iDealFile exceeds expectations for Howards Group

February 3, 2021
3 Minutes

Having initially set out to improve their customer handover experience, Howards Group were delighted to find that iDealFile could help them achieve that and so much more.  


Established as a single, family-owned garage in 1972, Howards has evolved into a multi-site group with 10 franchise partners and 20 sales locations across 5 sites in Weston-super-Mare, Taunton, Yeovil and Dorchester. With 270 employees and nearly 50 years experience, Howards is proud of the experience and reputation it has gained for delivering quality products and services that customers can trust.

In fact, it was is continual quest to deliver exceptional customer service that triggered their initial discovery of iDealFile.

The quest for the best

Peter Haynes, Managing Director, and Paul Hancock, Development & Compliance Manager, regularly review internal processes to see what can be working even better at Howards Group. In 2019, after a visit back to the sales floor they realised that the significant amount of paperwork in use across numerous locations could be an issue.

Not only was there a lack of consistency in the document versions being used at different sites, but there was also a feeling that the requirement to manually sign all of these paper documents was potentially damaging the handover experience for customers.

Instead of bursting with pride and excitement when picking their new vehicle, there was a sense that customers’ enthusiasm might be being dampened somewhat by the admin heavy manual handover process.

Digital discovery

So Paul set out to try to find a way to bring back the buzz – ideally digitising and simplifying the process so the customer could authorise via tablet and keep their focus on their new car, not the documents.

He explains the early stages: “I went away determined to find a system that would deliver our vision. It was really challenging. Digital document solutions – especially those designed for the automotive industry – were still in their infancy and I struggled to get any suggestions from my usual network of contacts. It was an internet search that led me to iDealFile. When I made the enquiry I was delighted to see the potential to help us solve our handover challenge and so much more!

“We met with the MotorDocs team several times to get a feel for the difference the platform could make to the business. Having completed due diligence on the financials and potential savings it became a no-brainer to choose iDealFile as the solution for Howards Group.”

Accelerated rollout

Once the green light was given, the initial set up meetings took place at the end of January 2020. The plan was to execute an 18-month project to bring all of the sites online with the support of an internal team – starting with a test site in Weston Super Mare and then following up with regional rollouts.

However, by the time everything was up and running it was into March and, all of a sudden, the coronavirus pandemic struck, with significant implications for the automotive industry.

Understanding the lifeline that digitising sales processes and remote access to documents could give the business, the 18-month roll out strategy was cast side as everyone agreed to do whatever it took to get the platform installed across Howards Group as quickly as possible.

This accelerated approach, which eventually took just 7 months, involved simultaneously tailoring, testing and refining the system to reflect Howards Group processes with remote training in bigger groups to introduce key people to iDealFile at the earliest possible moment.

Despite the rapidity, Paul was careful to ensure that everyone who was going to be interacting with the system – from sales managers to sales execs and sales admin personnel – had a one-to-one detailed overview with the opportunity to ask any questions at any time.

Seamless digital integration

The latter stages of the rollout also coincided with the introduction of iShare – a document signing and sharing portal which is seamlessly integrated into iDealFile.

By using iShare, Howards Group sales teams were able to operate remotely – using one system to ensure all important sales documents were shared, signed and stored securely. It minimises unnecessary customer contact and brings a whole new level of flexibility to the handover experience.

All parties also benefitted from strong links with CDK Global, as Paul explains: “We work very closely with CDK ourselves so the fact that MotorDocs powers their digital documents solution is a real positive. It’s so reassuring to know that iDealFile is fully integrated with our DMS. I know both systems are designed to work perfectly together and we are looking forward to seeing how we may be able to benefit from any new integrations that are planned for the future too.”

Above and beyond

A year on from the initial rollout planning, Paul explains the powerful impact iDealFile has made: “It has exceeded all expectations. Everyone is delighted. Change will often bring scepticism but even the initial doubters love the product now.

“As a well-run family business we’ve had people that have been here a very long time and were used to doing things the traditional way. Digitisation was a huge change for them but after using the product for just a short time they were 100% on board with everything we set out to achieve.

“What’s really encouraging for me is to see how people are now pushing new ideas forward to help evolve the system and how we use it. It has inspired our teams to be constantly thinking about new ways to work even smarter.

Tangible benefits

With 8,266 deal files now on their system, it’s safe to say that the digital document transition has been a huge success – resulting in a 50% reduction on paper and print-related costs year on year as well as additional savings from centralising resources and redeploying team members.

“For us, iDealFile is an end-to-end solution with proven business benefits. In the current norm of click and collect, we can manage new processes effortlessly. We’re all set up for distance selling, we’ve been able to centralise resource and I have the ability to react so quickly and efficiently to changing circumstances.

“It saves us money, it has helped free up physical space across our sites and, from a GDPR perspective, it has massively reduced our risks – for example we know that specific documents are guaranteed to be deleted at set time periods.

“Quite simply, it does what it says on the tin and so much more. With iDealFile in your business you’re guaranteed to sleep better at night.”

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