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Dealers are missing out on winter profit

Nobody will forget the ‘Beast from the East’ bringing the UK to a standstill. With a likely repeat of the extreme weather we faced last winter, drivers will want to be prepared – providing dealers a prime opportunity to capitalise on the increased demand for winter tyres.

Dealers should be encouraging their customers to switch to winter tyres, having highlighted this revenue-generating opportunity for the upcoming season. Focused on boosting profits, Pinewood has developed a new ‘tyre hotel’ feature, promoting dealers to efficiently manage their tyre storage and servicing business, all within the DMS.

Introducing a ‘tyre hotel’ service generates revenue in three key ways; selling tyres, storing tyres and cross-selling to customers – who need to bring their vehicle to the dealership at least two more times than usual, in a twelve-month period. This creates an opportunity to uncover additional revenue more frequently.

“We’re constantly investing in new ways for dealers to capture revenue,” explains Neville Briggs, Managing Director at Pinewood Technologies PLC. “It’s a common misconception that UK drivers don’t need winter tyres. In reality, switching to winter tyres becomes useful when temperatures are 7 degrees and below, typical of the UK from October through to March. It’s an opportunity to generate additional revenue.”

Pinewood’s new ‘tyre hotel’ feature gives dealers the ability to capture tyre details using an integrated tyre catalogue. Dealers are able to generate and print contracts and invoices for the storage of tyres. Labels can be printed and stuck to each tyre, displaying the customer it belongs to, along with the details.

Customisable checklists can also be added to tyre inspections, highlighting key areas for technicians to check.

These features will help transform the typical small-scale tyre storage setup, into a scalable, revenue-generating business opportunity.

Visa changes boost Pinewood recruitment in the face of Brexit ‘brain drain’

Pinewood Technologies PLC employs one of the largest software development teams outside of London. Based in Birmingham, the DMS provider employs over 200 people with more than 10% from outside of the UK. Pinewood recruits from the EU and has also attracted Software Development talent from South America, Africa, Russia and Asia.

Following the Brexit vote employers have found it increasingly difficult to recruit from the EU, the UK is now less attractive to EU workers due to value of the pound and the uncertainty. This has led to more employers to look further afield. Since 2008 the UK has operated a points-based visa system for skilled non-EU workers with a maximum number permitted of 20,700 per year.  Since Brexit this service has been significantly oversubscribed with up to four times the number of applications from UK employers wishing to recruit.

Recent changes to the system have meant that the NHS visa applications are no longer included in the visa cap of 20,700 effectively increasing the number of visas available to businesses like Pinewood.  Pinewood has now successfully recruited 7 skilled graduate software developers from Vietnam who will join the multinational team at the year end.

“We are working harder than ever to source talent from other parts of the world. We’re also focussing on building home-grown talent,” says Lara Mazzolari, HR Business Partner. “Following work with local colleges and universities, over 10% of our team are placement students or apprentices, building their skills with us and ready to join the team when they graduate.”

Pinewood recently welcomed 20 undergraduate placements – a mixture of software development and business students.  Opportunities such as the placement schemes, graduate roles and apprenticeships by Pinewood, provide a gateway to a fantastic career in the automotive technology industry during an exciting period of rapid change.

5 minutes with Neville Briggs, Managing Director of Pinewood Technologies

Neville Briggs, the managing director of Pinewood, explains why the DMS market is moving towards mobile usage and self-service.

What have been the big milestones for Pinewood in the past 12 months? What are the next big developments?
We launched our business intelligence (BI)solution, to let dealers design their own dashboards and analytics. Our next big development involved extending our suite of mobile, role-based apps. This splits functionality of the dealership management system (DMS) by role for access from any mobile device and we’ve already launched Tech+, Host+, Stock+ and Pay+.

How many dealers is Pinewood working with in the UK and what are the growth expectations for the next 12 months?
We have a 22% market share, about 1,000 dealers, and that includes integration with all manufacturers’ systems. We are expecting growth of 10% this year.

With Pendragon as Pinewood’s parent company, how many customers are from outside that group?
It usually surprises people, but 82% of our business is outside Pendragon. There’s no preferential treatment, updates are rolled out to all customers at the same time and Pinewood is treated as a separate company. If 82% of our business is from outside Pendragon, then those customers are the driving force of our business.

