Seven years ago, Del Grande Dealer Group was as far away from digitized as possible. Daily sales numbers, old automaker statements, payroll, inventory reporting and pricing mechanisms for new and used cars were mostly compiled by hand, recalled CEO Jeremy Beaver.
"We felt like there were a lot of inefficiencies in data integration," Beaver told Automotive News. "It would take hours to calculate a spreadsheet and send it out to the organization."
Beaver hired Jagdish Rajan to help solve the problem. As Del Grande's first-ever chief technology officer, he was charged with modernizing how the group gathered and used its data to make daily operations and processes more efficient. That mission has succeeded on multiple levels, Beaver said, thanks to Rajan and his team's creation of what's known as a data lake — a virtual repository that holds massive amounts of data from multiple sources in the organization, which has stores across Northern California.
Using that massive data source (filled in part with data supplied by dealership management system company CDK Global), Rajan and his now nine-person information technology team — composed of a project manager, product manager, user experience/user interface designer and six offshore developers — have come up with technology to help eliminate time-consuming steps in both back office and front office functions. That has reaped benefits, from more efficient sale lead generation to tools that Del Grande hopes to monetize with other dealerships and partners in the future, Beaver said.
"From a productivity standpoint ... people now can see all of the data real time on where productivity lies, and that, again, is in every facet of our business, anything from head count, productivity to product sold, to finance reporting, to technician efficiency," Beaver said.
That lets employees adjust practices quickly.
"There are a lot of performance-driven metrics," he said.