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Best Practices for Dealership Key Control During the COVID-19 Crisis

In a dealership, keys change hands frequently between sales consultants, managers, and of course customers. But as the world is faced with the rise of COVID-19, businesses everywhere are implementing new prevention measures to protect both employees and customers.

If your dealership is still able to continue operations in some capacity, integrating recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) into your key control will show customers that your business prioritizes their health and safety.

To ensure your key control systems remain secure while keeping your employees safe, here are tips you can follow:

Minimize Contact With Customers

When recording a buyer’s information, take a picture of their driver’s license rather than scanning or photocopying it. This will prevent possible contamination of your hands and various surfaces around your dealership.

In the service department, encourage staff to wear gloves and masks when interacting with customers and handling their keys and vehicles. (Be sure to follow best practices for personal protective equipment use or else they won't be effective.) Before returning a customer's key fob, disinfect it and place it in a sealable bag (see the sample customer letters in NADA's "20 Group Best Practices: COVID-19").

To further reduce customer contact, some dealerships are providing touch-free pickup and drop-off services for test drives, vehicle purchases, and service appointments.

Link Your Key Control Data to Customer Records

Automatically linking key control data to customer and prospect records by integrating your key control system with your DMS allows sales associates and management to see which cars are off or on the lot. Associates can confidently practice social distancing and allow prospects to take solo test drives, while still maintaining accountability and security of the keys.

If you’re offering any kind of vehicle delivery service, it’s important to secure customer keys and maintain a record of who handled each key and when. Unfortunately, thieves in some areas are exploiting the coronavirus situation and stealing keys and vehicles from local dealerships. Taking steps to protect the keys in your care and keeping an accurate audit trail will help prevent theft and protect your dealership from liability.

Set up Remote Access to Your Systems

If you’re working from home, don’t forget to set up remote access to your key control system so you can manage user access and view various system reports. For example, key activity reports will provide a picture of what is happening in the dealership, and keys out reports can alert management to any problems.

Disinfect Keys and Hardware

Using EPA-approved products, disinfect keys, key tags, and key control systems before and after each person touches them, or at least every hour. Please check the manufacturer’s cleaning and disinfecting instructions for electronic key cards, fobs, and hardware. Print a copy of our key control system cleaning guidelines and keep it near the system as a reminder.

For key control systems that use a fingerprint scanner for user authentication, consider temporarily switching your login method to a fob and/or password. While fobs, keyboards, and fingerprint scanners are all high-touch surfaces, you can use a broader range of cleaners and disinfectants on fobs and keyboards. If you do use a fingerprint scanner for system access, make sure you follow proper procedures for cleaning the device and wash your hands thoroughly after each use.

Doing your part to protect everyone during this time will build trust and confidence in your employees and customers. Improving your dealership’s preparedness against widespread illness will not only benefit your business but your customers as well.

For additional guidance, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about adapting your key control practices during this time.
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