Marc Boonen, Director
Running a profitable automotive dealership business isn’t a walk in the park in the fast-paced business world. It takes more than having a passion for automobiles; dealers must know the market, sales, trending technologies, skills to capture vehicles, inventory information, manage operations and workflows, and importantly attract new clients. However, most dealers struggle to carry out smooth operations because of their existing, siloed systems that lack integration across interdepartmental workflows. The documentation process is also done through a paper-based approach, which is time-consuming and prone to errors. Consequently, dealers are under much pressure to increase profit margins and reduce administration costs. As dealers look for a robust Dealer Management System (DMS) to address these issues and help them manage the entire dealership business efficiently, Bornem-based Automotive Systems emerge as a reliable partner that offers IT products to car dealers as well as the importer of the brand for hassle-free management of all the dealership business operations at all times.
Rise of Automation Systems
Before the genesis of Automotive Systems— Marc Boonen, Director, ran a support department for dealers with multi-brand imports. In time, his team began to make some critical observations regarding the shortcomings of the dealership space.
They noticed that most dealership management systems (DMS) were not well equipped to provide an overview of all the operations taking place across various departments. They also witnessed how dealers got caught between a salvo of new legislations or irregularities in automobile rates that small-time DMS providers might not have known. The domino effect of these realizations led the team to identify the need for a comprehensive, mature and supported Dealer Management System (DMS)– something that automobile dealers were not privy to. Thus, Automotive Systems was born in 2011.
Today, Automotive Systems is well-positioned as an independent dealer management company, offering a holistic platform with state-of-the-art IT products and support to car dealers. The company’s DMS, iReach, is an integrated ERP system designed to capture customer, vehicle and inventory information. It covers pre-sales, vehicle sales, service, CRM, accounting and workflow automation with alerts. “Based on our expansive knowledge of the dealership industry, we have developed iReach, which allows all automobile dealers to monitor their operations 24/7,” states Marc Boonen. Importantly, it does not require any other external system to be supported. Because of this complete integration, Automotive Systems is in control and does not depend on external parties in case of any issues and allows them to react instantly and deliver several standard KPI’s that enable the dealer to monitor his activity.
Every module on the platform—right from sales, shop, workshops, accounting functions, and more—is integrated and in sync with each other. This architecture helps advocate paperless workflows while offering great shop management utility, exceptional sales services, and dynamic workshop management services—all through one consolidated platform.
The Power of a Strong DMS
Typically, DMS systems come in various models such as Sales, Shop, Workshop, etc.
These systems need an accounting package, which calls for an external application. On the contrary, iReach’s cutting-edge accounting module includes all of the standard items, such as financial functions, manuals, and VAT statements, along with administrative documentation concerning suppliers and clients. The accounting module monitors all other modules and quickly generates reports using Microsoft Excel sheets, detailing the results of each department connected to the budgets allocated. As a result, dealers no longer need an external accountant or any accounting expertise. The philosophy of the company’s DMS is based on accountancy around all the activities in the dealership. It is triggered automatically when there is a change. “For instance, if a stock correction is registered in the warehouse, the value of that correction is automatically registered and reflected in the platform, and can be accessed anytime by the authorized person,” explains Marc Boonen.
The unique factor that sets iReach apart from any other DMS is how the platform automatically performs all of those financial operations, saving copious amounts of valuable time. In addition to these valuable features and advanced functionalities, iReach’s ability to comply with the general ledger accounts of other European countries is one of the quintessential factors that provide Automotive Systems with an edge over its competition. No matter where the dealers operate from, they always get to use the same accountancy procedures. And, since every country has its legacy of accounting procedures, Automotive Systems has standardized its accounting module to provision standard reporting in compliance with the official general ledger accounts of the country in question. Another notable aspect of iReach is that car dealers can access the application and connect to the manufacturer’s system in three languages French, Dutch and English.
Automotive Systems also installs and provides support for hardware using its high-quality equipment to avoid any unpleasant surprises. They offer a maintenance contract which covers all services, ensuring continuous operation. The hardware parts are provided to dealers who only want to have a single point of contact.
A Path Toward Better Dealer Experience
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Automotive Systems has helped numerous customers over the years. Among a surfeit of success stories, Marc Boonen recalls a case where an automotive dealer had implemented a DMS designed by one of Automotive Systems’ competitors based on the recommendation of their peers in the industry. Four months later, the dealer contacted Automotive Systems again to admit that he made a mistake by implementing any other DMS and wanted Automotive Systems to re-implement iReach in his dealership business and regain the lost efficiency. “Today, that customer is managing multiple brands at multiple sites. He told us that, had it not been iReach, it would not have been possible to expand their business in a short period,” affirms Marc Boonen.
In another instance, Automotive Systems helped Toyota Belgium in solving their fragmented DMS landscape. Automotive Systems’ iReach ensured that the dealer could run his dealership much faster and more efficiently and focus more on managing his business. The concise and clear reporting that iReach generates ensures that distributors can easily guide the dealer better, resulting in improved profitability for both actors. “We have been working together for more than ten years now, and our experience shows that thanks to their practical knowledge of the business, we have made the right choice for both the dealer network and we as Toyota Belgium,” says Vincent Lenclus, BI and Business Manager Finance Department, Toyota Belgium.
We will continue to enable dealers in effortlessly managing all aspects of their dealership by leveraging our optimized DMS, and be in total control of their operations
Automotive Systems’ DMS is also used by Garage Pirsch, a renowned distributor of Mazda in Luxembourg. In 2004, Pirsch started the distribution for the brand Ford. Ford obliged them to use a Ford certified DMS. However, after a few weeks of implementing the selected DMS, Pirsch had to stop using it because there were too many errors and problems. At that moment, Automotive Systems presented their new DMS iReach and based on their excellent relationship with them, Pirsch requested them to apply for certification at Ford. The development started in August 2008, and all interfaces were in place around August 2009. “The Automotive Systems team is a team of professionals, a mix of different qualifications that gives us also an added value. The software is very stable and robust. Since we use it, we have not had any downtime caused by the software,” states Ernest Pirsch, Director Garage Pirsch.
iReach is also distributed in Switzerland by e-Car Distribution Sàrl. “The biggest challenge for us has been to bring the iReach product up to Swiss standards so that they meet the accounting and VAT requirements knowing that the European system is very different from the one we have in Switzerland. Automotive Systems gave us all its energy to certify the product for Switzerland in accounting matters.” By deploying iReach, the distributor has generated high precision cost accounting figures. “Working hand in hand with them for many years for other software products, Automotive Systems didn’t need to convince us because when you meet professionals like Automotive Systems, you can only be privileged to work with them.” explains Claude-Alain De Blasio.
Automotive Systems also helped CAR Avenue in train their staff about the new procedures while ensuring that essential data related to the vehicle's after-sales history was retained. Automotive Systems became their reliable partner by understanding their needs and implementing systems quickly and qualitatively in different subsidiaries, respecting the legal requirements. By partnering with Automotive Systems, CAR Avenue was able to improve sales and better monitor commercial campaigns and outstanding warranty.
Building on their esteemed reputation and credible client engagements, Automotive Systems is charting the roadmap for days to come with a zeal for innovation. There are ongoing developments pertaining to workshops, warehouse-specific mobile applications, and KPI-based analysis tools to allow dealers to delve deeper into business-critical information. When it comes to geographical expansion, the company is active in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. “Amid growing pressure on dealer margins and rising costs of dealership administrations, we will continue to enable dealers in effortlessly managing all aspects of their dealership by leveraging our optimized DMS, and be in total control of their operations,” concludes Marc Boonen.