CALL US AT 1.866.756.2620

Tag Archive: axcessa

Kory Suppes

NADA Recap: Bringing Innovation to Vegas

NCM Associates had a fantastic time in Las Vegas last week. As a member of NCM’s marketing team, I flew into the convention early and had a chance to explore. I wanted to share my photos with you.

Continuing our Tradition of Innovation

IMG_0851

This is a photo of our booth’s construction, taken a few days before NADA started. I flew into Vegas on Monday morning to supervise the arrival of all our materials—culminating months of planning!

A few days later, other team members from our home office in Kansas City arrived on site to make sure every bit of the 1200 sq. ft. structure was perfect; our largest booth ever! It was quite a job, but well worth the work to give you a chance to learn about the exciting new products NCM is bringing to market.

IMG_3216

This year, in between the acrobatic madness storming through the aisles, booth attendees experienced sessions led by the NCM partners responsible for creating some of the most innovative software in the industry.

Above, Intelligent Dealer’s Frank Sheets answers questions about our newest product, NCM LiveAudit®. Next to him, NCM’s Director of Software Solutions Steven Banks listens intently.

Partnering with Ultimaker

IMG_3134

Demos included latest products and services, such as axcessa and LiveAudit. NCM experts were also on hand to share the best practices of our most profitable clients.

With more than thirty demos scheduled, attendees experienced firsthand some of the advancements NCM is spearheading for the industry. And, they also walked away with one of our inventive booth giveaways, a 3D-printed car or business card holder.

Did you get a chance to watch the printers in action? If not, here’s a quick video showing the process.

Breaking it down

I enjoyed my time at NADA. Even with all the buzz, I found time to listen to attendees’ great success stories and how they began their career in the auto industry.

It’s thrilling to attend the go-to event for everyone in the auto industry. The three-day event featuring booths bigger than they have ever been, jumbo LED screens and more tchotchkes for your kids than could fit in your carryon. (Or, for yourself: no judgement here.) What’s not to love?

busy_booth2

A big “Thank you!” to everyone who attended and stopped by our booth. We look forward to seeing everyone in New Orleans next January 26-29.

If you didn’t find the time to stop by our booth during the hustle and bustle of the convention and would like to learn more about NCM, drop us a line at info@ncmassociates.com or visit ncmassociates.com.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/04/nada-recap-bringing-innovation-to-vegas/

Lindsey Quinn

Automotive Cybersecurity: 4 Steps to Protect Your Dealership

hacker-photo

I doubt that data security keeps most dealers up at night. But it probably should, considering its staggering impact. Each year, cybercrime costs the global economy $575 billion—$100 billion of that in the U.S. alone!

Data breaches are an expensive problem, and hackers increasingly are targeting the automotive industry and its lucrative bank of social security numbers and financial information. Just take a look at these findings by NetIQ:

  • Automotive firms reported a 32% increase in reported detected cyberattacks.
  • More than 70% of organizations surveyed in their 2015 report had been affected by a successful cyberattack last year.
  • The average cost of a corporate data breach is $3.5 million.
  • The vast majority of security incidents involve a current or former employee.

The automotive industry will continue to be a tempting target for cybercriminals, but you can fight back by creating a solid data management and security plan. Expert David Spisak—ReverseRisk President & CEO—shared the four key steps you should take to control your dealership’s data.

  1. Take ownership. It doesn’t mean you have to do all the work; it just means you need to be actively engaged in every aspect of your organization’s data management.
  2. Find a good gatekeeper. This person will be directly responsible for executing the plans and processes that you approve for your organization. They will also maintain and monitor your firewall, conduct spot checks of employee internet access and create access reports for your review.
  3. Create formal access policies. Outline what type of access new and existing employees should have to your data. Be sure to develop a clear plan for closing data access for former employees, who are likely to be your biggest data security risks.
  4. Review access reports monthly. Weekly is even better. No matter the interval, review who is accessing your data network and take steps to address any issues.

