CRM drives car dealership revolution at Ford

System has direct link to factory so vehicles can be customised

Australia's oldest Ford dealership, Harrigan Ford, is set to achieve savings of $400,000 in the first year of implementing a Revolution Dealer Management System (DMS).

The 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 followup.

The advanced CRM capabilities in the system have drastically improved efficiency and provided a more targetted 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."

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