If you spent any time walking the floor at NADA this year, you couldn’t miss every DMS and CRM company pushing their new version of “data analytics” on dealers. The reason dealers are seeing this push to use “Big Data” is because every other industry has been leveraging data for years. It’s not about fancy dashboards; it’s about making better decisions.
How do you think Wal-Mart decides to build a new store? They don’t just toss a dart at the map. They use data to analyze population projections, proximity to existing stores, property value, competition and a laundry list of other data points that make sure each store is successful.
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Unfortunately for dealers, implementing a data-driven strategy isn’t as easy as launching the dashboard in your CRM every morning. You have to start with a data-driven mindset, and you have to be ready to make decisions based on data, even when your used car manager’s gut keeps telling him that purple Aztek’s are coming back in style. To get you started, here are three things you can start doing to get better use out of your data today:
1. Trash Your Existing Reports, and Build New Ones
The first thing you can do is start looking at data in a new way. I feel like every dealership has a sales report that starts with “Deal Number,” “Stock Number” and “VIN.” Why not make the first three columns “Total Gross Profit,” “Days in Stock” and “Total Commission”? Whatever is important to you, make that the first column and work your way back from there. If you keep looking at data the same way, you’ll never get any further than where you already are.
2. Use Data to Answer Questions
Probably the most important thing you can do is use data to answer a question. The all-stars of the analytics world don’t look at a dashboard and say “our extended warranty penetration is down this month — better make a change!” Before even looking at the dashboard they would ask, “How can we sell more extended warranty’s this month than ever before?” and then identify and connect the best customers, cars and salespeople to make it happen.
3. Prove People Wrong
This is the most fun. Find a way to prove someone wrong at least once a week with data. My personal favorite: “We can’t maintain positive gross on Hybrids with these incentives!” Give me a dealer’s data and I’ll prove this wrong all day. And if I can’t, I’ll use the data to show them how to squeeze every dime out of those deals as possible.
Building a data-driven culture is about more than just building reports and debating over cause-and-effect in weekly meetings. When you use data like boss, there is no debate — there is only data.