These steps are just the start to securing your data and protecting your business. Join David Spisak in Park City, Utah, December 10-11 for more details on the data security risks dealers face and how best to prepare your store against these attacks.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/10/automotive-cybersecurity-4-steps-to-protec-your-dealership/

Steven Banks

A Beginner’s Guide to Managing Data

Snip20150723_1

We all have our inadequacies, both as individuals and as businesses. And it’s no coincidence that a business’ shortcomings often parallel the shortcomings of the individuals behind it. For instance, a business atmosphere that is too fast paced and rushed is often the result of an impatient dealer or manager. (When my wife recently accused me of this unfortunate quality, I explained that I have more patience than anyone because I never use any. She didn’t buy it, in case you were wondering.)

On the flip-side, a carefree and lackadaisical business atmosphere could be the result of an unorganized and unenthused manager. To the same effect, strengths tend to overlap as well, and we often forget that our personal fortes can make a positive impact in the day-to-day operations of our dealership.

One strength that can always be improved upon in dealerships is Data Management. It is very easy to become intimidated by newer nomenclature, and in the automotive world, “data management” absolutely fits that description. It is new, it is intangible, and it is constantly changing. BUT, the dealerships that are embracing data management, and effectively using it, are reaping the benefits.

So what’s in it for you?

Here are three reasons you can benefit from improved data management.

1. Turning numbers into actionable intelligence:

Properly analyzing and managing relevant information can transition your CFO and team of controllers from the mindset of accountants to that of trusted business advisors.

According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, accountants are considered the most trusted business professionals over any other position. If one of your mechanics needs a wrench to perform a specific repair, a hammer in hand would be useless if not dangerous. Similarly, data is the tool that your accounting team needs to ensure they are performing at maximum efficiency, and without the right kind, things can become extremely difficult. When you combine the right data with a high level of trust, it enables them to move beyond traditional accountants and solidifies their role as trusted advisors.

2. Deepening the understanding of cause and effect:

How do you figure out the meaning behind poor performance or even revenue that seems to suddenly vanish? Knowing where to derive data and accurately dissecting it can literally make the difference between driving profit and losing revenue.

Example: Turn wholesales into a profit center by focusing on more than just the number of units sold and whether or not you made money from them. Instead, monitor how those deals impacted BOTH front and back end gross. If your actual comp percentage shows different from commission percentage, giving attention to this could explain why. If you pay 25% commission on front end gross but lose money on the wholesale, you could potentially be paying commission on a deal that already is costing you. If you use the right data, you can properly analyze each wholesale deal and adjust commission accordingly, which guarantees you aren’t throwing away additional cash.I would recommend that your dealership invest in a data management platform, as I’m willing to bet that your DMS system doesn’t provide data reporting this granularly.

3. Knowing what to improve at all times:

The most powerful data available, arguably, is having up-to-date industry trends. You should be monitoring your dealership’s pulse and comparing that with the beat of the industry. Leveraging this method is a great way to provide fast and easy dealership comparisons so you know where you need to improve and where you are maintaining a competitive advantage.

Data management is extremely powerful, but knowing what to look for and when to look for it can be overwhelming, so remember to keep it simple! Look at the big picture before diving into the details. As you can see, the question isn’t whether or not data management can be beneficial, but rather how it can benefit you. And hopefully this lays a foundation on where to start.


Learn More:

databanner

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/a-beginners-guide-to-managing-data/

David Spisak

Is Your Dealership Ready for an Automated Data Management Solution?

compu

Dealership data management systems collect and maintain mountains of data about your operation, your customers and your market. There is no doubt about the value of the information contained in those systems in enabling you to make the best possible decisions for improving your sales, retaining your customers, and increasing your dealership’s profitability. But what confounds many dealers today isn’t an issue of having data… it’s how to ensure the data is accessible, accurate, and is presented in such a way that it allows you to focus on the areas of your operation that need your attention. No dealer would willingly give up the data his dealership holds, because he knows it is absolutely vital to knowing what’s going on in the dealership and how effectively that activity is driving the sales it needs to sustain the operation.

But if you can’t get to the information you need, when and how you need it, it’s not going to help you drive maximum sales, efficiencies and profitability in your dealership. When you consider the implications of this across multiple locations with multiple systems, the problem seems almost insurmountable without hours and days spent compiling all this data into useful reports.

