4-page Case Study - Posted 3/19/2008
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Leading Car Dealership Achieves Savings with Sales and Delivery Process Optimisation
Autodrome, one of the Netherlands’ leading automotive dealers, wanted to automate expensive manual processes and streamline reporting. To achieve this, it deployed a comprehensive dealership reporting, analytics, and dash-boarding solution from Microsoft® Certified Partner RPMcar. Based on the latest Microsoft technologies, this gives sales representatives a clear view of each car’s status and provides a structured approach to sales and delivery processes. Managers can see if employees and outlets are meeting their targets in real time, and take effective steps to address inefficiency across the business. While sales information across 12 car brands was previously updated manually, this process is now fully automated. As a result, Autodrome has reduced staffing costs. Cars can also be sold and delivered to customers faster, significantly reducing interest payments to car manufacturers.
Vehicle dealerships operate in a low-margin market, requiring them to optimise business processes and maximise operational efficiency. With ever-diminishing loyalty among consumers, dealerships compete on price and on the quality of their customer service.
In the face of these challenges, leading Dutch dealership Autodrome is using the latest technologies to streamline its operations. The company, which sells 12 brands of cars and commercial vehicles from six locations in the north of the Netherlands, also offers vehicle repairs and fleet rental services.
Andre Annen, Information and Communications Technology Manager, Autodrome, says: “Our varied operations depended on a range of manual processes. We had 12 spreadsheets to show sales by brand, and these had to be updated by sales representatives manually to reflect the location and status of every car across the company.”
Managers could not be sure that information on vehicles was up to date, affecting their ability to plan and build sales reports efficiently. It was also difficult to understand sales figures by brand, region, and outlet, reducing visibility of overall group performance.
“We couldn’t always communicate effectively with our customers,” says Annen. “If a car arrived late from a manufacturer, it was difficult to see what had happened and we sometimes failed to let clients know in time. This had a negative impact on the customer experience and on our corporate reputation.”
Historically, it took several days for a new car to be delivered to the customer, from the time it arrived in the dealership.
Because there was no insight into when a car would come in, it was impossible to prepare the work that needed to be done to make the car ready for customer delivery. With sales of 10,000 cars each year, this resulted in high interest payments to manufacturers, and a negative impact on the company’s profit.
“By automating key sales and financial management processes, and increasing visibility of vehicles across the business, we hoped to reduce customer delivery times and make savings on interest payments,” says Annen. “The ability to maximise efficiency is a key differentiator for us in this highly competitive market.”
To address its operational challenges, Autodrome decided to deploy RPMcar BackOffice, a reporting, analytics, and dashboard tool that optimises the car sales and delivery process and gives insight into what is happening in the dealership. The RPMcar BackOffice solution is based on a Microsoft® infrastructure, including Windows Server® 2003 operating system, Microsoft SQL Server® 2005 database software, and the 2007 Microsoft Office system.
Sandra van Leeuwen, Strategic Alliance Manager at RPMcar, says: “Traditionally, automotive retail solutions are UNIX based and we see a lot of green screens. We identified a huge opportunity to build new, intuitive tools based on familiar and easy-to -use Microsoft technology and applications.”
RPMcar connects, integrates, and unifies information from a range of technologies, such as dealer management solutions, car configuration tools, financial management software, and customer relationship management systems. It stores all data relating to cars and customers in a single location.
It provides tailored information dashboards to personnel across sales, central sales administration, management, and other key functions, through an intuitive user interface.
“The technology hides the complexity of existing systems, providing useful, relevant, role-based information that employees need on a day-to-day basis,” says van Leeuwen. “Key information and tasks are presented to the right people at the right time, and all processes are conducted to the highest possible standards.”
Integrated View of Information
Employees now have a customised view of key tasks and business information in RPMcar. This helps administrators, sales managers, workshop managers, and other executives work and plan more effectively and make the best possible business decisions.
