How to Properly Manage Key Control and Lot Protection
With every missing inventory vehicle, the first questions are (and should be) How, When and Who.
We always begin with How. The ‘’How’’ always revolves around the key issue…Where are the keys? Insurance Claims Adjusters ask about the main set and then make sure the warranty books and/or files contain the second set. This provides some understanding of the ‘’How”…insight into if the key was duplicated or if the controls do not provide adequate protection.
The improper storage and/or security of keys is the easiest way to lose inventory vehicles. Loose key procedures make it easy for less sophisticated thieves to take units. This includes unattended keyboards, keys left on salespersons desks, or unrestricted access to other Dealership employees.
Questions about key controls are on every single DOL/Inventory insurance application. And, for good reason. Dealers with proper key controls impede the efforts of the predominance of vehicle thieves.
It does not have to be the most expensive ‘’key vault’’ on the market. It just must be effective, consistent, and have the proper level of oversight and control. Bottom line, we need to have key controls in effect that make it very difficult to steal inventory.
The next question is always ‘’When.’’ This deals more with Lot Security both during business hours and after the Dealership is closed.
Again, insurance applications are full of questions about procedures to protect the lots: Video Surveillance, After Hours Security, Lojack or other Vehicle Locater Devices, Entrances Blocked and/or Restricted, Adequate Lighting to eliminate ‘’dark areas’’…the list goes on.
The importance of ‘’When’’ is to ensure you properly secure the lot ‘’after hours.’’
The last question can often ‘’sting’’ a bit. The question is, “Who?”
It is an unfortunate fact that many vehicle thefts are instigated by employees, either acting alone or in collusion with outsiders.
For this reason, it is important to make sure you have as much information on your employees as possible. This involves more than just the initial HR forms and applications. It should include background checks (both criminal and MVRs) as well as extensive discussions with prior employers and other references.
We would suggest perhaps an annual or semi-annual re-run of the reports just to see if anything has changed. Expense involved…Of course! But, think of an employee that has run into (seemingly) hopeless financial problems that causes him or her to compromise ethics. If you can intercede with counseling or a dismissal prior to an unfortunate event…it would save a lot of money and angst.
The same is true with Vendors who have access to vehicles. This includes Porters, Valets, etc. Review the hiring practices of those vendors and make sure their insurance coverage extends to your inventory units if stolen by their employees.
From a Risk Management perspective, it’s important to have a roundtable discussion with your Team about inventory protection. Challenge each person to ‘’Think Like a Thief.’’ It can be an interesting and enlightening exercise and uncover areas where your Dealership protocols may be inadequate. IT firms use this tactic frequently in the development of security measures…with employees dedicated to attempting to ‘’hack’’ into their own systems.
Embrace your Inventory Security. Remember the How, When and Who. As a Dealer you must be right all the time…protecting your inventory Each and Every Day. The perpetrators only have to be right once!
Watch for our next info blast…Preparing for your Dealership Insurance Renewal!