Month: August 2010

BMW Dealer Visit

TruckIn my business, you can never spend too much time in the dealership.  I bought a new car over the weekend, and took the opportunity to study their software (they didn’t believe me, that I had invented the InfoBahn).

“Hey, can I sign this waiver electronically?”  No.

“Does this desking system push to ADP?”  Not exactly.

Aeros is a slick little system, certified by BMW two years ago.  I gather they’re in a couple hundred dealerships.  I liked Aeros a lot, but noticed the F&I Manager rekeying between it and ADP.  Just user error, I hope.

The same goes for the menu presentation.  Scratching out the GAP row with a Sharpie is probably not what Maxim intended.

I enjoyed using Zag.  They have a good, web-friendly process, and it gets you close to invoice before the first phone call.  Of course, this cuts into gross – but hey, I drove past the other BMW dealer.  Like many BMW drivers, I will order a car sight-unseen. This makes BMW a prime brand for online selling, and Zag.

The Portal Puzzle

Many Provider Exchange Network customers have dealer-access “portal” sites.  These sites support electronic rating, contracting, and a variety of other functions.  Providers tell us they’re happy with this approach, and what they really want is DMS integration.  We end up referring these customers to 3PA and RCI.  Along the way, we try to make the case for PEN.

As I wrote recently in P&A Magazine, the purpose of PEN is to transfer data directly between the DMS and the provider’s administrative system, bypassing any intermediate systems.  While we do support a menu system, we connect “behind” it, on the provider side.

Farsighted providers, like Safe-Guard, recognize that their portal is just one tool the dealer might use to sell F&I products.  Indeed, some providers use a web-service approach to support a portal in parallel with multiple menu systems.  Our pitch with PEN is that going direct to the DMS results in a more streamlined process for the dealer.