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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Denim Simkins

Denim Simkins Director, Fixed Ops

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How Is Your Service Security? Car Stolen From Service Drive.


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Recently I was visiting a dealership and watched the frantic pace of employees moving around going about their day. After only 3 months removed from a 22-year career inside of a dealership I was shocked about this frantic pace and it was an eye opening experience and reminded me of a tragic accident that happened early in my career.

When I was a service advisor I remember coming in after a weekend and a place that I usually turn on the lights and start the coffee is already a buzz. The service manager and senior leadership were already in closed-door meetings and it looked like there were a couple of detectives at the store as well. Of course everyone was wondering what had gone on. As we came to find out what used to be a normal activity or process in the dealership allowed a man to break into our store, steal a car and then be involved in an accident where an innocent bystander was injured.

At this store when a car came in for service the customer pulls right into the service drive that is directly connected to the shop. Quite often the technician would take the vehicle from the service drive and then pull it right into the service bay.  On a late Saturday afternoon a vehicle came in the service drive and one of the technicians indicated he would look at it next and the advisor informed him it is carried over until Monday.  End of business came and the store was locked down. During the weekend a man broke into the dealership found this car sitting on the service drive with keys in it, powered up the bay doors and then drove out. Unfortunately he created an incident that cased great harm to others. Fast forward several years and many depositions the dealer was held responsible for not having an adequate control process in place to prevent this from happening and ultimately settling on a multi million pay out to the family.

Millions of dollars were lost; people were hurt because of a bad process within the dealership.  It still seems commonplace for a technician to leave the keys in a car that he is working on in his bay overnight or over the weekend. This is the same scenario that allowed a dishonest person cause harm and cost the dealership. Key control is important. Are your keys locked down when you are closed for business? Are there keys still being left in a car (in the shop) after hours? If so you are exposed for a possible theft that will cost your owner millions. In the saying “good fences make good neighbors” makes the case for a good end of day lock down process that removes keys from cars and secures them. In addition a solid securing and door locking procedure will help you build that fence to help prevent this opportunity for a criminal to strike on.

Point is, I know it is chaotic, there are a hundred things a service manager does on a daily basis to produce a profit, keep happy customers, make happy employees and grow the business but one slight of step in your process could cause a monumental disaster within the blink of an eye.

Ashley Stryker

Processes can be annoying, but help prevent this sort of thing from happening. Several of my coworkers who used to work at dealerships have told me about some really horrendous key management protocols. I'm sorry this happened--hopefully others can learn from the mistakes.

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