Article

Eliminate Chaos In Accounting

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by David Keller, CPA, CFE - Also by this author

If you are dealing with organized chaos in your accounting office, its time evaluate where the real problem lies. It could be inadequacy of your accounting staff, lack of proper training, your software system(s), other dealership personnel or even you! I know it seems unlikely, but it does happen. The dealer should provide the work environment, personnel, training and tools necessary for the accounting department to complete their work. If you have chaos, something is missing.
A good place to begin looking for your missing link is to look for bottlenecks in the paper flow of the dealership. Are issues caused at the origination of the paperwork or in the accounting office? Remember that most data, which the accounting office is responsible for recording, is history which someone else created. Therefore, they have to understand and correctly record transactions even when they weren’t involved in the initial transaction.
 
When your accounting department asks for help to understand what happened with a transaction, take the time to do two things:
 
(1) Get them the answers they need to record the transaction correctly.
 
(2) Find the root of the problem and make necessary corrections so that it doesn’t happen again.

Yes, this may mean you have to twist a few arms. However, it is necessary to follow essential procedures that are in the best interest of your dealership, so paperwork can be properly completed. Repeat the process as often as necessary to create the proper habits.

Hold a meeting with your accounting personnel and accountant to find workable solutions to bottlenecks in your store. Make sure everyone knows what their duties are and when they need to be completed. By installing the proper procedures and policies, you can enhance the paperwork flow throughout your dealership. You have to impress upon all dealership personnel the importance of complete, accurate paperwork forwarded timely to the accounting office. This lets everyone know you will be investigating any bottlenecks and alleviating them so the system doesn’t slow down or come to a stand-still. If the original transactions are completed correctly, a properly trained accounting department should not have any problems accurately recording the data in your DMS.

You should have systematic, ongoing training in place for your accounting personnel so they can understand not only the intricacies of your DMS, but the accounting transactions as well. Enlist the help of your accountant and meet regularly to determine what your accounting personnel are lacking so that your staff can work efficiently with the rest of the dealership and maximize the use of the DMS.

Beyond bottlenecks and personnel, investigate whether the system hardware -- the network, computers, printers, etc. -- you use are up-to-date and can accomplish various accounting tasks efficiently so employees aren’t kept waiting. Meet with your personnel and ask them what problems they regularly experience. The involvement of your IT staff can assist you in resolving reported problems in a timely manner. You don’t need the latest and best equipment, but it does have to be sufficient to do the job.

Another problem that can contribute to chaos is the lack of integration. Most dealers use more than one software system which necessitates integration. Lack of integration drains your staff of their most valuable asset: time. Each time your personnel have to duplicate data entry, you increase the possibility of errors and issues. Find out how to get different systems to work together. Have your vendors talk to each other to work out the bugs. Remember, no software system will ever be perfect. Work with your software vendors and recommend improvements that will help you and your accountant get data recorded accurately and timely. You should realize some changes or enhancements you request, however small they might seem to you, may require extensive programming from the vendor.

Stand back, and look around your dealership. Where is the chaos created in your dealership? What comments and complaints have you heard? What changes to do you need to make? Make a complete list. Next, prioritize the list. Have your personnel make their own lists. Remember, these lists must consist of positive changes that will improve the entire dealership. Then, review the results.
 
By taking a closer look at every piece of the process in your accounting office, you can take a step toward eliminating the chaos one issue at a time.
 
Vol. 3, Issue 7

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