Did you know that the average American spends 2.5 days each year looking for lost items? Some of the most commonly lost belongings are keys.
If you’re in the automotive retailing industry, you can expect to spend even more time searching for keys — as well as the vehicles they go to. Keys and vehicles can both be lost or stolen at any size dealership, in sales or service. And what happens when you spend hours searching for these items? Customers get upset. Employees get frustrated. And most importantly, your dealership’s reputation suffers.
Consider the following true stories:
Keys Lost, Test Drive Delayed
A customer waited for 20 minutes in the rain to test drive a vehicle while the salesperson searched for the keys – an experience the prospect shared in an online review. (There are plenty of similar accounts of missing keys hurting the test drive experience in our post about dealership reputation management.)
Vehicle Lost, Test Drive Canceled
In another online review, one customer reported that they walked away from a test drive because the salesperson couldn’t locate the vehicle on the lot.
Vehicles Lost at a Small Dealership
On a Reddit thread, one user, who spent five years working for a small dealership with only a couple hundred vehicles in stock, said sometimes a car would “go missing” and it would take a couple hours for anyone to find it.
Vehicles Lost at a Large Dealership
A poster on an OEM forum talked about dropping off their car at the dealership for service. When the customer went to pick up the car, the staff member reported that the vehicle was lost. They explained that the parking lot was “as big as a football field” and they have several other lots, such as the body shop and used car lots.
Vehicles Stolen From the Lot
Sometimes, however, vehicles won’t be found on the lot — because they’re no longer there. Unfortunately, that was the case for a Massachusetts couple, whose vehicle was stolen while in for service. The thief’s job was easy, as a dealership employee left the key inside the vehicle.
Can you relate to any of these stories? If so, what can you do? It starts with better vehicle tracking and key management:
- Implement a GPS vehicle tracking solution that allows you to see where vehicles are on your lot in real time.
- Use an electronic key control system to store keys in a secure, central location that will automatically track who checks out keys when.
- Detect theft promptly by setting up alerts on your key control system to notify you of keys that haven’t been returned on time. You can also use the GPS tracking system to see when vehicles are off your lot.
Losing belongings is part of the human experience, but losing keys or even inventory (and suffering reputational damage as a result) doesn’t have to be part of your dealership experience.