pocket and the number that were covered under warranty.

How many hours were spent on repair orders that were paid of of pocket? Data can show if a dealership is spending too much time per repair order or not enough time and monitor specific KPIs to get the dealership to a specific goal number per repair order. 

Many dealerships feel they already have enough data to interpret and analyze, and it’s available to them in mobile and desktop formats.

“There’s already too much data,” said Gary Seidner, Marketing Manager at Dan Perkins Subaru in Milford, CT. “It’s great to use mobile in an emergency and but I view it more as a backup option when needed.”

Seidner said the dealership uses Dominion to host its CRM and Cox Auto Products like Dealertrack and Kelley Blue Book, among others.

“We can tell who visits the dealer website and what device they used to interact with us,” continued Seidner. “The percentage of cell phones, tablets, desktops. This is important. Anyone who comes to the site and went to Autotrader or Kelley Blue Book [both owned by Cox], we can track them and serve them related content.”

Seidner can access both the company’s CRM and DMS from a mobile device but only does so in emergencies because accessing these platforms via mobile is bad for a back-end user.

The one thing that Seidner solely does on his phone is company social media postings. He can create graphics and video motion graphics from his phone and post when inspiration calls. Since Facebook owns Instagram, when he posts to one platform it posts to the other.

Gill agreed that there’s already a multitude of data available to dealerships. “There are multiple sources of regular data out there. Data has to be used by the right people. What we’re paying for actually works. There can never be too much data, but can you use it effectively?”

While Gill admitted that he would rather see a more in-depth breakdown of dealership internal data than add more data to the mix, he also recognized that seeing this much data and information on a mobile device would be impossible.

“Mobile is for texting,” concluded Gill. “It’s the old school stuff [desktop computers] that’s being used.

Dealer Intelligence takes approximately two weeks to implement inside a dealership and involves one day of employee training.

Majid believes his product, once implemented, will be used by each dealership manager and solve two problems: provide deep analytics to how the dealership as a business is performing and get every dealership department on the same page regarding goals and KPIs.

A happy, practical medium awaits.