In 2014, Caterpillar Inc. unveiled an aggressive plan for their 178 distributors around the world. The plan, dubbed Across the Table, was supposed to help independent dealers capture what Caterpillar estimated to be between $9 billion and $18 billion in easy revenue that distributors were otherwise leaving on the table. The reason for this lost revenue was three-fold:
- Dealers are incapable of tapping into the wealth of real-time customer data
- They are failing at communicating with each other
- They are not providing customers with a consistent experience across locations
“The average dealer … knows 40 percent of his opportunity,” said Stu Levenick, former group president of dealer relations for Caterpillar.
In not so many words, CAT issued an ultimatum: Shape up or ship out.
So three years after the roll out of Across the Table, how has the industry transformed?
CAT is pushing their dealers to provide additional information in all departments -- rental, sales, service, parts, and power systems. For example, they want to know the amount of time it takes when piece of equipment comes off rent and when it is available to be put back out on rent. They are also measuring the rental revenue from a customer and want to know how much more revenue is generated over a month, quarter, and year.
Equipment manufacturers envision using data lakes where all manufacturing, dealer, customer, machine, parts, repair, marketing, and more data will reside. They realize that leveraging data appropriately will provide them an incredible competitive advantage.
But what about their dealers? It didn’t come as a total surprise that Across the Table was originally met with frustration by dealers. It seems the never-ending request for more data from equipment manufactures is not giving the dealer higher margins, increase sales, and maximize rental utilization.
The answer is that dealers need to be leveraging data themselves with a BI and analytics tool designed specifically for the heavy equipment industry. Only by harnessing the data at their fingertips will equipment dealers be able to better serve customers and easily tap into that aforementioned missing revenue.
Here’s what equipment dealer get with analytics in their toolbox.
1. Real time access to customer data
The data sensors on equipment are collecting vast amounts of user data every day. The data is there, it just needs to be captured, analyzed, and presented in user-friendly reports and dashboards that even the most non-technical employee can understand in a glance.
A comprehensive understanding of customer usage data not only helps heavy equipment Parts and Services departments stay on top of routine maintenance and upkeep, but it provides invaluable insight to the Sales departments looking to improve the customer experience.
The right analytics tool will allow dealers to provide an entirely new level of fleet management. This is a service that can be tacked on to any sale as an added benefit.
2. Improved communication with Sales departments
Today, heavy equipment customers are increasingly brand agnostic. Customers’ priorities lie in improving their own bottom line. If your fleet can’t provide them with the piece or pieces of equipment they need, they won’t hesitate to check elsewhere.
The sales department in many dealerships utilize Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that is standalone from their ERP/Accounting software creating silos of information. The gap between your inventory being in one system and you are quoting in a separate system could result in a lost sale for you and a win for your competitor. The data from these two systems can be easily merged to provide a view of what is being quoted versus what is in stock or on order at all branches. Simple to read dashboards for forecasting, KPIs for sales pipeline updates, or a rolling 12-customer call report.
3. A consistent customer experience
“Customer expectations have changed,” Levenick said. “If they work with multiple dealers, they want to have a common experience wherever they go.” The customer experience should be the same whether they are dealing with a CAT dealer in Kalamazoo, MI., or Houston, Texas. If CAT dealers are leaving money on the table across their dealer network, then so is any multiple-location dealership.
The challenge of maintaining a consistent customer experience is having the proper processes and procedures in place and measuring the performance. Management needs the tools to measure performance, whether it is how many parts are picked correctly per hour, Standard Jobs performance and profitability, or the increase/decrease of rental utilization. If you can measure it, you can manage it.
Across the board, most dealers have yet to find a universal tool that meets all three of their needs that also fits three additional criteria:
- A low learning curve for non-technical staff
- A practical initial investment that won’t break the bank or snowball costs in the future
- A non-invasive tool that fits seamlessly into employees’ existing daily workflow
Until now. TARGIT Decision Suite’s analytics solutions for the heavy equipment industry
put the unique needs of dealerships in the forefront. TARGIT Decision Suite for heavy equipment dealers delivers full insight into every aspect of your fleet. Get real-time access to KPIs such as rental utilization, return of average asset, and market basket analyses.
With TARGIT, data is delivered in common sense dashboards that even the most non-technical employee can easily wrap their head around in just a few seconds. With TARGIT’s embedded analytics solutions, users can access those dashboards directly from the tools they already use, right in their email, or on screens hanging from the office walls.
And perhaps best of all, TARGIT knows how to keep the total cost of ownership low. In fact, we’ve written the book on it.
Don’t be intimidated by Across the Table, embrace the shift to data-driven excellence for your company and watch your sales strategy transform.