by Nathan Cooper

Data, Data Everywhere – A Guide to Data, Reporting and Business Intelligence in the Automotive Industry

In all businesses, data is everywhere – from your Google Analytics from your website performance, through to your Sales team reporting. Automotive dealerships are, of course, no different.

In fact, on average, automotive dealerships have over 20 separate systems that they use on a regular basis, including eVHC, workshop management, lead management, media services and more.

Automotive reporting and automotive data is vast, and it can be a challenge to identify where the data is held, who’s responsible and how to get hold of what you need to do your job effectively.

But how can you make use of all this data in the most efficient way?

First, let’s look at what the data is used for and why.

Business intelligence is gained from reviewing the data you hold and helps your business make better informed decisions on what needs to happen and when.

In dealerships, this automotive data and reporting can be used to track key parts of your dealers from sales performance, margin, stock pricing, eVHC conversions and eCommerce performance through to team members’ individual performance plans. In fact, every piece of data you hold in your business is used and is useful to someone.

The output of this automotive data and reporting is a visualisation of the things that matter to your business.

Things like: Do we need to change targets? Are we on track to meet our profit forecasts? How is Alice in sales performing this week?

Who produces the reports and how can I get them?

With all these data points, creating automotive reports that matter to your business can take time. Often the various systems are not connected, and time has to be spent extracting and formatting the data into a useable format, which of course takes time. Lots of time, in fact. It is often commented on by automotive dealerships that by the time they get the report it’s out of date and the cycle starts all over again.

Naturally, this isn’t the case for all automotive dealerships – some are starting to collate all the data they hold, building large databases or data lakes to hold all the data they have and create reports themselves either in Excel, Microsoft BI or tools such as Tableu. This gives your team a single set of reports that can be accessed quickly at the click of a button, saving huge amounts of time and effort.

All this is managed by business intelligence or reporting teams who will gather report requirements, import data and build the front-end tools for their business to use, which can take a long time to get set up and require ongoing investment to manage.

There is also the option to outsource this task to third parties who have already built these systems, can collect all your data from established APIs or other data access routes and standardise it quickly, as they already have the tools and functionality in place.

On top of that, third parties are normally industry experts with dedicated automotive experience and are already working with lots of dealerships. The reports that you may want to create yourself will probably already exist, saving you time and effort in getting access to your data and the insights it can bring.

These third parties will also continually add new reports to their system, as well as maintain them – meaning it removes the overhead from your dealership.

Having data and reports is great, but how can I use that data to make real business improvements?

There’s a difference between data and reporting, and business intelligence. And in the case of the automotive industry, creating true automotive insights.

With traditional data and reporting, you will see the data presented in different ways. Charts, graphs and pivot tablets show you what happened in the past day, week, month or year.

These reports do, of course, have value, but all we really learn from them is how the dealership performed and if there were any trends in the data we can see to apply in the future.

In short, often standard data and reporting is a history lesson, showing you what you probably already knew happened.

Real business and reporting improvements come when the data you hold goes from a report to automotive insights. Building a predictive and prescriptive set of data that allows you to see what the impact of changes will be, what needs to happen to reach certain targets and what will happen if you do nothing.

It’s these powerful automotive insights that can take a good business to a great one, and one that always seems two steps ahead of the competition.

How do these automotive insights get created?

AI or machine learning models are now being applied more and more to data sets. These futuristic-sounding terms mean that the reporting system reviews your data constantly and can model it in such a way that it can show you different outcomes.

Utilising tools such as these means you can start to see patterns and changes in your business that traditional reports will miss.

Hopefully, the above will help your dealership to understand the world of automotive data and automotive reporting a little more, and see how getting all your data in one place, centrally managed and delivering true automotive insights and not just a history lesson, could be the change you need to make to keep your business ahead of the competition.

About REALinsights

REALinsights is a cost-effective data and analytics platform launched in 2021 by Real Time Communications. With over 80 out-of-the-box reports and integration into Auto Trader, Keyloop, Enquiry Max, RTC and other solutions, it has the power to combine all of a dealership’s data sources and offer a complete overview of key business metrics.

In addition to reporting on stock pricing in real time, REALinsights can offer market forecasts and bottom-line predictions based on a wide range of factors, offering instant and powerful decision support in high-impact areas.

About Real Time Communications

Real Time Communications (RTC) is a digitalisation specialist, working with UK dealerships to deliver complete, seamlessly integrated solutions for sales and aftersales. With 20 years’ experience developing and deploying software, RTC is proven as an expert in digital transformation and a growth partner for dealerships in a fast-changing industry. More than 700 franchised dealers now use RTC.

RTC’s technologies allow systems, processes and communication channels to integrate and share data in real time, leading to revenue opportunities, efficiency savings and sustainable benefits. With a full-service approach, RTC is committed to helping dealerships adopt a customer-centric model, meeting motorists’ demands with a personalised experience.