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Giant RV streamline operations with Salesforce CRM

Michael (Mike) Jacque is the Corporate General manager at Giant RV, the largest volume RV dealer in California in 2022. He is responsible for the day-to-day operation of Giant RV, a four-rooftop dealership in California. In this Q&A, we discuss what motivated Giant RV to move to Salesforce and the benefits they’ve experienced.

Mike has been on both the wholesale and retail side of the business, with 15+ years of experience with customer relationship management systems.

What was happening at your RV dealership? What motivated you to make the change to Salesforce?

“I’m very familiar with CRM Systems, and the original leadership I went to work for 15 years was a GM dealer that also did RVs. So, we applied a lot of technology that GM was bringing into the RV business when we first got our start back, which gave us a head start.”

Mike adds that “CRMs didn’t really progress much for decades. Even when they started coming out, they were more work than they were worth. He cites duplicate efforts like double entry and too many keystrokes as significant areas of friction. Time-consuming, manual processes that ate into RV dealership teams’ productivity.

What systems was your RV dealership using before Salesforce?

“At Giant RV, we’d reached the point where we were using CDK’s CRM system, and it was somewhat antiquated, but it was workable. There are certain compromises in every CRM system that’s packaged, particularly those that are packaged for automobile dealers, because there are differences. You can’t check RVs because you might have five different makes, all using the same VIN numbers, so certain breakdowns don’t work that work in automotive.”

He explained that when CDK bought Elead, they warned Giant RV that they were going to sunset their current system. To prepare for this eventuality, Mike started to look at other options as a backup.

“We even did a full implementation of Elead but found some elemental failures in the system that simply would not work based on the VIN numbers. And VIN Solutions and Dealer Socket were the other two that made the initial cuts. But their compromises were worse than what we were dealing with CDK.”

Mike had some history of building workable CRM systems with a financial services firm. He described it as a grunt effort.

What was your first impression of Salesforce?

“One thing I came away from this [building his own CRM], a decade ago, was that Salesforce could do anything you want. In the end, if you’re willing to put the effort out or find the people capable of doing it, there will be no compromises, and you will always be open to adaptability. And so that stuck with me.”

When Giant RV reached a point where they needed an alternative to their existing system, they decided to define their scope and work with a leading Salesforce automotive partner, SaltClick (formerly EMZ Solutions). About six months before their system would be sunset, Mike and Giant RV met with Yervand Yezeryan, the EVP of Manufacturing and Automotive at SaltClick, and his team.

“We did a full-blown demo of some of the core screens… and had a basic plan in place that would work. We had negotiated what I thought was a fair price for what was involved."

Mike added that he’d “…been through enough computer implementations to be well aware that there might be a lot of tweaks that occur as you get deep into the mechanism.”

Implementing Salesforce in a time crunch

CDK sunset Giant RV’s system, giving them just three weeks’ notice.

“Fortunately, we at least had the background done. So, we went live in less than 30 days. It was pretty uncomfortable. Yervand, Sevana, and the group at SaltClick Automotive [then EMZ] stepped up to help us. We had to start and utilize only the basic elements to get rolling with it. But over the, basically, what took about 90 days to six months, depending on how you want to look at it, we brought live.”

We added that there were many little tweaks and adjustments that come any time a business does anything that is this complex. “But we’re very happy with the ultimate result. And we’ve added to it.”

Since going live with Salesforce, Giant RV has added a native texting platform. So, everything they’re doing is visible with the CRM.

“I wish I’d have a little bit more time than we had to get it up to speed…but I have absolutely no complaints at this point in time. I don’t think there’s another solution out there that gives us the adaptability to do what we want.

What Salesforce features have had the most impact on Giant RV’s business?

“We haven’t had an opportunity to dig into Salesforce analytics yet.” Mike noted that this would allow Giant RV to bring other reports from Google Docs and other systems into their Salesforce environment. He expressed interest in artificial intelligence and how Salesforce provides Giant RV a platform to “do anything and adapt to anything that comes down the pipe.”

On Salesforce’s User Interface and Efficiency:

“One of the issues I find with most of the CRMs is they’re too heavily task-based. When you have a salesperson in front of it, they’re either being fed a series of tasks and then they work in a telemarketer environment. But for salespeople on the floor, it’s a lot more fluid than that.”

Mike added that “not being able to visualize their hottest leads or sort customers” was a difficulty that was not resolved in the other programs Giant RV looked at. What he appreciates about Salesforce is that sales can see everything at a glance, like a customer’s email, phone number, sources, what RVs they are looking at, and more.

“For the managers, they have the ability by looking at this same screen from a store by store location or, for me or anybody that’s an add-in, to see the overall picture. I can look at every opportunity that’s coming in, everywhere in the company, sorted and ordered, and very quickly, via a next step column that we’ve created, know what’s happened, where they’re at, how long it’s been since they’ve contacted them.”

