Choosing the right Dealer Management Solution (DMS) can feel like a daunting task, especially when you’re juggling the day-to-day demands of running a dealership. With countless options available, each promising to be the best, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve compiled insights from thousands of dealers across various industries to help streamline the decision-making process and ensure you select the DMS that best fits your needs.

While many dealers might focus on reputation, basic functionality, and cost when selecting a DMS, there are at least ten crucial criteria that deserve careful consideration. Each of these factors plays a pivotal role in ensuring the system not only meets your immediate needs but also supports your long-term goals.

Implementing a dealer management system is a significant investment of time, money, and effort. To ensure success, it’s essential to involve a cross-functional team—including the Dealer Principal or General Manager, department managers, and the accountant—in the evaluation and selection process. This collaborative approach fosters buy-in and enhances the likelihood of successful adoption.

10 Criteria to Consider:

1. Functionality

Start by outlining the necessary functionality for each department based on your dealership type. Smaller dealers might need less functionality depth, while larger ones may require advanced integration capabilities. Assess whether the software offers the required breadth and depth of functionality, a clean and intuitive user interface, seamless module integration to avoid redundant data entry, and overall enhancement of dealership efficiency.

2. Implementation

A well-executed implementation process is critical. Ensure the vendor outlines the implementation process clearly, including key milestones and assigned responsibilities. Check if they can provide a detailed step-by-step checklist and have adequate resources to execute the implementation promptly. Assess the experience level of the implementation team and ensure your data is clean and ready for migration.

3. Training

Comprehensive training is essential for effective use of a DMS. Establish a plan for both initial and ongoing training. Inquire about the recommended training duration, available support programs (onsite sessions, classroom training, or computer-based modules), and associated costs. Also, consider options for extended training and any incentives for training completion.

4. Support

Evaluate the vendor’s support options, such as toll-free lines, web-based support, or email assistance. Check the customer support team’s expertise in areas like accounting, parts, and hardware, and whether they offer support during business hours that align with your operations. Assess the availability of live support and average hold times, as well as the provision of after-hours support for urgent issues.

5. Services

Look for vendors that offer additional services such as advanced training, consulting, data analysis, and provision of office forms and supplies. Inquire about their ability to provide a comprehensive understanding of your dealership’s performance and facilitate comparisons with similar dealerships in different regions.

6. Technology

Understand the technology behind the vendor’s solution. Evaluate the stability, performance, and cost-effectiveness of the platform and architecture. Consider the system’s stability, speed, and support for modern databases to ensure it meets your dealership’s needs.

7. Vendor

Assess the vendor’s financial stability and market presence. Investigate their operating history, market share, update frequency, and the number of developers dedicated to the product. Evaluate their adaptability to emerging trends and overall reliability.

8. Timing

Establish a realistic timeline for the project, including key milestones such as vendor evaluation, selection, and project completion. Ensure the vendor can align with your timeline and that internal staff are available for the implementation process. Consider the best time for implementation based on your dealership’s schedule and seasonal fluctuations.

9. Compatibility

Evaluate the professionalism and courtesy of the vendor’s team. Consider how engaged customers are in influencing future product functionality and how effectively the vendor listens to feedback. Ensure the vendor collaborates with top industry partners and offers seamless integration with your dealership’s OEMs.

10. Cost

Assess the total cost of implementation, including expenses for software, hardware, database configuration, maintenance, support, and training. Consider the software’s long-term impact on profitability and whether it offers room for upgrades and expansion. Ensure it aligns with your current operations and supports future growth.

So, How Do You Select a DMS?

Choosing the right DMS is a critical decision that can significantly impact your dealership’s efficiency and profitability. By carefully considering these ten criteria, you can ensure that you select a solution that not only meets your immediate needs but also supports your long-term goals. Remember, the right DMS should streamline your operations, enhance productivity, and ultimately drive your dealership’s success. For more guidance and insights, explore the resources available on our Lightspeed website or contact our team for personalized assistance.

By Josh Ferrell, Jennifer Guinn and Logan DeFelice

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Lightspeed

Lightspeed is a leading provider of cloud-based software for dealerships and Original Equipment Manufacturers (“OEMs”), serving the Powersport, Marine, RV, Trailer, Outdoor Power Equipment, and Golf Car industries. Lightspeed’s Dealer Management Solution (DMS) enables dealerships to optimize their end-to-end business operations, including sales, parts, service, rental, accounting, and CRM. When implemented into their daily operations, Lightspeed helps dealers increase their profitability by selling more units, service, and parts, all while creating a more streamlined experience for customers. For nearly 40 years, Lightspeed has been empowering 3,800+ dealers across North America with the tools and technology they need to manage their dealerships. For more information, visit www.lightspeeddms.com.

Lightspeed is the #1 Dealer Management Solution used within the Recreation industry for a good reason. We provide a completely integrated solution for dealers, OEMs and their customers. Our goal is to help you operate your business more efficiently and profitably so you can spend more time doing what you love.

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