NEW ORLEANS -- Software for dealership service departments typically lacks cool.
But this year dealers and their staffs swarmed exhibitors that offered service write-up apps, smart Web sites and other fixed-ops software. The technology is designed to boost profits, throughput and customer satisfaction.
Dealers aren't standing still just because annual vehicle sales have rebounded above 15 million units, said Bobbie Herron, digital sales and marketing director for Garber Automotive in Saginaw, Mich.
"Everybody is focused on doing things better," said Herron, who was getting a demonstration of service department applications offered by VinSolutions, an arm of the AutoTrader Group.
Dealertrack Technologies, which recently announced it was buying digital-marketing giant Dealer.com, earned at least two unofficial titles at the show: busiest booth and biggest party.
During peak afternoon times on Saturday and Sunday, dealers crowded around to see Dealertrack's latest versions of dealer management system software, inventory-management tools and financial services software.
The wait gave patrons time to buy $50 raffle tickets for a chance to win a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray auctioned by Dealertrack to benefit wounded veterans and other charities. The raffle gained steam at the party that Dealertrack threw for 2,500 guests at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.
Dealertrack met its goal to raise $100,000 for the Brees Dream Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana.