I’m talking about proper Automotive Document Management.

We all know car deals are complex and can be messy. Technology solutions are helping dealerships move towards a more digital, streamlined process. However, lack of communication between systems is a continuing problem. It takes multiple applications to take a deal from start to finish – many of which do not transfer data across systems.

With so many systems in play, there’s a significant risk of losing or misplacing information along the way. To be audit-ready, proper automotive document management must be in order.

Focus your efforts on the following:

Precise Automotive Scanning.

More dealerships are going paperless, and for good reason. A paperless deal cuts storage costs and increases security since deal jackets are housed in the cloud – often by third-party document management platforms – instead of in over-stuffed filing cabinets or storage lockers.

Scanning documents comes with the risk of missing pages or blurry and unreadable scans. A professional scan operator is advised to handle the process, but with the current labor shortage, this may not be possible for many dealerships.

In any case, it’s advised to put in place a written, standard operating procedure across all departments that details step-by-step instructions to perform scanning tasks in a consistent manner. This will help you pinpoint where procedure wasn’t followed if a document goes missing. It also acts as a training guide for new employees.

Safe Record Retention for Dealerships.

It pays to always be audit-ready. Whether it’s the IRS, your state government, or your vehicle manufacturer, an audit can be time-consuming and potentially devastating to your bottom-line. Proper document archiving significantly increases the likelihood that you will be prepared to pass any type of audit.

Don’t assume that your DMS automatically saves all documents. If you do not have a clear understanding of how/when you COLD data from your DMS, you may lose access to critical data and not know it until an unexpected audit reveals missing reports that result in hefty fines.

Every DMS has different rules. Task your Controller to perform a monthly check of your COLDing process will ensure key reports are being properly archived – including every schedule, journal, and general ledger. The key is, don’t assume it’s there, ensure it’s there.

Electronic Document Storage System for Automotive Dealers.

Web-based software that allows you to scan and store deal and service documents has a number of advantages. First, it gives you control over the process and over your own data. Second, it’s a way to guarantee that you’ll be able to retrieve your archived data for any reason at no extra cost. Third, it gives you flexibility in the future to quickly access data and documents if you decide to switch DMS providers or sell your store. Finally, it can standardize files so there is no worry about how data will go from one system to the next.

It’s crucial to implement a check-and-balance process to ensure documents are properly archived each month. Detailed, introspective reporting can help your accounting team ensure compliance by verifying all documents are properly scanned and stored before shredding paper copies.

The nuts and bolts of running a business are not always sexy, but attention to detail can save you a bundle if and when you face an audit. The fact of the matter is that you must use multiple systems to complete a vehicle deal. Focus your efforts on proper document scanning, retention and third-party electronic archiving to ensure documents from every system are securely housed in one place.