OK, so 2008 looks like it's going to be a tough year, one that will demand cost cuts and increases in productivity if you want to hang on to your margins at your dealership. Here's a productivity tool that you may not have considered, one that comes from a source not usually associated with dealer productivity — the Motorcycle Industry Council.
Having started the program several years ago, the MIC is rapidly expanding its data communications project, dubbed Partners Standard Protocol, or PSP.
PSP allows a dealership employee to stay logged on to the store's business system while ordering or checking on parts from OEMs, distributors and aftermarket vendors that participate in the PSP program. In effect, it translates the data you send from your computer so that it can be read by each of your suppliers, if they participate in the program.
Here's what that means to you: You don't have to re-key and re-handle order information that you send. Think how much simpler your back office would be if you could deal with multiple vendors using just the dealer management system (DMS) on your computer.
Five DMS providers support PSP: ADP Lightspeed (Booth 3125), c-Systems Software (Booth 2119), Ideal Computer Systems (Booth 8211), MIC Systems & Software (Booth 601A) and Softpower Business Solutions (Booth 8037).
"The five leading business system vendors are fully supporting and implementing PSP," notes Patrick Sweeney, MIC's vice president of business development. "They've made the investment and they're PSP-enabled and -certified. Now they're calling on key suppliers to get their support."
Participating suppliers include Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Helmet House, Custom Chrome/Motorcycle Stuff, and Southern Motorcycle Supply.
Currently, PSP is limited to handling parts functions. The parts "suite" includes parts locator, parts ordering and parts shipment components. This year, developers expect to add product registrations (second quarter) and warranty claims capability (fourth quarter).
"PSP simplifies a dealer's life with respect to communications," says Steve Stinson, president of c-Systems Software. "By presenting a single, common interface for all of his PSP-enabled product lines, it reduced errors, reduces training for his employees and streamlines the whole communications process."
Stinson points out that with PSP there is no need for additional manufacturer-specific programs, hardware or employee training. All PSP communications take place within the dealer management system.
There's no charge for a dealer to participate in PSP, but there may be some additional charges from individual DMS providers, depending upon the situation, points out Sweeney.
"By reducing data entry errors, PSP saves time and frees up hours each day for the dealer," says Sweeney. "That's the key."
The PSP project has been so well received that the MIC is making it available outside the powersports industry. Last summer, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) endorsed the PSP standard, noting that many marine dealers are dealing with the same challenges facing powersports dealers.
Interested dealers or suppliers can visit DMS providers at their booths, or they can visit the new PSP website, psp.mic.org, or stop by the MIC booth (6644). — Joe Delmont