Data in provides insights out Admin In the Media (0) As technology evolves around dealerships, and they have the ability to leverage data and use smarter tools day to day, many realise there are massive holes in their data.These holes are mainly due to historic processes, which are made up of lots of small pieces of important data. But when it comes to recording it, no value has been placed on capturing the information when it was available.Examples of small pieces of important data include recording all customers’ email addresses and phone numbers, all enquiries and test drives, specific costs against vehicles as part of pre-sale reconditioning and after-sale expenses.While each may seem small in isolation, they all contribute to a data set that’s much bigger and very powerful to use when you want to leverage it to improve your business or start implementing tools that enable the data to be leveraged.I’ve lost count of the number of dealerships over the years that have had the moment of realisation they’ve been poor at collecting data and wished they started years ago.That being said, data entry isn’t the favourite job of many in this industry and generally is a bad trait of sales people.Poor processes or recording generally stems from past habits when data wasn’t used for anything meaningful. It was seen as more of a pain to record it and, in typical sales-person fashion, if it isn’t required and “doesn’t benefit me” then why record it.All too often we now come across dealerships excited to use tools we have available only to learn they haven’t recorded the best data over the past 10 years and are starting with diluted potential – or, worse still, are at square one as if they have just started the business.This is a real shame and a hard lesson to swallow, but it’s a growing reality in this day and age. The old saying “crap in, equals crap out” couldn’t be truer, or in many cases “no information in, means no information out”.The process around ensuring data is accurate and relevant starts at the top. It must be driven by the business owner or dealer principal to make changes today for the best chance of survival in years to come.If you’re one of many who, until now, hasn’t placed much value on data and information you can gather about your business, then start right now. At some stage in the near future, it will be the difference between winning or losing in this industry. Define your sales process around learning more to leverage more.The reality is what your data can provide you with is as close to a crystal ball as you’ll ever get your hands on, so why not access it, understand it and let it increase your probability of profitability and success.However, you need to operate with your dealership management system (DMS) whether it be via automated solutions or manual data entry.Even if you don’t operate a DMS or can’t use a computer, record information relating to customers and vehicles on a piece of paper. If you have to record it manually, ensure someone gets it into some form of system or spreadsheet for analysis and review.A big area of focus for all dealerships should be the conversion of more customers who make contact. The starting point is understanding how the business and individual sales people are performing right now.This is usually the first area where holes in data or lack of recording processes start to show their head.How do you know what to improve if you don’t know what you achieve conversion-wise? Generally, this begins with customer enquiry – the first time someone comes in contact with your people by phone, email or walk-in.Once you capture that information, you can work on improving by enhancing customers’ experiences to increase the probability of converting them to sales.Processes have to be robust, but any tools you can utilise that gather important information and automate the recording of it in your DMS are of great value.Solutions such as Motorcentral’s Auto Attendant not only give customers 24/7 personalised responses from any online source when it’s enabled, it also populates customer information into your DMS against the relevant vehicle at the same time as recording where the initial lead came from.Once you start understanding where clients are coming from on what vehicles and what you convert, it’s incredibly important information to learn and work with.There are a growing number of solutions available that leverage off basic data, but the key is ensuring the information is captured and recorded where it should be.When possible, the automation of this should be done for you to ensure accurate information is present and ready to access.It’s likely that at some time in the future you will want to make decisions or deploy solutions that leverage off your data, so it’s important you get the small pieces and basic fundamentals of your business recorded now so youdon’t get caught out wishing you had some disciplines in place that covered this years ago.