It’s NADA time again! While this year’s show may look different, it still is the best opportunity to discover and explore digital document management solutions to successfully run your business.

Every dealer’s “must learn more” list should include digital document management technology. The auto industry produces a lot of paper. All those documents take up valuable office space, and/or cost you money to store off-site. Digging through boxes to find a deal jacket or repair record wastes employee time.

Paper files are also a liability. It’s estimated that 1 in 20 paper documents go missing. With the proper paperless system in place, documents are scanned, filed, and tagged, for the ultimate in security and risk mitigation.

Need a document? It takes only a few seconds to type what you need into a search bar. Online storage also means you can retrieve an entire list of documents at once, documents can be accessed anytime and from anywhere, and there is no risk of misfiling pulled documents once they’ve been accessed.

The benefits are obvious, but how do you choose the right vendor partner? Before you visit a virtual NADA booth or jump on a Zoom call, make sure you familiarize yourself with the nine essential components of any document management solution:

  1. Breadth and depth. A vendor should handle documents from every department – not just accounting or service. Look for a solution with deep archiving abilities, the expertise to tackle any document challenges, and the ability to convert data from a wide range of software and hardware systems.
  2. Customization. Your dealership has unique processes and requirements. Make sure a solution can be tailored to your needs (including custom folders) and preferred input devices (like scanners and smartphones). You want a flexible provider who tailors to your preferences, not the other way around.
  3. Integrations. Third-party vendors are an essential part of your business. Ensure a solution can work with you to pull data records and integrate with vendors of your choosing.
  4. DMS-Agnostic. A solution should be able to work with any DMS so that if you choose to move to a new DMS, your document storage continues uninterrupted. This is also essential for dealer groups that use multiple DMS vendors and require a consistent view of data via the corporate office.
  5. User access and security. You want a system that allows full control over user administration. Look for systems that allows unlimited users, provides security controls over stores/folders, and provides the ability to lock access remotely to certain IP addresses.
  6. Customer support and training. Ask about the implementation process and continued technical support. Training is also key, especially for your Scan Operator. Scanning documents is simple, but requires meticulous attention to detail. A vendor should offer plenty of training options to ensure your team hits the ground running.
  7. System safeguards. Top vendors have built in safeguards to catch mistakes like missing documents or documents unintentionally scanned together, before documents are shredded. Ask about tools to ensure all deal documents are accounted for and legible before being placed in the permanent folders.
  8. Exit costs and data ownership. Insist a vendor include exit costs in the initial contract to avoid surprises should you decide to change vendors.
  9. Dealer referrals. During the sales process, ask for at least three customer referrals for dealerships that are approximately the same size as yours. Don’t skimp on these calls. You want to make the best partner decision now to avoid the hassle of switching vendors later, if your first choice is not a best fit. In addition, discuss the vendor with your 20 Group. They may have insights that didn’t come up during your sales conversation.

The “paperless” dealership is coming, and it’s easy to see why. Digital document management solutions such as scanning and electronically storing documents increases security, frees up office space, enhances employee productivity, and eliminates the cost of offsite storage facilities.