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5 “Key” Dilemmas for Dealerships ‒ And How to Solve Them

There’s an astounding number of keys to manage at a dealership. For example, large auto groups can have thousands of vehicles in inventory, emphasizing the need for effective key organization. But even if your dealership is small or midsized, keeping track of your keys can turn into a nightmare without proper key control in place.

Anyone working in auto sales can tell you that every conversation, customer encounter, and test drive matters. Your dealership can’t afford to miss out on opportunities because of a misplaced key. Here are five key and asset control pain points that are common to dealerships, and some solutions for each one.

1. Spread-Out Locations

It can be difficult to coordinate key management if your dealership has multiple buildings, levels, or store locations. Consider a dealership that has three floors. If a key is lost and you don’t have a reliable tracking system in place, it’ll be extremely time-consuming to hunt down the missing key across multiple levels. Time is money — and every second of the customer’s time that’s wasted heightens the odds that they walk out the door and don’t come back. Pegboards and manual logbooks can only do so much, especially when someone forgets to sign out a key.

The answer to this issue is found in electronic key control systems. By digitizing your key control methods, you can network systems across multiple locations. With this computerized method, spread-out departments can access instant updates to track down where a key is being stored and when it was last used.

For a real-world example, the McGrath Family of Dealerships has numerous locations in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, area. Before McGrath implemented electronic key control at multiple locations, employees frequently traveled between different sites to locate the right key. The group has since found that monitoring key control by networking its key control systems saves time, money, and headaches.

2. Keeping up With Spare Keys

The importance of tracking primary sets of keys is undeniable, but what about the spares? Chances are, your dealership has a vast number of duplicate and valet keys.

It’s imperative to promote safety and organization so no key goes untraced. First, make a list of which keys have a duplicate set. You can then tag spares and add them to a separate drawer in your key control system.

3. Tracking Down Tablets

According to J.D. Power, overall satisfaction in the buying process scores 45 points higher when dealerships use tablets or touchscreen devices. If your dealership is considering tablets, or already uses them, they must be properly accounted for.

One way to do this is to store tablets in lockers controlled by your key management system. With designated permission settings, you’ll be able to ensure that the right associate can only access the locker at the right time.

4. Lost Dealer Plates

Keys and tablets aren’t the only things a dealership can’t afford to misplace. Dealer plates are vital assets that allow dealers to legally and responsibly operate the vehicles on their lot. If the plates go missing, it could lead to serious frustration, financial cost, and liability issues.

Dealer plates can be stored in your key management system’s drawers, which keeps them in a centralized and safe location. An associate logs in via biometric identification or a username/password combination, protecting the plates in the exact same way as your keys. Ken Shaw Lexus Toyota reduced its use of dealer plates by two-thirds after implementing an electronic key control system.

5. Limited Budget for Key Control Systems

If your dealership is recently established or struggling to earn a profit, you may not think a key management system is an affordable investment. What you may not consider, however, is the mounting costs of replacing keys over time. It costs an average of $84 to replace one key. Without proper key control in place, these costs can quickly add up to thousands of dollars per year.

Poor key management has even led to stolen vehicles in some cases. With that in mind, key management systems could actually save your dealership from extensive financial damage in the future.

If you’re concerned about the upfront investment in electronic key control, discuss leasing and financing options with potential key control partners.

Whatever size your dealership may be, it takes effective systems to operate to your full potential. Don’t skimp on proper key management now only to suffer from wasted employee time, lost revenue, or even significant financial liability down the road.

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