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Category: News

What is Pinewood SA doing to safeguard your data?

Disaster Recovery, or DR, is always an important subject when moving to any new system. We’ve all had the experience of a cell phone going missing and losing all our photos, or a hard drive crashing and losing our precious documents. But the stakes are much higher when the very survival of a business depends on the success or failure of the DR process. Just to put your minds at ease: Pinewood SA has invested heavily to ensure that there are multiple ways in which your data is backed up, to cover any and every potential eventuality.

Pinewood DMS is hosted at the Telkom Cybernest Data Centre in Bellville, Cape Town. The Data Centre itself is state-of-the-art, and has been awarded ‘Tier 4’ status. This requires it to have:

  • Multiple independent distribution paths serving the IT equipment
  • All IT equipment must be dual-powered and fully compatible with the topology of a site’s architecture
  • All cooling equipment is independently dual-powered, including chillers and heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Fault-tolerant site infrastructure with electrical power storage and distribution facilities with expected availability of 99.995%

This means the allowable downtime for the data centre itself is only 26 minutes per year!

The environment in which your data is hosted is top notch, but what about the data itself? All-in-all, Pinewood DMS is backed up 4 times.

  • The Pinewood DMS servers are virtualised in a cluster. This effectively means that if one or more servers go down, there will be absolutely no impact on your business, as Pinewood DMS is passed seamlessly to another server within the cluster.
  • SQL Server Transaction Log Shipping is used to back-up all the data to standalone DR servers every 15 minutes. In the event that the whole cluster fails, these DR servers will take over.
  • Data Protection Manager (DPM) backs up data from the Live servers (nightly)
  • DPM backs up data to the Microsoft Azure Cloud (nightly) from DPM01

 

Your data is your business. Let us at Pinewood SA look after it and join the #PinewoodDMSFamily.

Walk Toward the Pressure and Detect Opportunity

Whilst we are all feeling the pinch of the constant rise in living costs and await a turn in our economy, we at Pinewood chose to walk toward the pressure and try detect gaps of opportunity, and as an auto dealership you can too. Here are some fairly straightforward ideas –

1. Customer service is key

Meeting customers’ wants and needs is a given but in addition, they must feel valued. Such value can be attained by gaining a better insight into who your customer really is by connecting with them on social media platforms to transform customer experiences to that of a personal nature. This applies particularly to fixed operations such as the service department which proves a stressful experience for most clients. By providing a smooth-sailing and value for money service experience, your dealership will become the preferred point of contact owing to word-of-mouth through your satisfied patrons.

You can use the information you obtain from your connection with your customer to enlighten your sales staff on the most appropriate follow-up approach by having insight into customers’ actual interests. Instead of sending them irrelevant promotions, you can find alternative methods to make them feel valued.

2. Take stock 

Maintaining the correct stock levels is vital. This can simply be achieved by ensuring your dealership stocks an adequate supply of high-demand vehicles and parts and avoiding an excess of vehicles and parts that are not as easy to move. This may seem obvious, but it requires constant evaluation and insight into consumer buying behaviours, keeping on top of current industry trends and restocking at appropriate times. Moreover, it’s imperative to assess exactly what your dealership requires in order to function efficiently with minimal expenses and wastage. While new tools and technologies maybe tempting to acquire, their return on investment must be evaluated. In addition, existing tools and systems should be audited for upgrades and optimisation.

3. Employee Appreciation

In many cases, your staff members are the face (and force) of your business, so it will serve you in good stead if you recognise and reward their efforts. Not only will this motivate them to continue their high-quality levels of work to reach your monthly objectives, but you will be able to retain your staff in an industry infamous for high employee turnover rates.

4. Have a proficient omni-channel offering

To remain competitive in this ever-increasing digital world, it’s essential that you provide an updated and user-friendly online offering. A study recently conducted by Ipsos, the largest survey-based research company worldwide, discovered that there will be triple the number of online South African consumers in the upcoming years, thereby demonstrating the importance of a strong online presence. As a dealer, you must ensure that your omni-channel offerings are consistent with consumer buying patterns and that you meet your market’s needs at every touch point – from mobile to desktop, to the bricks and mortar store.

5. Invest in Training

Our changing industry requires new skills and more efficient ways of doing business. Diligence in this area of your dealership should prevail. Ensure that your staff are trained to perform their job, and ensuring training is engaging and results-oriented. The right training yields positive results for your staff; they will feel empowered and partake with fervour, giving your business a one up on competitors that have denied their staff efficient training in the downtimes in an attempt to save on costs.

