Case Study: Auto Dealer Saves With Mitel Thin Client Strategy

Since 2009, Denver-based Booth Creek Management LLC has been expanding rapidly into the auto retail business, through the acquisition of dealerships across the United States as Summit Automotive Partners. Summits skilled team and technology capabilities allow it to create an unmatched customer experience as it continues to fuel its growth through acquiring or partnering with dealership groups and bringing a hallmark collaborative approach to every facet of operations.

Challenge. One of Summits key challenges was to develop a voice and data technology architecture with the agility to service its fast-paced business model and rapid growth. Of critical importance is its ability to meet standard vehicle manufacturer requirements on retooling dealerships within a 72-hour window when there is an ownership change. It also needed a strategy to rapidly deploy and maintain Dealer360, its custom dealer management system for car dealerships, while preserving the ability to quickly decouple individual dealerships from the network when sold.

When acquiring new dealerships, Summit frequently encounters a combination of centralized voice systems and PC-based data infrastructure in a conventional client/server model. Chad Griewahn, CTO of BCIT LLC, the centralized IT arm of Booth Creek, calculates that a dealership would lose 60 percent of call-flow functionality if divested under this model an unacceptable loss of value in a business where voice is often the first point of contact with the customer. Thus, the nature of Summit’s distributed dealership network and decoupling requirements drove a companywide thin-client strategy and the search for a reliable vendor that could support it.

Solution. To meet the speed, deployment and scale needs of its rapidly expanding family of dealerships, Summit has begun deploying Mitel Communications Director (MCD) software, Mitel Unified IP Client for Sun Ray and Mitel Applications Suite (MAS) from Mitel Networks Corp. across its entire dealership group.

The distributed architecture capability of MCD allows Summit to loosely couple locations into a highly adaptable and resilient network, as well as easily decouple if they choose to divest a location.

The Mitel Unified IP Client, Oracles class of ultra-thin clients that work in conjunction with remote servers, provides simplified and secure authentication for both voice and data, allowing unified hot desking for enhanced workforce flexibility. Since each desktop client runs from a centralized location, establishing and maintaining desktop standards becomes a non-issue and Dealer360 can be delivered to users in hosted model.

When users log into their computing session at a desktop, they also seamlessly enable their telephony service on the IP telephone equipped there as well, including programmed keys, dialing privileges and access to all of their communications applications such as voicemail, conferencing, etc.

Since the thin clients have a service life of seven to eight years and are highly reliable, Summit expects years of trouble-free computing before scheduled upgrades are needed. It also calculates savings under the thin client model of $270,000 when compared to a conventional PC environment.

In fact, overall, switching to Mitel has helped Summit realize savings that help it contain IT costs to .009 percent of gross revenue far below industry standards. Much of these savings has been made possible through the Mitel Total Solutions Program (TSP). Faced with a slow economy and depreciation left on existing assets, Summit would have had difficulty justifying an additional capital expense to replace it. TSP provides financing options that allowed Summit to acquire Mitel technology on an operating expense basis. Not only did this ease the cash flow burden, it also provided financial certainty.

Results. Now when Summit acquires a new dealership, using the Mitel Unified IP Client in combination with other Mitel technologies (such as the installation of communications software with other required business applications in fully virtualized mini data centers running on VMware Inc. vSphere 4 servers), the conversion process is turnkey and integrates with the services that have been centralized.

With an infrastructure that can grow and change with business requirements, BCIT also plans to standardize the entire Booth Creek enterprise on the Mitel platform. Enhancing its thin-client strategy is Mitel’s pedigree in virtualized communications software, which will allow them to leverage existing VMware investments with both the Mitel voice and Sun Ray environments, to merge voice into their disaster recovery and business continuity plans for the first time.

The fact that we could virtualize both the Mitel voice and the Sun Ray environments on VMware will let us harmonize our IT efforts on best practices,” said Griewahn. Standardizing on the Mitel Unified IP Client, which we started at Denver Mazda, was a game-changer for us and in fact the whole automotive dealership industry.”

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