Sales, Inventory Data Available to Suzuki Dealers Electronically


Suzuki converts dealer stats from paper files to Web access

Key Points
Reporting system purchased from Actuate Corp., San Francisco

Suzuki has revamped its business intelligence (BI) system to find a better method for obtaining, examining and disseminating dealer inventory, sales and financial stats.

Until recently, the only sales and inventory data many of Suzuki's 1,200 dealers would see were contained in paper reports faxed or hand-delivered by a district manager every month. This process made it difficult for the OEM and its dealers to proactively identify trends or problems.

With new Web-based BI and data management applications, the OEM can make available 15 different BI reports on a 24/7 basis to Suzuki sales managers, inventory managers and other corporate employees. So a Suzuki sales manager can access Web reports on a daily basis and e-mail the info immediately to dealers.

The new reporting system, purchased from San Francisco-based Actuate Corp., helps Suzuki better manage inventory, identify trends, review financial performance and evaluate dealer performance, says Steve Chavez, credit manager at the OEM. The new system also develops composite reports, allowing dealer performance to be compared with regional or national averages.

"If the dealer is not operating in the best manner he or she could be operating, then it's in his or her best interest for somebody to come to them and say, 'Hey look, what's going on?'" says Chavez. "If a dealer is selling a lot and his gross profits are going the opposite direction, it poses the question: 'What's happening here? Are you sacrificing gross for numbers?'"

We asked whether that could lead Suzuki to sell or close a dealership if it's not profitable. "The criteria for selling or closing a dealership has nothing to do with profitability," Chavez says. "The issue of profit or no profit is really a dealer principle issue. It comes down to things like, 'How is this guy operating? Does he have the capital to continue to support it?'

"It's not our place to terminate a dealer because he's not making money," Chavez continues. "It is our job to determine whether the signage, the facility, staffing and other issues related to how you set up and service a franchise are achieved, and that's really the basis for whether or not a dealer is meeting the terms of his sales and service agreement."

The new system is slowly being rolled out and fine-tuned. Suzuki dealers should expect to learn more about it at the OEM's dealer meeting this month in Las Vegas.