The Consumer-Driven Market

The Future of Auto Dealerships

Revolutionise your Dealership by Embracing Diversity and Innovation

SMS Marketing Tips – Bring Revenue to your Doorstep

Let’s face it, there aren’t many people without mobile phones, and that number can be drastically reduced when looking at your target market. The great thing about SMS Marketing is that half the job is already done for you. With 97% of SMS’s being read within 15 minutes of receipt, the only thing left for you to do is grab your customer’s attention.

Brand Image

The first thing to consider when sending out any form of communication, is your brand image. It is highly important to identify your business to avoid the “spam treatment”. In addition, we live in a fast paced world where time is valuable, which means that you will have to work hard to get your customers attention. Providing readers with a brief, focused script is the most promising start to an effective SMS Marketing Campaign. A hint of fluff in your content can make your readers delete your SMS faster than you can send it. If it looks like spam, sounds like spam – then it’s probably spam.

Write Clear Content

Get to the point: You have a limited amount of characters to express yourself. Do it in less if you can. Make sure the message is clear and concise. Avoid abbreviations and all caps.

Providing immediate value should be the primary goal for any Marketing Campaign, therefore it is important to understand your customers wants, needs and what makes them feel special.

Furthermore, use GIFTS for your content to impulse your customers.
G – Greed (“Book today and also get a free engine clean.”)
I – Indifference (“Feel free to use this coupon”)
F – Fear of loss (“offer valid till 30 September”)
T – Tone: It is important to read into the tone of your SMS Campaign.
S – Sheep Factor (“We have polished 112 vehicles this week alone!”)

Call-to-Action Buttons

Call-to-action buttons increase customer engagement with your SMS marketing texts and that’s exactly what you want from them. Encourage your customers to respond to you by the use of email, website and telephone links.

Focus on Your Loyal Customers

Your loyal customers are your best customers, who buy consistently from you, who give you valuable feedback, and who promote your brand to their friends and family. Identify those customers and pay special attention to their wants and needs.

By using the guidelines from this article, you will improve customer engagement, integrate effectively with other marketing channels and get much higher conversion rates.

Pinnacle SMS Functionality

The Consumer-Driven Market

The Future of Auto Dealerships

 

The Consumer-Driven Market

Technology, particularly social media, has revolutionised the face of the automotive industry, creating a more informed and discerning consumer than ever before. To remain viable in this volatile marketplace requires innovative means for dealers to better identify with their consumers. Automobile businesses need to keep abreast with changing buying behaviours, opportunities and threats to prevent becoming irrelevant.

The Advent of the Empowered Consumer

Social media has given rise to the empowered customer. With the mere click of a button, consumers can receive all the required information pertaining to a vehicle on their smartphones almost instantly. They are seamlessly able to access reviews from trade journalists, enabling them to compare competitive models and prices, from the comfort of their homes.

Today’s automobile buyers seek to be informed and educated on their purchases, and support brands that will deliver on this front. According to a study conducted by Autotrader:

  • 84% of automobile consumers still wish to buy in person. Although they require an online element for education and brand comparisons, they would rather opt to physically test drive a vehicle and negotiate with a sales person.
  • 43% of automobile consumers visit a dealership to discover more about the vehicles they are interested in as well as learn about any current deals and financing options. 
  • 54% of people would be willing to support a dealership that provides the best experience rather than the lowest price.

These statistics reveal that a consumer’s purchasing experience is crucial to converting sales, and this all originates online. Today’s successful dealership will meet the prevailing empowered consumers’ expectations by recognising their demand for information, control and convenience through the use of digital technology.

Online research is now an essential element of the vehicle purchase decision. Dealers must balance marketing strategies with consumer needs and make this alignment apparent online so as to better accommodate your informed consumers’ needs.

Understanding Consumer Behaviour

Provided that a business embraces technology, the informed consumer should be viewed as a profound opportunity rather than a threat. Millions of people around the world use social media on a daily basis as a platform to communicate their opinions and experiences, which has created the largest pool of consumer data that has existed in history. Automotive consumers are typically passionate about the industry thereby unveiling a multitude of opportunities within the social media space. In effect, 38% of consumers refer to social media before making a car purchase. This affords dealers the opportunity to convert these signals into profits by understanding your consumer more intimately. The insights gained on social media platforms should be incorporated into every facet of the vehicle development cycle: from product design and pricing to marketing strategies. This gives you a valuable instrument to convert complex data into functional consumer insights.

