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Heinous crimes are being committed, day after day in auto dealerships around the nation. Somehow the valuable data in your dealership management system (DMS) keeps ending up in other dealers' hands. How is it that your competition across town knows that one of your customers is six months away from coming off a lease? How is it that one of your most loyal customers who has purchased three Toyotas from you, has just received an email offer from a competing Toyota dealership?
What nefarious forces are afoot, you wonder, and well you should. Is someone stealing your precious data? Is your DMS provider giving your data away? Before we start pointing fingers, let us follow the Chain of Evidence.
In a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) the Chain of Evidence is a series of events which, when viewed in sequence, account for the actions or location of a person or entity during a particular period of time. I submit the following:
From this Chain of Evidence, there is only one possible conclusion. The fiend responsible for giving your precious data to your competitors is none other than ...you, Mr. Dealer! (Cue dramatic music and shocked face)
Yes, you are the party responsible for signing an agreement without reading the fine print. You are the party who failed to ask the pertinent questions. Your third-party vendors are not doing anything illegal or even unethical. Your DMS provider is obliged to do what you tell them, which is to give a third-party vendor or aggregator unrestricted access to your data.
The good news is, I think you have a pretty good case for self-defense. After all, you don't know what you don't know. But now that you do know, you can avoid being part of this twisted, diabolical chain of evidence, by taking the following steps:
If you, the dealers, don't stand up for your right to know who is selling what to whom, then who will? Take a stand, ask questions and follow the Chain of Evidence until you are completely satisfied that nobody is sharing or selling your data. You are now released on your own recognizance.