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How to Create a Next-Level Dealership Experience With Key Management

In a matter of months, the online car buying market has accelerated from 0 to 60. Before the pandemic, 32 percent of buyers were open to buying a car online. Now, that number has shot up to 61 percent. But while the majority of buyers are open to purchasing a vehicle online, only 39 percent prefer it.

For some people, there’s no replacement for seeing a vehicle in person and experiencing the way it drives before clicking “Submit Order.”

Private appointments, contactless test drives, and home delivery are musts for customers who don’t want to shift gears to a completely online buying experience but aren’t comfortable shopping in stores.

Don’t have key control logs? Take a look at these posts:

Do you need to improve your key management?

What happens when you don’t have accurate key control logs?

If your dealership is going to provide these services, though, it’s important to make sure you provide a seamless experience. People are accustomed to doing everything on demand — from watching a movie to ordering groceries. If online reviews are any indication, one major bottleneck in the car-buying experience is missing keys.

There are many routes you can take to fill in process gaps, but let’s take a look at how your key control data can help you take your no-contact (or low contact) customer experience to the next level.

To get started, pull out your key control logs and ask yourself the following questions:

When are keys being checked out?

Take a look at the days of the week and times of day people are checking out keys, as well as the checkout reasons, and note any trends.

When combined with other data like phone call and email volume, seeing when keys are checked out most often helps you identify times of peak activity. You can ensure you have enough employees providing coverage during these windows. In addition, you can plan vehicle maintenance or car washes during less busy periods.


What vehicle keys are being checked out most often?

Take a look at the keys checked out for test drives over a certain period of time (week, month, etc.). Are there any trends in the types of vehicles going on test drives? A certain model? Color? Trim package?

Then compare that information to sales numbers. Are your most-test-driven vehicles also top sellers? If not, do some digging to figure out if customers aren’t buying because they don’t like something about the vehicle itself or if there’s a performance issue with staff.

Are employees returning keys promptly?

Imagine a prospect does their research, finds the car they want at your store, and schedules an at-home test drive. When it’s time for the salesperson — we’ll call him Andy — to leave to drop off the vehicle, he can’t find the key. The time for the test drive rolls around, and Andy hasn’t even left the dealership.

Tip: If you have a KeyTrak Edge system, run the following reports to help you answer the questions in this post:

  • Key History
  • Key Summary
  • Current Inventory
  • Vehicle Due Date
  • Vehicles Overdue
  • Vehicles Sold

Eventually Andy does find the key. Another rep had stuck it in their pocket before stepping out for lunch. Andy apologizes profusely to the customer, but at that point, the damage is already done. It’s already hurt their opinion of the dealership.

Having employees return keys on time prevents awkward situations where customers book an appointment for a specific time, only to be kept waiting.

With an electronic key control system, you can set up overdue key alerts and even have employees reserve keys ahead of time so another employee doesn’t check out a key right before a scheduled test drive.

What processes do you need to improve?

Your key control reports give you valuable insight into your dealership operations and highlight processes you need to fine tune. Some of the most common process failures we’ve seen in dealerships include:

By taking the time to closely look at and act on what your key control records tell you, you can provide your customers the hands-on experience of the traditional car-buying process with the convenience of digital retailing.

Read More About Dealership Key Control