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Unitrans - Large South African dealer group returns to Autoline

“Unitrans Automotive Group prides itself on being committed to the highest levels of customer care and quality workmanship, the company aims to be at the forefront of enhancement and change within the industry and our IT strategy is an integral part of fulfilling those objectives.” - Niel Kotze, Financial Executive, Unitrans



Unitrans’ partnership with CDK Global began nearly 30 years ago when CDK Global, as Kerridge, opened in South Africa. Unitrans was one of the first Autoline users, however, due to a change in business ownership, later moved to another system. In 2009, the Unitrans management team identified that a new system was required to prepare the business for the future and after an extensive evaluation process, chose to install Autoline.

CDK Global talked to Niel Kotze, Unitrans financial executive and Hanru Oosthuizen, Unitrans IT Manager - Toyota division, about their decision and the value that Autoline is already delivering to their organisation.

Choosing Autoline

"We were looking for a system which would provide us with a clear roadmap to support our business into the future. Our objective was to centralise IT resources, to run all divisions on a single platform and we wanted the ability to tailor user access to business areas and applications according to their roles and responsibilities. During the process of looking for a replacement system, we travelled to the UK to see what was available and especially wanted to see how different systems handled country-specific requirements."

As part of a large organisation, Unitrans were also looking for a supplier with a global presence and international reputation. CDK Global met those requirements in full with its customer base of 27,000+ dealer installations across 90+ countries. “We quickly learned that CDK Global is a strong brand, with a quality product. More importantly, the stability and security of working with a global partner meant that our investment would be safe. It was also significant that CDK Global had an established office in South Africa with local R&D and support services. The other systems that we considered didn’t have the same level of manufacturer interfaces or endorsements which were important considerations given the large number of brands that we represent. The knowledge of the CDK Global team was also critical – they understood our business and the industry.”

There was a major push for Autoline from Unitrans’ staff, especially the after-sales team, many of whom were familiar with the system from previous experience. Their staff were willing to move back to Autoline and knowing that other solutions were available was a real testament to the CDK Global product. This early buy-in was a critical factor and with everyone behind the project, certainly helped to ensure a successful start to the implementation.

Moving ahead

The implementation of Autoline at Unitrans is a large and complex project. Right from the outset CDK Global and Unitrans established fully staffed teams to work together on the deployment - the timetable was initially set at one site a week going live on Autoline then rising to four sites. This remains a tough but achievable goal, however, with this momentum the value and benefits of Autoline to the organisation will quickly develop.

Goals of Unitrans supported by CDK Global

Unitrans has four ‘stakeholder’ pillars that underpin their business “We aim to achieve the sales volumes that the manufacturers target us with, to deliver shareholders with maximum value for their investment, to provide the staff with secure employment and to drive complete satisfaction and great service to our customers. Autoline is going to help us achieve these strategic goals. The system will ensure that we comply with manufacturer processes and the management reporting tools will give us accurate up to date information directly to our desktops every day.”

Unitrans chose to install Autoline on an CDK Global hosted server platform. This has meant that the company did not have to invest in their own in-house server and has therefore freed up the need for internal day to day system management, leaving more time to run the business and focus on the operational functions. As an integral part of the hosted platform, which was very cost effective for Unitrans, the company has passed to CDK Global the responsibility for managing system availability, reliability and performance - important factors given some local bandwidth restrictions.

“For our new system, we firmly believe that centralisation is the best way to reduce operational costs and drive value from our investment. Already we are seeing that it is improving the flow of information around the organisation. Autoline is enabling us to trade seamlessly, keep tight control of the finances - especially cash flow, and enjoy the benefits of efficient back office operations.”

The personal touch

“We chose Autoline because it was the best product for our company but it was also the personal touch from CDK Global which was just as important as product capability. Despite the fact that we had previously moved on to another system, CDK Global remained in contact with us. This enabled a positive business relationship to be maintained and we therefore understood a great deal about each other before our new system project commenced. This approach demonstrated to us that CDK Global was a company that cared about serving the industry and its customers - past, present and future.”

Unitrans are implementing Autoline during a tough period for the auto industry but in many ways this is a fantastic time to embark a project of this type. The lower business volumes are enabling customers such as Unitrans to focus on what they need their systems to do and how our business processes can be improved. It is timely to take this opportunity to train staff more fully on the capabilities of the Autoline system and be well prepared for the upswing and when this happens Unitrans can be confident that Autoline will help to give them a competitive edge.


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