The Critical Role of Data Visibility in Dealership Management

Gray Orange Modern Equipment Rental Facebook Ad-2At any given day, there are a hundred interlocking gears at your dealership, all of which are instrumental to your success.

Completing and fulfilling orders, payments, sales, placing orders, counting, and delivering products; there are countless things and tasks to take care of. The demands are relentless, and the stakes are high. It might seem like an impossible juggling act to oversee every aspect of your business effectively.

Yet, amid this whirlwind, it is essential that your team consistently makes the right decisions to drive your business forward and guarantee success.

The secret to staying ahead of the competition, making smart business decisions, and growing your dealership lies in data and the insights it offers. But let's face it, for most dealerships, harnessing the full potential of their data can be daunting, if not disorienting. The key to unlocking your dealership’s true potential is right at your fingertips with an efficient dealer management system (DMS), yet it often feels out of reach.

Here are some benefits of having complete visibility of your business operations:

Challenges Posed by Limited Data Visibility

The primary inhibitor to information flow across your dealership is not data inadequacy, however, but data silos caused by legacy technology. All too often, data is locked away in different parts of a business's outdated systems. Technology limitations can make it slow and expensive to access critical customer data – and it can be grueling and time-consuming to organize, clean, and export information from ERP systems to data warehouses for reporting.

The lack of complete visibility into your data and analytics often results in significant adverse effects.

Ineffective Tracking of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Without a unified data system, tracking KPIs becomes a taxing endeavor. You need KPIs like inventory turnover, sales conversion rates, and maintenance schedules to reliably assess your dealership's health and efficiency. When these metrics are buried in disparate systems, they often lead to incomplete or outdated reports that impede accurate performance assessment.

Delayed Decision-Making

Decisions made without prompt access to data can have severe consequences; for example, a fire truck company unable to obtain real-time vehicle maintenance data may delay essential repairs, risking breakdowns during emergencies, while bus companies require immediate fleet status insights for passenger safety and operational efficiency. 

This lack of visibility, by not having a single version of the truth, can bring about delays in decision-making due to a lack of information, high costs, inability to quickly react to change, draining valuable resources, and increased margin for error. Those seemingly reliable spreadsheets, with carefully crafted pivot tables and the like, are often out of date almost as soon as they are published. With a single global ERP system such as NetSuite, data, inventory, and processes can be accessed anywhere, anytime.

Increased Operational Costs

Limited data visibility often translates to higher operational costs. When dealerships cannot see the full picture, they are prone to overstocking or understocking parts, inefficiently allocating resources, and missing opportunities for cost savings.  Then, you have the costs of double-entry, data inconsistencies, and supply chain disruptions, all of which can be financially burdensome.

These inefficiencies naturally trickle down, weighing down on your bottom line and overall profitability.

Compromised Customer Satisfaction

For utility trailer companies and other service-oriented businesses, customer satisfaction hinges entirely on reliability and timely service. If data is not readily available, customer inquiries and service requests can fall through the cracks, damaging your dealership's reputation and customer trust.

How Real-Time Data Access Improves Operations

The antidote to these challenges lies in embracing systems that provide real-time data access. Here’s how such systems can transform dealership management:

Judicious Resource Allocation

Visibility of your inventory guarantees that your money is being used in your business operations. It enables you to verify that the inventory is moving and not just sitting on shelves in a warehouse. All businesses must understand that inventory has expenses and, therefore, needs to be kept as low as feasible. Clear visibility will help you loosen up the capital tied to your inventory.

Streamlined KPI Tracking

With real-time data integration, dealerships can consolidate their KPIs. Automated dashboards and reports provide instant insights into inventory levels, sales performance, maintenance needs, and more. The real-time nature allows managers to spot trends, identify issues, and make informed decisions as swiftly as possible.

Increased Forecasting Accuracy

How many times have you wondered what the next quarter was going to look like, whether sales were peaking or picking up, or if you should take advantage of an opportunity to buy extra inventory? You might not have a crystal ball to see what the future holds for your business, but an ERP is the next best thing. 

Modern ERP solutions give dealerships greater control and insight over the data being generated each and every day. From the front office to the warehouse, you can use your ERP suite to extract and analyze data — everything from preparing demand forecasts by customers, products, geography, as well as seasons, to planning procurement, production, and distribution activities. Your leadership can also monitor operational or customer-specific spending in real-time and react faster to deviations.

Supply Chain Transparency

Inventory may be kept in a variety of places, such as warehouses, retail shelves, distribution facilities, and so on. Knowing how much is accessible at each location is pivotal for reducing the carrying costs of the inventory. This makes inventory awareness one of the most important management tools in dealership manufacturing as it contributes to increased profitability.

To keep up with timeline commitments, inventory visibility continuously updates the supply chain and checks orders. Reconciling inventory to supply can finally lead to higher profitability and achieving customer satisfaction.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

If you’re looking to attract and retain high-quality customers, you’ve got to provide them with efficient and speedy turnaround times when it comes to processing their orders. After all, there’s nothing worse than placing an order with a company and only having it go through weeks later due to poor processes or scattered systems. 

ERP systems also allow you to amass a centralized and sophisticated database that holds key information about customer interactions. This means no matter how new someone is to your team, they will have all of the information they need to better serve prospects and customers alike. This is especially valuable when it comes to documenting particular pieces of information, such as billing terms. If a customer were to call up and complain about an order, process, or experience, all of your team members would be able to access records of their history from one central location. 

Examples of Decision-Making Benefits from Comprehensive Data

To demonstrate the transformative impact of real-time data, let's consider a few practical examples:

Wheel and Tire Centers

A wheel and tire center equipped with real-time inventory data can dynamically adjust its stock based on current demand. For instance, during the winter season, the center can ensure a sufficient stock of winter tires and accessories. Real-time sales data also allows for quick identification of bestselling items, enabling relevant promotions and discounts to boost sales.

Bus Companies

For bus companies, real-time data on fleet performance and passenger load can optimize route planning, so if certain routes are consistently underutilized, resources can be reallocated to more popular routes - improving overall efficiency and customer satisfaction. Plus, real-time maintenance data ensures that buses are always in top condition, reducing downtime and enhancing safety.

Fire Truck Companies

Fire truck companies rely heavily on the readiness and reliability of their vehicles. Real-time data on vehicle status and maintenance schedules can prevent unexpected breakdowns. For example, if a truck shows signs of wear, it can be serviced before a critical failure occurs so that emergency response times are not compromised.

Trailer Companies

Trailer companies benefit from real-time tracking of their fleet as knowing the exact location and status of each trailer allows for better logistics planning and utilization. For example, if a trailer is sitting idle at a site, it can be reassigned to another job, maximizing its use and reducing rental costs.

Get Started With An ERP For Complete Data Visibility

Poor visibility into the important aspects of your business can make you lose grip on the performance and profitability of your business. You may become unaware of what your employees do and how your inventory looks. All these are indicative of the fact that you lack the data insights necessary to fully understand what is happening in your company and why.

NetSuite provides a single, advanced technology platform to track every step in the customer experience, including alerts, dashboards, transactions, reports, documents, and intelligence, all running in memory. It provides a single source of truth for the entire team, allowing users to access the same ERP data in real-time from any device. With insights at their fingertips, management can identify areas that need repair. They can launch digital transformation endeavors that might allow them to leapfrog ahead of even their most fierce competitors. And they can tap into the power of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, both of which capitalize on ERP data.

Want to learn more about ERP implementation for complete data visibility? Contact our team today.