I love a good process. One of the great things about creating MG as a start up in NZ was there were no processes, because everything, every process, needed creating. The team and I (only three of us when we started selling cars) would work through challenges and then map them out on the white board, run through them, revise and update and capture the process as a flowchart in a document.
Image by Alex Knight from Unsplash.
Our flowcharts were created in PowerPoint as it was the fastest way at the time and of course no special software was required (then we improved on our PowerPoint processes by using 'smart art' in PowerPoint, which is a kind of automation), and we versioned them. I compare this to Mercedes-Benz where there was always someone who knew how to do at least part of a process, but it was barely ever documented (although the massive ERP implementation of SAP created a few volumes of documents later).
Documenting key workflows might be dull work, but it is surprisingly important. So many staff have a similar view on how something is done, but few have an exact or complete understanding. And this is the critical part, if everyone ran slightly processes differently your business would suffer. But that is the reality of what's happening now. You will have some key staff in your business, who have been there a long time and they are the source of 'how things are done here'. But what if they left, or fell ill? How would you cope? It is time to take action. Without documenting a workflow, you won't see how many manual entries, emails and phone calls are required for example, to register that customer's vehicle.
At MG our PowerPoint flowcharts served us well. For example, appointing and onboarding 13 dealers in 18 months, meant we needed a good onboarding process; this was clearly documented, and as a result we got faster and better at on-boarding dealers. But there was still something missing. And that missing link is even more evident in the retail environment. Automation.
It's all very well the team knowing who needs to do what by when, but if the process is manged by multiple emails, calendar entries, manual diaries(!!!!) or even Teams, (I call this the manual mess) then automation can improve the speed and efficiency of that process. The Age of Automation has arrived and you need to take a long hard look at your business and ask, 'How can my business take advantage of automation?'
Look at any repeatable process in your business that requires repeated emails, excel sheets or calls to complete, where your existing systems DMS or ERP tool only covers part of the process. Automation software can be your saviour. And its cheap as chips.
There are so many cheap or free automation tools out there which can make key processes more collaborative, more visible, more intuitive, more efficient and ...more automated. Imagine good automation adding say 5 or even 10% efficiency to every member of staff you have. Its like getting virtually free staff, for the price of probably a coffee a day for that staff member.
What do we mean by automation? If This, Then That (IFTTT) is a great example. If action A is undertaken, then it triggers a second action. IFTTT is actually an mini automation tool (they call it an applet, for mini app). In dealer world, a delivery date in your ERP triggers an email to the customer 7 days later to thank them for their purchase. That's automation. Now think of these triggers and subsequent requirements for elements that don't have ERP running or controlling them. That should be where you can create automations that your existing systems do not or can not provide.
There is one dealer group I have visited who run a very impressive get ready programme (using software that is virtually free), where all aftersales staff, including groomers, and sales staff can see the location and status of a used car (including images of the car) and whether it will be traded or retailed. It is without doubt the best used car preparation operation I have seen. And it works well, despite being multi-site, because of a customised workflow built using Trello. Oh, and you can access the status of any vehicle through a desktop or a free app. Imagine the impact on your business of shaving five days off your average days in stock due to this process. How much would you pay for that?
Here are the Boost Auto top 7 areas where automation can help.
Used Vehicle Preparation. Providing visibility for status and location of used vehicles being prepared for sale.
New Vehicle Preparation (especially important when vehicles like utes are sent off site for outwork).
Service bookings for small dealers.
Lead management (for dealers that don't use AutoPlay) including email triggers to say thanks for visiting!
Grooming bookings and management.
Stock buying (new or used).
Any process that is managed by diaries, emails and excel lists.
There are lots of free automation tools out there. The starting point is knowing which of your business processes are reliant on the manual mess; emails, excel and calendars. You can investigate IFTTT, Automate, Zapier and my favourite Trello (it has automations within it, and also integrates to the earlier three items). Or you can have someone come in and automate some of these processes for you.
Here are some examples of work that Boost Auto have completed:
Vehicle stock management and get ready for new vehicles
Lead management for dealers with no CRM
Pick up and Drop off service workflow automation for managing service customers in Level 3
Want to find out more? Boost Auto will provide you with a free two hours process audit, and highlight where you can automate to save money. Then we will provide you with a fixed price quote to map and implement an automated process. What's more, we are so confident that we can fix a process cost effectively for you, we will provide you with a capped price in advance - no automation will cost more than $2500 to implement.
Want to find out more? - Drop us an email.
Boost Auto is an automotive consultancy working in six main areas.
Sales and Marketing effectiveness for brands and dealers
Green fleet facilitation for large corporates
Go To Market strategies for emerging brands
Market Insights & Trends
Business Planning and facilitation