For sales representatives, the system provides defined sales processes based on automated workflows. When a car is delivered from the manufacturer, the system alerts the sales representative and provides a list of tasks that need to be carried out.
“The technology gives sales representatives more control over the sales process and helps them work more effectively based on predefined best practices,” says van Leeuwen. “They can also communicate with customers in a proactive way, informing them quickly if deliveries are likely to be delayed.”
Financial controllers use the system to see the status of payments and bonuses, and to report on group-wide performance in real time. In addition, executives can see if outlets are meeting targets and achieving the required levels of profitability.
Fast, Low-Impact Deployment
RPMcar was deployed at Autodrome in December 2005 with minimal disruption to normal business operations. Since that time, the system has experienced only five hours of planned downtime to install new software updates. Employees required minimal training to start working with the system, which is now used daily by 150 of the company’s 300 people.
Autodrome employees have used RPMcar to eliminate manual administration, cut delivery times for customers, and enhance management decision making. Reduced interest payments to car manufacturers and higher employee productivity deliver significant savings across the business.
Enhanced Employee Collaboration
Previously, Autodrome employees communicated by telephone and e-mail. Sales representatives and managers could also refer to spreadsheets to see sales by brand or car status, but information was not always up to date.
“Now, we have full visibility across our internal sales, pre-sales, sales, and after-sales processes,” says Annen. “This means we can report effectively on our performance, see the status of cars, and quickly contact customers in the event of a delay. This reduces time previously spent on sending e-mail messages and making phone calls, and ensures that we all work together in the most effective way possible.”
Support for Meeting Sales Targets
Using RPMcar, managers can measure the performance of sales representatives. “We can see how many vehicles each employee has sold and use this information to set targets and pay bonuses,” says Annen.
“We can also see where sales representatives are struggling to meet targets and offer them additional support where necessary.”
This is possible because data relating to sales across 12 vehicle brands is now held in a single database. “Previously, we couldn’t look at sales in a single location, making it difficult to set targets and report effectively on employees’ performance,” says Annen. “With RPMcar, this is no longer a problem.”
Cars Delivered to Customers Faster, Delivering Significant Savings
Using RPMcar, Autodrome managers can see when cars arrive at dealerships. Vehicles can then be configured quickly in line with customer requirements and delivered up to three days faster than was previously possible.
“We now deliver cars to customers much faster than before,” says Annen. “Because we sell up to 10,000 cars a year, we have significantly reduced our interest payments to manufacturers.”
Business Decisions Based on Current, Accurate Information
Autodrome now has a single interface for managing sales across its six locations and 12 car brands. “Instead of looking at 12 spreadsheets, we now get all the management information we need from a single interface,” says Annen. “As a result, our performance no longer depends on people’s interpretation of data. Instead, we make decisions based on hard facts.”
Excellent Customer Service
Now, sales representatives can inform customers when their cars arrive from manufacturers and when they can be configured and delivered. If there are changes to the schedule, customers are informed in good time.
“Our customers are obviously not aware that we use RPMcar,” says Annen. “But they can see that our processes are very efficient, and that we offer very high levels of pre-sales and post-sales service. This encourages them to come back to us time after time.”
Process Automation Reduces Staffing Costs
When sales representatives sell cars quickly, they receive bonuses. These are calculated automatically in RPMcar, delivering significant time savings for administrators. “Previously, we had to compile sales lists and calculate bonuses every week, requiring a significant administrative effort. We are now conducting the same processes with four people where we used to need seven.”
In addition, sales representatives can sell more cars with much less administrative effort, supporting business growth with no increase in headcount. “We have the same number of sales representatives now that we have always had, but they are selling far more cars,” says Annen.
Additional time savings have also reduced workloads in the sales administration team. And workshop employees are using RPMcar to plan their time more effectively, completing more repairs with no need for additional recruitment.
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: http://www.microsoft.com/
For more information about Autodrome products and services, visit the Web site at: http://www.autodrome.nl/
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