FTC Enforcement Action Targets Dealership

This month the FTC issued a press release regarding recent enforcement actions against businesses for breaches in their processes to safeguard consumers’ information.  The press release is located here.  You may recall that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLB”) mandates businesses that collect nonpublic personal information, like social security numbers, implement processes to safeguard this information.  Your obligations under GLB include designating a person responsible for GLB implementation at the dealership, creating a written policy compliant with GLB requirements and continuous monitoring of your practices to detect safeguard breaches.  You are then obligated to record these breaches and adapt your processes to avert such breaches in the future. 

In this enforcement action, a dealership was found in breach of its obligations mandated under GLB because it failed to monitor its processes, thereby placing the information of 95,000 customers at risk of theft.  One claim of the dealership’s safeguards breach arose from the installation of a Peer-to-Peer (“P2P”) application on one of the dealership’s computers, which allowed a party to transfer nonpublic personal information from the dealership’s computers to an outside computer.  P2P applications range from music and photo sharing software to communication applications such as instant messaging clients (think America Online’s “AIM”) and Skype. 

Enforcement actions such as the one mentioned above are good reminders of why it is important to implement sound processes that comply with GLB, which include continuous monitoring and auditing by your personnel to detect security breaches.  Your GLB compliance efforts must also include review of what kinds of applications your employees install on your computers.  Some dealerships use these kinds of applications to communicate with customers in a more efficient manner, so an outright ban on installing these kinds of P2P applications may be impractical. Periodic audits of work computers may detect unauthorized applications, used either for benign purposes or for more illicit activities.  Expand your processes to include what kinds of safeguards you will put in place to detect safeguard breaches if you permit your employees to use P2P applications on work computers.

DealerRefresh: Dealership Employees Blogging in the Land of Unicorns and Rainbows

DealerRefresh: Dealership Employees Blogging in the Land of Unicorns and Rainbows

Jeff Kershner at DealerRefresh nails this one out of the park.  Very easy for industry experts (even those that are highly regarded by the community they serve) to say what they think should and shouldn’t happen at a retail dealership in terms of managing digital media implementation.  Mr. Kershner brought the conversation about who should be responsible for generating content for the dealership’s online assets back to reality.  Sales people should stick to selling and let an employee (or contractor/vendor) responsible for content generation handle the heavy lifting for things like blogging, vlogging, etc.

The Six Online Steps On The Road To The Sale – Drivingsales.com

The Six Online Steps On The Road To The Sale – Drivingsales.com

This article, written by Keith Shetterly and posted to Drivingsales is probably one of the best written that analogizes in-store sales processes with online sales processes.  It made me think about online processes in a new way.

Defining “Work” in Car Sales – Dealer Elite

Defining “Work” in Car Sales – Dealer Elite

This is a nice article from Scott Klein offering his opinion on what “work” means in sales.  I agree with Mr. Klein 100% when he says “How do I define work? It consists of two little actions; no more, no less. You’re either face to face with a prospect trying to sell a vehicle, or you’re trying to get face to face with a prospect to sell a vehicle.”

A Completed Credit Application is the Best Kept Secret at a Dealership

When you complete a sale with a customer, the furthest thing in your mind is that you may have to sue the customer months or years in the future.  Most of your focus usually is on what steps you can take to make sure you do not violate the law or how you can minimize the chance a customer may prevail against you in a lawsuit.  Today, we’ll address what you should do to prepare in advance for possible litigation against a customer.  Luckily for you, your dealership’s standard credit application is a great tool that can come in handy should you have to sue a customer.

A plaintiff’s lawsuit does not end merely with ‘winning’ a verdict in court.  The real success of the lawsuit can be measured by the plaintiff’s ability to collect all or part judgment the court awards.  A judgment is not that effective if you can never collect on it.  Many plaintiffs find it frustrating to expend legal fees to obtain a favorable judgment only to learn that they cannot collect it.  To effectively collect a judgment, you will need to be able to locate the customer and have details on the customer’s assets that may be liquidated or frozen to satisfy the judgment.  Your best tool to obtain the information you’ll need is your credit application.  Many salespeople and managers take shortcuts in completing the credit application, either by taking a ‘five-liner’ to gain just enough information to access the customer’s credit file, or fill out only what the bank asks to have completed.  Instead, use the credit application as an interview tool to gain as much information on the customer as possible.  You should aim to have each credit application filled out completely, and monitor each member tasked with gathering the customer’s credit information.  Typical credit applications have sections related to past employment, credit references (usually space for 3-5 individuals) and itemization of bank accounts, assets, etc.  A credit application, fully completed, may provide you with enough information to track down the customer and attach what assets he or she may have.  As an ancillary to preparation for possible litigation, the completed credit application gives your F&I manager great information to tailor an F&I presentation.  For example, if the customer discloses that he has little to no savings in his accounts, the F&I manager could use that information to sell the benefits of GAP coverage or credit life/disability insurance.  If you use a Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”) system to complete credit applications, your provider may aggregate this information into a wealth of reports you can use to hone your marketing efforts.  Increased diligence in completing the credit application benefits the customer because doing so helps detect fraud and identity theft.

Does your dealership require staff to complete credit applications?  What are some best practices for accomplishing this?