Having worked on a number of recent home improvement projects, I’ve learned that a weekend warrior is only as good as her tools. Through my work in the automotive software industry, I’ve learned that the reverse is also true — a tool is only as good as the person using it.

The DMS is an effective tool, but many dealers aren’t getting the full benefit because they don’t know how to use it. Those that learn the system enjoy better access to information, increased knowledge of their customers and a more efficient approach to their daily tasks.

Better access to information

Some legacy DMS tools are still confined to the four walls of a dealership, which can make it really hard to run a successful business. Modern DMS tools operate in the cloud, not on a local server. Dealers that learn to use cloud-based DMS systems enjoy several important benefits, including anytime/anywhere access to performance data.

Whether at home, at a 20-group meeting or on vacation, checking the DMS is as easy as checking a social media feed or a personal bank account balance. While offering the latest technologies, cloud-based providers are also taking better care of their customers by removing the need to manage hardware and software updates. Because they perform frequent, automatic updates, and proactive monitoring, their systems are far more secure than systems running on local servers.

Increased customer visibility

The DMS can do so much more than provide financial data. Skilled DMS users can also extract useful information about individual customers. Modern DMS platforms can track a customer over time and across all departments of the dealership.

Just by entering a customer’s name, a dealer can see all the vehicles that customer has purchased, what work has been done on those vehicles and what value the customer brings to the business. By viewing a customer across your entire business, you can customize the sales process and improve customer experience. Of course, customer data can also be viewed in aggregate in order to plan marketing and communication campaigns. Ultimately, those activities will result in increased sales and sustained financial success.

Tighter integration of tasks

Like any good tool, the right DMS can also save dealers a lot of time by streamlining managerial tasks. Dealers that aren’t proficiently using their DMS platforms are often switching between multiple systems and multiple programs to stay on top of their work. DMS platforms that integrate efficiently with other platforms make it easy to access all information in one place, eliminating the need to jump from one tool to the next.

The dealership technology industry is working hard to provide dealers with effective tools, but a tool is only as good as the person using it. To enjoy the benefits of your DMS platform, you need to work to learn the system.

Remember, make sure your technology provider is giving you training opportunities so you can better leverage that technology to improve your business. If they are not, perhaps it’s time to consider switching to a technology partner that will.

Sharon Kitzman is vice president and general manager at Dealertrack DMS