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Dealerships Can Save Thousands on Telecom Bills
Information technology touches just about every part of a modern dealership. Look around your business for a minute: You’re not just seeing PCs and laptops anymore. Now there are alarm units, sophisticated payment processing systems, video surveillance cameras, smart phones, tablets, electronic kiosks, and a TV or two in the customer waiting room, reliably turned to ESPN or cable news. You’re wired to the hilt.
All that telecom connectivity is great — but there’s a very strong chance you’re paying way too much for it.
Many telecom customers overpay (a lot!) for services
The intricate web of data, voice, and internet connections that keeps your dealership humming is often priced to the telecom carrier’s advantage — and by advantage I mean up to thousands of dollars each month in unnecessary or wrong charges. Telecommunications companies typically compartmentalize their plans and pricing and shift them along with new ISP technologies, which can make it difficult to understand what you’re paying for or if you have service in excess of what you really need. Because your equipment and devices tend to operate as they should, dealerships seldom think to second-guess the costs. And even if you did, you’d probably be so stymied and confused by the plan structures and tech lingo that you’d just cry “Uncle!” and keep right on overpaying.
Telecom is a utility with often arcane usage and pricing structures. When you turn off the lights at night, you’re no longer running up your electric bill, but whether or not you power down some telecom devices makes no difference; your monthly charges can stay the same, based on your service plan. You can see, then, how it becomes all too easy to mismatch plans and usage and to pay more than is warranted.
Common dealership scenarios that trigger telecom optimization opportunities
Many dealerships have stores in several locations, and often in differing governmental jurisdictions. Either of these conditions usually means opportunities to save on telecom.
The acreage demands of a new dealership facility often lead to siting in rural but developing parts of a community. As increasing traffic counts and new construction surround your once-rural site, the range of options for telecom connectivity can grow as well. When a new branch of a college campus or a state-of-the-art medical facility moves in nearby, for instance, and brings inexpensive fiber to the neighborhood, your dealership’s expensive T1 lines suddenly become obsolete. There’s opportunity to switch to the fiber network and cut costs.
Multiple locations in differing governmental jurisdictions usually signify telecom tax discrepancies. Let’s say that new lot you opened in the rural but developing part of the community is in county rather than city domain. If you’ve made that location your headquarters, this often could mean a reduction on taxes from the location previously anchored in the city. Details like this often go unnoticed.
If your dealership has grown through acquisition, you can probably take advantage of volume discounts. Combining multiple diffuse carrier accounts from subsidiary, service, and other acquired components can bring discounts and data pool options. A comprehensive assessment of all telecom expenses can review the trends of usage and costs by department and provide budgetary guidance and confidence.
Your employees have access to valuable enterprise data via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Email may still be paramount, but CRM and sales force apps provide equally confidential and proprietary information to your mobile workforce. Many dealership mobile devices have no formal safeguards in place to restrict unauthorized use of mobile devices, or to quickly remove enterprise information from an at-risk device. When there is theft and loss of devices, mobile device management tools can provide needed protection to customer, financial, and sales information.
Right-size your telecom infrastructure and billing
Cutting your telecom expenses down to size is a three-step process.
- Review and analyze — Start with a comparison of your service contract and billing records to look for errors and discrepancies. Check them against average market prices and determine how your charges measure up.
- Go to battle — When you find any discrepancies and errors, you’ll have to dispute them with your carrier to recover credits or refunds. Prepare to fight for your rights and negotiate to your greatest advantage.
- Adjust your infrastructure and service plan — Optimize your information technology, support, and value for services in alignment with your business plan.
This is tedious, time-consuming work and demands some in-depth comprehension of the telecom industry. But it’s worth the effort because, more often than not, the savings are considerable.
So who should be assigned such a project? In most dealerships, the responsibility seems to straddle IT and finance, falling both within and without their spheres of knowledge and onus, further complicating the task.
You’ll probably need to look outside your business for help. A multidisciplinary team of specialists can review your systems and analyze carrier contracts and bills. It’s not as costly as you might imagine (expenses are recovered in savings), nor does it have to be threatening to your IT and accounting staff. Most are glad to be unburdened of the work and focus on more pressing issues at your dealership.
Whether you search out these saving with in-house or outside resources, be sure to incorporate the process into your regular business reviews as contracts and charges continue to fluctuate.
How we can help
CLA’s telecom advisory team has extensive industry background with landline, wireless, and data services and can determine if your dealership’s expenses are in line with your needs. We can audit your telecom services, represent your interests in carrier negotiations, and work out the most advantageous contract arrangements possible. We also help optimize existing plans and services, identify future risks, and correct course without switching carriers. To get started, we will collect one month of your phone, data, and wireless invoices. We will give you a complimentary preliminary assessment, and either forecast your savings and refunds, or give you a clean bill of health.