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Create a Roadmap to Digitization: 3 Reasons to Take Action Today

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Article Highlights:

  • Digitization is predicted to boost profitability 6.5% by the year 2020.
  • Three reasons digitization will benefit your entire dealership.

If I asked you to drive to a place where you’ve never been before, how would you know how to get there? Would you reach for the folded map in your glove box? Of course you wouldn’t… It’s the 21st century and technology has evolved past paper maps. Navigation became automated with the introduction of MapQuest and eventually the GPS you plugged into your car. Both of these options allowed you to type an address into a computer and it would tell you the directions. But I don’t think you would reach for MapQuest or a plug-in GPS today either. You would probably reach into your pocket, pull out your phone, and say, “OK, Google.” Then, not only would Google Maps tell you how to get there, it would show you where heavy traffic is, restaurants near your location you may be interested in, and several optional routes. What Google Maps can do is beyond automation; it’s digitization.

Digitization takes things beyond automation. Digitization takes those automated processes and links them together so information flows seamlessly, making the process more efficient. We’re not talking about integrating technology so systems talk to each other. We’re talking about using technology that is built together so it does cognitive processes for you. It takes data you’ve entered and starts to draw its own conclusions to create new opportunities. Gartner explains the concept well, saying, “The goal with digitization is to create and deliver new value to customers, not just to improve what is already being done or offered.” Here are three reasons digitization should be at the center of your focus rather than automation:

1. Cost Savings

We have all heard about the impending sales plateau. After so many years of increased vehicle sales, it will level off and eventually drop again. If you aren’t able to make money on increased vehicle sales, you should look at saving money to increase your net profit. Digitizing your processes can save you money. Besides the obvious cost savings on paper, postage, and shipping envelopes, you also don’t have to spend money to store documents in your dealership or offsite because they are instead stored digitally. According to Forbes, on average, digitized processes drop mistake rates and increase output 8.5 times. Think about how much you could save if deals were approved the first time every time.

2. Time Savings

With automation, your processes are already done using technology, which is great. However, how often do you still find yourself re-keying information from one system to the other? If your systems aren’t talking to each other, you waste time entering information again and again. With a digitized system, customer and vehicle information flows seamlessly not only within departments, but across them as well. The average employee spends 5 hours each week just searching for information, says International Data Corporation. Imagine if every one of your employees could get those hours back each week. They could spend that time selling cars, working in service, or posting deals rather than being distracted finding information.

3. Customer Experience

Millennials are your biggest customer demographic now and we all know what they expect in your dealership—technology, speed, and accuracy. Customers don’t want to waste time waiting while your F&I manager has to re-enter all of their information. They aren’t happy when they come to pick up their vehicle from service only to find out the repair estimate they were given is less than the invoice. In a digital dealership, their information is ready in F&I instantly after finishing with the salesperson. Your customers in service would never have been misquoted in the first place because all pricing is pulled from one system. You could also give them the option to pay online from their phones. Offering a fully digitized experience to your customers will not only impress them, it will make you memorable.


The future of digitization looks bright. Accenture predicts fast movers in digitization could boost profitability 6.5% by 2020. By 2025, digitization could be generating as much as $2.8 billion in new value nationwide. Appian put the future of digitization in the automotive industry best when it said, “Going digital in auto retail is about more than just giving your sales associates tablets and letting them handle some financing responsibilities. Studies found that consumers are going to heighten their interest in purchasing cars through entirely digital means, making tools like digital showrooms, online service booking and digital experience centers essential. As auto retailers embrace digitization, the news source predicted that lead conversion ratios will improve by approximately 80% in the years following 2020.”

Automation is no longer enough. You need to find a new way to keep your dealership successful. Digitization is the future of automotive retailing.

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Vice President, Product Management, Reynolds and Reynolds

Scott Worthington is vice president of product management at Reynolds and Reynolds. With more than 30 years of automotive industry experience and a keen eye for challenges facing automotive retailers, Scott leads the team responsible for product strategy for the company’s dealership management system platforms and its supporting solutions.

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