Find the best Auto Dealership CRM Software


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Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

If you're an auto dealership trying to get customers out of their dreams and into your cars, you'll probably find yourself in need of a customer relationship management (CRM) system that can help you put those buyers behind the wheel.

CRM software provides a variety of tools that businesses of all stripes use to become more efficient in the ways that they monitor their sales, their calls and emails to clients and other important aspects of their interaction with past, present and potential future customers.

Auto dealership CRM software adapts all of those tools for use by auto dealerships, in addition to providing some extra functionality (such as inventory control and lease management) specific to auto dealerships.

This buyer's guide will explain what auto dealership CRM software can do to increase sales at your auto dealership. We'll also examine specific features, of both general CRMs and dealer-specific CRMs, that you should take into consideration when you're looking for an automotive CRM system.

Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Auto Dealership CRM Software?

Auto Dealer Software vs. Auto Dealership CRM

Common Features of Auto Dealership CRM Software

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Market Trends to Understand

What Is Auto Dealership CRM Software?

Auto dealership CRM software provides people in the auto dealer industry with a CRM platform specialized to their needs. It helps dealerships speed up and streamline their sales processes, respond promptly to customers' needs and maintain a detailed central database of customers and prospects.

The most important aspect of any CRM system is its contact database, which contains centrally-accessible information on various customers, contacts and prospects. This means that if one salesperson interacts with a customer, then the CRM contains a record of it so that all salespeople at the company are aware of that interaction.

For auto dealerships, another crucial part of CRM is sales force automation. This integrates the contact database with tracking metrics related to the sales pipeline for the purchase of a car from the dealership. It allows managers to more efficiently monitor their sales team for performance review, tracking commissions, team building etc.

Automotive CRM systems will often also contain features specific to the auto dealership industry, and so it is important to differentiate between this type of CRM software and more general auto dealer software.

Auto Dealer Software vs. Auto Dealership CRM

As explained above, auto dealership CRM software is a subset of the larger realm of CRM software. It consists of both general CRM systems that can be used with full effectiveness by auto dealerships and more specialized CRM systems that are intentionally dealership-centric (see the two features tables in the following section for how the features offered by these two types of auto dealership CRM systems may vary).

Auto dealer software, on the other hand, refers to any type of software that is marketed to and used by auto dealerships. It includes auto dealership CRM software, but also includes accounting software, inventory management software and other systems that are not part of generalized CRM software. We define “Auto Dealership CRM Software" as software that is primarily a CRM system—whether it's a generalized system or one specific to dealerships—but which may include some of these other features.

Common Features of Auto Dealership CRM Software

The features list of most auto dealership CRM software products can be divided into two types—features that will be found in most general CRM products, and features that are specific to CRM products dedicated to auto dealerships.

General CRM Features

Contact database

Most products provide a searchable database to store client information (e.g., contact information) and relevant documents (e.g., contracts and repair histories).

Sales force automation

This aspect of the system helps dealerships manage their sales team's activities, and helps the team close more deals by keeping thorough, accurate records of their interactions with all customers and sales prospects. This can play an important role in the determination and distribution of commissions.

Interaction tracking

These systems document conversations held by phone, in person, through live chat, email or other channels. These include interactions with sales prospects, current customers and returning customers with service needs. Interactions can be logged manually, or automated with phone and email system integrations. Depending on the product, some systems can also track interactions on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.

Workflow automation

This is the standardization of business processes, usually through a combination of task lists, calendars, alerts and templates. For example, once a task is checked off as complete, the system might automatically set a task for the next step in the process. This can be vital to a sales process that involves multiple departments in the dealership.


Auto dealership CRM tools can be used to track a sales team's performance and productivity based on activities logged in the CRM system—for instance, how many cars are sold monthly, or what makes/models are selling best. These tools can also be used for forecasting and for tracking commissions.

Dealership-Specific Features

Showroom management

Many auto dealership CRMs will have tools to allow managers more streamlined control over the showroom floor by tracking the activities—and productivity—of their sales team (and other staff). They can also allow employees to provide customers with quick quotes via calculation tools.

Inventory management

This function will allow dealerships to keep track of their stock and inventory, making it much easier to monitor and manage large vehicle lots (especially if there is more than one lot at multiple locations) and to track specific makes/models.

Lease management

Car leases feature a different set of parameters, and thus a different set of paperwork, than straight-up sales, so some auto dealership CRMs will provide special functions to monitor lease agreements, including payments and repairs.

Service department management

For dealerships with a service/repairs department, this set of features will track service orders, create and track invoices, and help manage both labor flow and the inventory of parts.


The sales manager dashboard in Q-GPS

What Type of Buyer Are You?

The kind of auto dealership CRM system that you're looking for will largely depend on the size and type of your business, since this will determine the amount of features that you require. Most dealerships will fall into one of the following four categories:

  • Single dealership, no service center. These are individually owned or managed dealerships that don't have a service center attached. They can probably get away with a relatively basic system that will provide a contact database, some sales force automation and interaction tracking.

  • Multiple dealerships, no service centers. These are groups of dealerships in a franchise that also don't have service centers attached. They will want a slightly more robust CRM that can provide added features such as workflow automation and reporting.

  • Single dealership with service center. These are individually owned or managed dealerships that have an attached service center. They will find a CRM useful if it contains all of the basic features needed for a single dealership, plus features for inventory management and service department management.

  • Multiple dealerships with service centers. These are large-scale dealership franchises with multiple locations and multiple service centers. These dealerships will want the most robust CRM available, with a wide variety of features and the ability to integrate with other dealership-focused software such as accounting and HR.

Market Trends to Understand

Cloud-based software. Cloud-based software solutions have become the go-to for most small-to-midsize companies, since they possess multiple advantages as compared to on-premise systems. On-premise software requires space for physical hardware along with the IT knowledge and resources to implement the software. Cloud-based software, on the other hand, is much more easily and quickly implemented, with fewer up-front costs and less of a need for IT assets. Thus, cloud-based systems are particularly suited for smaller businesses that lack those IT resources, like most auto dealerships.

Mobile functionality. Though most of the deal-making and sales transactions at a dealership will take place sitting at a desk inside the main building, employees looking for vehicles in the lot (or transferring vehicles from one lot to another) will find mobile accessibility to be a great benefit. Mobile access can also be useful to salespeople who want to provide quick, basic quotes to potential customers on the sales floor.