Commercial transportation dealers face many challenges on a daily basis – loads of competition, a customer base with evolving needs, economic forces that affect commercial vehicle purchases, various supply-chain issues, and the challenges of operating a business with high supply costs — just to name a few.
Dealers don’t need the additional challenge of dealing with the minutiae of running the business, particularly the large volumes of paper that accompanies every transaction. Besides sales receipts and invoices, there are title and lease applications, warranty claims, parts orders, repair orders, maintenance records, credit applications, technical manuals and a plethora of other documents – and that’s just for customers and the dealership. There are numerous employee records as well – such as job applications, tax documentation and performance information.
By employing enterprise content management, commercial transportation dealers can have easier access to documentation from different locations, have improved efficiency, reduced or eliminated physical storage needs via the ability to digitize records, enhanced security and compliance, as well as improved customer service.
Enterprise content management systems help optimize dealer transaction workflow by enabling authorized personnel to upload or access documentation from different departments or from entirely different dealership locations via simple browser-based access. There’s no need to travel from one department to another or from one location to another.
In a traditional, paper-based system, employees can waste several hours each week filing, searching for, and retrieving documents. Any time a paper document is moved, it increases the probability that it is lost or misfiled, meaning even more time wasted on shuffling paper, rather than focusing on the business of selling and servicing vehicles.
An ECM system enables commercial transportation dealers to efficiently store, route and access documents. The system uses simple browser-based access that enables users to locate documents through simple searches, so authorized users can quickly access and retrieve the information, even if the document is several years old.
Each sale or service transaction generates multiple documents – many of which must be kept for several years to comply with business requirements and some DMV rules. Records are created every time vehicles are serviced and when warranties are involved, as well as information on first-time and repeat service and sales customers as well as employee records. The longer and more successful the dealership is, the more documents generated. By storing documents electronically, dealers can eliminate the space requirements and expense of physical storage, freeing up valuable real estate for other needs.
With documents readily available with just a couple of mouse clicks, ECM enables commercial transportation dealers to quickly and easily find information, for improved responsiveness. Employees aren’t in the back office tied up waiting for necessary documents, so they can spend more time addressing customer questions and making the sale.
Digital documents are encrypted, making them more secure than a paper document, which can be misplaced or stolen, and this ensures that sensitive customer and financial information are kept confidential. Security settings provide permission-based access, so only authorized personnel can see and retrieve information, which is important not only for the customer information, but also for document exchange among dealerships and auditors and to ensure security of employee records and compliance with legal and privacy regulations.
While the benefits of ECM are clear, not all systems are alike. There are certain features that further enhance the usability of these solutions as well as the return on investment.
To provide the most immediate benefit for commercial transportation dealers, an enterprise content management system needs to be able to interface seamlessly with dealer management software, which is an essential business system to drive daily dealer operations.
Active Directory Integration (LDAP) enables users to access details such as work orders, customer data, invoice and other information directly from an integrated ECM system without the wasted time and complexity of logging into each system separately.
Similarly, the ECM system needs to be able to work smoothly with accounting, ERP, CRM and other systems dealers use to operate their businesses, so that efficiencies aren’t lost in the process of re-entering data from one system into another.
As well, it’s important that the ECM system has an interface that is easy to use, with familiar Google-style search capabilities so that sales, human resources, servicing and other departments can use it intuitively, without enduring the long learning curve that complex systems can entail.
DocStar ECM is tightly integrated with the Karmak dealer management system, which direct upload of DocStar ECM AP Automation data into Karmak Fusion. DocStar ECM captures both paper and digital invoices, using Intelligent Data Capture and Optical Character Recognition technology. Invoices can be routed to approvers based on the organizational business rules desired, and approvers can review and approve or rejected invoices within DocStar ECM or the DocStar ECM mobile app. Once approved, the transactional data for the payable is automatically uploaded to Karmak Fusion. Operational efficiency is achieved by leveraging information through the entire business cycle without requiring redundant and error-prone data entry.
Lee-Smith, Inc. is the Southeast’s largest locally owned commercial truck dealer for International, Ford and Isuzu trucks. The dealership selected DocStar enterprise content management with an integration to its existing Karmak dealer management system. This integration creates a seamless connection between the two systems, adding productivity and cost savings. A browser-based user interface, including single sign-on, is deployed across all workstations. Employees have easy access to Karmak information such as work orders, customer data and invoices without having to log into two different systems.
“We’ve eliminated at least 70 percent of our file cabinets and are working toward eliminating at least another 20 percent. By the time we are done [with the implementation], we will virtually eliminate our paper storage costs and paper-related expenses,” said Jeff Berger, vice president of Business Operations & Technology, Lee-Smith, Inc.
What’s more, with this new integrated solution in place, Lee-Smith has improved overall productivity for both staff and management, and the system has built-in flexibility to scale and add new functionality as needed.
By deploying enterprise content management with DMS integration, commercial transportation dealers can improve their overall efficiency and achieve better operational and financial outcomes.