When Warranty Administrator Gladys Pacheco took over management of AutoNation Toyota Gulf Freeway’s fleet of rental vehicles, she was anxious about having to learn the systems that seemed to always create confusion and slowdowns for previous fleet managers.
She was relieved, then, when she learned that her dealership had recently changed fleet management providers and were now using Dealerware.
“Dealerware is so much simpler [than the old system],” Pacheco said. “With Dealerware it’s easy to get rental contracts, I know where things are and it’s so much easier to navigate.”
Easy to Learn
Pacheco said she particularly loves that Dealerware’s main dashboard gives a full overview of vehicle locations, open contracts and details about which repair orders and service advisors are tied to each contract.
In addition to easier access to critical information, Dealerware’s more user-friendly web and mobile components also helped Pacheco’s team of advisors adjust to the new tools quickly. When Dealerware spoke with Pacheco in November 2020, a new team member had just started using the platform and “She picked it up like nothing,” Pacheco said.
“She told me it was easy to use. The app walks you through each step, like finding a car or even the simplest things like adding credit cards — it’ll even tell you if credit card information isn’t right, and you think ‘How the heck did you know that fast?’”
As Pacheco’s team learned to rely on Dealerware for their day-to-day work, they also knew they could rely on the Dealerware team to help them learn and answer questions as they arose.
“The team behind Dealerware… have been so understanding. I call or text [my customer success manager] Alexis and she’s always got me and puts my mind at ease. They know what’s going on at my dealership and are always willing to help,” she said. Equipped with a better fleet management tool and a support team guaranteed to answer all calls, rental operations are running smoothly at AutoNation Toyota Gulf Freeway.
Simple Fleet Management
“Keeping track of the cars, it’s so much easier with Dealerware. I can find a car, I can see the fuel level and I can track the car, even when a customer has it,” Pacheco said, adding that it’s particularly useful to prevent rental vehicles from crossing the Texas state line, at its closest about 90 minutes away.
Better visibility into where their 30-car fleet is and how it’s being used also helps Pachecho keep tight control on the distribution of contract miles across the fleet. She and her team faced unique challenges this year as Toyota worked through a long-term recall and parts delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of her customers were in her rental fleet vehicles for extended periods of time, making it important that she closely monitor vehicle health data and mileage, to keep the fleet in good shape while continuing to provide the transportation her customers needed.
“Dealerware helps you be organized,” Pacheco said, which is key when you’re managing a fleet that’s rented 11 months out of the year.
She explained that before using Dealerware, she had a spreadsheet she filled in manually and checked every day to see which customers needed contracts extended, or whether she’d need to bring any cars back in for maintenance or to be retired and replaced.
Using Dealerware, she gets automatic reminders about contracts closing soon so she can be proactive about customer outreach. Trips back to the dealership are not favored by Pacheco’s renters, “If I have to get a car back in customers sometimes say things like ‘Ugh, I gotta go up there again?” Pacheco said.
Dealerware’s Contactless Contracting feature reduces the need for return trips and makes contract extensions easier for Pachecho and her team. When a contract needs to be extended, Pacheco explained, “The advisor can call to say ‘Hey, we’re going to extend your contract and you’re going to get a text message — you can sign on your phone and send it back.”
Building on the Bottom Line
Smoother contracting and easier customer interactions have also helped the dealership save time and money in day-to-day fleet management. Pacheco said recovering fuel and toll costs is very important to her team now, where before she remembers tolls were hard to track and customers were constantly returning vehicles without refueling them.
Now, she says, a $3.50-per-gallon refueling fee is helping encourage most customers to bring cars back full, or at least to go fill them up before completing their rental once Pacheco reminds them of the fee.
“I would say 75% of the time they come back filled up. A lot of these customers don’t wanna mess around with it, they don’t wanna be charged extra. It does make a difference having Dealerware letting us know if cars aren’t full, so we can let the customer know they need to fill up or be charged,” she said.
Saving time previously spent on fuel runs or searching for tolls is giving the team at AutoNation Toyota Gulf Freeway room to consider how their fleet operations can grow. Pacheco said the dealership may try to meet new customer needs – and generate additional revenue from their fleet – with new rental offerings.
“I’m letting the advisors know now they can start renting out vehicles [at a daily rate],” Pacheco said. “So far I’ve only done it for repairs, because customers think they need to go to Enterprise, but now I can say ‘Nope you don’t have to go to Enterprise, now you can rent from us.’”
Since Dealerware launched new Vehicle Groups features that add flexibility to the way fleets are segmented and monetized, Pacheco and her team are thinking of how different organizational strategies can help them. She expects that making groups specific to sources of business — whether warranty, customer-paid rentals or others — will help the team see where the rental program is healthiest and where they can improve.
“I’m starting to always ask people ‘who’s paying for that car?’ I’m trying to get the most out of these cars because I know how expensive they are,” she said. The key question she’s asking her team is “How can we get this money back for these vehicles?”
To the Dealerware team, that renewed focus on revenue is a benchmark of success: in less than six months, Pacheco and her team have transformed their rental operation. In solving issues with cost tracking and records-keeping, they’ve reclaimed time and can now focus on new opportunities to make rental operations more profitable — and we’re proud to provide a tool that helped them get there.