So you’re hearing about automated dealership data management and think this may be the solution to a big chunk of your problems. And just so you know, I’m a huge proponent of using smart systems to get a handle on all this information, especially when it gives me an out-of-the-box reporting solution that will help me spend my time managing intelligently, rather than creating spreadsheets and seeking out and inserting the data I need to put into them. But how do you know if you’re ready to take that leap? Here are a few thought-starters to help you determine if you’re ready… and to consider the risks if you don’t.

Does your data give you complete transparency to your operation?

If you’re one of the few dealers who feels very confident that the information you are using to keep your finger on the pulse of your operation is as timely and accurate and gives you the information you need to make immediate adjustments in the daily operation, you’re one of the lucky ones. However, most dealers do not have the confidence that they are seeing everything that’s happening in the dealership. What’s more, many worry that the information they do use is not accurate, either because it’s been filtered or because the data in the DMS or other systems from which they are being pulled isn’t as “clean” as it should be. The risks? The worse scenario is that you’re dealing with manipulated data and the possibility that someone is intentionally trying to misdirect you. At best, you don’t have a complete picture because you or your managers haven’t thought to bring some of the most critical pieces of information into consideration.

How easy is it to access the information you rely on?

Even more troubling is that while dealers and general managers do not have formal training in information systems or database management, they take it upon themselves to acquire, maintain and utilize their systems resources to the best of their ability. In their defense, for many years, the basic functionality of most DMS platforms hasn’t changed that much. And thoughtful dealers will study reviews, talk with their peers, and sit through hours of features and benefits presentations where they are shown all the bells and whistles of this system or that, with the expectation that the vendor knows what they need and will deliver on its promises. What do dealers need from their systems? They want easy-to-use systems that will collect the data they need and present that data in useful reports that will help them make great decisions. It’s a simple, straightforward objective, but what we’ve found to be consistently problematic among all DMS platforms is the part about getting the data out of the systems in usable formats for making great decisions. It’s your data, but there is a risk that the vendor does not offer you complete access to the information you need. And decisions made on incomplete information can be worse than making decisions with no information at all.

How confident are you in the accuracy of your data?

“Garbage in, garbage out” is another common problem business owners and their managers deal with continuously…the information you get out of your systems is only as good as the data that’s going into them. I’m sure there have been many times when you found yourself questioning whether the information in your reports was correct. It’s frustrating, but essential that the information you’re using is “bullet proof,” so you find yourself going back and forth with a manager questioning, discussing, and reviewing the data until you’re eventually satisfied that the information is accurate enough that you can make a good decision. That could take several hours or several days for each report you question.It’s a real drain on your time and energy, and the kicker is that you probably still don’t have complete confidence in the information you’re using! In terms of your time and attention, your manual reporting processes could be costing you much more than you realize.

Can you get updated information quickly and as often as you need it?

Even if the data going into the dealership’s systems is as accurate as it can possibly be, there is yet another problem that some dealers may not admit they have: They simply don’t have an effective data analysis discipline. Relying on standard reports and what’s always been done, some don’t know that other information will give them better insights to make the critical adjustments that can result in the most net profit by month end. And they don’t know how often they should be watching that information. And even if they wanted to keep their finger on the pulse of the dealership’s daily operations, they quite likely wouldn’t (or couldn’t) be able to get to the most up-to-date, reliable information as quickly as they’d need it. In fact, our data suggests that the average dealership report usage is 800 report views a month. When you consider the average time managers spend preparing and updating a report is about 15 minutes, that’s a lot of manager productivity lost to manual reporting. A more efficient and effective discipline would be to have all the updated information you need in a matter of seconds…not hours or days. The risk associated with the reporting lag-time described here is that you aren’t effectively making the adjustments you need to be making to have the greatest impact on the month-end net profit of the dealership.

Does any of this resonate with you? Are you feeling called-out a bit?

You are not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority. As I said, most dealers we talk with about data management best practices are experiencing one or more of these problems, and most are feeling the pain of all of them. Want to do a quick gut-check on the wasted productivity your dealership may be experiencing for lack of an automated solution?  Check out the Productivity Calculator to see what manual reporting may be costing you. Then schedule some time for a demo with a data management solution provider like NCM axcessa today.


Learn more in this upcoming course, taught by David Spisak:

databanner

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/is-your-dealership-ready-for-an-automated-data-management-solution/

Steven Banks

Get Your Arms Around The Data In Your Dealership

Get Your Arms Around Your Data

Lately it seems I am unable to hide from the term, Big Data. I’m exposed to it in headlines, newspapers (a bit old school, but I still read them), magazines and yes, even blogs. But what does “big data” truly mean and why are we being doused with it? The term is so new I couldn’t locate it in the Merriam-Webster® dictionary, so I took the obvious next course of action and looked up the definition in the infamous Wikipedia. This is what I found:

“Big data is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.”

To dealerships, big data, or more importantly the management of big data, can mean the difference between increasing profitability and stagnation. Let’s take the aforementioned definition in a bit more industry-specific direction. To ensure we are maximizing day-to-day operations efficiently we use traditional DMS systems, inventory management systems, RO analysis software, manually-generated spreadsheets, etc. All of this is great and even necessary, but it seems as other technology is advancing and there is more information readily floating around in the cloud, our in-house systems should be able to progress at the same accelerated level.

So what does this mean for us?

In order for us to know what actions we should take, we first need to know what questions to ask ourselves.

What data should we pay attention to?

Any data that can impact our dealership should be monitored. Ignore the data that is fascinating but irrelevant. Perhaps instead of looking at the national averages, comparing our dealership numbers at a regional or state-specific level is the best course of action.

Who should we rely on to receive this information and is the source of this data really credible?

I often find myself five minutes into reading an article or looking at a visually stimulating pie chart that shares impressive data when I realize I’ve never heard of the company publishing it and don’t recognize the columnist.  Does that mean you need to recognize every author’s name?  Absolutely not (as you might not recognize mine), but take what you find with a bit of caution if the author or company is unfamiliar. These days, it’s pretty easy to find out if an “expert” is speaking with authority, so do some research to find out more before acting on the information.

There is so much noise out there; what should I be looking for to help me manage my data?

There are some amazing new solutions available to help dealerships with data management.  Some data management vendors will unleash a plethora of raw data to their customers, but it is hard to make sense of it.  Avoid any vendor that says they have it all, as they will tend to over-promise and under-deliver.  Look for a platform that works in conjunction with your DMS, fixed, variable and accounting systems.  After all, this is the approach that we took when developing NCM axcessa, our web-based software that aggregates your dealership’s big data in real-time and eliminates the need to manually generate reports.  Why?  Because our clients demanded it be that way; otherwise, it’s just another piece of software rather than the actionable intelligence tool they desired.

Big Data has arrived at the party and the reality is it’s here to stay.

So let’s not only get used to it, let’s embrace its power to help us accelerate our dealerships in an economy and marketplace where the complacent mindset is depleting and the progressive mindset is excelling.

 


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/03/get-your-arms-around-the-data-in-your-dealership/

Steven Banks

What to (Not) Expect When You Are Expecting (Success)

dealer laptop

Have you ever prepared extensively for a certain event only to be caught off guard by an unanticipated circumstance? Maybe you prepared for a recital, fully expecting a Tchaikovsky piece to come out of your fingers but mid-recital a contact lens popped out and you could no longer read the music; or, you trained all off-season for a sport and then ripped your ACL in your first real game putting you on the bench for the rest of the season. Or perhaps you practiced for hours rehearsing your greeting line for when you pick up your date only to slam her fingers in the door a few minutes afterwards – ruining everything. (By the way, if this happens to you, later in the date don’t offer to put her fingers in your ice cream cone to make them feel better. That just makes things awkward – trust me).

Thinking you are prepared for something and then getting blindsided by the unexpected is never fun. These kinds of things can destroy your morale, leave you feeling lost, and asking yourself “what the heck just happened?” But it doesn’t just happen on stage, on the field, or in your ’91 Mazda 626. It can happen anywhere, especially in the dealership.

Two questions you are probably asking yourself right now:

  • What kind of things should I be expecting in my dealership that I am currently not?
  • How do I make sure I’m prepared for when the unexpected does happen? (And it will.)

