Cost Analysis, ROI, and Implementation Tips: Does Salesforce Automotive Cloud Make Sense for Your Business?

Author: Johnny Evangelista

Single platform solutions that target industry-specific pain points, like — but automotive dealerships and dealership groups are lagging behind. Why?

Costs vs. ROI and the number of moving parts dealership owners and managers have to deal with are major factors. Things move fast, there are targets to hit, and upgrading individual software components as needed (although they’re often spread across different vendors) seems like the easiest path forward.

As an NADA graduate and former dealership general manager and owner, I understand the day-to-day reality of running a dealership, and what seems easiest isn’t always the best or most profitable option:

  • Software solutions scattered across multiple suppliers create gaps in data and system limitations that hurt a dealership’s ability to stand out
  • Disconnection and inflexibility put dealership groups at a competitive disadvantage against competing dealer groups
  • These issues also have an impact on ROI and the customer experience, which is unfortunately something I learned firsthand due to a gap between my sales and service departments
  • Moving to a single platform solution doesn’t need to be the more difficult option, and when the change is managed correctly the benefits and ROI far outweigh the costs
  • Particularly with a solution like Salesforce Automotive Cloud, whose selling points address some of the industry’s biggest solution concerns
    • E.g., budget-friendly customization and add-ons, automated and accurate reporting, an interface that can be made user-friendly and visually appealing based on whatever a business wants and needs, out-of-the-box industry-specific features, and a platform that has been designed with system integration in mind

That said, deciding on software change comes down to costs vs. ROI and understanding how to successfully transition to a new solution with little disruption.

This blog will provide information about Salesforce Automotive Cloud, as well as guidance to help you calculate costs vs. ROI, and implementation tips for getting the most value possible out of your investment.

Understanding Your Dealership’s Current Costs and Solution Requirements

Figuring out what your current solution costs and what your dealer group’s pain points are will give you a baseline to better understand if Salesforce Automotive Cloud is right for your dealership or dealership group.

  • The size of your business and goals for growth
    • If you have multiple dealerships, a solution that can consolidate data across dealer rooftops and easily scale will have a bigger short- and long-term impact
    • Solution flexibility and user-friendliness will also factor into both ROI and risks — if a solution makes your unique way of doing things easier on top of being easy to use, it’s going to simplify user training and expansion
  • The number of solutions, applications, systems, etc. you are currently using and their associated costs
    • Would moving to a single platform solution like Salesforce Automotive Cloud remove the need for any of those solutions or lower your IT maintenance costs?
    • What percentage of revenue growth would you need to achieve initial ROI and what would that percentage mean for long-term ROI?
    • Would the ability to personalize how you use the data from all of your solutions impact your business?
  • The number of manual processes your teams rely on across all departments
    • Include separate logins and the manual entry of data into different solutions/applications/systems, and the amount of time needed to or look up information for customers, vendors, etc.
      • Report consolidation itself is incredibly time consuming, so be sure to factor in the time it takes to combine, verify, and analyze data from both major systems (e.g., your ERP, CRM, etc.) in addition to smaller add-on applications
    • To get a clearer picture, you can break down processes for individual roles (both the tasks themselves and the time it takes to complete them)
    • Remember any time saved means less use of resources, and time that could be spent on tasks that add more value
    • Replacing manual tasks also removes a major risk — human error
Salesforce Automotive Cloud: The Basics
  • It comes with a lot of tools that allow it to either replace other solutions your dealership is currently using
    • Or work as a base for another solution’s tools and information (e.g., your DMS, desking, etc. solutions) to flow through via integration (meaning no separate logins and more complete data to analyze and use)
    • This is especially useful for automotive, because once other solutions have been integrated you gain the platform’s extensive flexibility and customization options to use the data and tools in whatever way makes sense for your business
  • Salesforce also has products specifically for service operations, marketing, customer portals, etc. — but, again, the platform allows easy integration with existing solutions so that everything works through the platform
    • I’ll touch on this in implementation tips as well, but it’s important to note that this means you can scale the solution at your own pace and use whatever applications and systems you want or need to use
  • As it’s a single platform solution, data is centralized
    • This makes accurate and automated reporting possible, allows for big picture and detailed real-time information at a glance, and provides a massive reduction in the need for manual processes and data entry
    • All of Salesforce products, including Automotive Cloud, offer low or no code configuration
  • This means they’re easy to adapt to your individual dealership or group’s needs, getting rid of the need for expensive customization
    • It’s very important to note that this means you can visually replicate the look and feel that you want for your solution in a budget-friendly way — this is something Diabsolut has done in the past for both user-friendliness and to minimize training time
Salesforce Automotive Cloud: Additional Factors for Your Cost and ROI Analysis

