Selecting the Right DMS is Like a Marriage: 3 Features that Help Avoid a DMS Divorce

This is my second blog in a series about what to look for when choosing a Dealer Management System.

In my first blog article, I talked about how to start evaluating the right DMS for your dealership. This blog is a continuation of that topic. A DMS is like a marriage, and the heart and soul of your dealership. Choosing to switch your DMS should not be done lightly. In fact, it’s probably the one piece of technology that your dealership should be the most critical about in the selection process.


In this blog, I share three more things you should look for when considering a new DMS. These features are vital to the success of this significant technology change and your dealership’s efficient operations.


The three things are as follows:

1. Can it be Customized? – Every dealership is different, with unique needs. A DMS must be able to grow with your dealership and have the ability to customize functionality to your dealership’s needs.

When choosing a DMS, ask if they are willing to make modifications and add new features per your dealership’s unique requests, or do they merely have a generic template which is unchangeable and forced on all clients. Sometimes, you don’t know exactly what you need from a DMS provider until you get into a situation and discover that you need it your way, not theirs. A DMS provider should have a company culture that is based around a genuine desire to serve you best and to modify the product to the needs of its clients.

On the other side of the coin, certain providers treat the DMS as a 'commodity,' basically a fixed product that does certain things well. If that is all you are looking for, it might be worth the reduced price-point this type of DMS generally carries.

2. Does it Compliment your Business? – DMS providers are businesses with their own goals and agendas. It's essential that these goals and objectives align with your dealership. As I mentioned previously, the relationship between a provider and a dealer is similar to a marriage. It will be (or should be) very close and tight, even at that first point when the two don’t yet know each other very well.

To get to know the provider, you should evaluate the ownership structure, talk to staff members, get an idea of the corporate culture, as well as their purpose and value statement.

I am talking about more than just reading their articles or marketing material. Dig in and really get to know them. And, in return, your DMS provider should want to get to know your business to ensure they are aligned and can provide the level of service you expect.

Once you have identified the right DMS with a business model and culture that best compliments your dealership, analyze your internal dealership management staff to ensure you have buy-in. Without complete internal buy-in for new technology adoption, it is doomed to fail.

3. What are its Core Features/Enterprise Functionality? – Most DMSs have the basics covered regarding operating a dealership. How DMS providers implement core features differs significantly. 

A DMS, at its basic level, must be able to operate your business efficiently. When selecting a DMS, do not gloss over the little things such as how accounts payables work, whether the chart of accounts allows flexibility to make changes or if it supports dual control, or how the auto features work between operations and accounting, etc.

Also, many dealer groups require a more enterprise-centric view of their business. They need flexibility when it comes to centralizing operations, managing multiple companies, franchises, rooftops, etc.

Dealer groups should evaluate how the DMS provider supports them on an enterprise level. Available solutions in the marketplace vary greatly, and choosing one that best fits your company’s needs is vital. If you select a DMS which lacks enterprise features that smoothly interact and report on a group level, you could quickly end up having to log into multiple accounts. No one wants to be forced to collate numbers manually to get an overview of how the group is performing The DMS must have robust features that provide your staff with tools that will enable them to conduct business efficiently on a group level.  

There are many things to consider when choosing the right DMS provider. These three best practices should help when deciding whether or not to get married. I hope that you have a long-term healthy and happy relationship. No one wants a failed marriage and to have to repeat the process again in the future.

Avoid a divorce. Stay tuned for more advice in part 3 of this series!

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