Choosing Your Dealership Management System: A Complete Guide

DMS Checklist Header

If you own or manage a dealership, choosing the right dealer management software is crucial to the success of your business. With so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which one will best suit your needs.

This guide covers everything from key features to look for to factors to consider before making your final decision. Use this guide to help you select the right dealership management software for your unique business needs.

1. The DMS Has Everything You Need to Run Your Dealership

A Dealership Management System should have features that help manage every part of your dealership. This includes managing parts, sales, and marketing. You should be able to run your entire dealership’s operations using one simple system.

Here are some things your DMS must have:

  • Connects and gives you visibility into all your dealership departments and business processes
  • Industry-specific integrations (such as with suppliers and OEMs)
  • Easily handle and support multiple dealership locations and grow with your business
  • Offers the ability to convert or transfer data from the old system into the new one

2. Powerful Accounting and Financial Management Capabilities

Your financial information is the backbone of your dealership. Having access to your dealership’s financial information at any time can help you make important decisions quickly and with confidence. This is vital for your dealership’s success.

DMS Accounting and Financial Capabilities

Here are some accounting capabilities to consider from the software:

  • Have built-in accounting or is able to work with your existing accounting software
  • Allows you to see reports for multiple locations
  • Makes it easy for you to see how profitable a certain department, product category, or product line is
  • Gives detailed financial reports and tracks important financial metrics
  • Manages both accounts receivable and accounts payable
  • Offers floor plan reporting
  • Can quickly create operating budgets and track how well the business is performing

3. Helps Your Salespeople Maximize the Number of Closed Deals

The way your products and services are distributed to your customers is an important part of your dealership’s cost structure. Ideally, your system should give you the information you need to sell products and services as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Here are some software features to consider for your sales team:

  • Have robust quoting to manage all products and services
  • Generate sales reports to determine which salespeople are doing well and which products are selling the most
  • Allow you to easily build and sell custom order units with standard features and manufacturer and dealer installed options for prospects
  • Easily tracks the true cost of a unit, such as preparation charges, internal work orders, and overhead allocation
  • Can salespeople instantly access up-to-date customer data and inventory through their smartphone or tablet anywhere, anytime?

4. Inventory & Parts Management

Maintaining proper control of parts inventories while providing adequate turnover and margins is essential to operating a successful dealership. The more automated your purchasing and inventory functions, the more you’ll benefit from greater efficiency, reduced costs, and fewer errors.

DMS Checklist Inventory

Here’s what to consider from your system for inventory and parts management:

  • The system automatically updates manufacturer price lists
  • Helps you manage inventory and track stock levels based on the seasons
  • Automatically generates purchase orders based on inventory levels and back orders
  • Creates product reports to show which products are selling well and which are not
  • Integrates with your website for inventory and parts management
  • Allows you to view and transfer inventory between multiple locations easily

Read Next: Struggling to Keep Up with Price List Updates? Here’s How to Stop Money from Going Out the Door

5. Streamlines Your Service Management

A good quality DMS should easily integrate with CRM software. This allows you to manage technicians’ schedules and provide up-to-date parts and customer information. Especially since service operations are a vital source of revenue for many dealerships, service operations need to be managed efficiently.

Here’s what to look for when looking for service-related features:

  • Helps manage service appoints and track repairs
  • Generate service reports to understand which technicians are performing well and which products require the most repairs
  • Generate service reminders to keep customers coming back
  • Generate reports for insights into managing the warranty claim and reconciliation process
  • Gives a clear view of potential revenue in the service pipeline
  • Tracks work order cycle times so you always know how many work orders are backlogged

6. Integrates Customer Relationship Management

A CRM system can help streamline communication between different departments in your dealership. By having all this information in one place, you can avoid miscommunications and provide a better customer experience.

DMS Checklist CRM

Here are some key factors to consider when assessing the CRM integration of your DMS:

  • Tracks customer information and manages customer relationships
  • Has the ability to generate marketing campaigns and track their success
  • Integrates with your website to automatically capture leads
  • Visibility into bottlenecks in the sales process
  • Can compare sales rep activity to coach underperformers
  • Integrated texting and email functionality
  • Automatically measures NPS or customer satisfaction post-sale
  • Gives a clear view of potential revenue in the sales pipeline

7. Detailed Reporting & Analytics for Data-Driven Decision-Making

Your DMS is a gold mine of valuable information and data that can provide you with valuable insights into your business. A dealership management system should be equipped with the tools that allow you to access and analyze data easily. A data analytics system can help you make decisions that benefit your dealership. It is powerful and simple, enabling you to make profitable and competitive decisions that will drive growth.