Once you’ve factored in the basics, you can start to add in other benefits and see how they might factor into costs vs. ROI, as well as big picture goals. Salesforce Automotive Cloud’s flexibility means it can meet an exhaustive list of use cases, allowing you to be as creative as you want.

For example, if one of your goals is increasing market share, being able to identify service-not-sold customers to bring more market-share sales in-house is something that will factor into your short- and long-term revenue — and is something the solution is capable of with simple configuration.

Other examples include:

  • Identifying other new sales opportunities, like lower customer payments, lease-over-miles, etc. through equity mining
  • Increasing closing ratios with dealer-specific sales processes (embedded checklists with mandatory checkpoints, ensuring consistency of qualifying questions across reps, easier TO’s or improved desking, etc.)
  • Increasing F&I lost sales and sell more after-delivery F&I products
  • Understanding household customer value in both service and sales to measure goodwill
  • Sourcing more used cars through service-based trade-in identification
  • Reducing obsolete parts and lowering inventory ageing
  • Increasing CSI return percentage to maximize CSI bonuses
  • Runing sales contests for techs, advisors, sales reps and F&I

These benefits are achieved through personalization, connecting data and departments, better data analysis and reporting, standardized processes, and customer-centric operations — all things a single platform solution can help with.

I say help with, because this brings up another important factor when looking at costs and concerns when transitioning to a new solution: implementation.

Salesforce Automotive Cloud — Implementation Tips

Managing the change from one solution to another is always a concern. Time is money, and knowing how to successfully manage that change will always factor into understanding if a solution is a good fit.

Salesforce Automotive Cloud is an entirely different implementation experience from most automotive solutions. Salesforce doesn’t come in, install their solution, train your people, and then leave — they have system implementation partners (SIs), like Diabsolut that ensure a seamless project management experience.

Why? Earlier in this blog I mentioned that Salesforce Automotive Cloud works as a platform for all of your solutions, and because it’s not one-size-fits-all, this means SIs are needed to make sure your solution as a whole is working exactly the way you want it to work.

Change management is one of the things a good SI should provide, as it factors heavily into ROI. To mitigate the risks associated with transitioning to a new solution and ensure full ROI, look for an SI that:

  • Knows your industry
    • Not only will this help with faster time to value, if they know your day-to-day, from the terminology to the challenges your dealership faces, they help make transitioning solutions easier
  • Has user training and change management already factored into their optimized implementation plan
    • If they don’t understand that change management and training factors into ROI, that’s a major red flag
  • Emphasizes meeting your business and peoples’ pain points with user-friendly tools and functionality
    • Anything and everything an SI can do in terms of user friendliness is going to help make user adoption (and training of new users) easier
  • Has extensive experience with integration and makes sure you are getting what you signed up for
  • Looks at out-of-the-box options like templates, configuration, and pre-existing apps and tools first, rather than jumping straight to custom code
    • Case in point, equity mining; we have an accelerator, our Equity Mining tool, which is configuration we’ve worked out ahead of time to allow for easy equity mining of a dealership’s Salesforce Automotive Cloud data — which avoids custom code and high costs
  • Knows how to get the details right — from setting up automated reports for different roles and functions, to ensuring role-based report visibility
Next Steps

If you want more information with your organization’s cost analysis or expected ROI to see if Salesforce Automotive Cloud is right for your dealership or dealership group — contact us.

We’re happy to provide you with support regarding costs and offer any additional information or assistance you might need to find the optimal solution for your business.