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Dealer Data Vaults: The Holy Grail of Data

If you’re like most dealerships today, one thing you are not short of is data. Regardless of which DMS you use, the system constantly collects data. Your CRM system does the same, as does your website and whatever third-party sites you’re marketing on.

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By Rahul Saxena, Chief Analytics Office of FrogData, [email protected]
& Tej Soni, CEO of FrogData, [email protected]

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If you’re like most dealerships today, one thing you are not short of is data. Regardless of which DMS you use, the system constantly collects data. Your CRM system does the same, as does your website and whatever third-party sites you’re marketing on. You are collecting data about service appointments, appraisals, vehicle pricing, vehicle location, vehicle inspections and so on. Data to the left of you, data to the right. 

No surprise there, because data is your business — literally and figuratively. Besides, this huge volume of data you’re generating is repackaged for management consumption and analysis in the form of reports. 

Unfortunately, each report, whether from an in-house source or a third-party, is from its own silo and provides a narrow view of a particular activity. 

Granted, these reports are useful by themselves, but the benefits of such reporting could be magnified if all the data you’re collecting were to be combined together in a single platform. You could run algorithms against this big picture data vault and connect, say, website traffic locations to find where and how the best leads convert to sales and match those to your sales and service customer addresses. The result would have better and more timely insights into how you target your Adwords, lowering your cost per lead and per sale. 

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Creating Your Data Vault

Sounds like a sure winner. However, this kind of analytics is only possible if you have a data vault for storing all your data, which means somehow combining disparate databases into a single location. 

For years, dealers were told it is impractical, if not impossible, to combine all their data into one system. Putting all the data in a single data vault so that it is easily available for reporting, analytics and data migration from one system to another has remained the elusive holy grail. 

The good news is it has never been easier or closer to reality with the advent of new technologies and analytics tools, utilized by such data giants as Google and Facebook. 

A Data Vault in Action

Still unclear on why you need to aggregate your separate data streams into a single virtual location? Let’s walk through a few examples. 

Each system usually comes with its own reports, such as for variable ops, fixed ops, expenses, leads, etc., and that’s what you’ve always used. When you combine data across sources and keep all its history, you discover issues that were once invisible between your source systems, such as appraisals and sales, or in the migration from one DMS to another.

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Will your lead management improve? Yes, you’ll be able to find out  how many CRM leads that were closed as won are not connected to a sales record in the DMS; or how many sale records in the DMS aren’t connected to the customer in the CRM who was interested in buying that model. Your lead conversion rates become accurate because of the data aggregation between CRM and DMS. Armed with this knowledge, you can determine how different lead sources take different durations to convert. As a result, you can finetune your lead follow-up process: some sources convert in days, others in weeks or months.

Even employee management becomes more scientific. Sales performance is computed from the data in leads, sales and accounting, and stretches across to service. How many leads did she or he convert, and what’s the conversion ratio? How many units, with what profit and did those sales convert to service? 

It’s the same for the BDC and F&I. Sales is a team effort, and the sales process spans from acquisition to service. Service advisors can be provided opportunities for improvement by linking the data from tire testing machines to the repair order for the vehicle. It shows which advisors are better able to use the tread wear and alignment test to provide targeted services where they’re needed. The list goes on.  

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How a Data Vault Benefits Dealers

First, you will enjoy better analytics. When you start connecting the data across systems, you can truly see the scope and complexity of your business and gain insights that aren’t otherwise possible. New gaps and opportunities surface, and you get a multi-faceted view of each employee’s contribution. For instance, you won’t call your low-margin salesperson on the carpet only to be reminded that he or she has the best conversion ratio for tough leads.

Second, you can change systems without losing data. Systems will change, not just for functionality and price, but also because dealerships merge, acquire or get acquired. Most dealers can recall the pain of migrating their DMS or CRM — cost, delay, loss of data. Ultimately, the pain of compromise in reporting because the new systems are different. 

Lastly, you can get a handle on the third parties who get your data and avoid violating the increasingly stringent customer data privacy laws.

Your data vault holds answers, not just data.

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