13th November 2024
NEC Birmingham

Soper pilots BMW and Mini car retail network digitisation model


Soper of Lincoln have provided a test bed for new digitalised car retail systems after BMW Group UK responded to calls from their franchised network to overhaul its internal processes and communications.

The objective of the exercise born out of the OEM’s UK Retailer Development Forum was to eliminate the cost of producing, storing, archiving and destroying paper documents and thereby deliver a rapid return on the retailer’s investment with the net ROI over seven years expected to be over £300,000.

Following an initial trial of new systems at Soper during July and August, digital signatures are now accepted for BMW audit purposes and the retailer has been able to eliminate unnecessary paper usage while driving more efficient processes and straightforward compliance procedures.

Soper of Lincoln managing director, Andrew Tullie, partnered with Arena Group on their mstore for automotive platform for the pilot and was partly motivated by a desire to reduce the dealership’s environmental footprint, a process which had already seen it adopt a new water recycling scheme and solar energy system.

“There’s huge efficiency savings which will be immeasurable,” said Tullie. “The knock on in addition to efficiency savings will be solid GDPR compliance, more efficient audit processes including remote auditing, and dealer manufacturer health checks."

Soper’s throughput of cars for service previously generated around 125,000 sheets of paper per year.

Combined with hefty paper-based deal packs for car sales, an incredible 670 trees were previously used per year for paper. This will be reduced by an estimated 95% by converting to digital to get the same job done.

Tullie added: “I anticipate benefits in the longer term to reallocate resource and become better at something else. Storage costs go, offices become tidier, communications flow easier, and we’re bring our workplace into the 21st century.”

Tullie has been an advocate for streamlining retail operations and working towards a paperless environment, and sees the real benefit in going beyond digitising the deal file process or opting for scan and store to archive only.

“There’s little mileage in scan and store, you plaster over the cracks,” he said. “You need to change the process, and that's when it becomes exciting.”

Digitising the sales process has precipitated a welcome change in behaviour at Soper that has delivered significant productivity improvements with a majority of paperwork filed correctly and time taken chasing largely eliminated. 

“I’m saving one person per year to simply to chase sales paperwork,” said Tullie. “It’s changed the dynamic in the sales process to be more proactive and thorough than before. We can be better, smarter and make the job more interesting.”

Digitising the dealership’s aftersales department has also delivered tangible cost savings on expense such as printing.

“We service over 50 cars per day, requiring between four and 25 pieces of paper printing per car," said Tullie. "Multiply this by 5.5 days per week over seven years and you have a mountain of documents that you’re required to storage to provide a history of what was done.”

Based on Tullie’s figures, digitisation is expected to save £12,800 per year by reducing paper usage by 95% across deal files and service.

Arena Group’s store for automotive system will be on display in the Future Dealership Zone, this November at the NEC in Birmingham. Secure your free place for the event here.