In my opinion, one of the most challenging decisions that today's dealer owner has to make is which Dealer Management System, (DMS) is right for their dealership.
It was much easier years ago as their where just a handful of DMS Vendors out there such as Reynolds & Reynolds, ADP, (Now CDK), UCS, Coin Convergent Systems, and perhaps Arcona, which evolved into today's Dealertrack DMS.
The pricing of these Dealer Management Systems was just what it was as dealers didn't really have many options as DMS competition was held pretty tight with just a few systems out there.
Dealers had to have a Dealer Management System, so the choice of which system to purchase became just a matter of preference. Price wasn't a major factor on which system was eventually selected as being familiar with system operation was the priority.
Fast forward to today, Dealers have lots of options, in a way, maybe too many options. It has led to choices being made based on price, or perhaps, Office Manager, or Comptroller preference, no matter what the price.
Office Managers and Comptrollers often dictate which DMS the Dealer will choose, regardless of the price due to Conformity and Accountability to their standards they are familiar with in basic Dealer Accounting.
That being said, if Accounting is a main priority, with price coming in second, what about usability in all other Dealer Departments? What affect does this choice of which DMS have on the Fixed Operations Departments, primarily the Parts Department?
It's Time to Find Out....Let's Do This!
I will say that the choice made definitely impacts both the Parts & Service Departments. Some are better than others and many lack basic needs of each individual department.
In this issue of ACG "Smart Parts", we will break down each individual DMS out there with their "pros and cons". There may be more systems out there that are not mentioned, but for the most part, we will cover all but a few, if any.
We will not list these Dealer Management Systems in any order of personal preference as many dealers are perfectly fine with their choice. We will simply list the positives and negatives with each system out there from a Parts Perspective.
So, let's get started with our own ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective on what these Dealer Management Systems have to offer and what they lack.
If we had the opportunity to put the best of each system wrapped all into one DMS, we would then have the perfect Dealer Management System out there, which someday, I would personally love to be a part of.
Each DMS that we review will be in alphabetic order and will not be listed in any order of preference. We will list our "Thumbs Up" and "Thumbs Down" on each DMS most utilized by Dealers today in 2024.
Although, ACG "Smart Parts" will "rate" each DMS with our "5-Star" Rating, One Star being the lowest rating, all the way up to our highest rating with Five Stars.
👍: Thumbs Up
Adams Dealer Management System is not widely utilized but is an efficient DMS overall. It does provide ABC Source Ranking by Piece Sales and the basics as far as integration with Accounting are there and provisions for Matrix Pricing Options.
Somewhat User Friendly but does require a lot of extra keystrokes to go from program to program, but not a major issue. Parts and RO billing is fairly easy, and Source Management is manageable and basically effective on Best Reorder Points and Best Stocking Levels.
Lost Sales Reporting is available but requires too many extra steps to get them recorded. Also, there are no prompts to report Lost Sales if parts aren't stocked initially.
👎: Thumbs Down
One of the main "Thumbs Down" in Adams is a lack of Reporting Options. Most of the "canned reports" lack enough significant information for daily operations.
"Drill Downs" are just not there on Parts Gross Profit Issues, Parts Detail Information, Parts History, Supersession Links, Special Orders, Source & Batch Moves, etc.
Constant manual updating is also required for most information such as Best Reorder Points and Best Stocking Levels as real time updating is lacking.
Not a bad choice if you are a smaller dealer and just want the basics as we will see in many other DMS Options as we continue forward.
A detailed Special Order Program is also lacking in Adams, almost like an afterthought with little detail and links to Customers and Open Repair Orders and Appointments.
👍: Thumbs Up
I will say that AutoMate has come a long way in the last several years. They have "upped" their game to become a significant player in today's DMS battle.
Definitely very "User Friendly" with a very simple dashboard to direct anyone to where they need to go. All the key elements are there that a Parts Manager needs.
Source Management with ABC Source Ranking, Batch Moves, Parts Matrix with Cost Plus, List Plus and List Pricing Options within the same Matrix, which is not common, but beneficial. Very good DMS overall with a few drawbacks they need to work on.
