How Your Dealership Can Best Utilize its DMS


A car dealer’s DMS system, or Dealer Management System, is a treasure trove. In its seemingly limitless functions, personnel make the cogs of the dealership wheel turn.  But what makes a good DMS system, and how can a dealership make the best use of the tools at their disposal? 

What Does a Top DMS System Look Like?

Several names come to mind for automotive professionals when the term DMS is mentioned. Reynolds & Reynolds, CDK Global, Dealertrack, DealerSocket, and a few other capture the bulk of franchised dealers in the industry. What they have in common are features that embody the term ‘dealer management’. They include: 

  • Sales prospect management. This allows sales professionals and management to track prospects from the first point of contact to either a sale or a dead end, as well as throughout a vehicle lifecycle.

  • An appointment maintenance component. Keeping abreast of appointments both in sales and service is critical to an organized team and customer care.

  • Human resources tools. A quality DMS system will address team management and payroll and beyond.

  • Data integration across all departments. Sales needs to know a unit’s WIP cost in service. Service needs service contract data from F&I. Data integration is compulsory for efficiency.

  • Vehicle cost analysis on a per-unit basis. You must know how you’ve arrived at unit costs before retailing a vehicle.

  • Document management and data security. Customers put their trust in a dealership’s ability to protect their personal and financial data.

  • Service and parts tools. Parts inventory analysis, service pricing guides, labor time guides, and service dispatching are all key components of a comprehensive DMS system. 

Among the DMS system’s functions, a dealer’s management team should know how to utilize key features to get a glimpse of the store’s health and discover opportunities for improvement. 

Establish KPI AlertsDMS

Your sales team has a minimum gross target per unit. Your service advisors have been instructed not to offer discounts without management approval. Your parts manager has a mandate to keep obsolescence under a certain level. However, orders without consequence don’t mean anything, especially if you can’t see the problem.

Use your DMS to establish alerts for problem KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. Whenever the threshold is crossed for one of these areas, notifications are sent to the proper channels where they can be monitored or further acted upon.

When you strive to correct an area of weakness, it’s good business – not micromanagement – to keep a close eye on KPIs. 

Analyze Fact-Driven Reports

Like KPIs, data reporting is a critical function of any DMS system. And while reviewing the DOC daily, weekly, monthly, and annually is good business sense, reporting goes much further. When there’s an unexplained disparity between budget and actual, or if you find a department underperforming in general, reviewing reports with the appropriate staff should be immediate.

As a biased party, there will be times you can’t see the forest for the trees. Top DMS systems offer performance reviews in their products and services. This third-party participant can help you analyze reports to determine where anomalies might be hiding. 

Tailor the DMS to Your Needs

No DMS is perfect for your store ‘out of the box’. Your team, your clientele, your facility, and your dealer structure will all expose deficiencies in the product. However, all of the major DMS systems can be tailored to your store’s needs. 

Take away the service Labor Time Guide if it’s a redundancy. Add F&I tools like credit app integration to streamline the customer experience in the business office. Switch from a cloud-based DMS to a multi-store solution. It’s the one tool that everyone in the store uses – make it work as smoothly and comprehensively as possible.