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New Year, New Business Office: The Tech You Need to Succeed

business_success
Article Highlights:

  • Outdated and manual accounting processes impact the rest of the dealership.
  • There are 4 ways to update the business office so your dealership succeeds!

Today, technology is at the forefront of all business operations… or is it? Dealerships typically look to technology to improve customer experience and streamline operations in sales and service. But often, the business office is still filled with paper boxes, employees doing hours of reconciliation, and mailing out statements and checks.

What’s the impact of keeping outdated or manual processes in place?

The business office is the heart of the dealership. Everything flows in and out of it. So keeping outdated or manual processes in place spills over into your other departments:

Deal jackets and ROs are still on paper, have to be rekeyed into the system, and are stored in countless banker boxes.

Customers have to wait for you to track down one form in their deal jacket, or pay their invoice by sending a check in the mail.

The customer experience and streamlined operations mentioned earlier? Those are less impactful when the business office doesn’t have the technology to match the rest of the store. But this year can be different! Now is the perfect time to bring your business office into the 21st century; your business success depends on it.

Here are 4 ways you can give your business office personnel the tech they, and everyone else in your dealership, need to succeed:

#1: Ditch the storage facility filled with paper and introduce an electronic filing system.

When your paper is being stored at an off-site location or, even worse, within the four walls of your dealership, you are opening yourself up to PII fines, lost documents, unnecessary storage costs, and a generally cumbersome process. And at what expense?

By ditching banker boxes for an electronic filing system, you give your business office their time (and maybe a little sanity) back. Documents can now be found in seconds within your DMS. Reconciliation becomes much easier without any need to rummage through boxes of paper. With the time they save, they can work on tasks more important to your business.

Plus, when a customer needs their deal jacket, or a service advisor wants to pull up a customer’s previous ROs, your sales and service departments can deliver an efficient and seamless customer experience by retrieving documents just as quickly as the business office can.

#2: Leverage a reporting tool that works with you, not against you.

Reporting is possibly one of the most time-consuming tasks I see in the business office. Not because it takes them the most time to do, but because they are spending any time on it at all. Manually creating reports is counter-productive for everyone. It can take hours, days, or weeks for your office manager to compile the data for the report you need. Then by the time you get it, that information isn’t an accurate representation of your store’s current performance.

With a reporting solution of countless pre-built reports at your fingertips, your office manager can spend time analyzing reports for trends and opportunities. And you can quickly understand how your business is performing.

Having more advanced reporting opens up new possibilities for your entire dealership, too. Your managers in other departments can see how their teams are performing, hold them accountable, and use it as a training tool. Now, you can focus on the big picture and make more strategic business decisions to run your most successful business.

#3: Send all accounting documents and receive payments electronically instead of relying on mail.

Storing paper in a facility is one thing, but sending it to your customers directly impacts their experience with your dealership and leaves important cash flow floating around in the mail.

The hours your business office employees spend printing and stuffing A/R statements and EFT remittance alone is enough reason to look at the alternative. Then once those envelopes leave your dealership, it’s no guarantee when your customers will receive them. If they have an A/R statement, you now force them to write a check and mail it back to you. Why rely on mail to manage your cash flow when you have no control over it?

When you can send all your accounting documents electronically via email, you save time and offer the convenient experience your customers want – online payment options. This allows them to do business with your store wherever they are, making the process quick and easy.

#4: Streamline your accounts payable processes and offer vendors payment options.

On the flip side, your accounts payables are just as important to digitize. By keeping the process manual, it not only feeds back into hours of printing checks and stuffing envelopes, but it can have an impact on your vendor relationships if they do not prefer checks.

Additionally, when you are forced to do one batch check run for the entire month, there is no guarantee your check gets to your vendor on time, or that they won’t cash it early when you send out a batch. It’s an ineffective way to pay vendors, and unnecessarily hurts your cash flow.

By streamlining your A/P processes, you can submit payments within your system to be paid on time, throughout the month. You know when cash will be leaving your dealership, thus having a realistic look at cash flow. The most important part? You can offer your vendors payment options. Whether they prefer checks, wire transfers, or virtual card payments, you can pay on the due date using the method they prefer (and collect rebates too).

Conclusion

If the technology in your business office is not on the same level as your other departments, the negative effects will spill over into every part of your dealership. That’s why this year is the year to update your business office with the technology you need to succeed!

By introducing an electronic filing system, leveraging advanced reporting, sending important accounting documents via email, and offering vendors payment options, you will transform your business office, and more importantly, your entire dealership.

At the end of the day, your business will be more efficient, paper-conscious, and customer-friendly. So the question isn’t, “How do I start?” It’s, “Where do I start?”

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Director, Product Planning, DMS, Reynolds and Reynolds

Scott Worthington is director of product planning at Reynolds and Reynolds. With more than 28 years of automotive industry experience, Scott leads the team responsible for product strategy for the company’s ERA® and POWER dealership management system platforms. He also manages product strategy for Reynolds eWorkflow, DMS reporting tools and analytics, and a number of other product areas.

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