Lost Sales Reporting does take a couple extra keystrokes which will tend to lower the actual true Lost Sales numbers due to that extra step, but Lost Sales are easy to post in AutoMate.
👎: Thumbs Down
As mentioned, AutoMate has made many improvements, especially in Parts over the last several years. One of the items they need to work on is Parts Receipting.
In AutoMate, Parts receipts are either for Stock, or whatever else. In another words, there is no breakdown in Supplemental Stock Orders, "In & Out" Orders, Other Orders, etc.
AutoMate also lacks their own "Report Generator" that can be utilized by dealer personnel. They do have "Report Mate" where AutoMate can generate specific reports for the dealer at an additional cost.
👍: Thumbs Up
AutoSoft is very "User Friendly" with Parts Counter Tickets and Repair Orders very easy to navigate. Moving parts from RO to RO, or line to line very easy.
AutoSoft is probably one of the easiest to learn, primarily due to the fact that it's extremely simple to navigate through. The Action Buttons and Menu Driven Software is easy to read through and figure out.
AutoSoft does offer Source Movement by Piece Sales that is updated automatically in Sub-Source Management, but with limited levels of Source Movement by Piece Sale Ranges.
👎: Thumbs Down
Unfortunately, there are many negatives with AutoSoft, especially in Parts starting with the reporting. Monthly Management Reports are not updated automatically. If the Parts Manager does not archive the Month End Report?...they are lost forever.
AutoSoft has limited ABC Source Ranking Levels with only six levels offered. The minimum amount of ABC Sourcing Levels required based on the math requires at least eight levels.
Same goes for the Parts Matrix as only twelve levels are offered with no ability to add more based on different sales ranges. Monthly Management Reports lack lots of information needed for properly managing the Parts Department.
Unfortunately, there are many disadvantages with this DMS are far as Parts & Service goes beyond what we could list in this issue. They have a long way to go, but it's much more affordable for the Dealer with adequate Accounting Integration options.
CDK - Drive: ★★★★
👍: Thumps Up
Formally ADP, CDK Drive is still one of the most prominent, popular and longest lasting Dealer Management Systems out there today for many reasons.
CDK offers everything for all Dealer Departments, especially in Parts. ABC Source Ranking, Parts Matrix Pricing, Parts Ordering from Stock Orders, Supplemental Stock Orders, In & Out Purchases, E-Purchases, Lost Sales Reporting, etc.
No matter what the size of the dealership, CDK will provide all the needs. Daily & Monthly Reporting is outstanding in both Parts as in Service. Installing Parts Set Ups, though not easy and recommended for the average user, they are there.
CDK is still evolving over to their "Drive" format, but the old "Green Screen" is still required in certain Parts Set Ups. Most Parts Set Ups are fairly easy in their MSSO and IRO Set Up Functions.
CDK also provides "Weighted Price Averaging" which allows parts sales history to be "weighted" over the last twelve months. This provides the most recent sales information, especially on parts seasonal sales, not offered by many Dealer Management Systems.
👎: Thumbs Down
One of the more "pricier" systems out there, and as mentioned above, CDK is still evolving from their "DOS-Based" System from years ago over to their newer Windows Based Drive System. This process is still on-going and hopefully will be completed in the near future.
CDK does not allow the "mixing" of a Cost-Plus Parts Matrix with an "out of grid" default to List as AutoMate does, which is a great option. CDK also does not have a "Flat Price" override to Matrix Pricing as Dealertrack offers.
Flat Pricing can only be utilized by moving Flat Priced Parts into a different Source but doing that will sacrifice ABC Source Ranking & Movement. Source Ranking Movement also requires running the SCS Function Daily to allow Source Movement as it is not done automatically.
This DMS, in my opinion is one of my "Sleepers" on our list of Dealer Management Systems. I was actually surprised when I first started working with this system as it does what a basic, affordable DMS should do.
All departments will benefit from this system in a general way, but without the detailed information available in other systems like Reynolds & Reynolds, CDK and perhaps Dealertrack.
