Dealership Operations Reporting

As a retail automotive CFO I struggle with ways to get General Managers and Department Managers to take the time to read and digest important operating information. In the automobile dealership (as in most other businesses) it is not only what we report that is important, but how we report it. In the dealerships our management team needs to spend most of their time where the action is, not in their offices analyzing reports.

As retail automotive CFOs the end game is to influence our management team's performance through our strategic reporting of operating information.

Types of Operating Reports

Typically the operating reports we issue include the following types of information about an individual, team or store's performance:

  • Revenue Generating Performance
    • For example, Unit Sales & Gross Profit Revenue, F&I Penetrations and Per Unit Revenue, Repair Order Effective Labor Rates and Hours Per RO
  • Asset Management Performance (amounts and aging of assets they control)
    • For example, Over-aged Used Vehicle Inventory, Parts Obsolescence, Contracts in Transit Days Sales
  • Market Performance.
    • For example, Geographic Market Share, Demographic Market Share
  • Human Resources Related Information.
    • For example, Employees due for Performance Review, Employees due for Compensation Review, Employees with Excessive Over Time Compensation
  • Compliance Related Information.
    • For example, Open Recalls on Vehicle Inventory, Employees that haven't completed their OSHA training

Included in this list could be Accounting Related Reports but that is for another time. There are wonderful things we can do to make the review of accounting data (in the CDK dealership) more efficient (and more pleasant) which I will cover in subsequent blog posts.

Effective Reporting

In the past many of us have printed reports on paper and handed them out at meetings. Reports handed out at a meeting tend to have the same importance as the person calling the meeting (as long as they take ownership of the reports). Some meeting attendees will read the reports during the meeting, some will read them after the meeting and some won't read them at all. Currently, we seem to prepare the same reports but in order to save paper, we print them to PDF and email them around as attachments either before or after the meeting. In my experience, there are a few important points or "ifs" that drive whether or not a report will be reviewed and be effective:

  • If the delivery or circumstances directing the delivery is effective at interrupting or garnering the attention of the manager.
    1. One of the reasons reports get reviewed at meetings is because they interrupt the attendee and grab their attention (if only for a minute).
    2. Contests are an example of very effective circumstances directing delivery. I have automated key performance reporting via text message in contest situations at varying frequencies. They always get read and understood!
  • If the manager is aware of the distribution list.
    1. It makes a difference if a manager knows that their superiors and peers are reading the same report.
    2. For example, if my operating results are reported (and ranked) with my peers in other departments or other dealerships, I will naturally start trying to beat the others. As I have mentioned in previous posts, with competitive ranking, everyone improves. Even the person on the bottom.
  • If the report is easy to read and is aesthetically pleasing.
    1. Reports can't be too busy.
    2. Consider the following criteria, for example, to determine the best reporting system for the report:
      • The information to be presented.
      • The frequency of the report.
      • The data connection if any.
      • The ease of refreshing the data.
      • How the report will be delivered.
    3. The reporting medium currently available include (and there are many more):
      • Voice
      • Text
      • HTML
      • Excel
      • Word
      • Excel PowerPivot
      • Excel PowerView
      • Tableau
      • PowerBI
      • PowerApps
      • PowerPoint
  • If the information is correct and verifiable.
    1. For example, ranking salespeople on some performance data such as total counts, commissionable gross and New to Used ratio, I will pull the data out of CDK using FI-WIP (if I am using RPG) or ed.vehiclesales_v (if I am using DDA).
    2. I will then use an Excel Pivot Table with expand and collapse buttons to show (if clicked) all the deals making up the performance data reported for each salesperson. The data is easily verifiable with the help of the F&I Manager who capped the deal.
  • If the presentation (delivery) system is effective and secure.
    1. Reporting systems are the way in which the report is prepared and presentation systems are how the report is delivered or provided to the recipient.
    2. Security is a key factor in the presentation system. Security may not be key in the reporting system unless the reporting system is not compatible with any secure presentation system.
      • Is the nature of the information reported not a security concern?
        • For example, a listing of over-aged used vehicle inventory by dealership without VIN and customer information would not be a security concern in my opinion.
      • If the information reported is of a sensitive nature:
        • Can only the intended recipients initially access the report?
        • Can the report be forwarded?
        • Can the report be modified in its original presentation system?
        • Can the report be copied?
        • Can the report be copied and distributed in another way?
        • Can the report be copied, modified and distributed in another way?
    3. Interactivity is a key factor in the effectiveness of a presentation system. If the system engages the recipient by allowing them to "slice and dice" the data, all the better.
    4. Examples of presentation (delivery) systems:
      • Verbally
      • Paper
      • Email Attachment
      • Text Message
      • Body of an Email
      • Amazon Alexa/Google and other interactive voice technologies
      • Intranet Website
      • World Wide Web Website
      • SharePoint Business Intelligence Features
      • PowerBI
      • Tableau Online
      • Excel Online
      • Word Online
      • PowerPoint Online
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