e-Auto swiftly integrates terminal-based customer information
Customers

e–Auto Swiftly Integrates Terminal–Based Customer Information

Industry

   Automotive

Customer

   e-Autobusiness
(e-Auto)

Host Connectivity Solution

        PowerTerm® Host Publisher

Host Server

        UNIX-based systems

Users

        15 car dealerships

The Challenge

        To integrate AEROS, a web-based CRM software solution for automotive sales opportunities management, into a series of back-end legacy systems.

The Solution

        PowerTerm Host Publisher enables e-Auto to pull host-based customer information into e-Auto's OMS system to establish a single source of customer data for putting at the fingertips of the car dealership sales people.


Benefits

  • PowerTerm Host Publisher offered flexibility in choosing the development components e-Auto needed to meet its requirements.
  • Because PowerTerm Host Publisher is straightforward and easy to use, in-house programmers could do the job. No outside consultant was required.
  • PowerTerm Host Publisher's simple scripting language made it easy to get the work done quickly. E-Auto was able to get their system up and running at customer sites within a matter of days.

"Ericom got us out of a tight jam by enabling us to address the urgent challenge we faced. It gave us the tools we needed to quickly and affordably bridge the gap for connecting to the back-end systems on the auto-dealership side."
Jonathan McGuire, e-Auto Vice President of Engineering

Background

e-Autobusiness (e-Auto), a subsidiary of Impact Solutions, Inc., is the leading provider of CRM Software designed to deal specifically with "opportunity optimization" in car dealerships. E-auto's products and services allow car dealerships to build and improve the relationship with new buyers and existing clients in order to improve retention and maximize the bottom line.

In 2000, e-Auto began developing and marketing the AEROS® Opportunity Management System (OMS) as a web-based, CRM solution for automotive sales opportunity management. By providing functionality via an ASP Model (Application Solution Provider), the product provides a number of cost advantages over more traditional systems. With advanced functionality, Aeros helps car dealerships improve sales effectiveness and overall dealer operations, enabling sales representatives to automate the process of collecting customer information, submitting it, and retrieving a quote for closing a sale - without having to leave the dealership floor.

Prior to Aeros, sales representatives would talk to a customer on the sales floor, scribble down notes on pieces of paper, which someone would need to key into a back-end system to get a quote or make a deal all while the customer sat and waited. With Aeros, the sales representative is empowered to make the deal himself. He collects all the information at his keyboard on the sales floor, gets a quick link to the back-end accounting systems, and completes the whole process in minutes.

In order for Aeros to work effectively, e-Auto needed to tie the product into a series of back-end systems including ADP and Reynolds& Reynolds, two leading products used by approximately 80% of the auto retail community. These systems are primarily UNIX-based systems, and use green screens with server-based processing and direct database access. e-Auto needed to connect to the back-end legacy systems at two separate integration points first to extract information from a batch-based extraction program running as a Windows service, and second to push the information to the systems on demand.

Neither ADP nor Reynolds & Reynolds could offer the integration capabilities e-Auto required - capabilities that were critical to Aeros' success. "One of the major problems we had to overcome was that so much of the business logic of these systems was built into the front-end user application, so we were losing vital information during the integration on the back-end," explained Jonathan McGuire, e-Auto Vice President of Engineering.

Why Ericom Software?

With only a few months to launching their Aeros product, and no closer to finding a solution among the products with which they were familiar, McGuire started to look for an integration solution outside the auto industry. He found Ericom during a web search. "Ericom got us out of a tight jam by enabling us to address the urgent challenge we faced. It gave us the tools we needed to quickly and affordably bridge the gap for connecting to the back-end systems on the auto-dealership side," said McGuire.

PowerTerm Host Publisher offered e-Auto an immediate solution without complications. "Some of the other companies we talked to wanted to make the deal, but needed to put a consultant on-site for up to 4 weeks to make sure it succeeded. We simply didn't have the time. We also figured that if the solution is so complicated that we needed a consultant on the job for that much time, then it sure wasn't the solution for us," commented McGuire. "Ericom was so simple, we pretty much figured out everything by ourselves, and could get up and running fast."

McGuire says that PowerTerm Host Publisher was easy to work with and offered e-Auto flexibility in functionality, at an affordable price. It allowed e-Auto to pick and choose the components it needed to meet its exact requirements. "Compared to the other solutions it we tried, Ericom was the only one that didn't require an 'all or nothing' situation. We could use certain components of the solution without having to be locked into the entire solution. This also enabled us to gain some flexibility in the pricing structure, making PowerTerm Host Publisher extremely cost-effective."

According to McGuire, installation was fairly simple. Since the company deals with two completely different, customizable dealer management systems, set-up and screens vary from dealership to dealership. PowerTerm Host Publisher's simple scripting language made it easy to get this done quickly, standardize certain screens and make changes on the fly. As a result, what used to take 3 to 4 weeks now takes less than 2 weeks. "There's a 2-week churn period to stabilize the product and we pretty much keep to that timeframe. That is all the time it takes to install Aeros and fine-tune the product to meet each of the dealer's exact needs. This makes our customers happy and frees up our own resources for other jobs." McGuire says that their goal is to get implementation down to just a few hours, which will free up internal resources for other tasks.

Seeing Results

PowerTerm Host Publisher has helped e-auto accomplish in a few months what it was previously not able to accomplish in two years sell and implement their car dealership product. With PowerTerm Host Publisher, Aeros easily integrates major dealer management (DMS) systems. PowerTerm Host Publisher creates a bridge between Aeros and the archaic back-end systems (operating on Value Pick databases that were once difficult to work with), establishing a single source of customer data available in real-time. Every sales representative and manager has access to the system. All the sales representatives must do is key in customer details so when they go to close the deal all the information is there. PowerTerm Host Publisher runs in the background, and is completely transparent to its users.

McGuire says that they have achieved their primary goal with PowerTerm Host Publisher: "The bottom line is that PowerTerm Host Publisher has enabled us to take all the customer information, including vehicle ownership history, contract information and service records, and put it at the fingertips of every sales rep in the dealership."

To date, over 15 dealerships use Aeros with Ericom Software's PowerTerm Host Publisher embedded into it, translating into over 300 concurrent licenses among their dealership customers. While most of their integration deals with ADP and Reynolds systems, e-Auto believes that implementation will be just as simple for the other dealership management systems on the market.




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