What does the future of DMS look like?
There will be a drive towards self-service, allowing customers to manage their experience online. There’s also going to be a further push to go mobile, resulting in more app-based features. I think we’ll see a continued move from dealers to choose a cloud-based option. As new car sales decline, we’ll see dealers looking to make better use of the data they have available in their DMS.

How is the industry coping with integration and how is Pinewood performing on that front?
We’ve always taken the approach of developing integration at our own cost, meaning we have to focus on speed, delivery and usability. As we have grown, we find manufacturers approaching us to help build integration. Some are well organised and have modern, well
documented, secure interfaces. Others have some legacy issues to overcome.

DMS integration is a problem for multi-franchise dealer groups. What is being done in this area to help?
We have designed our integration to follow the car, not the organisational structure. This means dealers don’t need to design businesses to suit a franchise’s template, but can combine operations to be as efficient as possible while supporting the needs of different systems and processes.

Does Pinewood offer an open-system interface with which third parties can integrate?
We have a range of third-party APIs (this allows connections between different IT systems) for service bookings, sales enquiries and orders and parts requests. We work closely with all the major players to help dealers operate efficiently and we have a list of approved selected partners.

When will it be possible to track information through a DMS if a dealer wants to know what a customer has done before walking into the dealership?
This is already possible when you combine data from the consumer-facing services with transactional data in the DMS. This is why BI is so important, as it can combine data from a range of sources to provide a real picture of customer interests and activity, all the way from the first enquiry.

What are your predictions for the future of automotive retail?
More multi-franchise operations will exist as dealers begin to consolidate. There will be a drive towards reducing overheads, leading to process simplification and dealers streamlining operations. As new car sales decline, a growth in the sale of electric vehicles with lower maintenance requirements will drive dealers to compete with fast-fit operations. This means we are likely to see a reduction of the fast-fit and small repair shops.

What’s been the biggest opportunity for growth for Pinewood this year?
Internationally. In the past 12 months, we have implemented in six new countries.

What do you see as the biggest threats to your business this year?
Consolidation of manufacturers and dealers. But it also presents an opportunity as dealers look for cost savings and efficiency. We can deliver both.

What are the biggest threats to the franchised dealer model?
Investment requirements and a lack of ambition to grasp the new. Fortunately, our customers tend to be the type that embrace new technology. Let’s get rid of clipboards and T Cards!

What sort of impact is Brexit having on the industry?
Pinewood has more than 200 employees, from 21 nationalities, at our Birmingham office, but the UK is now a less appealing place to build a career. Applications from candidates in the EU are a fraction of what they used to be. We’re also working to build home-grown talent so about 10% of our team are working on degree apprenticeships and placements.

Automotive Compliance announces integration with Pinewood DMS to reduce errors

Automotive Compliance and Pinewood have integrated their systems, following a request from motor dealers. Paul Guy, Managing Director of Automotive Compliance says, “This integration is a double win for automotive dealers, not only removing the frustrations of double keying customer data, but there is a compliance benefit too. Too often we have seen the repetitive entry of the same data leading to keying mistakes.” These mistakes can have serious consequences with finance documents or insurance policy registrations. “We have been party to regulatory complaints involving wrong information on a policy. In some of the more serious cases, the insurance provider has disputed cover. This leaves the motor dealer culpable and could not only face financial loss, but the wrath of the regulator.”

One point of entry for customer details during the sales process will minimise mis-keying errors. “Earlier this year we integrated with our core panel of product suppliers for GAP and Smart Insurance, to include policy registration”, Guy adds. “This Integration with Pinewood DMS closes the final gap in a dealer’s process, with the customer data flowing from initial enquiry through to sale, demands and needs, finance approval and registration of add on insurance products – in a seamless process.”

Neville Briggs, Managing Director of Pinewood Technologies, comments, “We’re delighted to offer this integration to further improve the efficiency of dealers’ retail environments. With an extensive and still growing list of integrations, Pinewood DMS provides dealers with an all-in-one solution to drive down costs, increase margins and provide an outstanding retail experience to customers.”

Pinewood highlights what to look for when choosing mobile devices for your dealership

With the automotive landscape changing and smartphones and tablets becoming commonplace in dealerships, a new challenge emerges in trying to futureproof your business. It can be difficult to choose between the number of devices and operating systems on the market.

