Brian Miller
by Brian Miller

Observing integration woes at my local dealership

It’s getting cold in Ohio, so that means it’s to take my vehicle to the dealership to get winterized. This is something most people don’t look forward to, but I jumped at the chance to spend some time in the showroom.

When I arrived at the dealership, I reviewed my options with the Service Advisor and handed my keys over from behind a sheet of plexiglass. I then headed over to the showroom to chat with my regular salesperson about his experiences during COVID.

Scaling Digital Walls in Sales

Steve’s business thrives on a healthy mix of new customers and repeat business. He did well through the early days of the pandemic. Despite the low inventory of new vehicles, he was successful in switching many customers to used vehicles. However, many people have less patience in a COVID world and want to spend less time in the showroom. “A lot of people get tired of hanging around in a mask,” he said.

Steve continued to talk about the frustration he felt being unable to keep the pace of a sale moving. “I load a whole deal into my sales toll, save it, and then wait for Finance while trying to keep my customers distracted,” he said. The Sales CRM is not connected to the dealer’s Finance system, requiring the Finance manager to double enter a ton of information. And that’s just to print paperwork!

This digital wall between systems adds hours of wait time per month to a salesperson. At best, this erodes their CSI score. At worst, it can completely unwind a sale. I began to think about a Fortellis API that could help the finance tool connect to the sales tool. All of that data could be pulled into Finance in a matter of seconds, saving a ton of time.

Mountains Out of a Mole Hill

“It’s the little things that drive me crazy,” added a Sales Manager. “Every time I go to pull a credit report for a customer using the functions in my CRM I have to re-enter the address and home phone number.” He continued, “I’ve been asking this CRM provider to fix this problem for years and they never listen.”

There are many CRM systems available, each with their own hard-coded methods of working with credit pulling services. Data is passed through custom scripts and outdated methods often coded by employees who have long since left the company.

I thought to myself, “What if the credit pulling service could give you a sample and standardize workflow API on Fortellis to grab the right data from the CRM every time?” If the dealer decides to change credit pulling companies, that same API would be there to help right away instead of waiting for a new custom script to be built by the CRM company.

Fixing Fixed Ops

After I finished my conversation, I headed back to Service to pick up my car. Standing at the checkout window, I watched my Service Advisor print out my completed repair order and walk it over to the clerk. The clerk, who also doubled as the receptionist, took the paper and set it aside as she handled a phone call. Once the call had ended, she took the paper form, opened a screen on her terminal and began re-entering everything on the printout. I was thankful she was a fast typer, as this task would have taken much longer than the five minutes it took to complete. I popped my card into the credit card machine and out came my receipt…no. Out came a receipt that I signed, then it was back to the terminal and another two minutes of data entry. Finally, she printed a copy for me and I was on my way. I spent a total of 20 minutes standing at the counter.

I know that on Fortellis there are APIs that allow for tools to pull a RO digitally in a matter of seconds, with no chance of human error. In fact, there are even apps in the Fortellis Marketplace that leverage APIs connecting to this dealer’s DMS that handle the payment process and record everything. These tools could complete a 20 minute process in two minutes with complete accuracy.

Fortellis APIs Can Be a Dealer's Best Friend

In a one hour visit, I saw at least three or four cases where Fortellis can help a dealer make better use of their data via APIs to save time and reduce errors.

As a manager of your dealership, think of those pain points you talk about in meetings and around the water cooler. Take those needs and visit The tools you need to leverage your data better and build a better dealership are waiting for you. Take those tools and build your own solution. You can also reach out to a current provider and tell them it’s time to start using Fortellis APIs in their solutions. You have the power to use that data to improve, and with each new app you’ll see that Fortellis APIs can be your best friend.

Visit the Fortellis API Directory.

Authored on Wed, 10/21/2020 - 15:45