Dealer Insights - July/August 2012 - Creating a Meaningful Daily Operating Report
If someone asked you how you use your daily operating control report (or “DOC”), would you roll your eyes and think, sadly, of its limited use, because you really can’t rely on its numbers? Many dealership owners say their stores’ DOCs aren’t dependable enough to use for business evaluation and planning — mainly because data in the reports isn’t as current as it should be.
If this sounds like your dealership, brighten up. You can greatly improve the functionality of your DOCs by setting up process controls throughout your organization.
DO YOU READ YOUR “DASHBOARD”?
The DOC that your dealership compiles daily for your manufacturer is a 24-hour summary of the financial metrics that drive your business. This “dashboard” for your operation can help you and your department heads keep a close eye on performance and make adjustments quickly to enable your store to meet its weekly, monthly and annual financial goals. The DOC typically makes the rounds midmorning, after it’s generated by accounting personnel.
Your DOC can provide a wealth of information on cash receipts and disbursements, as well as on revenue and expenditures. For example, here are nine of the nearly 200 lines on the report used by one franchise: total dealership gross, new front end gross, used front end gross, service labor gross, parts gross, selling expenses, operating expenses, overhead expenses and operating profit (or loss).
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
While the management potential of DOCs is high, many dealership owners complain that quirks in their computer system processes — and staff habits — impair their usefulness. They say that the numbers aren’t always up to date because of delays in F& I processes and accounting entry.
In reality, many receipts and expenses aren’t recorded on the day they incur. And, if the parameters in your dealer management system (DMS) aren’t properly linked between the F&I module and the Accounting module, the gross profits on car deals will be inaccurate in the DOC and other management reports.
WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
Don’t be discouraged. The secret to a good DOC isn’t magic, it’s discipline — data collection needs to be rigorous and on a near real-time basis. Give special attention to your expenses because they can be grossly understated if they’re not entered into your DMS on the day you’re billed or as soon as the charge is known.
Consider taking the following actions:
- Evaluate your current controls by having your accounting department head interview every department head to determine where the weak spots are and how to remedy them.
- Set an agreed-upon time for the F&I department to finalize car deals for office processing — for example, a deal must be completed and in the office by 7 a.m. the next day in order for it to be posted and show up on the DOC.
- Set an agreed-upon time that the accounting office will have all car deals posted for the prior day — for instance, 10 a.m.
- Establish controls in each department so that every bill and receipt is entered on the same day it’s available — if this isn’t possible for an expense, have the accounting department post it off the purchase order and then adjust the expense when the bill arrives.
- Have the accounting department review the DOC regularly to ensure any new general ledger accounts have been updated in the DOC.
Also appoint a go-to person whom anyone involved in collecting and entering data for the DOC can contact with computer-related questions.
MAKING IT WORK
Having a DOC you can rely on requires 100% commitment from everyone involved in the data collection and entry processes. Your CPA can work with you in establishing process controls to make sure that this goal is reached.
Dealer Insights - July/August 2012 Issue