Retailers who invest in the latest devices and embrace new apps will gain a competitive advantage, making device choice a more important factor, as technology becomes ever-more pervasive throughout the dealership.

An older generation device and operating system may be cheaper, but will limit app performance, proving slower, less reliable and – crucially – unable to support the latest updates. This means dealers will miss out on new features, which will limit the efficiency and customer service levels the business can offer.

DMS vendor, Pinewood Technologies, has developed a cutting-edge app suite, focused on streamlining processes, driving productivity and enhancing profit opportunities for dealers. So far, this includes apps for capturing personalised video, conducting integrated vehicle health checks, processing card payments, managing vehicle stock and issuing parts whilst employees are on-the-go.

Pinewood recently updated their technician app ‘Tech+’, bringing a new look-and-feel, the ability to add flexible checklists to work and improved menu pricing. Users with newer generation devices could immediately update their apps to benefit from the new features.

Microsoft’s discontinuation of mainstream support for Windows 8 devices, earlier this year, was a prime example. Any dealers still using Windows 8.1 will no longer benefit from improvements to apps or be able to access new features. Those who invested in newer generation devices with up-to-date operating systems will continue to run their business using the latest tools and features, arguably giving them a competitive edge.

Pinewood recommends:
• Apple iOS devices on iOS11 or above
• Windows devices on Windows 10 or above
• Android devices on at least Version 7 (Nougat)

Before choosing a device, the role of the user must also be given some thought. Technicians may require a smaller, easy-to-carry device with a light, or camera flash – facilitating clearer VHC video recording from beneath vehicles. For these users, Apple’s latest iPod Touch is a suitable option to consider, as an alternative to the more costly iPhone.

Users of reception-based, meet and greet apps, may prefer a larger screen to enhance the customer experience. Here, there is a range of tablet devices to consider, from the premium Microsoft Surface Pro to a variety of reasonably priced Android tablets.

Pinewood launches Parts+ app for issuing parts on the move

Pinewood Technologies have launched their latest multi-platform app, Parts+, which allows parts teams to scan barcodes and issue parts on-the-go.

“To become more productive, dealers must target incremental improvements by streamlining their existing processes and removing the factors which slow them down,” says Neville Briggs, Managing Director at Pinewood.

“Parts+ allows parts teams to issue parts from anywhere using their mobile device. This saves time, because you don’t need to retrieve a part, return it to the counter then issue it from a PC,” explains Briggs.

The Parts+ app features a built-in barcode scanner – a convenient tool for identifying parts faster than the traditional manual search. Scanned items can then be added to operations and issued to the job. Pinewood DMS is fully integrated meaning that the stock levels automatically update in the DMS.

A ‘conversations’ feature lets technicians and the parts department leave notes for each other on a job, improving communication. Technicians can get the parts they require faster to complete the job.

Users have a complete view of jobs across their location, with discounts and issue prices set in the DMS automatically applied.

The addition of Parts+ to Pinewood’s integrated app suite is their latest step towards helping dealers achieve enhanced productivity across their entire dealership.

To learn more about Parts+, follow the video link:

Dutch Hyundai dealers go live with Pinewood DMS

After an extensive selection process to find an innovative new dealer management system, Hyundai dealers from Dirk Barten Group in the Netherlands have recently gone live with Pinewood DMS. Dirk Barten is one of the larger Hyundai dealers in the country, with seven dealerships.
Pinewood DMS is Hyundai-approved and provides a comprehensive solution including CRM, commercial vehicle sales, reception, showroom, workshop, parts, accounting, business intelligence and more.

Pinewood also have a presence in the Dutch commercial vehicle sector, among them are BAS Trucks, who are Europe’s largest used truck and trailer dealer. This adds Volvo and Renault commercial vehicles to the extensive list of over 50 car, truck and motorcycle brands represented by dealers who run on Pinewood DMS.

Pinewood Technologies’ Partner, Grayhams, has the licence to bring Pinewood DMS to the Netherlands and 10 other countries. Grayhams were appointed as a Partner in 2016 and its co-founders, Ronald van der Vlist and Martijn van Pinxteren, boast more than 40 years of experience between them in the automotive and truck sector.

