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Why you need to get your dealer forms organized and what you can do about it right now
“I’ve just never been an organized person.”
“I try to keep my office organized, but I get so busy, and things pile up.”
“I have an awful memory. I tell myself I need to fill out a specific form ASAP or print out some new ones, but things seem to always slip my mind.”
Do you use these excuses to explain why your dealership’s business office and dealer forms are so disorganized? These reasons may work in your personal life, but in business — especially in an industry as regulated as the auto industry — you simply can’t afford to write-off being scatter-brained as an unfortunate, unfixable trait.
“Organized people are not born; they’re built,” says John Trosko, founder of OrganizingLA, speaking with Fast Company. “The people who emerge as ‘organized’ use a variety of tools and methods to accomplish their goals and priorities in life.”
Does it really matter if your dealer forms are organized?
The short answer? Yes! The longer explanation? Keeping dealer forms organized isn’t just a nice way of keeping the business office neat and clean—being organized saves the entire company time and money. Organized dealer forms help you:
Prevent funding delays.
After you’ve sold a financed vehicle, you’re out that money until you submit the proper paperwork and the finance company sends you what they owe you. If you’re not using a checklist the banks provide, you don’t know who’s in charge of handling the forms, or you’re rushing through and making errors, it’s going to take longer to get paid.
Streamline the process for customers.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers for a minute. They’ve found the car of their dreams, they’re approved for financing, and they just want to seal the deal and drive their new vehicle home. But then they end up in your office. Your desk is piled high with folders and stray dealer forms, and you just can’t seem to find what they need. Being disorganized in front of customers can make them second-guess their decision to buy from you, or leave such a bad taste in their mouths that they tell their friends, family, and the online review community about the experience.
This is no surprise to you, but compliance is everything. If you can’t keep your business office and dealer forms organized, there’s a much greater likelihood something is going to fall through the cracks, and you’ll be faced with a possible compliance violation.
Keep floor plan auditors happy.
When a floor plan auditor makes a surprise visit to your dealership, you need to be ready to give them whatever they need. If you don’t have one person in charge of audits or have titles organized and readily available, your audit experience probably won’t be a great one.
Getting dealer forms organized
Organization isn’t a magic formula, though. Here are a few ways you can get your business office on the right track:
Don’t put the entire overhaul on your shoulders. If organization is not your forte, there’s nothing wrong with making it a group project. Have a business office meeting, tell the team what you’re going to discuss ahead of time, and ask them to think of ways to streamline and organize your dealer forms. In brainstorming together, you may come up with solutions no one would consider individually.
Can you categorize forms? Look at all the different dealer forms you use and figure out if you can categorize them and keep them in different groups. For example, you could group forms according to where a customer is in the buying process, so you always know where to look for what you need.
Think about where you can go paperless. With all of the digital technology available, it’s amazing to witness how many dealerships haven’t gone paperless yet. It’s not going to be an option for every type of dealer form, but do some research into what exists and what your dealership can afford. Instead of having multiple filing cabinets, stacks of papers, and countless folders, you can streamline everything and go digital.
An organized business office is essential for any dealership that wants to succeed. By taking the time to organize dealer forms and get internal processes in order, your business office will be more efficient, professional, and a happier place to be.