Automation Can Relieve The Pressure on Employees

Spiralling operational costs, a sector skills shortage and recruitment and retention issues are among the biggest challenges facing automotive retail making effective revaluation of resources and maximising the deployment of employees crucial.

The automotive sector hit a vacancy-rate 20-year high earlier this year with 23,000 unfilled job openings, according to figures from the Institute of the Motor Industry’s (IMI) automotive labour market briefing in January.

The recruitment challenge is also having a likely knock-on effect on the wellbeing of dealership employees who reported increased levels of stress as part of charity Ben’s health and wellbeing survey. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) reported stress had most affected their health and wellbeing. 

The survey, now in its sixth year, also found the proportion of people suffering stress had increased by 8% with high workloads, pressure to meet targets and not enough staff to blame. When asked to highlight issues most likely to impact them over the next 12 months, the top three were the cost of living (52%), supply chain shortages (33%) and staff shortages (31%).

However, issues surrounding staff shortages and work pressure could be alleviated by better allocating current dealership resources.

“When demands at work increase, the temptation to recruit more people, is immense,” said Autofinity CEO Andy Whitehair. “But in a climate where labour shortages are impacting all sectors and where dealers are trying to better balance the books amidst rising energy and other operational costs, this is unlikely to provide the complete solution.

“When we go into dealerships and undertake a systems audit, we invariably find individuals who have become experts in one or two systems and have become the glue holding everything together because multiple applications are not integrated so it is left to employees to bridge the gaps.

“When it comes to upscaling a group’s ecommerce strategy, dealers often discover there is no seamless journey because of a lack of integration so once again, success relies upon human interaction.

“We worked with one dealer group which reported as many as 300 applications across the group, which is mind blowing. Dealerships have a wealth of information but when we ask how the information is accessed, it is mostly done manually. For example, identifying the average days in stock for a group’s inventory would require a process involving emails to individual managers and several systems without any confidence that the data is correct. Also, by the time the information has been collated, it is out of date. 

“No wonder dealership employees are feeling stressed and overworked. Multiple and disparate systems force staff to undertake laborious, manual and repetitive tasks when their time and talents could be put to much better use. A lack of systems integration and multiple data silos limits a dealer group’s flexibility as information is not in one place or at the fingertips of employees.”

Implementing Autofinity’s ViHUB allows dealers to unlock more value from their existing system spend by integrating data and creating a single view of the truth for all vehicle data. As well as saving admin, this improves Speed to Market and can feed all live marketing channels, such as dealer and manufacturer websites and the likes of Auto Trader. By automating multiple manual tasks, dealer groups can free up dealership staff and allowing group resource to be managed more effectively.

Arbury Group, for example, now manages all its group stock in one place, has eliminated manual processes including the end-of-month seven-day, labour intensive stock count, and integrated multiple systems including its own retail sales platform, manufacturer websites, online marketplaces and the DMS.

Other tasks which relied on the vigilance of its staff have also been automated, such as the flagging of vehicle discrepancies online, resulting in consistent, compliant and accurate vehicle information across all marketing channels. An edit made in ViHub automatically updates all integrated websites. By setting its own vehicle ‘rules’, such as the age and type of used car appropriate for each portal, dealer groups can market vehicles more quickly, without manual intervention. Additionally, dealer managers are not having to make daily decisions on where each vehicle should be marketed.

Andy added: “By automating and integrating, many manual processes are done away with so dealers can make much better use of the staff they already have in place.”

Contact the Transform Consulting Team or Request a ViHUB or PiHUB demo:


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