He explained that salespeople at any Giant RV dealership can customize their view and do more with fewer keystrokes. “It’s very efficient and very elegant in the fact that there’s a minimal amount of effort on your part to maintain it.” Mike also added that it’s made Giant RV more proactive. He explained that when they were with Advent and CDK, the only way to get a feel for where salespeople were “…was for a manager to go to each and every opportunity to open it to see what actually transpired. So, it was simply overwhelming, and it wasn’t effective.

“Now I can take a look, and literally in five seconds, I can already address where I see issues that are coming up with our managers, where we need to focus our training. From a training standpoint, I can see where we have weaknesses, where we’re failing to utilize them and reallocate our training resources to adapt to that.”

Mike added, “Getting our new salespeople to come aboard and adapt to the system is frankly now one of my least difficult training enterprises to come in.”

Other key Salesforce benefits for dealerships:

Meetings and tasks:

“Setting an appointment or completing a task is literally a 10-second operation. You could not make it simpler than it is at this point in time.”

On being ahead of competitors:

“I definitely believe we were on the leading edge. I don’t know of another RV dealer that’s using Salesforce. They’re all currently using some black box platform. So we were the first people that came in to actually do this.”

On customization and flexibility:

“We have found now through more than a couple of years that we’ve had a system that I think is beyond what’s available in any other system off the shelf. And on top of this, geared specifically for RV dealers.”

On system integration across multiple locations:

“Four dealerships, one inventory, we wanted visibility at store level, we wanted visibility at a manager level, we were able to accommodate all of that with Salesforce. I don’t even think it would have been possible with anything out of a box.”

On Cost:

“There are no compromises, and that sounds like salesmanship in the scheme of things. But it literally isn’t; this is a program that has no downside other than cost.”

Having a tool that is tailored to your RV dealership not only saves you time but boosts your ability to serve your customers. Salesforce enables you to make data-driven decisions about promotions, inventory, and next steps to drive sales and exceptional customer services at your business.

In other words, the efficiency and flexibility of the platform is a worthwhile investment that helps you sell smart and tap into the latest features modern sales teams and customers want.

How did you find out about SaltClick?‍

CDK referred Giant RV to SaltClick (then EMZ Solutions) because “they had done it before.”

“It’s like those old video games first came out where you get your head chopped off or dropped in a trap door, you know, the only way to learn them is actually to play it a thousand times.”

Mike said having somebody who can help guide you through these pitfalls and traps is an immense advantage. He added, “There are always going to be pitfalls and traps in every implementation you do with an alien computer system. So having people who have been through it before, are used to dealing with the difficulties, and know how to focus or where to get the answers was a very big thing.” SaltClick helped save their Salesforce implementation when they “started to hit some walls that we didn’t think we were going to be able to get through.”

“What we’re doing right now in a coordinated effort is going to certainly cut the cost for dealers that would otherwise have to start from scratch. We already took the big bite, and it’s not going to be the same for people to follow now. Mike expressed, “We appreciate the work SaltClick did. There were some other people back in the early days that really dug in and helped us solve what seemed like pretty picayune little issues with the use of keystrokes and things like that.”

Benefits of Salesforce for RV dealerships

Adaptability and individual customization

Every dealership is unique and needs a system that can adapt to its processes. Traditional off-the-shelf solutions can be rigid and not open to customization without impacting all their other users. Salesforce, in collaboration with SaltClick, offers a system that’s adaptable to the specific needs of a dealer, ensuring more comfortable and personalized implementation.

Efficiency and User-friendly design

Salesforce’s system is straightforward and requires minimal keystrokes, making it easy for salespeople to use. It focuses users on essential tasks, making training simple and allowing a rapid implementation schedule. From Mike: “I can say arguably right now, especially on a single point, I think somebody can go from zero to install potentially in 30 days…”

Positive impact on salespeople

Salesforce is not only easy to use but has led to improvements in the sales process and interaction with customers. The centralization of tasks has improved the quality of data and has made updating notes and tasks a breeze. From Mike: “It’s simple to use…Bringing them into the CRM is a very straightforward process anymore.”

Leading the digital

Giant RV is at the forefront of digital adoption in the RV dealer industry. Their decision to integrate Salesforce sets them apart from competitors still reliant on outdated systems like paper or basic digital tools.

SaltClick vision and expertise

Mike stated that having a clear vision and understanding of what Giant RV needed was key to SaltClick’s successful Salesforce implementation. He highlights that while companies can use tools like Salesforce, without clear direction and understanding of its capabilities, the system might not reach its full potential.

Multi-dealership management

Salesforce has allowed Giant RV to seamlessly manage inventory across multiple dealership locations, maintaining real-time updates on availability. From Mike: “We are unique in the fact that we have four dealerships… the system that we’ve developed keeps track of the inventory of the location.”

Before we go, keep these words in mind:

“… [Salesforce] is something that I [Giant RV] sincerely believe(s) in…we already took the big bite, and it’s not going to be the same for people to follow now.”
– Mike Jacque, Giant RV

The work we did with Giant RV laid a proven roadmap for RV dealerships to follow. ‍ Click here to get a personalized demo.

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