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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?
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.
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.
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 http://www.KPAOnline.com
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.
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