Comparing Accounting Software for Small Auto-Dealerships

For independently owned auto dealerships, the choice of accounting software can significantly impact daily operations, financial management, and long-term success. This article explores various aspects of accounting software, focusing on the needs of used car dealers and automotive dealerships.

Table 1: Xero, QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Online, NetSuite

FeatureXeroQuickBooks ProQuickBooks OnlineNetSuite
Pricing (Affordability)Moderate: Affordable for small to medium-sized dealershipsModerate: Affordable valueModerate: Competitive, various plansHigh: Higher-end for larger dealerships
Ease of UseHigh: User-friendly, straightforwardHigh: Highly user-friendly, intuitiveHigh: Very user-friendly, easy to useModerate: May require some training
Mobile App AvailabilityYes: Robust for on-the-go managementNo: Desktop-centric, less focus on mobileYes: Comprehensive mobile app featuresYes: Good, essential functions
Automation FeaturesModerate: Covers essential automation needsHigh: Strong in billing and invoicingModerate: Good for standard tasksHigh: Advanced automation for ERP and CRM
Tax FeaturesHigh: Comprehensive tax managementHigh: Extensive tax featuresHigh: Efficient for preparation and complianceHigh: Robust tax management
Project ManagementModerate: Suitable for basic project trackingLow: Basic project management toolsLow: Basic functionalities for project managementHigh: Excellent for complex project management
Customization & ScalabilityHigh: Adaptable to various dealership needsModerate: Some customization availableModerate: Can be customized to a certain extentHigh: Highly customizable and scalable
Integration CapabilitiesHigh: Integrates well with other business toolsModerate: Integrates with common business applicationsHigh: Supports various integrationsHigh: Seamless integration with a wide range of systems
SupportHigh: Known for reliable customer supportHigh: Offers extensive support resourcesHigh: Known for responsive supportHigh: Offers comprehensive support services

Note: The information in this table is based on general features and may vary based on specific plan details or updates from the software providers.

Table 2: Sage Intacct, SAP Business One, Sage 50 Accounting

FeatureSage IntacctSAP Business OneSage 50 Cloud Accounting
Pricing (Affordability)Moderate: Targeted towards mid-sized dealershipsHigh: Higher-end, reflects its advanced featuresModerate: Good for small to mid-sized dealerships
Ease of UseModerate: Feature-rich, steeper learning curveModerate: Customizable but requires setupHigh: User-friendly, easy to navigate
Mobile App AvailabilityYes: Good, key functionalitiesModerate: Basic mobile functionalitiesModerate: Basic mobile app functionalities
Automation FeaturesHigh: Strong in financial automationHigh: Strong in business process automationModerate: Covers essential automation needs
Tax FeaturesHigh: Comprehensive tax featuresHigh: Suitable for complex tax scenariosHigh: Solid tax features
Project ManagementHigh: Advanced project management toolsHigh: Adaptable for detailed project managementLow: Limited project management tools
Customization & ScalabilityHigh: Significant customization optionsHigh: Highly scalable and customizableModerate: Some level of customization
Integration CapabilitiesHigh: Integrates well with other business systemsHigh: Robust integration capabilitiesModerate: Integrates with common business tools
SupportHigh: Known for quality customer supportHigh: Offers dedicated supportHigh: Well-regarded for customer support

Note: The information in this table is based on general features and may vary based on specific plan details or updates from the software providers.

What This Table Means For You:

  • Best for Pricing: Xero offers competitive pricing with various features suitable for small to medium-sized car dealerships. Its affordability and comprehensive accounting tools make it an excellent choice for dealerships mindful of budget.
  • Pricing Definition: Pricing refers to the cost of using the software. It includes the initial cost, any recurring subscription fees, and additional costs for extra features or services.
  • Best for Ease of Use + User Interface: QuickBooks Desktop is renowned for its user-friendly interface, making it easy for car dealerships to manage their finances without needing extensive accounting knowledge. Its straightforward navigation and clear layout simplify financial management.
  • Ease/User Interface Definition: Ease of use refers to how user-friendly and intuitive the software is. It assesses how easy the interface is to navigate, including the clarity of menus, ease of finding features, and the visual appeal of the software.
  • Best Mobile App: The QuickBooks Online mobile app is robust, offering many features. It’s handy for car dealers who need to manage transactions, view financial reports, or capture receipts remotely.
  • Mobile App Definition: The Mobile App column (above) indicates the availability of a mobile application for the software.
  • Best for Automation Features: NetSuite stands out for its automation capabilities, especially in ERP and CRM, which can benefit larger car dealerships with more complex operations. It streamlines various processes, saving time and reducing errors.
  • Automation Definition: This evaluates the software’s ability to automate repetitive tasks such as invoicing, data entry, transaction categorization, and financial reporting.
  • Best for Tax Features: QuickBooks Desktop provides comprehensive tax features essential for car dealerships managing various tax scenarios. It simplifies tax calculations and supports different tax forms, making tax compliance more manageable.
  • Tax Definition: Tax features refer to the software’s capabilities in handling tax-related tasks, including automating tax calculations.
  • Best for Project Management: Sage Intacct offers excellent project management tools, which can be helpful for car dealerships that handle multiple projects or services. Its ability to track project costs and profitability helps in better financial decision-making.
  • Project Mgmt. Definition: Project management refers to the ability to manage projects, including tracking project expenses and budget management for individual projects.
  • Best for Customization & Scalability: SAP Business One is ideal for car dealerships looking for software that can grow with their business. It offers extensive customization options to cater to the specific needs of a dealership, regardless of its size.
  • Customization Definition: Customization and scalability refer to how customizable the software is to a business’s specific needs and how well it can scale as the business grows.
  • Best for Integration: NetSuite’s robust integration capabilities allow car dealerships to connect various business systems seamlessly, including inventory management, CRM, and more. This integration is crucial for dealerships looking for a unified business management solution.
  • Integration Definition: Integration refers to the software’s ability to integrate with other tools and systems, such as CRM software, e-commerce platforms, payroll systems, and banking services.
  • Best for Support: Sage 50 Accounting is known for its excellent customer support. Car dealerships can benefit from its responsive support team, extensive online resources, and community forums for software-related assistance.
  • Support Definition: Support refers to the quality and availability of customer support provided by the software company.

Selecting the Right Software & Still Can’t Decide?

The right accounting software is a critical decision for independently owned auto dealerships. It’s not just about managing numbers; it’s about finding a partner that aligns with your business’s operational style and growth aspirations. Whether it’s affordability, user-friendliness, mobile functionality, automation, tax compliance, client management, or scalability, the right accounting software can be a game-changer for your dealership.

Consider What Is Most Important to You:
Affordability:Affordability doesn’t always mean choosing the cheapest option; it’s about finding the right balance between cost and the features offered. Software like Xero and QuickBooks offer tiered pricing models, making them accessible for dealerships of different sizes.
Ease of Use and Accessibility: User-friendly interfaces in software like Sage 50 Accounting simplify financial management, allowing dealers to focus more on their core business activities.
Mobile App Functionality: Apps like QuickBooks Mobile and Xero’s mobile app offer dealers the flexibility to manage finances on the go, from tracking sales to sending invoices.
Automation and Integration:Tools like NetSuite and Sage Intacct automate routine tasks, reducing the likelihood of errors and freeing up valuable time. Integration capabilities with other systems (CRM, inventory management, etc.)
Tax Preparation and Compliance Features: Software solutions that offer specialized tax features, such as automated tax calculations and compliance reporting, can be invaluable. Products QuickBooks Desktop are known for their robust tax features, ensuring dealerships comply with tax regulations.
Project and Client Management Capabilities:Sage Intacct provides tools for effective client management, including follow-ups. Managing projects and client relationships effectively is critical to the success of any dealership. CRM functionalities integrated into accounting software help maintain strong customer relationships. 
Customization and Scalability:The ability of software to adapt and scale according to a business’s evolving needs is crucial. Customization features with SAP Business One allow dealerships to tailor the software to their specific requirements.

Finally, What You Need to Know About Each Software Product

  • Xero is an affordable choice for car dealerships, especially appealing to small and medium-sized dealers due to its comprehensive feature set. However, it may lack the advanced features required by larger dealerships with more complex accounting needs.
  • QuickBooks Desktop is favored for its ease of use and user-friendly interface, making it ideal for dealerships that require straightforward financial management without deep accounting knowledge. The downside is its desktop-centric nature, which may limit flexibility compared to cloud-based solutions.
  • QuickBooks Online offers a delightful mobile app experience, perfect for dealers needing to manage finances remotely. While versatile and accessible, it might have some customization limitations compared to the desktop version.
  • NetSuite is excellent for automation and ERP, NetSuite benefits larger dealerships with complex operations. However, its higher price point might be a barrier for smaller dealerships.
  • Sage Intacct excels in project management capabilities, ideal for dealerships managing multiple service areas. However, it can be complex to set up and might require a steeper learning curve.
  • SAP Business One is known for its high level of customization and scalability. It caters to a wide range of industries and can be tailored to meet specific business needs, making it suitable for businesses anticipating growth and change.
  • Sage 50 Accounting is recognized for its excellent customer support. Users can access comprehensive support resources, including a knowledgeable support team, extensive online help, and a community forum.

What To Do Next

Consider factors such as the size of your dealership, the complexity of your financial transactions, and the level of automation and integration you require. Take advantage of free trials or demos these software providers offer to get a hands-on feel for how each system works. Remember, the right accounting software is not just a tool for managing your finances; it’s a partner in your business’s growth and success.