“We believe the automotive industry is ready for a comprehensive solution,” says Ronald, “…a system that takes work off your hands and reduces the need for multiple different programs.”

For more information, visit www.grayhams.nl

Pinewood welcomes 19 new undergraduate placement students

Pinewood Technologies welcomes their latest intake of students. With around 200 team members in total, 19 undergraduates represent a significant investment in their next generation of talent. These students are currently undertaking degree courses in computer science and various business fields, which align with Pinewood’s two core placement types; Business and Software Development.

During their ‘year in industry’, software development students will acquire hands-on experience, learning from Pinewood’s knowledgeable software team, working on projects that will have a direct impact on the DMS.

The business placement students will work within multiple departments and engage with a range of internal and external stakeholders, gaining a huge breadth of experience. The opportunity to cover various business areas during the placement scheme has proven to be a huge attraction, with record numbers of applicants.

After graduation, most placement students return to Pinewood to build their career. Many of them will be on hand to mentor the next new intake, helping to channel their energy and passion into the new roles.

“This brings fresh perspectives into our teams and gives students an opportunity to make an immediate impact on real projects, even in their early career,” says Jessica Thompson, Marketing Assistant and placement mentor.

Additionally, Pinewood works with South and City College Birmingham to offer a BTEC Level 3 apprenticeship as a Software Development Technician. This gives young, driven individuals the opportunity to ‘earn-while-they-learn’ in a fast-growing company where they can achieve their career goals. This apprenticeship can lead to a degree education, where Pinewood will fund their successful apprentices through further education – a BSc in Digital & Technology Solutions, delivered through Aston University.

The automotive industry is vast, rapidly evolving and promises exciting future advancements – opportunities such as the placement schemes, graduate roles and apprenticeships by Pinewood provide a gateway to a fantastic career.

Pinewood unveils Stock+ app for managing and selling vehicles

Pinewood has announced the release of their latest multi-platform app, Stock+, helping dealers to sell and manage vehicle stock directly from a mobile device.

“Our latest app helps dealers in three key ways”, says Neville Briggs, Managing Director. “Respond to customers with personalised videos, quickly and efficiently update stock information, and store vehicle and customer documentation for future reference – all straight from your mobile device.”

The app allows salespeople to send personalised videos, providing a better customer experience, which helps convert more enquiries into sales. It also has a built-in video editor, which allows salespeople to add intro and outro clips, for example to adhere to dealer brand guidelines. Furthermore, GDPR options enable compliance with the law.

“Photos and videos of available stock are essential for vehicle sales,” says Briggs. “Stock+ makes it very quick and easy for sales execs to showcase their dealership’s stock, so you never lose an enquiry due to a lack of media content”. Full integration with Pinewood DMS means users can seamlessly update dealer website pages with photos and videos, captured and uploaded straight from a mobile device.

“Apart from multimedia, we’ve made it easy to add used optional extras to the spec listing. Quite often you’ll find only basic spec details listed online, which can be frustrating for customers trying to compare vehicles and ultimately result in them going elsewhere.”

Research by What Car? has indicated that the average buyer plans to test a minimum of two vehicles before making a purchase decision, with almost 50% of buyers claiming they will test more cars than they previously have done. With documents such as vehicle appraisals and registration documents stored in Stock+, test drives and other sales processes are also streamlined.

Available on Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices, Stock+ has been designed specifically for smartphones, and is now available for download for Pinewood DMS users. It joins Tech+, Host+ and Pay+ in Pinewood’s growing suite of mobile apps.

Watch the following clips to discover more about Stock+:

Now Available: Introducing New Tech+

We have enhanced our advanced technician app, bringing you more exciting new features! Our improved app is now available for iOS, Windows and Android devices, featuring a new look and feel for iOS users.

Watch the video below to discover more:

Highlights:

  • Same easy-to-use experience across all devices
  • Clearer, colour-coded view of Job Detail
  • Re-designed VHC Status Summary
  • Full visibility of service history
  • Flexible checklists, adaptable for different types of work or vehicle
  • VHC videos
  • Improved Menu Pricing
  • Better workflow
  • Parts Issues – View and issue pre-picked parts, including barcode scanning

Our new and improved Tech+ is available for download now.

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