After years of adding third-party components piece by piece to an old customer relationship management system, Chris Vester reached an inescapable conclusion. The system — used by Hubert Vester Auto Group's five dealerships in eastern North Carolina — had been, in a word, Frankensteined.
Like Gothic-author Mary Shelley's legendary creature, which was sewn together from disparate body parts, the system lurched along, unable to operate fluidly or fulfill its potential. It was so cumbersome to operate, Vester says, that employees avoided using it whenever possible, depriving the group's Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet and Nissan dealerships of many efficiencies it was designed to achieve.
All that changed in December 2016 when the company invested in a new cloud-based system called CRMSuite, developed by CRMSuite Corp. Under terms of a licensing agreement announced in March, the product now is sold by Dominion Dealer Solutions under the brand name Dominion Vision.
The results? Since late 2016, the closing rate on Internet sales leads jumped to an average of 23 percent per month, up from 9 percent previously. The industry average is around 15 percent, said Vester, citing National Automobile Dealers Association statistics.
It's hard to determine how much of that increase stems from the system itself, he told Automotive News. But one thing is certain: CRMSuite makes it easier for salespeople to follow the dealerships' internal processes. "We intrinsically know it's having a positive impact on our bottom line," he said.
Vester is COO of the auto group and co-owns two of the dealerships with his father, Hubert, who founded the company and is sole owner of the other three stores. Chris Vester's conviction that his dealerships' operations needed to be customer-centric led to a determination to build those operations around the customer relationship management system — which meant having a workable system.