The answer to number one is: I have no idea! If we knew the answer to that, they no longer would be “unexpected circumstances,” right? It’s one thing to be cautious, but it’s another thing to sit around all day and dream up worse case scenarios; we don’t have time for speculation. Our main focus should be on point number two — expect the unexpected and be prepared at all times. I suppose now is the appropriate time for me to expand on this with a few actionable bullet points. So here are three ways you can ensure you are prepared when the worse-case scenario comes up:

Manage Your Data

Let’s say an unexpected situation comes up where you suddenly need to access every single car deal for the year; you need know how many and what percentage were cash deals and the details for each deal, and what percentage and how many were financed and who they were financed with. You have five minutes to get this, GO! How did you do?

That was the easy one; let’s try another. Now you need to be able to determine how many retail units you’ve sold MTD, know which have been booked and which haven’t even gone through accounting yet, what the gross is for both booked and unbooked, what your pace is for month end (from the perspective of units, gross, PVR, front end, and back end), get an aged receivable count and balance, get an aged inventory count (both new and used) with the vehicle details, know which of your salespersons haven’t sold a vehicle in over three days, and compare MTD pace to your forecast (if you even have a forecast).  Five minutes, GO!

Impossible? Not really, I can get all of that in two minutes and am happy to prove it anyone. There might be a select few of you out there who also could get that information on demand; however, I’m willing to bet that many of you would either panic or throw in the towel if you needed that information and needed it now. The beauty is, all of that information is available, and it resides in your DMS. The real question is, can you easily and efficiently access it without it being time consuming? If not, find a way to get the data out of your DMS and into your hands in an uncomplicated fashion.

Keep Records

This is very different than the aforementioned point. Managing your data is one thing, but making sure you are keeping your data is a completely different thing. If don’t have data, you can’t manage it. Is your information protected in the instance of a system crash? Or what happens when you switch DMS systems, are you absolutely certain that 100% of your data and records will be transferred over?  Be on the safe side, make sure your information is warehoused. Many vendors can do this for a nominal fee.

Know the Right People

You are in a legal bind, you have unexpected personnel turnover, you are going through a buy/sell, you realize your service matrix is as outdated as The Matrix movie. If you run or manage a dealership, you’re pretty smart, but none of us knows everything. Make sure you have solid relationships with the right consultants. Getting unbiased input from knowledgeable and credible sources when you need them can work wonders.

It’s tough being prepared for the unknown. But by taking the appropriate precautions you can almost eliminate the worse-case scenario, which isn’t to stop the unexpected, but to be prepared for when the unexpected happens. By ensuring you have a checkmark beside these three items, you are ensuring you have a great foundation for unanticipated circumstances. Oh, and honey, we’re having triplets!

axcessa_cta

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/09/what-to-not-expect-when-you-are-expecting-success/

Steven Banks

What is the Answer to Work/Life Balance?

pages

I was at Barnes & Noble the other day to burn through a gift card that has been sitting in my wallet since Christmas, and on my way to the coffee nook located in the back corner I had to walk past three rows of “self-help” books. I mean literally, three full rows, from top to bottom and side to side. I couldn’t help but wonder if we really live in such a desperate time where we need 3,519 books that claim to hold the solution to life’s problems.

Most of us are guilty of reading at least one of these in our lifetime. I know I am. And while there is a plethora of good advice and friendly reminders found in the pages of these books, the truth of the matter is that there is no single perfect solution to life’s crises. And that includes the infamous work/life balance predicament.

I’m a firm believer in the quote by Lord Kelvin that states:

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”

And time is a key ingredient to some of the most valuable measurement standards. Think about it, MPH is a measurement of speed but could not be done without “hours” being involved. RPM is a measurement of rotations that could not be done without “minutes” being involved. And light-year is a measurement of distance that could not be done without “year” being involved. While I do not hold the answer to the work/life challenge, I certainly feel those measurements are proof that one can at least improve upon how they manage their time.

What does this mean for dealerships?

I’m glad you asked.  Let me first throw a few stats at you.

Stat 1: The average dealership is manually generating, creating, or updating reports nearly 300 times per month.

