Byers Automotive Switches Gears to Drive Sales
Byers Automotive is the oldest dealership in the country, fully loaded with eight stores and more than 10 franchises. The company has "been around since before cars," according Shaun Kniffin, director of Internet sales and business development. When the dealership sought to expand its selling approach into Internet sales, however, its PC-based CRM application had run out of gas.
The company launched its Internet sales department in October 2000, and at that time, "Internet sales [within the] company was really not existent," Kniffin says. Byers manually typed all its leads into a popular contact management solution--a time-consuming process that required several different systems to locate and use information. Using the application, Byers built its business development center (BDC), and then networked it. "It worked pretty well for about six months to a year," Kniffin says, but after that, the dealership found itself ready for another approach.
Looking for an application that would allow the company to integrate its sales, service, and parts departments in its stores, Byers implemented Reynolds and Reynolds' Contact Management, a Web-based sales solution, in May 2002. The solution allows end-user companies to integrate dealership data with data from their Web site, car-buying services, and car-company Web sites to better manage customers' experiences. But, "we weren't ready for the product yet and the product wasn't ready for us," Kniffin says. "It was very early on in stages there. I think it was Version 1.0. We put it aside for a while and let Reynolds fix it. They came back about a year later and said, 'We think we're ready for you now,' and when we came back they were absolutely right on the game."
After the solution's retooling Byers launched it in August 2003, undergoing a three-month implementation. The dealership worked with a team from Reynolds and Reynolds, including a trainer who came into the BDC for three weeks, "trying to get the ship into orbit," Kniffin says. Reynolds' technical assistance center (TAC), he adds, was also instrumental in making the implementation as road-bump free as possible. "Everyone has [TAC] on their speed dial, and we call them almost every single day asking them questions," he says.
Byers expanded its Internet sales and business development campaign about a year ago into the entire company. At that point Internet sales represented approximately 10 percent of the company's total business. Now, with Contact Management, that aspect of the dealership's sales strategy is experiencing significant uptake. In October 24 percent of the company's business was coming from its BDC. "We like the centralized control of the BDC, because it allows [us to] keep the information pure," Kniffin says. Byers is saving more than 70 percent every month on its direct mail campaigns and saving about $120,000 annually by consolidating accounts--Byers can import its Who's Calling data into its Contact Management's schedules. Contact Management also injects $30,000 to $50,000 a month back on Byers' bottom line, because it can now close customers that had no contact with the company after their first email, sales call, or visit to the dealership.
Kniffin says the Web-based approach is the future of the way Byers will do business. "It has increased communication, increased fluidity, and just allowed us to work more efficiently." The company always emphasizes the customer, Kniffin says, and Contact Management allows Byers to increase personal relationships with them. "Byers' main emphasis is not the technology, it's the people behind the technology. It's the people that make this whole thing happen."
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