On the Parts side of things, it is pretty much complete in all aspects although some Applications require several extra keystrokes, but overall...a "good bang for the buck" in all dealership applications.
👎: Thumbs Down
Dealerbuilt does lack detailed report information if you are a manager that likes to "drill down" information as the "canned reports" have limited information, other than the basics.
Having the ability to create "specific" reports with "specific" information provided in other systems, whether Report Generator, Advanced Reporting, Dynamic Reporting, or an "English Statement" back in the old ADP days.
Today's Dealer Managers require more than just the "canned reports" that are provided by most Dealer Management Systems. Dealers in general are requiring their managers to "drill down" more and perform at an even higher level than years ago.
Dealertrack, in my opinion, and from the Parts side of things has become one of the top, more affordable Dealer Management Systems available. Even though they are still lacking some key components as we will list, they are climbing that DMS ladder rather quickly.
As far as DMS Conversions, and in the hundreds of dealerships that I have visited over these last five years, Dealertrack has taken over more systems out there, with few converting from Dealertrack to other systems.
This alone makes a statement about this system in general. User friendly, great "drill down" features, Parts Set Ups & Controls without adding additional Sources, (Stocking Groups) for Source Ranking by Piece Sales.
Dealertrack also has one of the best Special Order Parts Programs available with great detail, more than any other system out there in my opinion.
Weighted Parts Averaging, Simplified Parts Matrix, Pricing Strategies, Lost Sales Reporting, Stocking Group Management, Parts Ordering, etc. are all top notch and easy to navigate. Definitely one of the best systems out there for Parts.
👎: Thumbs Down
As with any new Product, or Service out there, there are still some "growing pains" to work through. One of which is that Dealertrack still does not have a "Batch Move" function in a "canned report" feature.
They can do Dynamic, or Advanced Reports specific reports such as Batch Moves. In other words, we can't move all parts from one Stocking Group, (Source) into another Stocking Group. Dealertrack has to build and perform these specific reports individually.
It requires downloading parts into an excel document and reloading into another Stocking Group, (Source). This may not sound like much, but it is a HUGE inconvenience for Parts Managers.
They also don't have a lot of Order and Receipting options with only NG, (Negative) SO, (Special Order), EP, (Emergency Purchase), or Stock Orders. The NG, or Negative Purchase Sales also have to be managed as they will remain at a negative quantity without constant maintenance.
In their Sales Analysis Section, Dealertrack does not separate Customer Pay Service Repair Orders from Collision Center Customer Repair Orders as they are looped into the same report, even though they can be separated in Accounting on the Financial.
Lastly, Dealertrack does have great reports, but they do not have one "catch all" Parts Monthly Management Report as most all Dealer Management Reports have. Even though all the information is available in separate Monthly Reports, they are not inclusive on one Parts Monthly Management, or Monthly Inventory Management Report.
👍: Thumbs Up
To be quite honest, and in my opinion, this DMS is definitely lacking in so many areas, but on the positive side of things, it is a Menu Driven, Windows Based System that is easy to navigate.
It does offer ABC Source Ranking by Piece Sales, but parts that meet Phase-In Criteria have to be "manually" posted as Normal Stocking Parts as "Automatic Phase-In" is not available.
Dominion/VUE does offer all the basics such as Matrix Pricing, Lost Sales Posting, Special Order Program, Daily Sales & Gross Information and pretty much all that a DMS needs to offer, but not to any great depth.
👎: Thumbs Down
Dominion/VUE Parts Manager Reports are extremely vague and they lack the simplest information. For example, they do not have a Parts Ordering and Receipting Report at all.
In other words, we do not know what parts were receipted as Stock Orders, Special Orders, Emergency Purchases, In & Out Orders, Other Orders, etc.
Stock Order Performance is a Key Performance Indicator for Industry Guidelines and is not available on this system. Many of their Parts Monthly Management Reports contradict each other and lack trustworthiness.
For Parts, we could go on and on with the "Thumbs Down" categories for this system. Although, these comments do not reflect potential benefits for other Dealer Departments and Accounting, but from a Parts perspective, this system lacks quite a bit, even the simple things.
