Most companies have either a full paper-based process or partially digital process, while on the other end of the spectrum are companies that are managing the whole process digitally. Here are some of the scenarios in which dealer packages are managed

Paper-based processes All requests to dealers are made via email or letters. Dealers deliver documents via paper, email, or faxes. Someone in the company is responsible for preparing a package of such documents. Such packages are then routed for review and approval in paper form.

Email based sharing In this scenario, companies request documents from dealers via email. Company representatives collect the documents, print them, and maintain a paper-based document package for internal routing and review. In some cases, the documents are received from the dealer via an application system, but all internal reviews are carried out on paper.

File Repositories In this scenario, documents are requested and received electronically via email. The documents are then stored in an electronic file repository which could be a file server or a file storage system. Some servers provide workflow-support so reviewers can review the dealer documents through such internal workflow/systems.

Full-Solution At this level, companies have a fully integrated system to configure and control their documentation requirements. Dealers submit documentation and internal users review the submitted documents fully electronically, including e-signatures and workflow-driven routings.

This insight document explores the challenges in the manual/semi-automated processes adopted at many companies. As the world is rapidly adapting to virtual teams with many remote teammates, challenges with such processes are immense.


Companies face a variety of challenges in managing dealer package and contract documents through manual or semi-automated processes. These extend from the level of difficulties in keeping track of all such documents to challenges in reviewing documents and internal routing, reviews and approvals. Here are some of the key challenges that we found based on our understanding of the industry

Inconsistency of Requirements & Communication Managing a wide range of dealer actions consistently and efficiently requires diligence, persistence, and on-going vigilance. Requirements and documentation tend to change from time to time and different people may implement different standards. Without a good technology solution this is complicated by a lack of document version control, especially when there is inconsistency in the data requested from dealers.

Compilation of Documents Dealer personnel need to create, collect and compile documents required by the manufacturer. They frequently do not have a good mechanism for compiling and managing all of the documents in one place. Usually Manufacturers will generally provide a checklist of requirements to dealers, but the process is still cumbersome and error-prone. It often happens that dealers do not submit the right documents, leading to time-consuming discussions and clarifications. Additionally, as dealers submit their documents (usually via email), the Network Development personnel now have the task of compiling files and paperwork on their end.

Lack of Visibility A significant amount of communication and follow up is required between the company and the dealers during the time the dealer is working on preparing the package documents. During this time the Network Development personnel have very little information on whether the dealer is actually working on the package or not; and if they are working on it, to what extent have they completed their work. This requires additional efforts to stay on track with all required follow-up activities.

Delays in Processing Packages Dealers are challenged with gathering and completing the requested package information and submitting it in a timely manner to the OEM for processing and approval. Failure to submit the requested data and documents in a timely manner can lead to delays and typically requires extra attention. In some cases, restarting the process from the beginning may be required.

Logistics & Shipment Costs Storing, printing, and shipping documents domestically or internationally is expensive and time consuming if a company has several dealerships in a nationwide or international network requiring dealer actions. One company talked about the cost of obtaining and sending back documents to and from the document storage companies. While these are small costs for every transaction, they quickly add up to a significant amount.

Difficulty Accessing Old Documents Looking up and referencing old documents supporting previous dealer actions can be a daunting task. It is difficult to retrieve data due to paper documents being stored in file cabinets, at an off-site storage facility, or in a difficult to navigate database archive. Failure to retrieve this historical data quickly slows the processing of new dealer actions and makes the dealer development function less productive.

When Things Go Wrong: Litigation Unfortunately, circumstances can arise when it is necessary to litigate or defend an action with a dealer. Complete, comprehensive, accurate and easily accessible documentation is critical to help assure a successful and cost-effective outcome.

Benefits of an Online & Full-Cycle Solution

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A fully online and comprehensive solution can resolve many of the above challenges. It will allow Network Development managers to focus on their primary responsibility of identifying and approving the right set of dealers and staying on top of all contractual relationships with their dealers including renewals, approving leadership and ownership changes, and other similar consequential actions.

Such systems are also very useful from a dealer perspective and provide a much better experience for them. This helps them also stay on top of all contractual actions and work closely with their OEM counterparts.

Benefits of an Online & Full-Cycle Solution

  • Standardization of Document Requirement
    Companies can establish an electronic central repository for dealer documents that can be categorized and easily maintained. This is accomplished by defining a checklist of documents to be included in a package for specific dealer action while allowing for customization, as necessary. These checklists help define a standard process for all personnel involved in dealer development to follow, and act as a placeholder for all documents required to initiate a dealer action.

    Network Development managers can now enforce standards and easily track deviations from standards. This helps enforce policies and reduce exceptions to policies.
  • Centralized Online Storage
    Virtual cloud-based storage ensures unlimited storage and rapid accessibility of information. This repository can be used to store all sensitive documents in one secure place with access controls and logs.
  • Dealer-Friendly
    A user-friendly online system will let dealers manage their part of the process easily, with fewer errors and in a timely manner. It provides a simple process for existing or new dealer candidates to identify themselves, view documents requested by the OEM, and collect, manage, and submit required documentation electronically.
  • Close Collaboration
    Communication and collaboration are key components to OEMs establishing good relationships with dealers and to completing dealer actions in a timely manner. It is important to have a single effective method of electronic communication that allows real-time collaboration between OEMs and dealers across the life cycle of a dealer package. This includes reminders and alerts functionality. Whether the dealer network is located nationally or globally, implementing a single electronic communication approach when processing dealer actions will expedite the process through better communication and create a better overall experience for users.
  • Cost Control
    Printing and shipping costs are not insignificant, especially manually printing and mailing document packages and agreements. Through the use of email, a significant amount of supporting documents can be sent electronically but companies incur costs with courier services for contract documents, which becomes more expensive when documents have to be shipped across international borders. An online and integrated system can reduce paper printouts and shipping costs.

Arvind Verma

CEO & President

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