Dealers spend so much time and so many resources on finding the right Dealership Management System (DMS), but when it comes down to the question of what IT solution dealers cannot live without, most of them actually say it’s their phone system. Car and truck dealers could temporarily go to manual operations and run a dealership without a DMS, but under no circumstances could they ever shut down customer and internal phone communication. Being available via telephone at all times is crucial for business success or failure.

Phone Resellers Struggle With Advancing Communications Technology

Unlike DMS and CRM applications, phone systems are not sold directly from the manufacturer or service provider. Auto dealers must find the best reseller before deciding about the right telephony solution from Cisco, Avaya, Shoretel, Mitel, NEC, Polycom, Allworx, and others. The best-case scenario is to find an established and certified channel partner that offers multiple phone solutions from which dealers can then pick the best fit for their distinctive needs.

In over 20 years helping auto dealers negotiating their dealership technology we have seen numerous phone systems that had been installed by one reseller and re-installed and maintained by another – needless to say that the dealers had to cover the additional costs for fixing what the first channel partner failed to deliver. A wrong decision about the channel partner can easily lead to an expansive misunderstanding.

Phone Systems Evolve To Complex Unified Communications Platforms

On top of it, the telecommunications industry has made dramatic progress over the years. Today’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems go far beyond telephony, voicemail and call reporting. So called Unified Communications and Collaboration platforms integrate instant messaging, online meetings, mobile solutions, softphones and desktop applications, “telepresence” and video conferencing, and many other applications that will help auto dealerships streamline communication and exceed customer expectations. But how to get to this point is the challenge dealers are facing. Is a smaller local reseller better than a bigger national reseller? And should dealers sign up for hosted VoIP or on-premise systems? Is it worth to pay more for an outstanding first-tier telephone system than for a solid second-tier solution?

Gillrie Institute Phone System Consulting

Automobile dealers have very distinctive needs for their phone system. For instance they need an easy-to-use call manager to internally administer users and endpoints, an in-depth call intelligence reporting tool to track in- and outbound activities and control marketing efforts, an advanced contact center solution for their BDC campaigns, reliable mobile solutions for supporting sales managers on the lot, hunt groups for their body shops, and a sound DMS and CRM integration. Finding the best phone system that supports these and other features and having a reliable channel partner to install and maintain the system is a true challenge. We will navigate dealers through the complex world of telephony and help them to:

  • Identify a competent channel partners to ensure smooth install and maintenance,
  • Challenge vendors on configuration so that our dealers don’t buy equipment and services they don’t need
  • Understand total costs of ownership and get the best rates for phones and IP technology,
  • Safeguard the best phone deals with the right addenda, and
  • Save a lot of valuable time.


Here is a quick recap of what we do for clients:

Together with our client’s key personnel we formulate a master plan based on the dealer’s latest technology bills and goals, the then current contractual obligations, and the dealer’s preferences. This determines the right vendor mix for the bidding process. We also assist with setting up vendor onsite visits and preparing our dealers for demos by providing them with guidelines and questions that are created to unveil potential red flags.
We make sure the configuration of all proposals includes everything the client needs to run his business. We don’t want the vendor coming back in a few months and selling us additional required items when our leverage is non-existent. We also confirm that there are no items included that we don’t need or want.
We track pricing of over 13,000 items from 300+ vendors, which enables us to tell dealers exactly what others pay for technology. By verifying vendor prices against our database we can ensure our clients get the best possible discounts. We also analyze and comment on all contracts to ensure that the best terms offered to anyone are being applied to our clients. We typically will recommend up to 30 changes before we let a client sign a vendor contract.
We assist our dealers in negotiations with all technology vendors and guide them in the evaluation and selection process by sharing our experiences with the various vendors. Because we have so many clients in the US and Canada, we can relate the relevant experiences that other dealers have had with a particular vendor that may be under consideration.
We stay with the client, at no additional charge, for the entire time he retains the system we help him acquire. During this period, we are available as a resource on technology and to answer any questions that may arise. We will audit monthly vendor billings against the agreed contract terms on a quarterly basis or as often as the client submits his bills. It is a rare instance that we do not find abuse or errors.