Electronic document storage is now becoming the rule rather than the exception at many dealerships – and for good reason! The benefits are far reaching: from enabling easier audits to ditching jam-packed filing cabinets.
Yet as with any big change, there are speed bumps. The biggest obstacle is the lack of an official dealership scanning process.
Too often, this job is seen as simply clerical and assigned to a $10 an hour temp or piggy-backed onto the existing tasks of an overtaxed employee. This is a mistake.
The truth is, the Scan Operator acts as a compliance manager as he or she is responsible for ensuring every document in a file is legible, in the proper order, and labeled correctly. Sloppy scanning that results in missing pages or illegible information could result in thousands of dollars in fines if auditors come calling.
Sloppy work may also affect sales managers who want to review a previous deal to provide the best customer experience to a returning customer. The same applies to service managers who want to see previous service history to help with up-sell opportunities when a customer is back in the service bay.
Proper scanning matters – a lot. It’s well worth the time and money to hire a detail-orientated professional and provide hands-on training of the full document flow and scanning process. Skimp on the hiring process and training and a Scanning Operator is likely to make these common missteps:
Failing to validate that every image is clean – Every scanned document must be legible and clear before it is added to permanent electronic storage. Tried-and-true rules must be followed, such scanning drivers licenses in color or ensuring there are no folded corners in the documents. The Scan Operator must check the screen after every scan to ensure document integrity.
Failing to correct incorrect titles – Mis-titled scans create a load of unsearchable documents. Sometimes it’s a simple smudge on a page that causes the system to misread and misspell the title. The Scanning Operator must always check the documents against what’s on the screen to make sure the title is accurate.
Mis-collating documents – Assembling documents in the wrong sequence can lead to an incorrect document title which makes the documents unsearchable. Additionally, ordering the pages are key for optimal use – you do not want to scroll though pages to find the 1st page of an RO or a Deal Recap sheet.
Scanning multiple documents together – Failure to use separator sheets or not paying attention to ensure documents are separated may cause multiple documents to be stored under one title. This creates a big issue when trying to find those misfiled documents.
Forgetting to number pages – All pages in a document should be counted and numbered before scanning, and then compared to what is on the screen. Missing this step runs the risk of not scanning every page.
Immediately shredding documents – Scanning and then immediately shredding documents runs the risk that a scan will be incorrect and there is no way to fix it without the originals. Correct policy is to check the system the next day for documents scanned the day prior, to ensure accuracy before shredding.
Failing to remove staples –Staples increase the likelihood of missing a page as one may be “hidden” behind another, resulting in an incomplete file. More importantly, staples may scratch the glass of the scanner. Scanners can cost upwards of $5,000 and a scratched glass can ruin that investment by causing lines on every page.
Improper scanner maintenance – Like any equipment, a scanner requires proper maintenance to get the best image quality and functionality. The Scanning Operator should clean the glass daily and clean the paper chute, rollers, and sensors once a month. Page rollers should be replaced annually or every 200,000 pages, whichever comes first.
Scanning without document knowledge – The Scanning Operator should be able to identify Service, Parts, Deal, and Accounting documents. After all, if they can’t identify the document how can they make an intelligent decision about how to organize it? Proper identification also ensures they know who to approach in the dealership if information is missing or they have questions.
Electronic document storage is a game-changer when it comes to breezing through audits, enhancing employee efficiency, and getting rid of towering boxes of paper. However, don’t trust scanning to a temp or low-level employee. It pays to hire a professional and invest in training because proper document scanning is the linchpin of a successful storage program.