Driving Change in Today's Car Dealerships

Virginia-based company uses mix of smartphones and tablets to enhance communications and operations.

By on June 14, 2013

A secret to success for an automobile business can be found in the second half of that word – “mobile.”

Cameron Johnson, president of Magic City Ford Lincoln in Roanoke, VA, says bringing mobile technology to his team of more than 100 employees improved the workflow of his dealership’s sales and service operations. 

“We saw the value in mobile technology when it came to appraising vehicles. The old process took a lot of time. We had to write down the VIN#, go back to the office, log into the PC then pull up the value guides to see what that particular vehicle is worth. Now we scan the VIN# with our Verizon Wireless devices.”

Johnson said his team uses a specific app that provides a specialized report that includes all of the options on the vehicle; the Carfax or AutoCheck report on the vehicle and how much similar vehicles are selling for at auction.

Johnson equipped his team with smartphones, tablets and added the Push-to-Talk (PTT) feature on PTT capable basic phones to provide associates with improved team communication that they can use on the show floor, in the garage or when on the road. He said he chose the Verizon Wireless network because of strong and expansive coverage.

Having the right mobile tools and the ability to check and provide answers is a plus – especially when there is a mix of more than 500 new and pre-owned vehicles at any given time on the dealership lot which extends over 15 acres, he said.

“Smartphones and tablets along with several key apps have helped us in the appraising process when we are buying vehicles at an auction,” said Johnson. “Our salespeople can see our inventory from whatever device they are using while on the lot with customers. When the senior management team is traveling, they are able to keep up with the business activities and have a dashboard view of how the dealership is running.”

Johnson said he’s even added tablets to the service lounge for customers while they wait for their vehicle. “Mobile technology is the engine that lets us accomplish more in less time and gives us information at our fingertips, which enables us to make better decisions,” added Johnson. “One tip I can offer to small businesses is that an investment in technology pays dividends in multiples.”