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ADP Lightspeed: A new leader, a new agenda – January 22, 2007

January 22, 2007
Filed under Features

When ADP Lightspeed announced a change in leadership for its powersports division late last year, the new leader turned out to be an in-house candidate and a close associate of the outgoing general manager.
So it wouldn’t be surprising for powersports insiders to assume the new ADP Lightspeed leader will have similar, if not exactly the same, goals for the industry’s top dealer management system provider.
Turns out that assumption is far from the case as new General Manager Laurn Rice, in an interview with Powersports Business, said his goals are a “180-degree change” from his predecessor, Rob McBratney.
McBratney, who now heads ADP’s Dealer Services division in the company’s new China office, led Lightspeed through its integration with ADP after the 2004 acquisition.
Rice said McBratney “was really here to grow” the company, including in the RV and marine industries, as well as make sure it was profitable.
“I’ve really wanted to get back to basics and sustain what we’ve got and get back to what our bread and butter is, which is really motorcycles,” said Rice, a member of the motorcycle industry since he worked as a youth at his next-door neighbor’s powersports dealership.
Much of that increased focus on the powersports side of ADP’s business will be unveiled to dealers at the upcoming Dealer Expo. But Rice spoke to PSB about several of those new facets in detail, including:
•the creation of a major accounts team, which will work solely with the industry’s largest dealership groups;
•additional attention the company is putting toward multi-store owners;
•where the company will be placing its Internet development focus;
•and the additional information flow that will be occurring between dealers and manufacturers and aftermarket companies in the coming year.
All of those objectives are geared toward providing better services and support to ADP’s dealer base, or as Rice puts it, getting back to the basics.
“I think that people started looking at ADP as too large and not personable anymore,” he said.
To remedy that, ADP will be concentrating on certain dealer groups, including the increasing number of dealers that have multiple stores and the nation’s largest dealer groups, like RideNow and America’s PowerSports.
For the latter group, Rice is creating a separate team that will specifically address the unique issues and training requirements the largest dealership groups seek.
“We want to separate the two groups,” Rice said of the large dealership groups and the more traditional-sized dealer, “and make sure we’re still getting feedback from both, and we’re not just jumping at the last reaction from one of the larger accounts. We’re really balancing our approach to the market more than we have in the past.”
ADP Lightspeed also will focus more on the multi-store owner, an area “where I hate to say that we’ve kind of lost focus on,” Rice said.
ADP began to address that shortcoming last summer with enhancements to its LightspeedNXT system. The new system allows owners of multiple stores to look up parts availability at each of their dealerships.
“We want to make it very easy for them to leverage that two- or three-store buying power that they may have and see what inventory resides in each location,” Rice said, noting the company is now working to include new units into that process. That addition will allow sales staff to tell consumers what product is available and at what price at the dealer’s other stores. The improved system also will allow the product to be shipped from store to store with its accompanying “paperwork.”
Rice said ADP is seeing a trend of having accounts payable being processed for multiple stores from one location. “We’re really doing a lot of development around that area to make it easier” for the multiple-store dealer’s accounting system, Rice said.
ADP’s ongoing online developments are suited for dealers of all sizes.
“We really see it as being a very crucial part of the business,” Rice said of Internet sales. “I don’t think a business will be able to operate without a Web page, without the ability to do some basic shopping and scheduling of services online. So we want to make sure we’re on the forefront of that.”
The enhanced LightspeedNXT system released last summer featured Web integration with PowerSports Network, allowing consumers to order parts and accessories from their home or office computers. The system not only set up online shopping, but also flowed the purchase into the dealer’s Lightspeed system, allowing for the appropriate invoicing and accounting.
Now, Rice said ADP is working on accomplishing the same with new unit sales and service department appointments.
Plus, ADP is working to increase the online exchange of information between dealer and consumer. That process, also called Customer Relationship Management, will tell dealers what purchases the consumer has made previously, what products they’re currently interested in and if they’re shopping for new units with another one of the dealer’s stores, effectively pitting the dealer against himself, a common tactic.
“The more information you can pass to the dealer about the consumer and the consumer about the dealer, the better that whole experience will be,” Rice said.
Creating a better shopping experience also is the intent behind another ongoing project that ADP Lightspeed is involved in: quickening the flow of information between the dealer and their OEMs and aftermarket companies.
Currently, there can be quite a delay when manufacturers update pricing information and when that information filters down to the dealer, a process that can take up to a month. That delay not only can be costly, but also a sizeable headache to an industry that is increasingly relying on PG&A sales, which often call for frequent price adjustments.
Aftermarket companies are “changing their prices very frequently and it’s hard for the dealers to keep up,” Rice said.
ADP is working with the Motorcycle Industry Council on its Powersports Standard Protocol, which will allow for the exchange of information to automatically occur when a dealer logs on to their ADP Lightspeed system. Instead of taking a month, the information exchange would occur overnight. Rice said the system would not only update pricing adjustments, but also provide product availability information.
It’s all intended to enhance the consumer’s shopping experience, a key element of Rice’s back-to-the-basics approach that he developed during his 13-year career with ADP, a stretch that saw increasing responsibility in the past few years under McBratney.
“It was going through,” Rice said of his past few years, “and making sure I was very hands-on with product and development and customer support and all the different aspects of the business that go along with getting the customer going and making sure I understand how they tie together and work together.”

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