Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Surprising Link Between Key Control and Dealership Reputation

Businessman standing in pouring rain
Put yourself in a customer’s shoes for a moment. Let’s say you visit a dealership wanting to drive a specific high-end vehicle you saw online. When you arrive, the salesperson greets you outside and you tell him about the vehicle you want to test drive. He agrees and goes to retrieve the key. Meanwhile, you’re standing outside and it starts to drizzle. Ten minutes go by. The drizzle turns into a downpour. It’s now been 20 minutes. Finally the salesperson returns.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t find the key,” he says. “Can you come back tomorrow?”

As the customer in this scenario, how would you respond? If you’re really forgiving, you might give the dealership one more shot, but more than likely, you’ll decide not to return and might even leave a 1-star review online.

This situation — which is based on a few different actual reviews — reveals the often unexpected but critical link between key control and online reputation management.

How does key management affect your dealership’s reputation?


When you have process issues related to key control — whether in sales or service — customers notice. And if they have a poor experience, they’ll talk about it online. Just take a look at these snippets from real-life reviews about customer experiences in sales and service (many of these reviews were even embedded on the dealership’s homepage!):

Sales


    1-star review graphic: "It took him twenty minutes to find the keys while my friend and I were left standing in the rain."
  • I found the SUV I wanted to test drive. … She couldn’t even locate the vehicle on the lot.
  • He left me out in the sales yard for about 30 minutes looking for keys for the F-150 and then said he couldn’t find them and told me to come back the next day.
  • No effort was made to show the vehicle off, he knew nothing about the car, he didn’t know how many he had in stock, he took us up to the second floor to show us the other car and when we got there he realized that the car was actually downstairs, he never asked if we wanted to test drive it but the kicker was when we asked to drive it, it took him twenty minutes to find the keys [while] my friend and I were left standing in the rain.
  • Pathetic excuse for a dealership. My buddies and I were there looking at a Maserati for sale in their showroom. The sorry excuse for a dealership couldn’t locate the keys……really??

Service


  • Unfortunately, I was very unhappy that my keys were misplaced/lost. After I paid for my service for my vehicle, my keys were nowhere to be found.
1-star review graphic: "After I paid for my service for my vehicle, my keys were nowhere to be found."

  • I arrived at the dealership at 6pm to pick up my vehicle just to see that it was still parked out on the street where I had left it, my keys in the drop box that was also unlocked! Very, very disappointed in this dealership!
  • The porter in the service department LOST MY KEYS. New keys had to be made, which delayed the technician looking at my vehicle for a day.

Actively monitoring and responding to reviews can help you promptly address situations like the ones described above, but what if the circumstances that prompted the review had never existed in the first place? Each customer’s feedback would likely have been very different.

Avoiding even one negative review can help your business, because it takes 40 positive reviews to counter the effects of a negative review. That makes sense since nearly 60 percent of car shoppers look at reviews to select a dealership for purchasing or servicing a vehicle. If they see multiple negative reviews, you’re likely to lose their business in addition to the original reviewer’s.

How do you improve your key control to avoid negative reviews?


While there’s a lot that goes into creating effective key management processes, the guidelines below are a good overview of the measures you’ll need to take to ensure poor processes don’t result in poor reviews.

1. Control your keys.


At the risk of stating the obvious, the foundation of effective key control is being able to control your keys. If you’re storing keys inside a metal file cabinet or on a pegboard and use a manual log to track usage, it’s no surprise that your salespeople are having trouble finding keys. The moment someone forgets to update the logbook and then fails to return a key, it’s lost. Unfortunately, someone might not notice that key is missing until they’re looking for it while a customer stands outside in the rain waiting for a test drive.

By using an electronic key control system to secure keys in both sales and service, you can receive alerts for unreturned keys, check available stock, and reserve keys. In turn, salespeople can get customers in vehicles for test drives faster and service staff can better protect customers’ vehicles.

2. Train your staff.


Having a key control policy is useless if you don’t also educate your staff. Just look at the training opportunities evident in the above customer reviews.

For example, if a salesperson can’t locate a key for a test drive, they should know how to handle the situation. Instead of asking the customer to return the next day, they could retrieve the keys to a similar vehicle and offer to let the customer drive that vehicle instead. After the test drive, the salesperson could then check to see who last removed the key to the desired vehicle and follow up with that person to track it down.

