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Inventory management boosted by COMS

Dave McMahon, Senior Editor
September 17, 2012
Filed under Features

Dealer finds F&I product ‘simple and quick’

Dealership staffers in the F&I department should be taking advantage of technology advances just as their counterparts are doing in parts and service, sales and on the dealership websites.

Susan Nielsen handles a plethora of duties for Nielsen Enterprises, a family-owned dealership in Lake Villa, Ill. She brings a passion for accountancy, finance, computers and websites to the dealership, and is a key cog in the dealership’s longtime success. The 80,000 square-foot dealership between Chicago and Milwaukee houses motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles and PWC from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, Arctic Cat, Polaris, Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo and Can-Am.

Nielsen can’t remember a day in recent years in which she hasn’t turned to GE Capital’s COMS (Customer Online Management System) to expedite a financing transaction.

“I literally use it on a daily basis, and I have for forever,” she said. “The number one thing we’re doing on it is paying them money, or paying off a unit. It’s simple and it’s quick.”

Working with such a variety of OEM products, Nielsen also encounters a variety of potential financing options.

“They’ve always been a better product, in terms of creating a user-friendly atmosphere,” she said. “The unique thing about them is I would always be happy when GE would take over financing for somebody else. I would be like ‘Oh, cool, I get to use the COMS system for them now, too. It really is that much easier.

“It’s a really great, great, great product. You used to think ‘Well, I’d like to do this, or that, or maybe take a look at this.’ Now it can do everything you want it do.”

That’s because earlier this year, GE Capital unveiled an enhanced version of COMS. The newest version provides some technological advances that are meant simply to provide dealers with added intelligence about their inventory and the market. Even better, COMS supplements existing data provided by DMS systems.

“COMS enables dealers to view and manage inventory outstandings, mix and aging. They can set their own viewing preferences to see the data that is most meaningful to them. Dealers can also schedule electronic payments, and can view payment history for their record-keeping needs. These are all critical F&I functions for their business,” said Sam Yourd, vice president of marketing, Motorsports Group at GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance.

Dealers also have access to real-time data, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing them with a tool to complement their DMS to manage their inventory online.

“It also provides a platform to communicate directly with their account representative, with an email link for other questions they have,” Yourd said.

Nielsen could be considered an Excel guru, and she’s advanced in her knowledge of computer programming. But she knows that not all dealers have the same passion for computers and sorting files. That’s where, she says, COMS can benefit even the most computer-leery dealer.

“I would take all of these systems that we use to generate data and download them and export them to Excel and sort them,” Nielsen said. “But COMS does that for you. For people who aren’t as computer literate or are unable to manipulate the data how they want it presented, COMS is a huge advantage.”

Like dealerships, OEMs are turning to COMS to facilitate their inventory management. COMS provides OEMs with reports on outstandings, turnover, liquidation and aging going back three years, Yourd said.

“They can also request tactical and strategic reports to manage their field inventory levels and mix,” he added. “In addition, there are trend reports that can show them how their segment performs in relation to a larger motorsports database. This information is critical from an F&I perspective because it provides inventory levels by dealer, state, and product that can be used to optimize mix when compared to dealer retail registration data.”

Put simply, COMS provides Nielsen with peace of mind, compared to transactions with other much smaller lenders that she deems “nightmarish.”

“You’re playing with a lot of money and if it doesn’t get taken off of your inventory and put into somebody else’s, it makes things difficult,” she said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am with the new version of COMS.”

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