Jim Vaughn has not only heard the horror stories of dealerships that don’t follow up with their customers, but he’s also lived it. A few years back, Vaughn, the president and CEO of V-Sept, Tampa, Fla., bought a $60,000 wakeboard boat.
Over the course of ownership, he has heard from his dealer exactly zero times. No service reminders. No event invitations. No new sales promotions. Nothing. During that time, however, he has had his boat serviced numerous times and purchased wakeboards, parts and accessories. All from somebody else.
Now he’s looking at upgrading his boat. And it’s clear who he won’t be buying from.
This scenario has become all too common in the marine industry. And it was that very fact that caused ADP Lightspeed of Salt Lake City, Utah, to go searching for a customer relations management software provider. The company’s quest landed it in a partnership with Vaughn, whose CRM tool has historically served the powersports market. Together, the companies believe they can fill a void that they perceive similar products leave.
And the partners’ goals are quite lofty.
“We would like to be the dominant CRM company in the marine market within the next two to three years,” he says. “We’ll bring things to the marine market that have been sorely missed for many years.”
The partners have hit the ground running in the marine market, too. As a dealer management software provider, ADP Lightspeed has gained momentum in the marine industry over its four years in the market, having also nurtured powersports market roots. The venture has culminated in the launch of Lightspeed CRM, powered by V-Sept.
ADP Lightspeed brings to the partnership direct marketing exposure to the more than 300 current marine dealers who use the company’s DMS. But the rebranding effort doesn’t mean that dealers must employ the ADP Lightspeed DMS in order to use the CRM program. The Web-based program can be accessed through any Internet device, whether desktop, laptop, PDA, smart phone or otherwise. However, the program does integrate with the ADP Lightspeed system so that dealers can toggle through the CRM software while inside the DMS.
“You can be virtually anywhere in the world and login and manage your sales team,” Vaughn says.
Beating the economy
The partners in this collaboration believe this is a critical time to launch such a program. Kevin Albertson, vice president sales at ADP Lightspeed, says it’s more important than ever that dealers use such a program.
“As the economy changes, as pocketbooks tend to tighten, one of the greatest things we can do – and one of the things we have to do – is keep track of prospective customers and existing customers,” he explains. “CRM is a perfect opportunity for dealers to implement better control and handles throughout their entire sales process.”
Vaughn agrees: “In this economy, every single person who walks on your floor needs to be followed up with.”
This feature-rich program allows dealers the opportunity to check inventory, generate letters, track marketing ROI, look up specs, compare products, print brochures, create e-newsletters and survey customers. Perhaps most importantly, it also allows managers to manage their sales team through numerous reports.
The system costs dealers about $400 a month, what Vaughn suggests is a nominal fee for a dealer who sells a $60,000 boat such as the one he purchased. Plus, he says, in the powersports market, dealers tell him that the CRM system results in an additional 6 to 8 unit sales per month.
“You’ve got dealerships and owners who get it, and those who don’t,” he explains. “The guys who understand the importance and need of contact with their customers, those are the guys who are looking at it and saying, ‘What’s $400?’”