Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Customer Tip: This One Item Improves the Way Your Dealership Stores Smart Keys

Keyless entry systems are all about convenience, but are they making key control more complicated at your dealership? They can be bulky, cluttering up your key control system. In addition, many smart keys (e.g., Toyota, Dodge, BMW) have a built-in valet key that can be separated from the body of the fob.

The problem with this design, as one dealer discovered, is that salespeople can remove the fob from their KeyTrak system while leaving the valet key attached to the key tag in the drawer. When a user doesn’t follow the proper checkout process, there’s no record of the key being removed, which can result in mystery miles and increase the dealership’s liability risk.

Fortunately, you can simplify smart key storage with one simple item: a key fob pouch. Here are the top three reasons you should use them for all your smart keys:

  • Less Clutter in the Drawer — When KeyTrak drawers are full, having the smart key and its pouch attached to the key tag prevents fobs from jostling in the drawer, helping to keep it tidy.
  • Added Security — The pouch containing the smart key is attached to a key tag via a KeyTrak fastener that runs through the top of the pouch, ensuring the valet key and fob stay attached to each other until the vehicle is sold. The fastener also prevents users from removing the fob from the drawer without going through the standard checkout process.
  • Fewer Scratches on the Key — The pouch protects the key from getting scratched so the key stays looking as new as the vehicle. The clear front allows salespeople to easily see and press the fob buttons.

Key fob pouch
  Key fob pouch with KeyTrak fastener

If you’re a current customer, you can purchase the pouches from our supplies catalog or call 1.800.541.5033 (option 2).

Monday, May 7, 2018

Are Your Dealership’s Sales and Service Departments in Sync?

You probably recognized long ago how your dealership sales and service departments can work together to generate revenue for your dealership. The sales department can offer service contracts on new or used cars, while the service department can refer customers to sales when vehicles start reaching their end of life.

Car salesman holding car keys
However, at many dealerships, the communication between departments stops there. You might not realize how important it is for these two separate departments with different operations to work and communicate with each other to keep your entire dealership running smoothly.

For example, consider what happens one department takes a vehicle key from the other and doesn’t properly log the activity or even tell anybody they have the key. A customer walks into your showroom and requests to test drive a specific car in certain interior and exterior colors. They’ve been searching the internet for weeks for this particular combination and you’re the only dealership in the area with their dream car.

Your website and CRM indicate that the car is on the lot, but the sales rep is unable to find the key on the pegboard. The rep checks with multiple people in your sales department but is still unable to find the key. The customer refuses to test drive a different car since they came for that specific vehicle and leaves after an extensive wait.

Later that afternoon it’s discovered that a service rep had taken the car to the back for routine service and failed to mark it in the key log. This lack of communication lost you a sale.

Just as your various departments can work together to make sure everybody is making money, you can see they also need to communicate in order to not lose even one customer.

Carl Sewell, a successful dealer in Texas, once wrote that one of his customers is worth $517,000 over their lifetime. How much is each of your customers worth to you? What can your dealership do to keep a careless mistake from costing you a long-term loyal customer and revenue source?

Knowing who accesses keys and when isn’t just a good security practice; it’s also a way to keep your dealership operations running smoothly and to give your customers a better, quicker experience. If you’re looking for an electronic key control system, be sure you choose an option that logs key access automatically and can give you a complete picture of where a key has been anytime you log in.

In the situation we described earlier, the sales rep would have instantly known who had the key when they made the request. The car would have been found, the customers likely would have bought it, and you would have been one step closer to having a customer for life.

Whether you have a single lot or a sprawling family of dealerships, knowing where keys are is crucial to making you money. How many times have you lost keys due to poor communication between departments?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Does Your Business Have a Data Recovery Plan?

Computer error
Have you ever gotten a new smartphone and gone through all the setup steps only to discover that your entire contact list from your old phone wasn't backed up properly? If it was a business phone loaded with vendor and customer contacts, how big was that headache?

Of course smartphones aren't the only electronic systems you use to conduct your business. You have computers, tablets, copy machines and maybe even an electronic key control system. All of these things store important data, and suddenly losing that data can have serious consequences.

Data corruption, security breaches, power loss, backup power failure, user error and hardware or software failure are all major causes of data loss and can happen at any time, no matter what steps you take to protect yourself.

If you use an electronic key control system for securing and tracking keys at your business, what would happen if you suddenly didn't know where your keys were in the drawer, which keys were checked out and who had them last? Losing key control system data would create unnecessary work for your employees, who must now figure out what keys go where, creating liability and security risks in the process.

The best thing you can do is have a recovery plan to help you continue operation during a data loss event. Here are some steps you can take to help you mange your keys if your system fails.

Use Reporting Features

Knowing who has keys and when they took them is a smart security and liability-reducing practice. It's also likely a big reason why you chose to implement an electronic key control system at your business. However, the ability to track key activity would be severely hampered if your system failed and you didn't have a contingency plan in place to continue operations.

That's where having a recent key inventory report can help you know what keys go where and manage key activity during the downtime. While not as efficient or secure as a fully operation electronic key control system, the ability to log key access manually with a recent report can help you continue operating and make sure keys are where they are supposed to be when the system is brought back online.

Perform Routine Backups

Just as you should pull reports for your system on a regular basis, you should also routinely back up your entire system to an external media device, such as a USB memory drive. It's a backup best practice to back your data up to an external location rather than the system itself.

If your server is still operational after some sort of outage or data loss, a recent backup can help you quickly restore the latest backed-up data and allow you to resume operations with minimal long-term disruption.

Prepare for the Worst

Unfortunately, even best-laid plans can still be spoiled if human error leads to a backup not being performed as scheduled or if your external storage device becomes corrupted. That's why you should choose an electronic key control system provider that can offer you a cloud backup solution.

An automatic off-site backup to a secure cloud gives you an added layer of protection against serious downtime. If your server is completely debilitated by an unexpected incident, such as a coffee spill or a pipe burst in your office, your latest backup can be loaded to a replacement server and promptly shipped to help you get your system running as soon as possible.

How have you prepared your business to recover from a data loss scenario?