Customer Success Story: Santa Margarita Ford



Industry: Automotive
Dealership to Boost Employee, Customer Collaboration with Online Productivity Tools

Customer Success Story: Santa Margarita Ford

Santa Margarita Ford is committed to providing its employees with tools that enhance productivity. The car dealership switched from Google Apps to Microsoft Online Services and plans to use Microsoft Office 365 to ease collaboration with customers, enable employees to work from any smartphone, and help preserve business data. Because Office 365 is easy to learn and manage, employees will be able to use it without additional training.

Business Needs

Santa Margarita Ford has been selling and servicing Ford vehicles since 1997. The Rancho Santa Margarita, California–based company is known throughout Orange County for excellent customer service and has been honored eight times with the Ford Motor Company President’s Award, which recognizes dealers for superior customer satisfaction.
Part of what makes Santa Margarita Ford successful are the productivity tools that its employees use to get their jobs done. “We had been using Google Apps for email and online storage, but as our company expanded, we began to need more capabilities than the product could provide,” says C. J. Allen, System Administrator for Santa Margarita Ford.
Allen notes that the dealership needed a more reliable, secure email solution and an easy way for employees to schedule meetings. It also wanted video and audio conferencing capabilities to use for training purposes and an online workspace where employees could collaborate with customers. “We needed a solution that would help employees and customers communicate in a quick and effective manner,” says Allen.
Santa Margarita Ford contacted Managed Solution, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, for help in selecting the best solution. “Most companies use Microsoft productivity products on-premises,” says Sean Ferrel, CEO and President of Managed Solution. “Because we want to provide them with a consistent online solution, we offer Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite instead of Google Apps or Amazon Web Services. Microsoft Online Services makes the most business sense for us, and we thought it would be a perfect fit for Santa Margarita Ford.”
The dealership agreed and switched to the Microsoft solution in 2010. “Moving to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite was a great decision. It had the capabilities we were looking for, and it worked great,” says Allen. Since then, Santa Margarita Ford has been using Microsoft Exchange Online for email, Microsoft SharePoint Online for collaborating on documents and spreadsheets, and Microsoft Office Communications Online and Microsoft Office Live Meeting to enhance communications among employees.


Santa Margarita Ford is always on the lookout for technology advancements that can aid employee productivity. Thus, when the beta version of Microsoft Office 365 debuted, Managed Solution recommended that the dealership evaluate it. “When we saw the demo of Office 365, we got very excited. Office 365 encompasses all the capabilities that we currently use with Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite and takes them to the next level by making it even easier to work from anywhere. We are looking forward to using it,” says Allen.
Office 365, the next generation in cloud productivity from Microsoft, is a subscription service that makes enterprise-class communication and collaboration capabilities available to organizations of all sizes. It includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online, and Microsoft Office Professional Plus.
“Office 365 will provide Santa Margarita Ford with great tools for communicating, both within and outside the company. The dealership will be able to speed productivity and enable more personal interactions with customers. And the fact that Microsoft priced it affordably for small and medium-sized businesses makes Office 365 very compelling,” says Ferrel.
Santa Margarita Ford expects to use Office 365 to make it easy for employees to work from anywhere and collaborate with customers, and for the company to maintain data integrity. It will be able to use the service without having to invest in additional training or IT management.
“Office 365 means three things to me: It’s effective, it’s easy, and it’s exciting,” says Allen.

Easily Work from Any Smartphone

The 200-plus employees at Santa Margarita Ford, who use a variety of smartphones—including Windows Phone, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android—will be able to access collaboration and communication tools from any device. “By using Office 365, our employees will be able to interact with email, SharePoint sites, and more from any smartphone. That’s very cool,” says Allen.

Enhance Communications with Customers

The dealership expects to improve communications with customers. “Using Lync Online in Office 365 will make it easier for us to collaborate with customers, even if they don’t have the same conferencing solution that we do. We’ll be able to send them an email with a hyperlink that is web-enabled for audio and video conferencing. It can’t get much simpler than that,” says Allen.

Maintain Data Integrity

Santa Margarita Ford can preserve data integrity. “My job is to make sure that data doesn’t get corrupted or lost when employees leave the company. That’s easier to do with SharePoint Online, and we’re really pleased that we’ll be able to continue taking advantage of this technology in Office 365,” says Allen. By using SharePoint sites, the company can maintain business-critical data in a central location rather than on employees’ individual computers, helping to ensure that data remains intact.

Enjoy Ease of Learning—and Managing

Allen notes that Office 365 will be easy for employees to learn and for IT to manage. “Because Office 365 has the same look and feel as other Office products, which everyone is familiar with, our employees will be very comfortable using it. It really eliminates the learning curve and the amount of training needed,” says Allen.
It will also be simple for IT to manage and scale. “I like that you can add a single user or do bulk uploads of users at one time, and can designate roles to users on a per person or group basis. It will make my life easy,” notes Allen.


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