Of the seven vendors covered by the survey, three did a better job of satisfying their dealership customers than they did in 2005 and four did a poorer job.
Automotive Computer Services Inc. was the only vendor to hit NADA's 90 percent satisfaction goal. ACS's 90 percent satisfaction rating was up from 74 percent in the 2005 survey.
"We decided two years ago that we were going to be No. 1 in 2007," says Van Koppersmith, ACS president. "We worked very hard to make sure that we did everything possible to make our customers happy. Apparently we did."
ACS, of Mobile, Ala., started a customer newsletter, began Web-based training and review sessions and contacted dealers who had called ACS with a problem to make certain that the dealer was satisfied with the resolution, Koppersmith says.
Reynolds and Reynolds Co.'s customer satisfaction rating dipped to 79 percent, from 85 percent in the 2005 survey. Reynolds, the industry leader in terms of installed dealer management systems, was acquired last fall by Bob Brockman's Universal Computer Systems Inc.
ADP Dealer Services, the industry's second-largest company, had a dealership satisfaction rating of 78 percent, from 74 percent in 2005.
Auto/Mate Dealership Systems, Arkona Inc. and ADAM Systems all experienced lower satisfaction ratings than in 2005. ADAM had the lowest satisfaction rating of the bunch at 73 percent, from a 75 percent rating two years ago. Close behind was Arkona at 74 percent, from 82 percent previously.
Sandi Jerome, a dealership technology consultant turned dealership management system developer, says customer satisfaction goes beyond offering dealers a lower price.
Jerome notes that two vendors with bargain-priced systems had lower satisfaction ratings than the much pricier Reynolds and ADP systems.
NADA's IT committee commissioned the survey to determine dealership satisfaction with vendors. The committee's goal was to help improve the quality of dealership management systems that vendors lease to dealers.
The survey was based on 995 telephone interviews that Friedman-Swift Associates, an automotive research firm in Cincinnati, conducted during June and July.