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Brian Pasch

Brian Pasch CEO

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Interested In An Unexpected 21 Million Dollar Fine?

It is very common in the automotive industry, which relies heavily on the Internet to provide sales prospects, to put a great deal of pressure on Internet/BDC departments to answer leads in a timely fashion.  

In fact, some OEM's hold dealers to a time-clock; they must respond to leads personally within a set number of minutes

Is your dealership focused on lead response time?  Do your employees that work in the Internet Department have emails also coming to their cell phones so that they can respond promptly to leads when they are out to lunch, traveling to a meeting, or after hours when the store is closed? 

For many of you, the answers to the questions above would be "yes, of course we do!".   This is even more common in smaller stores where the Internet department is only one or two people.

So what if I told you that unless the dealership have a specific policy and training program in place, the leads that your employees are responding to while driving could cost you millions of dollars?  Would you believe me?


Coca Cola Pays 21 Million Dollars


To understand the severity of the matter, you have to read this press release where Coca Cola Refreshments was pulled into a lawsuit because a car accident occurred when one of their drivers was distracted by their mobile device.  Here are two excerpts from the press release:

Two law firms came together to bring the cell phone distraction case to a jury after it was discovered in the lawsuit that Coca Cola had a vague and ambiguous cell phone policy for its delivery drivers, according to court documents. The jury was to decide whether or not Venice Wilson's injuries were caused by a distracted Coca Cola delivery driver who was on a cell phone.

"From the time I took the Coca Cola driver's testimony and obtained the company's inadequate cell phone driving policy, I knew we had a corporate giant with a huge safety problem on our hands. I also knew that taking on Coca Cola's policy that affects hundreds of thousands of its employees would require assembling a trial team with the horse power necessary to fight and win. More importantly, I knew Mrs. Wilson deserved justice, and the rest of the motoring public deserved safer drivers; so, Bob Hilliard and I decided to put our law firm litigation teams together to shred Coca Cola's policy."

What the jury found was that it was Coca Cola's responsibility to train and educate their employees about the dangers of cell phone usage when driving.  In fact, the policy must be clear that they are not to text, email, or violate laws when driving to respond to company matters on their mobile device. 


What Would The Jury Say About Your Policy?

If a dealer was facing a lawsuit involving an employee who was answering work emails while driving, lawyers involved could very easily line up dozens of employees who could testify that the dealership had a "15 minute" email response policy.   Would the dealer drag in the OEM and ask them to share the blame?

What would your employees say if interviewed?  I bet most would say that there was no formal policy or training that they should not respond to a company email or text while they were driving.

This is a very serious matter since this jury found that the employer was liable.  It would seem that even though most states have a law on the books about texting and cell phone usage while driving, if dealers remotely link compensation to lead response time they could be opening themselves up to a bigger problem.

How To Protect Your Business

I would advise all dealers to contact your compliance consulting firm to get a policy and training in place immediately.  

If you do not use a compliance consultant, I recommend that you contact Vane Clayton, CEO of KPA.  You can learn more about their company by visiting

AT&T Also Has A Technology Solution

To ensure compliance with your new texting policy, you can also take advantage of a new program offered by AT&T called "Associate PLEDGE" that is carrier agnostic. 

Associate PLEDGE from AT&T enables organization to take control of the problem and help protect your company from what you do not see and hear today. Associate PLEDGE empowers the corporation to:

  • - Help protect itself from OSHA fines
  • - Get notification of employees breaking corporate mobile device usage policy
  • - Provide an audit trail for accountability around mobile device policy usage
  • - Easy to use and deploy
  • - No additional hardware to buy
  • - Minimal learning curve
  • - Centralized system management
  • - Cross-Carrier solution
  • - Works on multiple mobile devices including AndroidTM and BlackBerry®
  • - Restrict functional use of the device Features while moving
  • - Capture device usage information including use of Bluetooth, phone, and text activity received or placed from SmartPhones
  • - Track device usage via GPS enabling company to know who, what, where, when and how fast

Associate Pledge Information

The Associate PLEDGE program is a monthly fee per cell phone device.  You don't have to be a member of the AT&T network to sign-up.  If you would like more information on the program contact Jolie Nadler from AT&T by calling 973-610-1761, who I thank for sharing this information with me. 

I hope that you will take action at your dealership and please share this article within the automotive community, Facebook, Twitter to ensure that dealers take action immediately.  

Dealer Principals can no afford to ignore the massive changes in operating liability that the Internet and technology has created.  Stay connected and work with a good compliance and regulatory advisor.


Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Digital Marketing




Jim Bell
Great info Brian and something that every business should take into consideration. When I drive down the road, I see car after car looking at their phones doing who knows what. When you bring the company into account when driving a company car, then you are not only exposing yourself, but also the company. I don't think that any dealership wants to have to change their name over a text or reading of an email. Coke has deep pockets, but dealers don't have that deep of pockets to keep that from changing.
Stan Sher
This is amazing my friend. You always write something insightful. I love it! A training program and effective process is even more important now then ever. There are programs that help stop the clock as well. Funny you mention employees driving. I was at a Honda dealer talking to a sales person that worked at an Acura store a few years after I was there. We talked about how much of a jerk the owner is and how the store went downhill. He mentioned that he got chewed out because the owner did not like the way a used car call was being handled. It turns out that it was an autotrader call and he answered it on the company cell phone while he was driving. So you made me think back to that conversation.
Kathryn Carlson
Important issue that doesn't get enough attention despite state laws in 39 states that ban either texting, talking or both while driving. There is federal legislation under consideration also. Love that you recommend training and a policy- to often employers just distribute a policy to employees and hope for the best. Having a policy is important but only one part of resolving the problem and protecting the dealership.
Richard Valenta
Great post Brian! Texting while driving is a serious problem nationwide and is considered more dangerous than drunk driving in some tests. Your post brings to the forefront how important it is for dealers to look at their policies to see how exposed they are. This is just one of many compliance and safety issues that are overlooked until there's a lawsuit or fine.
Bryan Armstrong
Ouch! Amazing what you can easily miss. Never assume common sense is reality.

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