No matter how many Dealerships I visit, I always learn something new. In April, I visited a Midwest High-Line Dealership. While on my visit, I encountered numerous problems using a NEW computer system in their NEW $42 million dollar facility! The problems were Complete Inability or Very Slow: to connect with the factory, download tech bulletins, download of software patches, open electronic parts catalogs, email digital pictures, open electronic time guides, on-line video training, etc.
After discussing this problem with the General Manager, the group IT Director visited with me and I explained the challenges I saw. I explained that these issues were costing approximately $25,000 per month in Service and Parts Gross Profit based on total lack of Efficiency. The Employees had been complaining about these issues, but nothing had been fixed at this point. The building was brand new and the computer system was brand new. I was shocked that the computers could be malfunctioning in such a short time. After investigation, the IT Director found that both the diagnosis and solution were simple.
According to the IT Director, the Dealership's Internet bandwidth demands had increased 400% in only 12 months time, and far exceeded their current supply! It was not the computers, but too little bandwidth. The solution would only cost them an additional $400 per month compared to the estimated $25,000 in lost Service & Parts Gross Profit. Here is this brand new Taj Mahal Dealership, and if it was suffering from a lack of bandwidth, then most other Dealerships in the United States probably have the same issues. There are VERY FEW functions in our business anymore that are provided strictly from the computer server or from paper manuals and forms. Almost everything we do these days is supplied through the Internet, transmitted through the Internet, is web-based, cloud-based, etc. So that YOUR Employees' productivity is maximized, I strongly recommend having someone measure your current bandwidth demand at peak Dealership hours and have your supply adjusted accordingly.
When determining the amount of bandwidth needed for your network to operate efficiently, you must consider how and when your system is utilized. High use of bandwidth slows a network to a crawl making it difficult or impossible for your Employees to do their work. All usage is not created equal - some may be authorized, other may be for personal usage, such as the huge bandwidth draw which results from streaming radio and TV to Employees' computers for their "entertainment"!
Some steps to take to make the most of what you have:
To understand where and when you are accessing the Internet, make a list of all the required applications necessary in running your business.
Monitor your bandwidth. If you don't own any monitoring software, download a free monitoring tool from the internet or get one for a nominal cost. These tools monitor your network and Internet traffic in real-time and will measure your download and upload speeds in graphical and numerical forms to assist you in determining why and when you're using bandwidth. There are free software programs available such as NetWorx found at http://www.softperfect.com that provide accurate accounts of the data which is flowing through your computer's network connection.
Print and review a traffic report for several days. These reports will show a graph including all peeks of bandwidth use. For example, you may not have problems with your bandwidth between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., but from 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. may show spikes in utilization. This could be due to Employees browsing the Internet before, after or during "break" hours.
Enforce technology policies. Streaming live video and radio suck up the most bandwidth and slow the network down for everybody! Give your Employees what they need to perform their jobs adequately, but do not leave "everything open". If there is no need for streaming video or radio lock out those functions. Your Dealership's network policy should state that all of what Employees do on the computer may be monitored and recorded.
Ask your Employees about their Internet and computer experience. Determine if you need more bandwidth to better your Employees' performance. There are many options available. Before making a decision, speak to your provider and see what is available or speak to several venders for the best price.
Continually monitor your usage on a regular basis; if your see that your bandwidth needs to be increased, make the change. For a slightly higher monthly fee, this small change will make a huge difference your Employees' efficiency and happiness. Lloyd Schiller is president of Lloydschiller.com and LloydTV.com, he can be reached at lloydschiller.426