April 21, 2015 9:00 AM, EDT
Rush to Adopt Software From IBM for All Dealers
Rush Enterprises

By Michael G. Malloy, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the April 20 print edition of Transport Topics.

IBM and Rush Enterprises announced that Rush’s nationwide network of more than 100 truck dealership locations will use IBM DealerWorks enterprise software to provide real-time access to customers.

The software analyzes data to manage large groups of automotive, trucking and manufacturer information, the companies said. It can provide updated inventory information and customers’ buying and repair history.

“Consolidating all of our business data onto a single system that allows us to run and manage our entire network using critical metrics is key to enhancing our dealership efficiency,” Chairman and CEO Rusty Rush said. “Now we have sophisticated tools to manage our operation’s performance and a platform to take further advantage of economies of scale and rapidly integrate future locations onto our systems.

Rush sells Peterbilt and International heavy-duty trucks at its 112 U.S. truck centers as well as medium-duty truck brands including Hino, Isuzu, Ford and Mitsubishi Fuso.

“IBM DealerWorks is designed specifically to address the complex business needs of large automotive dealership networks and provide the right information to decision makers,” said Donna Satterfield, a vice president with IBM. “It can also be tailored to meet the specific needs of each local dealer so they can focus on their customers.”

Rush Executive Vice President Marty Naegelin described IBM DealerWorks as “an entire dealer management business system.”

Whether a customer goes into a Rush center in Florida or Oklahoma or California, the same information will be in the system, he said.

Many of the industry software programs that serve the truck dealers were developed in the early 1980s, Naegelin said.

“Those systems . . . don’t give you a 360-degree view of the customer,” he said, adding that many dealers “have bolted on outside solutions to give them a database of information about truck sales, but it never really ties together.”

Newer software platforms — which use enterprise resource planning systems — have far more sophisticated databases, he said.

According to an IBM Institute for Business Value study, two-thirds of automotive executives surveyed stated that substantial changes are ahead for the automotive retail market.

Family-owned and local dealerships are becoming less common, while the complexity of large, new dealer networks is creating new pressures to manage more efficiently and reduce operational costs, IBM said.

When Rush was building its software system, “it was very important to us to have a platform where we knew about the life of the truck from cradle to grave, so we could tie the truck and the customer together at some point,” Naegelin said.

“The point is, you get the information much faster . . . which can affect the outcome of your business in real time,” he added.