Car dealerships must have impeccable accounting. Rock-solid bookkeeping keeps the company running and enables managers to make critical business decisions.
Manual data entry slows processes and increases opportunities for costly errors. A good reconciliation process helps identify and correct problems, saving the dealership valuable time and resources.
Whether using LIFO or Specific Identification for inventory accounting, dealerships must accurately measure their inventories against expenses and revenue.
Inventory management is a significant part of car dealership accounting. From ensuring dealer rebates and factory incentives are collected and recorded to tracking inventory and determining the most effective inventory accounting methods, dealers manage their vehicles, parts, and accessory inventories.
A well-designed training manual helps employees understand how each account relates to the other in a dealership’s financial statements and is an excellent tool for guiding how to handle day-to-day bookkeeping tasks. However, a training manual alone is insufficient to ensure accuracy or efficiency.
The right auto dealer accounting software can help automate and streamline the many different processes associated with car dealership accounting, from accounts receivable to accounts payable and bank reconciliations. It can help free up time for other business activities, such as customer service and sales.
In addition to leveraging auto dealer accounting software to automate the process of recording and monitoring daily transactions, having a team of experienced dealership accountants is critical. This team can help a dealership navigate complex tax rules and regulatory requirements.
Efficiently maintaining and managing inventory requires tight controls to manage tied-up and available working capital. Dealerships are authorized significant discretion in choosing inventory accounting methods, and they rarely find a one-size-fits-all formula that works for all inventory categories. Different inventory categories like new vehicles, used vehicles, and parts & accessories require their unique accounting methods.
The reconciliation process is an integral part of car dealer accounting. It involves carefully comparing and verifying dealership financial records against bank deposits, bills, and other transactions to ensure all money coming in and going out is documented and correctly recorded. Reconciliation is also vital to help prevent fraudulent activities within the dealership, such as an employee pocketing a check or skimming money. That is why many dealerships hire a third party to perform the reconciliation or divide the task so that one person doesn’t have complete control over the financial records.
It’s critical that your dealership’s books are perfectly balanced so you have a complete picture of your business and can identify opportunities for improvement and growth.
Dealer fees, typically non-negotiable, include the purchase agreement fee, a dealership prep charge tacked on to new vehicle sales, and the destination charge, which is added to the cost of transporting a car to the dealer. Often, these charges are optional and can be challenged as extraneous. Other dealership fees that are often negotiable are the acquisition fee (to cover a finance company’s costs of processing the lease – credit reports, insurance verification), floorplan interest expense, and a dealer documentation fee.
3. Sales Accounting
Accurate and timely sales accounting practices are critical in car dealerships’ short- and long-term success. Dealerships must measure their inventory using valuation methods best suited to their business, such as Last-In, First-Out (LIFO), or specific identification. They must adequately track their sales transactions, expenses, and profits to make vital financial decisions regarding their vehicles and parts inventories.
To ensure accurate sales reporting, dealers must adequately account for each type of sale, such as retail, subprime, or trade-ins. It can be accomplished by setting up separate sales, cost of sales, reconditioning accounts, and matching them to expense reports by type. In addition, a thorough month-end reconciliation must be performed to compare all general ledger accounts from the trial balance to the dealer’s financial statements.
Auto dealer accounting software can help with these bookkeeping tasks by automating processes such as accounts receivable/payable management and general ledger management. It frees up staff employees to concentrate on customer service and marketing initiatives while ensuring the accuracy and uniformity of bookkeeping procedures.
Another benefit of centralized accounting is improved vendor relationships, as dealership locations can utilize consolidated billing techniques and have one point of contact for all questions. It can also improve a dealership’s ability to stay on top of tax filings and compliance with federal regulations.
4. Financial Reporting
Car dealership accounting might not be the first area of the business that a dealer considers when looking to optimize profit, but having rock-solid accounting is vital for overall operational efficiency. A solid accounting department can help ensure that past-due invoices are collected and vendors are paid on time, which helps a dealership keep the cash flow flowing to spend money on growth and expansions.
Reconciliation is the backbone of practical dealership accounting and can play a crucial role in safeguarding against fraud. By meticulously comparing and verifying financial records, reconciliation can prevent the misappropriation of funds, parts, and inventory. This process also helps catch any errors that might have occurred during bookkeeping and accounting.
Dealership accounting software automates many bookkeeping tasks, freeing up valuable human resources to focus on sales and other core dealership functions. It can also improve accuracy by ensuring that all data is entered correctly and eliminates the potential for duplicate entries. Using automated software can also streamline monthly closings and reporting by eliminating the need for manual calculations.
In conclusion, understanding the basics of car dealer accounting is essential for both car dealerships and individual consumers. By having a clear grasp of the financial aspects of buying and selling cars, dealers can make informed decisions that will ultimately benefit their businesses.
Likewise, consumers can protect themselves from potential scams or unethical practices by familiarizing themselves with these accounting principles. Whether you are a car dealer looking to improve your financial management or a buyer wanting to ensure a fair transaction, taking the time to learn about car dealer accounting is well worth it.
So, let’s dive into the world of car dealer accounting and empower ourselves with knowledge for a smoother car buying experience!