Taking BHPH Out Of The Stone Age: Technology Changes How We Do Business

October 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Ryan Linnehan - Also by this author

Did you ever get the feeling that buy here pay here (BHPH) dealers are perceived to be about as technologically advanced as cavemen? I don’t mean the more “evolved” Geico caveman, either. Admittedly, it really wasn’t that long ago that we were keeping track of customers’ payment histories on ledger cards and handwriting contracts based on calculations looked up on rate cards. However, those days seem like light years ago as technology has advanced quite rapidly in our industry recently. Thankfully, BHPH dealers now have access to many more tools than we have ever had before.

Collections. I’ve mentioned before that receivables are normally the largest asset on the balance sheet, so it stands to reason that advancements in technology that benefit this area will likely have the most impact on our bottom line. If you’ve ever spent much time trying to manually calculate principal and interest amounts, due dates, late fees (when applicable), principal reductions, etc., you will definitely appreciate how nice it is to have the entire process automated. These days, a customer’s payment can be recorded with just a few clicks and keystrokes. In a seamless and fully integrated dealer management system (DMS), the information will automatically be directed to the appropriate accounts in the general ledger, as well as the bank reconciliation section.  

Remember, the fewer places that require manual input the fewer human errors. The ideal DMS will automate as much of the data entry as possible. For example, when a guest’s information is initially entered as a prospect, that information should automatically filter through to all other places where it would be needed without having to re-input the information each time. Or when a vehicle is purchased at auction, the appropriate journal entries should be made automatically, as well as instantly updating the checkbook, receivables and other affected areas. This will drastically reduce the amount of errors in data entry, as well as minimize the overhead expense associated with redundant data entry into multiple programs.

Cash. Cash flow is certainly important in any industry, but particularly in the BHPH niche of the auto industry. Your checkbook balances can change in a hurry in this business. Reviewing your monthly bank statement just isn’t enough to completely get your arms around your business. Most successful owners want to review their cash flow situation DAILY, if not several times each day. There have been too many sad stories about dealers who were selling lots of cars and were even showing a profit on paper, but neglected to watch their cash and quickly found themselves out of business.

Your ideal DMS should provide you instant access to your current cash flow situation any time you want it. Again, this is of crucial importance to dealers that are involved in BHPH and need the assistance of software to manage their accounts to ensure that they are maximizing the amount of cash collected, while hopefully minimizing the amount of charge offs. Instant integration with accounting is a huge plus to your collections, as you analyze cash flow information.

Cars. Next to advertising, probably no other area of the dealership is ran as much “by the seat of your pants” as inventory management. Technology that can analyze your inventory levels, especially in relation to your sales history, can be invaluable. They provide you with information regarding which models sell fastest, which vehicles gross the best and which are prone to overage thus helping you better manage your inventory. Having this information easily accessible to you could help add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your bottom line by maximizing your inventory management.

Compliant Closings. Another critical area that technology can assist with is loan closing. By having a fully functional, compliant, and user-friendly deal writer/loan closing module that encompass all of the calculations necessary to generate accurate numbers on all the appropriate paperwork needed to execute a vehicle purchase several compliance issues are eliminated or minimized and a tremendous amount of time is saved in the process.

I would hate to have to go back to hand-written (or even–typed) paperwork, particularly with all of the complex calculations needed to provide accurate paperwork and help keep your company compliant. Again, if the chances of human error and the time needed to generate the paperwork can be reduced by an automated DMS that is fully integrated, the satisfaction level of you and your customers will go through the roof!

When you consider the technology needed to handle each aspect of the sale, delivery and collection process it’s easy to see how having separate software programs to handle each of these areas could have you drowning in technology very quickly. Utilizing a system that integrates as many of those modules as possible will pay major dividends. The most successful BHPH dealers will continue to harness the best technology available, which will help us move from the Stone Age into the 21st Century.

Vol 5, Issue 9

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