Here’s what to consider for reporting and analytics capabilities:

  • Track your gross profit percentage, inventory turnover, service activities, and labor rates
  • Ability to generate reports on all dealership aspects, including sales, inventory, and service
  • Provides real-time data on key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Allows for the customization of reports and dashboards
  • Automatically updates dashboards and emails key reports to managers

Read Next: Key Dealership Performance Metrics You Should Be Tracking in 2023

8. DMS-Tailored Mobile Functionality

It is important to ensure your system provider offers a mobile app. The app must be compatible with both Apple and Android devices. Furthermore, it must work seamlessly with your dealership management system. This will enable your team to perform important tasks on the go from anywhere within the dealership.

DMS Checklist POS

Here’s what to consider in terms of mobile functionality:

  • The system has a mobile application for teams to perform key daily tasks (service writer, technicians, salespeople, etc.)
  • Can accept credit card payments or capture a customer’s signature on a mobile device
  • Technicians can use their smartphones or tablets to clock in and out of labor lines. They can also take relevant photos and provide cause & correction without returning to a computer.
  • Offers mobile inventory management
  • Offers notifications that are visible on mobile devices and smartwatches
  • Offers mobile texting and video calling
  • Offers text and email payment options for customers

9. Cloud Hosting for Reliable Network & Security Infrastructure

To ensure smooth and secure operation, you need a reliable and robust network infrastructure. It should be able to handle the demands of your business.

Your dealership management software should be designed with built-in security features. These features should provide multiple layers of protection against potential security breaches. This ensures greater security for your dealership.

Partnering with a system provider is important. They must have experience with network and security infrastructure. Furthermore, they should be able to provide ongoing support and maintenance.

Here’s what to look for when evaluating network and security features:

  • Provide adequate security measures to protect sensitive data
  • User access can be controlled and limited based on job roles
  • Provide a log of user activity and changes made to data
  • Securely hosted in the Cloud for access from anywhere

Read Next: Top 10 Reasons NOT to Wait on Moving to Ideal Cloud

10. System Support and Training You Can Count On

Unlocking the full potential of your dealership management software requires users to have the knowledge and skills to use it effectively. This will help them enhance their job performance. This can be achieved through effective training and ongoing support from your system provider.

DMS Checklist Sales

Here’s what to consider when it comes to system support and training:

  • Live trainers who can do 1-1 training either online and/or in-person
  • Support is available during the days and hours you need it, including weekends
  • There are various methods for submitting and tracking a support incident, such as phone, email, web, and chat
  • System trainers have real-world knowledge and dealership experience

Use a Detailed Checklist to Make Your DMS Decision Easier:

Choosing the right dealership management system can be overwhelming. There are many options to choose from and many factors to consider. Making the right decision requires careful research.

To make the process easier and more efficient, use this detailed checklist as evaluate your options.

What is dealership management software (DMS)?

Dealerships can manage multiple aspects of their operations with the support of dealership management software (DMS). It offers tools and features designed to simplify and automate operations in a number of areas, including sales, inventory control, accounting, customer relationship management, service and repair, reporting, and more.

Why do I need dealership management software?

For dealership operations to be optimised and made more efficient, dealership management software is key. It gives dealerships the capacity to manage and centralise their data, streamline operations, improve customer satisfaction, boost sales efficiency, monitor inventory, produce reports, and boost overall profitability. DMS improves the automation of manual operations, provides data to support wise decision-making, and improves collaboration between departments.

What kind of training and support is provided with DMS implementation?

Depending on the software provider, the kind and extent of training and assistance offered with DMS implementation may differ. To guarantee a seamless transition and the software's effective adoption, Ideal offers extensive training programmes. Find out more here:

Written by Cristina Baciu

Content Marketing Writer, Ideal Computer Systems

Fact Checked by Tim Berman

Initiative Manager, Ideal Computer Systems

Ideal Computer Systems is committed to the integrity of our editorial standards. We are dedicated to providing our readers with accurate and reliable information that they can trust to make informed decisions.

Update on April 29, 2024 | 8 minute read
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  • APA: Baciu, C. (2023). Choosing Your Dealership Management System: A Complete Guide
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