How a CIO decreased cost and leveraged the right technologies to increase revenue

Yan Purba, CIO of Larry H. Miller Management Corporation, reveals how CIOs can support the C-suite to increase margins, revenue, and customer satisfaction.

piggy bank one dollar bills money savings
Ken Teegardin (CC BY-SA 2.0)

How many managers does it take to modernize multi-state sales processes within a company steeped in tradition? If it’s Yan Purba, chief information officer at Larry H. Miller Management Corporation, one man is enough.

As one of the most recognized car dealerships in the western region, Larry H. Miller Management Corporation is a powerhouse in the world of commerce. But for Purba, pairing the practices of personalized customer service with modern innovations designed to streamline processes is an open challenge. He works with multiple stakeholders to both decrease costs and increase revenue in other departments.

I sat down with Purba to talk about the strategies he uses to help digitally transform an enduring, well-known company without compromising existing processes. Purba shared four strategies he uses to simplify complex processes and strengthen the bottom line.

1. Implement policies that increase margins

It’s true that the most effective policies are based on supporting work culture and improving efficiency. But the bottom line of policy is quite literally driven by the bottom line. And that often requires creating a balance between positive, supportive policies and costs. “The benefits of addressing costs are clear,” says business writer Dave Mustin. Mustin says that reductions in costs do not always translate into a robust bottom line. “But by cutting smartly, you can improve profitability,” says Mustin.

Purba focused on improving office operations as a way to increase margins. For example, to make the office operate more efficiently and decrease costs, Purba implemented WAN (wide area telecommunications network) with a private multi-protocol label (MPLS), which increased the bandwidth by 50 percent while reducing the cost by 50 percent. The world of sales moves quickly, so it’s crucial for companies to be prepared for the pace.

2. Consolidate customer service practices

Using standardized methods for building customer relationships is an important part of creating loyalty and customer retention. “At its core, customer relationship management is simple. However, it can be implemented in a huge array of methods: websites, social media, telephone calls, chat, mail, email and various marketing materials can all be integrated into a CRM solution,” says Forbes contributor Jason Kulpa. “Due to CRM's diversity, it doesn't only benefit larger businesses -- using and maintaining a CRM tool is the basis for a scalable sales and marketing system.” But when the majority of today’s companies regularly maintain a regional or  even global customer base, taking measures to ensure CRM is consistent throughout the company is a challenge.

With 64 different CRMs operating across the western region, Purba faced a situation where locations lacked connection to each other. So he consolidated them down into one CRM. “This made the customer experience better,” said Purba. “Before this change, if you went to one LHM dealership, the sales staff may not know you went to a different one because each dealership operated under a different CRM.” One CRM means customers receive a consistent level of service, and there is better communication among locations.

By instituting collaborative software like Salesforce, Purba reduced the siloed operations of each location and increased alignment, encouraged collaborative practices, and ignited productivity across the entire organization.

3. Focus on enhancing customer experience

Serving the customer has evolved from merely responding to customer’s requests to predicting and anticipating customer behavior with advanced analytics and machine learning. “If your brick-and-mortar differentiator is around customer service, begin investing now in the entire life cycle of customer service, from hiring to training to delivery and measurement,” says Trevor Sumner, Forbes contributor and CEO of Perch Interactive.  

When time means money, Purba discovered that by replacing an old php homegrown system with a new one, LHM could sell trade-in cars at wholesale to other dealers. He launched  lhmwholesale.com as an online vehicle for dealers to search neighboring inventories to serve customers better.

4. Deploy e-Signature software

Remember the ultimate goal of your business is to generate loyalty. “There's no better way to do that than to offer quality products and services and to be responsive to your customers,” say the staff at Inc.com, listing self-service optimization and marketing automation as two important customer service strategies.

For Purba, converting to an e-signature format has enhanced the customer experience and makes it easier for the sales team to close deals. Contracts can be forwarded simultaneously to multiple signers—and the electronic format makes it possible to better track the status of important documents. “This process helps us better serve our customers, it positions us for quicker growth, and it’s an efficient way to support the internal customer like our sales team and management,” said Purba.

Purba continues to explore ways to integrate new technologies with tried and true customer service strategies. Right now, he is exploring applications that will help streamline transactions for customers via tablets or other mobile devices.

Staying up to speed on evolving sales trends and technologies is a challenging yet exciting journey, and Purba is steering LHM down the road to success.

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