In service, staff should be trained on best practices for handling customer keys, such as never letting the key out of their sight unless it’s safely secured in a key control system.

These are just a couple examples — ensure staff throughout your dealership is thoroughly trained on key handling best practices for a variety of situations.

3. Watch for online complaints related to key management.


If someone mentions an issue related to key control online, you’ll want to know about it ASAP so you can respond to the customer and address any process or training issues internally. Review sites like Yelp, Google, and DealerRater are good places to start. Keep an eye out for mentions of your dealership on social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) as well.

If you want to avoid reputation-damaging gripes about how you manage keys, proper key control is, well, key. Implement good processes now so you don’t have to do damage control later.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Is Your Key Control Ready for Flu Season?

Coworkers wanting to avoid sick man blowing nose
It all starts when someone comes to work complaining of a headache, dry cough, and fatigue. By the end of the day, they’ve got a bad case of the chills, a sore throat, and muscle aches. The diagnosis: flu.

Before you know it, your workplace is in the middle of a flu outbreak — along with countless other organizations across the U.S. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the flu causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays each year, with a price tag of $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity.

Hopefully your business has a flu preparedness plan (if you don’t, the World Health Organization and CDC have some helpful resources to help you create one). What most preparedness plans don’t account for, however, is how illness-related employee absences affect your key management processes. This flu season, there are a couple measures you can take to make sure your key control doesn’t take time off along with your employees.

Disinfect Keys and Equipment


The flu is highly contagious and can be transmitted even by talking to someone standing 6 feet away or by touching something an infected person has come into contact with. To minimize the flu’s spread, it’s important to keep germs at bay by washing your hands often and frequently disinfecting surfaces.

Your cleaning crew will handle cleaning common areas, bathrooms, and more, but what about high-contact areas involved in your key control processes? Think about all the pieces involved in key management — from the keys themselves to electronics — and follow the below cleaning guidelines.

Keys and Fobs


  • Keep a container of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer near key storage areas. Have employees give keys a wipe-down before returning them and then use hand sanitizer.
  • If you store keys inside an electronic key control system, do not spray cleaner or use any kind of wet wipes inside the system and ensure that keys are completely dry before returning them. Print a copy of our KeyTrak system cleaning guidelines to keep near your system.
  • If you have electronic keys cards or fobs, some people recommend cleaning them with rubbing alcohol, but check the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines first.

Biometric Fingerprint Reader


  • If you use an electronic key control system with a fingerprint reader, clean the scanner with office tape at least once a week. Do not clean with soap, water, or cleaner.
  • For other biometric devices, follow manufacturer recommendations for cleaning.

Computer Accessories


  • To clean computer accessories such as a keyboard or mouse, disconnect the components from the power source and wipe them down with bleach-free disinfecting wipes. Make sure they’re fully dry before plugging them back in. CNET has a helpful five-minute cleaning routine.

Prepare for Unexpected Absences


Unfortunately, the flu doesn’t give advance notice, so figure out how you’ll address any interruptions to your key control processes as soon as possible. Below are some common scenarios to prepare for.

Keys That Require Dual Authorization


If a manager is required to authorize a key checkout, is there a different management staff member who can approve key use? If not, determine how employees should adjust their processes if they’re unable to access keys to perform certain job functions. Make sure you clearly communicate that plan to any employees who’d be affected by such a change.

Keys That Haven’t Been Returned


To avoid a situation where an employee takes a key home and then calls in sick the next day, set up alerts for keys that aren’t returned within a certain time frame so you can ensure they’re returned before the end of the day. Some possible exceptions to this rule are long-term issue keys, such as for employee offices, or fleet vehicle keys.

New Employee Setup


If you have new employees starting who will need access to keys, don’t delay processing any paperwork, setting up user accounts, or providing required key control training.

Delegating Routine Key Management Processes


Document routine key management processes so someone can easily fill in for those responsible for overseeing your key control system, reports, etc. A daily key control checklist is a good start.

Key Tag Creation


If you deal with a high volume of key turnover (if you work for a dealership, for example), make sure you have a couple people who are authorized and trained to set up and decommission keys.

By including key control in your preparedness planning, you don’t have to let the flu hurt your organization’s productivity any more than it has to.