Back in the early 1990s, the Internet was in its infancy. As a new phenomenon, not every business was sold on its benefits, or even why they should use it. This posed a problem for Cisco, a company whose main product at the time was routers. Cisco needed to prove that, not only would the Internet save companies money, but also Cisco products were the best choice to help them do so.
In the end Cisco created automation and technology which allowed it to manage the travel expenses of 22,000 employees with only 4 auditors, compared to the average 40 auditors at equivalent sized companies. Cisco saved $825 million with this technology. The following year savings grew even further to $1.35 billion and it achieved a market capitalization of $550 billion to become the world’s most valuable company.
The system, in part, relied upon honest employees in exchange for fast reimbursements (mostly next day). This gave employees an incentive to be honest with their expenses while also providing a cost advantage to Cisco by having just a few employees handle expenses for everyone in the organization.
Cisco’s routers became an industry standard and it has been shaping the future of the Internet for more than 30 years. In the end, Cisco was a catalyst for showing businesses the efficiency and cost advantage the Internet could offer -- and we all know the rest of the story as the Internet exploded and is now as integral to our lives as sliced bread.
What has this done for dealerships? Well, I am sure you all use the Internet for a myriad of operations – accessing your CRM, DMS, etc. You probably also have Wi-Fi in your customer waiting areas. And today Wi-Fi is even used to operate the coffee machine.
Wi-Fi is like water. You need plenty of it. Car shoppers these days demand speed and efficiency and that means using the latest technology in your dealership; including tablets and smartphones in the service drive and technician bays. A really good Wi-Fi connection is vital – throughout the dealership. But here’s the problem: dead zones are everywhere in the typical dealership. Because of this, vendors tend to get the brunt of the blame as dealers tell them their products don’t work – when really all that is needed is more bandwidth and a better network.
With the advent of Google Wi-Fi and new mesh networks, it is now a simple process to create a single network, or SSID, throughout the dealership. These type of networks reach all corners of the dealership. They operate in a similar fashion to cell towers; the software switches you to the next access point with the same SSID when the signal weakens. That translates into NO dead spots, anywhere. By the way, the access points are so cheap, that at $75 an access point, if you do find a dead spot, buy a new one and plug it in. When you add it to your mesh network the point “wakes up” flashes a blue light a few times and starts sharing the load. Simple!
The result: a well-connected network that adds efficiency and productivity to all your connected software, giving you happy customers AND employees.
The other advantage is that Google automatically patches the access points whenever there is any known security challenge, so you can rest assured that your network is always updated with the latest software and is safe and secure.
By adopting this inexpensive technology, you can provide the experience today’s customers demand in the service drive. All the providers in this space have very aesthetically pleasing access points (Eero, Samsung, Linksys, and NETGEAR).
Tablets and smartphones are now the order of the day. They speed up and simplify interactions with customers and make inter-dealership communications between service advisors, technicians and the parts department more efficient. Technicians and service advisors can quickly move onto the next customer’s vehicle, increasing shop capacity and service revenue. And -- just like Cisco proved almost 30 years ago when they kick started widespread use of the Internet as a business tool -- this provides a definite cost advantage.
I can’t think of any dealer that wouldn’t want to increase net profit every month while also keeping their customers happy. Can you?