REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 6, 2007 — In an effort to create a “single view of the truth” regarding inventory, pricing and other critical data, two Wyoming dealerships recently implemented a solution based on Microsoft® software — helping increase their Web site traffic by 20 percent.
Brothers Chuck and Bob Ruwart, owners of Laramie Peak Motors and Bob Ruwart Motors, respectively, in Wheatland, Wyo., understand that most of their business comes from outside of town, and they wanted to provide an enhanced way for customers to view their combined inventory. The solution proved to be an integrated Web site that leverages Microsoft SQL Server™ 2005 and Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005.
“We can’t afford to have an outdated Web site showing cars that were sold the week before,” said Bob Ruwart. “If people are driving an hour to get to us, the car they saw on the site the night before had better be there. Because SQL Server pulls current data to show on the site, we don’t have to worry about breaking trust with our customers. What they see is what’s available. That’s very important in building long-term relationships with our customers.”
Originally the Ruwarts were running their dealerships on a shared Reynolds and Reynolds computer. To move the data from the separate databases on this system, the brothers hired Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Crile Carvey Consulting Inc. to create a custom middleware solution that pulls inventory data from the Reynolds and Reynolds computer and populates it in the SQL Server 2005 database. The new solution is now a single site that brings the brothers’ used-car vehicle inventory together, providing visitors with up-to-date pictures and data on cars from both dealerships, and gives the dealerships an easy way to follow up on customer interest in their cars.
“We’re in a highly competitive industry with tight margins,” Ruwart said. “The Microsoft technology enabled Crile Carvey Consulting to deliver a solution that built on what we already had, rather than requiring us to ‘rip and replace,’ which would have been prohibitive. This was an incremental expense that’s delivering a big payoff.”
The use of SQL Server has given the dealerships better access to their car inventory data than they had with the mainframe system, and the Ruwart brothers are now contemplating other ways to take advantage of that greater access. For example, using SQL Server replication, the server-based car data could be extended to Windows Mobile® 5.0-powered Smartphones. Sales personnel armed with the Smartphones could check the inventory database while on the lot or in the showroom with a customer. The Smartphones could also be used with SQL Server Notification Services to alert sales personnel to changes in inventory status.
“Microsoft software is continuing to advance the way automotive companies and dealerships are able to communicate with their customers,” said John Reed, director for Automotive Retail Solutions at Microsoft Corp. “Microsoft software is familiar and easy to use, and is designed to easily integrate into our customers’ existing infrastructure.”
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