A New Generation of Automotive Consumers

It’s anticipated that 40% of new vehicle buyers will be millennials by the year 2020, of which 88% use an online vehicle research process. It therefore remains essential that automotive brands establish and cultivate a visible and compelling online presence to better relate to this next generation of consumers. Dealers need insights into what factors influence millennial purchases, the weight millennials place on eco-friendly vehicles and how price sensitive this generation is. Through social listening, auto brands can gauge conversations between millennials and establish tailored approaches to oblige their increased financial power.

Competitive Intelligence and Consumer Brand Perceptions

Monitoring online conversations of your consumers will keep you well-informed on what factors influence their buying decisions as well as keeping in the know of your competitors, better equipping you to adopt proactive rather than reactive strategies. 

Social listening can also give you insights into consumers’ perceptions of certain brands that have a marked influence on their purchase decisions. Responding speedily and cost-effectively to these perceptions will set any dealer in great stead, finding gaps in the market by analysing the strengths and weakness of competitors and improving accordingly on all aspects of your business, thereby giving you a competitive advantage.

Today’s automobile consumer relies heavily on recommendations and reviews from their friends, family and even strangers who comment on social media posts. These opinions impact their ultimate purchase decisions.

Going forward, dealerships need to know that the modern-day consumer seeks education and will have an abundance of knowledge about a vehicle before they step foot onto the showroom floor. By delivering the precise information that consumers are seeking early on in the buying process, dealers can attract loyal consumers right into their lots.

Pinewood SA Multi Platform Apps

What to look for when choosing mobile devices for your dealerships

The Pinnacle Aftersales Diary

The Future of Auto Dealerships

The retail automotive space is currently amid a rapid transition caused by several factors, namely:

  • Multiple sources of affordable capital
  • Abundant inventories of available new and pre-owned vehicles
  • Generational buying power has shifted to younger consumers with drastically different buying behaviours
  • Rapid innovation in consumer technology
  • The emergence of the Internet of things

The question then remains: “What does the auto dealership industry’s future hold?”

Online Transactions:

With emphasis on digitalisation, the next few decades are anticipated to bring the greater part of transactions online. Transactions will be streamlined and simpler, having sales and financing operations in real-time. Consumers will regulate the entire buying process as they will have a complete database of information pertaining to vehicles, F&I products and financing. A digital platform will support dealerships in establishing transparency as well as accountability.

“Within the framework of its new digital partnership with its dealers, Volkswagen will develop a joint internet platform which will handle the entire purchasing process through to contract conclusion, including financing, payment and even used car trade-ins,” the carmaker said in their announcement to “restructure” its sales model from 2020.

Loyal Customer Following:

It’s expected that dealerships of the future will place less weight on individual sales and rather create a loyal customer following via servicing, maintenance and continuous customer communication. Dealerships will transform into service-based business models where service drive will be the biggest contributor to the bottom line. Furthermore, customer acquisition costs are on the rise, thereby validating manufacturers and their channels to invest in retaining the customers they already have.

Cutting of Distribution and Marketing Costs:

Innovative channels thwart non-value-adding costs. Dealer partnerships may encourage economies of scale in back-office operations and purchasing leverage. Significant savings are possible through ousting inventory; reducing brick-and-mortar and real estate investments as well as improving service delivery.

Preparing for Change

The abovementioned predictions are expected to unfold incrementally over time, some coming to light sooner than others. It’s therefore vital that your dealership has a strategic plan in place to prepare you for this transition.

SWOT Analysis:

Conducting a SWOT analysis will stand your dealership in good stead. By studying the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in each area of your dealership, you can determine where your strengths lie, what can be done to improve on weaknesses, capitalise on opportunities that may present themselves and what barriers stand in your way to achieving those improvements.

Go Digital:

Ensure your business has a digital footprint that’s well entrenched in the online world. Important to remember is Generation Y cannot be bothered with phone calls and dealership visits. They require all necessary information instantaneously and online so it’s essential that your website includes all relevant information pertaining to the potential buyer’s purchase, including contact details as well as a wealth of information about your F&I products and financing options. Without this, many potential customers will give their business to another dealer who better fulfils their online demands.

Create Long-term Consumer Relationships:

The digital world has facilitated more efficient and direct two-way contact between manufacturers and their customers. Dealerships must step up to exploit today’s technologies to create lasting relationships with consumers, otherwise more powerful channel intermediaries will dominate their market share.

