Car dealer: BI underpins the new commercial approach and leads to better sales results -

Car dealer: BI underpins the new commercial approach and leads to better sales results

Commissioned by a franchised dealer of a leading car brand, Bmatix carried out an innovative project in the field of business intelligence. Thanks to intelligent figure forecasts, the sales team are already achieving more sales after six months. The uniform, reliable and up-to-date figure overview is a useful tool for management.

The car sector follows a tortuous track. Margins are decreasing, supply is growing, customers are changing. Younger generations think differently about mobility. The car industry is forced to respond to these changes and to anticipate what lies ahead.

‘Good enterprise is trying to predict the future,’ states a franchised dealer in the Antwerp area. ‘Anyone who tries to know what the future holds, increases his chances of success. And this was exactly where the shoe pinched as far as we were concerned. In the car sector, we’re often involved in day-tot-day management, management by hope as they say; we’ll wait and see tomorrow whether things turn out right.’

We have control of the wheel again.

CEO of a car dealer in Antwerp

Making the sales process measurable

So how do you get a better grip on the future? ‘By increasing your insight into what you’re doing today, by making things measurable, and based on this, by fine-tuning your strategy and improving your results,’ says our conversation partner. ‘With this starting point, we approached business intelligence specialist Bmatix.’

‘Selling is so much more than just getting someone to sign on the dotted line. It’s an intensive process. We made it measurable by breaking it down in steps and setting clear targets. Figures don’t lie. They provide something to hold on to, make people think and make change tangible.’

Daily reports with clear targets

Bmatix set up a BI environment which provides valuable information to the salespeople in the team. Reports give an overview of their daily activities, with clear targets and suggestions on how to manage their customer portfolio well.

‘We agreed with our salespeople: contact every customer in your portfolio at least once a year. As a salesperson, it’s no longer enough to only swing into action when a customer walks in the garage. He has to actively look for customers, and carefully maintain relationships with existing customers. By sending out brochures, drawing up quotes, sending a Christmas card or birthday wishes. By proposing a test drive or inviting the customer to an event. By suggesting the purchase of a ski box if the customer enjoys skiing. You name it.’

Commission based on customers contacted

Every salesperson receives a daily email report of his activities. A graph in the report shows the percentage of customers the salesperson has contacted. This percentage increases when he takes action. ‘The salesperson receives a commission based on the number of customers he has contacted. It’s transparent: he knows how much he will earn the following month. It offers greater security than commission which is purely based on sales. Say the market crashes, that shouldn’t affect him then. He controls his own destiny.’

Report as a coach

The reports encourage a salesperson to approach his customers differently. They make him think about his job. ‘It points out what a salesperson is doing well and where he has to step it up a gear. It coaches him and teaches him to work efficiently. It suggests quick wins, an idea of Bmatix. For example: notify customer X that his car is due for a service.’

The quality of the data in the customer database is important. ‘You can only really approach a customer when you know his needs. The system asks the salesperson to collect unknown information, for example, the duration of a lease contract. This way, we can contact him at the right time.’

More quotes, more sales

A traditional dealer sells cars, earns money from the margin he achieves and the salesperson gets his share. Management put an end to this. ‘People said we were crazy. What were we thinking unlinking remuneration from actual sales? But the results speak for themselves, after barely six months. We don’t let the customer gather dust in the card index. We have more contact with him. We get more inquiries, provide more quotes and sell more. It’s as simple as that.’

The financial department adds: ‘The reports are a useful tool for management to keep track of the figures in a simple and transparent way. It’s a central source of information. Everyone uses the same terminology now. That wasn’t the case in the past; every salesperson used to keep his own records with own terminology and tables.’

Motivated team

Implementing change in a company doesn’t happen by itself, particularly not when it involves a radical new approach. ‘Bmatix made the reports user-friendly and intuitive so that the salespeople could get to work with them easily. They explained the reason behind the reports well so that the team could see the benefits. Suppose someone says to you tomorrow: you’re going to get paid differently. It puts you on your guard. But no-one has left. Everyone is motivated.’

Customers are happier too

Thanks to the reports, the dealer can make forecasts. ‘Ask a salesperson how many models of a specific line he will be selling next year. Before the start of this project, he wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer. Now, he can look up how many lease contracts are about to expire. On average, companies renew 35% of their contracts. This enables us to know what to expect and allows us to make adjustments where necessary. We’re once again in control of our future,’ says the franchised dealer.

Research has shown that customers are happier. The dealer reaps the fruits of this. ‘At the end of the year, the national head office of our car brand rewards dealers who score well on customer service. This variable margin is essential to survive.’

Incidentally, the national head office is impressed by the results of the BI project. ‘This project underlines our ambition. We’re showing what we’re capable of. Technology allows us to lead a large team centrally. If we acquire a dealer tomorrow, we don’t need a financial manager in every location, for example. This investment makes us ready for the future.’

Bmatix, passionate about the job

Bmatix scored with its professional approach. ‘Bmatix understands the needs of the business. They listened carefully and saw very quickly what we wanted. They know their job without limiting themselves to a purely IT-oriented approach. Bmatix went the extra mile. They set out to look for the right information themselves to make the reports as effective as possible.’

Opting for business intelligence requires maturity. ‘It’s an investment which can end badly. You see it quite often: a horde of consultants descends on a company, interviews management and withdraws in a cellar. A few months later and a whole lot of euros lighter, the customer comes to the conclusion: the solution doesn’t work. And on top of this, he ends up holding a bad hand, because the quality of the data he provided was bad.’

‘Bmatix is different,’ the dealer says. ‘They are entrepreneurs who know the value of a euro investment well. People passionate about their job. When I was at their office in Kontich at nine o’clock in the evening, it was a hive of activity. An external speaker had been invited, there was laughter and people were having discussions. If you team up with a partner like that, you know you can sleep soundly. If anything goes wrong, you know that they’ll find a solution. It never came to that, the project went without a hitch.’

Recuperated in two years’ time

The dealer would like to take business intelligence even further in the future. ‘Car sales is a conservative sector,’ a member of the board says. ‘But as an entrepreneur you have to dare take risks when you believe in something. We’re proving today that the sector benefits from change through technology. We have control of the wheel again. We create simple reports in Excel but to get an insight into complex processes, BI offers indisputable added value. Today, our BI environment has a dozen parameters which influence sales. It’s our dream to map all elements. That pays off because the investment we’ve made now, we’ll recuperate in less than two years’ time.’