Companies that sell and service high value products through a dedicated franchise network have a wide range of processes to support and strengthen their network of retailers including; Performance review, collaboration between field and retailers as well as the implementation of corporate initiatives across the network.

These processes apply to a wide range of industries but are specifically used by Automotive, Powersports, Transportation and Equipment manufacturers. It is vital for these companies to establish a very close and collaborative working relationship with their franchise partners with the goal to help them represent the brand effectively.

The above relationship and corresponding set of activities are managed by a team of Field Managers focused on either Sales Operations or After-Sales/Fixed Operations. Such teams help coach their franchise partners / dealers into providing high quality services to keep their products compete well, improving customer satisfaction and increasing brand reputation.

A standard CRM solution is typically geared towards managing a sales pipeline with focus on the sales team selling the products directly to its customers. This will include managing leads, contacts, sales opportunities and all related activities.

However, a standard CRM solution does not fit with the franchise sales model which requires a different set of processes and focus to effectively manage Field Operations. A standard CRM system will have to be customized extensively at a significant cost to meet the industry requirements.

This perspective article highlights some of the processes that are special to this industry.

Performance Tracking One of the key differences between a franchise model and other models is that the former needs to closely track the sales and after-sales performance of their partners on a variety of metrics such as sales performance, sales effectiveness, inventory, finance sources, customer satisfaction, service performance, warranty spend, repair parts purchases, etc.

Therefore, a performance scorecard is an integral part of the requirement and should be embedded in the collaboration process. Standard CRM systems do not have pre-built scorecard and performance tracking tools – which will always be developed at an additional expense.

Optimum IKON, on the other hand, includes an integrated performance scorecard / dashboard which can be configured out of the box or enhanced to address each customer’s requirement.

The performance metrics (KPIs) are also integrated into various other reports to help with better management of the network performance.

Structured Visit / Contact Management Processes Sales or After-Sales Managers meet with their dealership counterparts on a regular basis – mostly once a month. Such visit reports can be added in a traditional CRM system as separate documents or as notes, but they are typically not well structured for better analysis and controls.

Additionally, standard CRM systems may not have other tools for escalations, internal notifications, and collaboration.

IKON helps users manage the full contact meeting process – starting from meeting scheduling, centralized calendar, defining agenda (based on performance) and then tracking discussions around specific topics.

These discussions can also be tracked for follow-up action plans (detailed below). IKON also provides opportunities for internal collaboration and notifications to inform other departments or management on any important developments within the dealer network.

Collaborative Action Plans Standard CRM systems have features to manage activities and tasks linked to each entity. Through this feature, field managers can track all their follow-up activities that they need to carry out with their retailers.

But the important missing link is that these activities are managed internally and not in collaboration with the network.

Optimum IKON includes a framework through which it becomes easier for the sales / after-sales field managers to collaborate with their franchise partners. They can create activities / tasks (Action Plans) for their franchise partners and assign these activities to specific users to complete within a defined period of time.

Additional tracking can be done through the system to manage such activities and track performance improvements.

Internal Collaboration Internal Collaboration is another important area of difference between a standard CRM solution and a vertically focused Field Operations solution like Optimum IKON.

Any sales / after-sales operations require channeling a large number of activities and projects that are managed by other corporate groups. These could include groups like Network Development, Vehicle Distribution, Marketing, Incentives, Warranty, Parts Sales, etc.

All these corporate groups require many activities to be carried out by the field with the network – an area that is usually not addressed by standard CRM solutions.

Optimum Info’s IKON solution includes extensive processes to manage field assignments / projects and collect data from the field.

Most manufacturers tend to manage such projects through email communications or other tools, while these processes are already integrated within Optimum’s IKON Field Operations CRM.

Industry Focus Optimum IKON system is tailored exclusively for automotive, powersports, transportation and equipment OEMs that sell and service their high value products through a closely knit franchise network.

These companies require special and focused solutions to work effectively with their dealers in order to be successful in the market. A well performing franchise network will represent the brand well and create a good impact with the end-customer, which is key to grow in this hyper-competitive environment.

A standard CRM solution could be customized to develop features that may satisfy an individual company, but at a tremendous cost. Contrarily, an industry-specific solution like IKON allows manufacturers to strengthen their Field Operations in a more cost-effective way and incorporate out-of-box features and functionalities tailored to their business needs.

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