Restructure your Business Model:

As an example, Volkswagen has announced a “restructure” of its sales model from 2020, where each dealer “will only need to have one full-feature facility in the future” and franchisees “will be able to shape their presentation by agreement with the relevant importer to make their business more effective and customer-oriented, with city showrooms, pop-up stores, service factories, used car centres or scalable full-feature dealerships”.

The automobile industry is changing at an unprecedented rate in terms of new technologies, shifting customer expectations and new market players. If dealers can efficiently balance a combination of qualified sales and service partners, strong and reputable products, loyal customers, an established logistics network as well as reliable online business elements, they will certainly find a solid position in the future marketplace.

Pinewood SA Multi Platform Apps

What to look for when choosing mobile devices for your dealerships

The Pinnacle Aftersales Diary

What to look for when choosing mobile devices for your dealership

With the automotive landscape changing and smartphones and tablets becoming commonplace in dealerships, a new challenge emerges in trying to futureproof your business. It can be difficult to choose between the number of devices and operating systems on the market.

Retailers who invest in the latest devices and embrace new apps will gain a competitive advantage, making device choice a more important factor, as technology becomes ever-more pervasive throughout the dealership.

An older generation device and operating system may be cheaper, but will limit app performance, proving slower, less reliable and – crucially – unable to support the latest updates. This means dealers will miss out on new features, which will limit the efficiency and customer service levels the business can offer.

DMS vendor, Pinewood Technologies, has developed a cutting-edge app suite, focused on streamlining processes, driving productivity and enhancing profit opportunities for dealers. So far, this includes apps for capturing personalised video, conducting integrated vehicle health checks, managing vehicle stock and issuing parts whilst employees are on-the-go.

Pinewood recently updated their technician app ‘Tech+’, bringing a new look-and-feel, the ability to add flexible checklists to work and improved menu pricing. Users with newer generation devices could immediately update their apps to benefit from the new features.

Microsoft’s discontinuation of mainstream support for Windows 8 devices, earlier this year, was a prime example. Any dealers still using Windows 8.1 will no longer benefit from improvements to apps or be able to access new features. Those who invested in newer generation devices with up-to-date operating systems will continue to run their business using the latest tools and features, arguably giving them a competitive edge.

Pinewood recommends:
• Apple iOS devices on iOS11 or above
• Windows devices on Windows 10 or above
• Android devices on at least Version 7 (Nougat)

Before choosing a device, the role of the user must also be given some thought. Technicians may require a smaller, easy-to-carry device with a light, or camera flash – facilitating clearer VHC video recording from beneath vehicles. For these users, Apple’s latest iPod Touch is a suitable option to consider, as an alternative to the more costly iPhone.

Users of reception-based, meet and greet apps, may prefer a larger screen to enhance the customer experience. Here, there is a range of tablet devices to consider, from the premium Microsoft Surface Pro to a variety of reasonably priced Android tablets.

View our full range of apps HERE

The Pinnacle Aftersales Diary

With our motor environment changing at an alarming pace with regards to new technologies, increased competition, and changing customer expectations, it is time for dealerships to place far more focus on customer retention strategies with the need to become more intuitive to their customer’s needs.

This is where your Pinnacle database can really start to make a difference.

From the initial implementation to this moment in time, you have been building and adding to a commodity; your customer database. Within Pinnacle you can pro-actively and intuitively engage with this asset through the Pinnacle Aftersales Diary. The Aftersales Diary is the first place to visit when you want to anticipate your customer’s vehicle needs and identify revenue opportunities – opportunities including but not limited to; service reminders, expiring maintenance plans/ service plans/ warranties/ finance contracts, tyre replacement, or deferred work generated from the Pinnacle VHC platform.

Proactively contacting your customers will help improve retention and brand loyalty, all whilst working to secure that future sale – building customers for life and constructing a firm foundation of future revenue. Automated SMS and email communication can also be sent off to your customers to inform them of these up and coming reminders.

Read more…

Click HERE if you are interested in understanding how the Aftersales Diary can work for you.

Revolutionise your Dealership by Embracing Diversity and Innovation

Embracing diversity and innovation (D&I) in the automotive industry is not only morally ethical, but it’s a core driver of innovation, attracting and retaining top talent, increased productivity, customer satisfaction and profitability.

Successful implementation of D&I requires cross-functional collaboration within a business as well as with other dealer groups and suppliers.

