5 Ways To Ease The Pain Of Your System Conversion!

Does the thought of converting your Dealer Management System scare the heck out of you? It should – if you don’t adopt the old Boy Scouts motto, “Be Prepared.”

Over the past few years, about 50% of my clients have been, or are going through, this potentially painful process and I’ve come to understand that the repercussions of the decision to convert your Management Operating System can be enormous! The good news is that your level of preparedness, before you install a new system, can make the difference between you sleeping nights – or not!  Here’s what you need to do.

I have written on many occasions about how knowledge is power, so it goes without saying I am a huge advocate of having the best system available to operate and manage your business. I’ve been through numerous software conversions in this industry and while some went better than others, they all resulted in varying degrees of sleepless nights. 

I think you’d probably agree that how and what  information you extract from your operating system, dictates your success in making sound business decisions and therefore your profitability.  For example, trying to run a multimillion dollar Motorsport or Marine business on Quick Books just isn’t going to cut it. You need a robust software system that will allow you to input a wide variety of data and retrieve a vast range of meaningful reports on demand to help you make timely, profitable decisions based on facts, not assumptions.

If you’ve already made the decision to invest in a new upgraded management system to run your business, or are seriously thinking about it, here’s a checklist you may want to put under your pillow before you start.

  1. Cost:  Obviously the first thing you’ll want to consider is the cost.  Can you afford the install and how much is it going to cost you on a monthly basis to service  and/or lease the system?
  2. Reporting:  Is the system going to give you the reporting you want and need to effectively manage your business?
  3. Staffing:  Do you have the right staff to manage the operating system?  Not only do you have to consider if you have the right people resources to manage the initial input of data, but more importantly, do you have someone that is technically savvy to work through the conversion and move it forward into day to day use.    The biggest mistake I see dealers make is not having someone capable of working through the set up and nuances of a new system.  It takes a certain level of skill and experience in inventory control and accounting to manage this type of conversion successfully.
  4. Inventory: This is the most important aspect of any conversion!  As the saying goes, “garbage in garbage out”.  Most good operating systems will not let you fudge the numbers, so you may be in for a big surprise.  Before you can embark on a conversion you absolutely must complete a physical inventory.  Okay, so how many of you conduct a thorough physical count of your parts, accessories, new units and used units every fiscal year-end?  Despite the fact that this should be done annually I know that this just doesn’t happen, at least not with every dealer.  I have been witness to significant losses for many dealers in their first year of conversion, primarily because what they thought they had in inventory just wasn’t there.  You’ll need to ask yourself questions such as:  a) How many giveaways go unrecorded?  b) Are all parts provided to the Unit Sales and Service Department recorded?  c) How much theft have I incurred? – Not a pleasant question but a vital one!  Knowing the status of your inventory before you make the conversion can save you a world of hurt financially.
  5. Timing:  The best time for converting your operating system is after you close your year-end. You’ll need a clean cut off that is supported by a physical inventory count.  Typically most dealers conduct their year-end during a slow time of the year so this allows you the time and luxury of working through the usual conversion nightmares.  If feasible, it is also very advantageous to run your new system parallel to the old one for at least a month or two.  This is a great checks and balances procedure and provides you with a back up if you run into significant problems with your new system.

This may all sound very scary but that is good thing. A system conversion is a big decision that requires careful planning and execution. Installing a better operating system is very advantageous if it is going to help you manage you business more effectively and thereby enhance your profitability.

If you are thinking of a new management system and want to discuss your conversion plan and concerns, the pro’s and con’s and what to look out for, then contact me for a free consultation. Oh yes, you’ll also sleep better at night!

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