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Tag Archive: David Spisak

David Spisak

Less Gut, More Data: 4 Ways to Adopt Data-Driven Decision-Making

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Trusting your intuition—aka, following your gut—is important, but the top-performing companies use hard data to give them a competitive advantage, maximize performance and minimize risk. It’s especially true in the automotive industry.

Consider this: Publicly traded auto dealers trade at 2x, 3x or even 4x the normal multiple for a privately held car dealership. What percentage of their decisions are made on gut instinct? Hardly any, because nothing is left to chance. Their bottom line depends on it.

Although you may have fewer stores than the big guys, there’s no reason why even the smallest dealership can’t adopt the data philosophy that makes them so successful. Here are the four key steps I recommend any dealership take to incorporate data-driven decision-making into their management practices.

Four Steps to Increase Performance through Data-Driven Decisions  

  1. Unify your reporting source. When managers bring in reports from different sources, you have no consistency of data. And, if they’re creating spreadsheets from those sources—using sometimes faulty assumptions and formulas—then you’ve got real problems. Disparate reporting sources are a sure-fire way to kill the effectiveness of your meetings, reduce accountability and help poor performers hide.
  2. Set iron-clad expectations in the form of metrics and process. When you have great processes and crystal clear expectations through metric benchmarks, your people will also have a crystal clear understanding of what you expect. Use your unified reporting platform. Whether public or privately owned—the best dealerships never leave things to chance with key metrics.
  3. Hold weekly manager meetings. Make them short—30 minutes should be enough—and just cover the high points. Find out where the managers are today versus benchmarks and forecasts, and, if they are short, determine how they will make up the difference. Accurate reports are critical to having productive meetings and driving accountability.
  4. Eliminate the “reasons.” I think getting rid of “reasons” is, perhaps, the most important key on this list. A wise man once said, “There are two things in life: reasons and results—and reasons don’t count.” Eliminate the reasons and you remove the excuses. Eliminate the excuses and you’ll see better performance. Facts leave no wiggle room—and that’s a good thing.

Are you a data-driven decision maker? Tell us below how you made the transition from trusting your gut to going with the numbers! Want more guidance on data, reporting and management? Join David Spisak for his class The Powers and Pitfalls of Big Data.


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Lindsey Quinn

Automotive Cybersecurity: 4 Steps to Protect Your Dealership


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.

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David Spisak

Is Your Dealership Ready for an Automated Data Management Solution?


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:


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