Stat 2: The average time spent updating a single report is 15 minutes.

Stat 3: A manager in a dealership is averaging $50/hour.

What this means is that, on average, a typical dealership’s managing team is spending 900 hours per year manually generating reports. This is 900 production hours spent behind a computer screen and not on the floor. That is equivalent to $45,000. Here’s the catch: You NEED these reports because they contain information that is essential to operate the store.

So what are we supposed to do about it? Well, here’s a thought: With the ever-advancing technological world, there are invaluable resources and tools designed specifically for dealerships to automate these reports that are being generated manually. I believe these tools have now moved from the nice-to-have category into the essential category. Although people have access to an abundance of information, particularly inside the DMS, it is not always easy for them to find, compile, and make sense of.

Yes, there typically is an investment to obtain this kind of tool, but the return of the productive time that a dealership gets from leveraging it should outweigh the expense tenfold. By automating what many of us are doing manually, we can be more productive and save an abundance of time. Time which we can invest in areas of our lives that don’t consist of data mining or number crunching.


axcessa_cta

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/04/what-is-the-answer-to-worklife-balance/

Russell Grant

Nine Things You Can Do Right Now To Increase Your Data Security

Security concept: Lock on digital screenLast month’s article focused on how to determine whether a vendor has what it takes to keep your data secure and what to look for in a vendor before granting them access to your DMS. But the truth is, data security starts at your dealership with the policies, processes and procedures that you establish. Here are nine things you can institute right now to improve the security and integrity of your dealership’s data.

  1. Conduct Background Checks
    Any employee you bring on will have access to, or will be in the vicinity of, customer data. When hiring new staff, conduct background checks: drug, criminal and credit. Contact references as well. 
  2. Establish a Confidentiality Agreement
    Establish and enforce an agreement that states confidential and proprietary information belongs to the dealership—and have all employees sign it. 
  3. Limit Access to Data
    Determine which employees will be granted access and/or administrator duties to what resources, including CRM, DMS, Intranet, social media, website and email. Document user names and passwords. 
  4. Institute Password Best Practice
    Passwords should be unique to each individual, at least eight alphanumeric characters in length, and account access should be blocked after the fourth invalid password attempt. Password changes should be scheduled and not permitted to be the same as the previous four passwords. Passwords should not be displayed near workstations, shared with other staff, or transmitted via insecure technologies (email, IM or fax). 
  5. Invest in Data Protection Software
    Invest in protective software, including anti-virus, anti-spam, firewall, data encryption and virtual private networking (VPN). Institute protective data measures as well — servers should be at a separate location or in cages, backups should be performed, and data retention and destruction policies should be established. 
  6. Disable Access Upon Termination
    When an employee is terminated, make sure to collect and/or disable their key, security code, remote access to any systems, Intranet access, email access, and phone extension and voicemail. For the benefit of both the employee and the dealership, conduct an exit interview if possible.
  7. Require a Non-Disclosure Agreement
    Require all vendors you share data with to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
  8. Partner with an SSAE Certified Vendor
    Our industry has not yet established a standard for policies, processes and procedures that work to ensure data security and protect the privacy of consumer information. The financial industry, however, has—SSAE-16 Certification, developed by the American Institute of CPAs. By partnering with a vendor that has achieved SSAE-16, you know they uphold the highest level of security and can protect and secure your data; guard its integrity and confidentiality; and prevent unauthorized access to it. 
  9. Require Documentation
    If a vendor is not SSAE-16 Certified, request and require that they provide documentation of restricted access to buildings, data, computers, technologies, resources and systems; scanning technology at entrances (cards, fingerprints or retinal scan); government-issued ID required of visitors; password policies and best practices; firewall, anti-virus, anti-spam and data encryption software; equipment monitoring; data retention and destruction policies; backups; and a business continuity and recovery plan in case of disaster.

For more information about increasing data security at your dealership and partnering with vendors that are qualified to provide the data security your business demands, visit www.jandlmarketing.com. Easy-to-follow checklists are also available, as well as fast facts about SSAE-16 Certification.

NCM axcessa

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2013/05/nine-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-increase-your-data-security/