Benefits:

  • Diversity brings together people of different backgrounds, genders, religions, cultures or education levels. Creating an environment where unique perspectives are received means that valuable insights, ideas and solutions are acknowledged and accepted. This challenges the status quo and moves people from their comfort zones to those of creativity and innovation.
  • Different opinions and thought patterns can serve as opportunities to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Different perspectives leading to innovation that is required to stay abreast of rapidly-changing times.
  • Attracting and retaining a more disparate talent pool within the organisation.
  • Adopting a diverse business culture will create a positive, people-friendly environment that will reduce turnover rates and the associated costs that come with it.
  • Recent studies conducted by McKinsey revealed that the more diverse a business is, the better they preform financially.

Managing D&I:

  1. Adopt the New-Age Interpretation of D&I

Diversity extends further than gender, ethnicity and race. In today’s workplace, diversity also encompasses:

  • religious affiliation
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • disability
  • thinking style and
  • personality type

Companies need to realise that D&I does not only entail meeting HR initiatives but the individuals’ needs. Grasping this new way of thinking will enable managers to improve their products and services.

  1. Create an Inclusive Culture

  • Develop D&I Policies: Once developed, ensure policies are accessible to all employees to review, understand and sign.
  • D&I Training: Training sessions should communicate polices relating to D&I, expected conduct and how employees should relay concerns to management if they feel someone is discriminated against, attacked or threatened.
  • Create a Safe Haven: So that the voice, perspectives, opinions and ideas of every member of the organisation are valued and considered equally, with fair decision-making authority and recognition.
  • Hiring Practices: Ensure that hiring processes make provision for employing people from different cultural, religious, age, race, ethnic and corporate backgrounds.
  • Employee-led Groups: Create voluntary group sessions where employees can establish cross-functional relationships, receive or offer mentoring initiatives and development opportunities for employees from a variety of different backgrounds. This strategy will allow a business to attract and retain talented, motivated and diverse personnel.
  1. Monitor and Measure

Instilling a culture of D&I is a work in progress that requires constant monitoring and measuring to ensure its success. Management needs to measure the results of what they manage. Approximately 85% of South Africa’s Top Employers assess the effect and efficiency of their D&I strategy on a regular basis.

  1. Leaders Should Model D&I Practices

To set an example as well as the tone for the rest of the company, leaders should:

  • Employ Diversity Best Practices: For instance, train all recruitment managers to adhere to the stipulated inclusive hiring criteria and processes.
  • Foster Inclusion: Leaders must ensure that once they’ve hired a diverse workforce, they value and consider the perspectives and ideas of these employees, regardless of their background.
  • Enforce Accountability: D&I policies must clearly stipulate the consequences employees who fail to adhere to policy rules will encounter. Harsher discord will obviously receive more serious ramifications, such as dismissal.
  • Keep Informed: Employers must stay abreast of evolving laws, thereby adjusting their current D&I policies and staying up-to-date.
  1. Develop D&I Strategic Partnerships

Foster partnerships with members of the company’s supply chains to ensure the success of D&I initiatives in every regard. Strategic partnerships with a diverse supply base of entrepreneurs will offer dealers novel insights that could result in ground-breaking innovations and fast track business development by better meeting the needs and expectations of customers.

Supporting and collaborating with suppliers owned by minorities empowers them with business opportunities, contributing to their chance to operate enterprises of increased scope and capacity.

Pinnacle Online Support Chat

As of October 2018, Pinewood SA has officially launched an Online Chat feature within the Support Portal of Pinnacle.

This feature has been launched with two primary objectives in mind; to improve your support experience, and to complement and assist in driving the online self-help functionality currently offered in our Support Portal.

It is important to note that due to the nature of Online Chat, this feature is envisioned to handle the following type of queries:

  • To assist you with self-help navigation to the required portal resources (i.e. FAQ’s, Video’s, Guides, Release Notes);
  • To assist you with simple, quick and easy to answer queries.

You will be able to filter your Chat by area (either CRM/Vehicle/Accounts or Aftersales), where one of our Chat Consultants will be waiting to chat you through your question.

The Online Support Chat feature will be available Monday to Friday 08h00 – 16h00, and from 1 November 2018 will be the sole method in which our Saturday Support is handled (still between 09h00 – 12h00).

Further to this, and as shown in the above image, we have also added a “Known Build Issue Banner”,  designed to inform and update you on the latest known build issues which are currently under investigation by our Development Team.

The purpose of this banner is to save you time from having to log a query with our Helpdesk on a Release day for an issue that you may identify – instead you can simply visit the Support Portal and view the banner for any known build issues and their current status.

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