👍: PBS is my other DMS "Sleeper" out there as this system, much like Dealerbuilt has everything a Dealer would need in a Dealer Management System for the most part at an affordable price.
It does have a few flaws in the area of Parts, which we will discuss, but overall, and for the price, there is value in this system versus the big guns like Reynolds & Reynolds and CDK.
Parts Monthly Reporting is also very complete and the reports provide all necessary reporting information, or Parts Key Performance Indicators required for Industry Guidelines.
Accessibility, User Friendly and ease of all aspects of Parts Billing, Ordering, Receipting, Lost Sales Reporting have ease of functionality. For the money, one system I would consider.
👎: Thumbs Down
Parts Set Ups & Controls as we all know are crucial to getting the right information out of any system. PBS does lack the "ease" of implementing the right Phase-In/Phase Out Parameters, Low & High Days Supply, also referred to as Best Reorder Points, (BRP0 and Best Stocking Levels, (BSL)
If not done properly, as the "language" of this system is quite different from most other systems will lead to improper Suggested Order Quantities, especially in Source Ranking by Piece Sales.
Reynolds & Reynolds - Ignite: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆
👍: Thumbs Up
Even though this DMS is our last one listed alphabetically, it is our ACG "Smart Parts" choice as our 5-Star recipient of Dealer Management Systems available, even though, most likely to be the most expensive one out there.
Much like CDK, Reynolds & Reynolds is still transitioning over from their old "Blue Screen", DOS-Based System over to their new Windows Based Ignite Program. Even though there really isn't a perfect DMS out there, this one is the closest in my opinion.
From all the existing features still in the old "Blue Screen" to the newer on-screen features and dashboards in Ignite, they have it pretty much covered.
Order Types, Receipt Types, In & Out Receipts & Sales, Lost Sales Reporting, Batch Move Capabilities, Source Ranking by Piece Sales, Advanced Reporting all are available and more in Reynolds & Reynolds.
Their Special Order Program and Reporting is only second to Dealertrack in my opinion. The ability to bill Parts to Appointments and track by the customer is also a plus.
Reporting in Reynolds is far superior to most systems as well with their sheer number of custom, canned reports are at a very high level. This allows Parts Managers to drill down more than most other systems.
The addition of Ignite has allowed Reynolds to become more User Friendly without all the excessive keystrokes required in the old "Blue Screen" version.
👎: Thumbs Down
The biggest downfall to this Dealer Management System is price. With new ownership in Reynolds a few years back, they have gotten even more expensive with contract requirements to system updates and even higher prices which has driven many loyal customers to other systems.
The other drawback is that Reynolds still requires the addition of Parts Sources to implement ABC Source Ranking by Piece Sales. Updating is still required manually by running Program 2105 to update Source Movement in the old "Blue Screen".
Other than the continued conversion of the remaining, old DOS Screen Programs, they still have most of what the Parts Department needs, no matter what the dealership size.
Other Systems Available: ★★★
Other Dealer Management Systems that I am familiar with include Quorom, Lightspeed, UCS and Dealer Socket. All of which, even though I am familiar with have had limited usage overall with Dealers, but with the same "Thumbs Up" features and "Thumbs Down" lack of features.
Tekion is the newest to enter into this mix of systems available. From what I have seen thus far, they are pretty much have everything with some nice features with more they are still working on. That being said, the jury is still out on what this system will reveal going forward.
Lastly, no matter what DMS you currently have, the overall "Utilization Factors" on all of them is a staggering 20% - 25% of what they are capable of. This all reverts back to proper Installation and Training.
Challenge is, and from my experience, these DMS Vendors need to start with their own people, training them on what they are actually installing. In my opinion, many don't even know their own product well enough to the point where they are more concerned with "functionality" instead of what the system is "capable" of doing.
If you want to learn more about ACG Smart Parts "Eight Habits of Highly Successful Parts Managers", visit our website @ www.smartpartstraining.com, or...just pick up the phone and call me at :
(786) 521 - 1720...After all, not knowing is not worth not "fixing" it...