“The system, based on standard Autoline functionality, has been enhanced and developed to meet this corporate customer’s specifications, and is currently being rolled out in Australia, and will be followed with implementation in Singapore and Thailand, and then South Africa in about two years,” Kerridge business-development manager Richard Scrooby says.
Research and development (R&D) is carried out by the company’s UK, Ireland, Netherlands and South African branches, each one focusing on country-specific issues and core product development.
The Johannesburg-based branch also concentrates on R&D into interfaces in manufacturing and third-party systems for functions such as parts ordering, warranty, customer-satisfaction-index submissions and customer-relationship management administration.
In the last two years, the company has experienced much success in the automotive sector, having installed 65 dealerships and 1 400 seats with its Autoline product within the DaimlerChrysler franchised-dealer network alone.
DaimlerChrysler South Africa (DCSA) is in the process of installing the Autoline system at all of its dealers and, in a similar project for BMW South Africa, 34 dealers – comprising 670 seats – have already been equipped with the Kerridge Prima system.
“We will also be installing the last of the independent dealers in the Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) franchised-dealer network on the Autoline Dealer Management system, bringing our market share within that network to 54%,” automotive sales manager Harm Stavast notes.
He points out that the South African company – which has operated autonomously from the UK division for 22 years – has performed in line with the multinational’s general trends, which he claims has the most collectively-endorsed software solution for the automotive industry.
“We are also branching into areas such as fleet management, which is a much-fragmented business function, with no interface into proper back-office systems, or integration of fleet systems into dealer-management systems,” Stavast adds.
“The main reason for the company’s diverse focus is to position it as a solutions provider for the automotive industry, plus all of its vertical markets.” For parts and components stock management, Scrooby explains that the anticipated return on investment is quantified in advance by analytical techniques that evaluate the existing stock performance.
“Factors such as service levels and stock turn are examined and, by the application of benchmarked industry norms, we can forecast what a deployment of our stock-management tools can deliver.” He is confident that the improvements in stock management are typically in the order of ten per cent increases in service rates, from which increased inventory performance and return on investment is calculated.
Stavast states that bigger companies usually recover the investment more quickly than smaller companies, as they have faster response times and enough personnel to deploy new strategies and management processes while they are in the implementation phase.
Scrooby stresses that, while the DCSA, BMW and VWSA projects – along with other recent ones for Barloworld, Imperial Toyota and Saficon Industrial Equipment – are multimillion-rand implementations, the company is well positioned to provide cost-effective entry-level solutions for clients with fewer than ten users. “We offer Kerridge Outsource Services, which has been designed to provide a complete application service provider operating model to customers, based on the deployment of best practices, methodologies and procedures,” he informs.
Some 70% of the company’s new business is derived from outsour-cing functions as customers strive to improve efficiencies and focus on core activities.
“Our solutions are tailored to customer needs, and are flexible, scaleable and integrated, as is evidenced by the growth the company has experienced in the last three years,” Stavast remarks.
For the simple fact that vehicle volumes are low in the South African market, providing solutions for all stakeholders in the vertical automotive industry makes sense, he elaborates.
He continues by naming challenges within the local automotive sector, such as pressure on dealers in terms of standards and system requirements – dealers often see their franchise agreements as one-sided and are frequently put under pressure by the manufacturers to conform to the standards stipulated in such franchise agreements, he says.
“The positive side to this is that, by meeting the standards, systems can be easily integrated, which will result in a network that is open to data transfers between the supply chain.” Stavast also reports that the slow-changing mentality that dealer-management solutions are tools offering more than financial functionality is gaining momentum.
These business tools are now appreciated for their integration of electronic information with online tools.
Scrooby points out that the Internet and technology have changed the way people buy products, empowering consumers with knowledge and providing them with different routes to obtaining products and services from a myriad of suppliers.
“It is thus important that e-business and business gained during day-to-day operational toil is managed to ensure customer satisfaction and, hence, stimulate some degree of loyalty.” In other news, the company will be launching a modular scaleable product with a road show around the country’s large cities between August 12 and August 20.
The product, in its latest guise, is being implemented for Barloworld Motor and the Toyota group, and after these and further corporate roll-outs are completed, the company will have substantially increased its market share.