The fact that a customer agreed to buy is no excuse for filling in a missing signature.  - Photo by Choreograph via Getty Images

The fact that a customer agreed to buy is no excuse for filling in a missing signature.

Photo by Choreograph via Getty Images

Once upon a time I was part of corporate America, working for one of the captives. While in corporate America, I had an accident with my right hand that put it in a cast. I couldn’t grab the steering wheel. My putter grip was abysmal. I couldn’t write or sign my name.

As a supervisor in my corporate America branch office, I was responsible for completing a checklist on every repossessed account to ensure all the required steps from repossession to disposal had been completed. I had to initial a box by each completed task to properly finish a checklist.

Since I couldn’t drive or putt or write, I just assumed my boss would understand if I marked a simple checkmark in each box. I evidently didn’t know my boss very well. “Shortcuts are not acceptable!” he bellowed after he reviewed my first of a stack of completed repossessions.

Read: Van Over: Is Your Salesperson Running a CRO?

I assume shortcuts develop in many industries, companies, or processes. Some of the shortcuts I witness in dealerships create potential compliance concerns. Here are four you should remove from your process immediately:

1. Inconsistent Product Pricing

In a perfect world, the customer signs four documents disclosing the acceptance and pricing of voluntary protection products:

  • The menu.
  • The buyer’s order (or PCD in California).
  • The contract.
  • The registration form.

There are times when the product price does not print on the registration form. Instead it is either left blank or prints as “N/A.” Other times, the DMS picks up the wrong price, perhaps printing the price of the vehicle service contract on the maintenance form.

The form in the file either reflects the free price (blank or N/A) or the wrong price, or the correct price that has been handwritten in. Oftentimes when the price is corrected, the customer has not initialed the change.

This begs the question: Exactly what does the customer’s copy show?

Hopefully the customer’s copy is consistent with the dealer’s copy, otherwise there could be some ’splaining to do if the customer ever decides to file a complaint or litigation and the file is requested in discovery.

Taking the shortcut to not having the DMS corrected or programmed or not properly loading the deal is potentially putting the validity of the transaction at risk.

The Federales require a buyer’s guide and Monroney sticker on every used unit in your inventory — no exceptions!  - Photo by clean_fotos via Getty Images

The Federales require a buyer’s guide and Monroney sticker on every used unit in your inventory — no exceptions!

Photo by clean_fotos via Getty Images

2. Forgetting the Used Car Buyer’s Guide Disclosure

The FTC Used Car Rule is very specific about proper disclosure of any remaining warranty. Most dealers have a solid process to properly make this disclosure.

For example, the Used Car Rule says that using shorthand terms such as “factory warranty remaining” is not a sufficient disclosure. The vendors who manage the buyer’s guide process for dealers generally have the correct disclosures, but still require oversight.

The process falls apart when a used vehicle is sold before the vendor has an opportunity to put a correct buyer’s guide on the vehicle. Or it falls apart when the salesperson gets lazy and handwrites a buyer’s guide instead of taking the guide off of the vehicle.

Going the shortcut route thinking you are saving time leads to noncompliance with a federal law.

Forging a customer’s name is an acceptable shortcut?

3. Signing Customers’ Names

People get busy. Salespeople fail to get the customer’s signature on the privacy notice. F&I managers forget to have the customer sign the GAP enrollment form.

Almost every dealership employee understands that forging the customer’s signature to a form is a crime. Others rationalize that the customer did agree or knew that they agreed to the privacy policy or signed a menu and contract agreeing to purchase GAP, so it is OK to sign the customer’s name.

Forging a customer’s name is an acceptable shortcut?

4. Not Reading the Forms

During your next management meeting, ask how many of your managers have read and understand each section — front and back — of the buyer’s order, retail installment sales contract, and lease agreement.

After all, they are likely signing these documents on behalf of the dealership. Isn’t it reasonable to expect that they have read and understand all of the provisions they are asking customers to agree to?

Sometimes a shortcut is just being lazy instead of understanding the very basics of your job.

Don’t let process shortcuts short circuit all the hard work you’ve put in to make yourself and your dealership the success it is today.

Good luck and good selling.

Read: Van Over: Consumers Don’t Always Tell the Truth

Author

Gil Van Over
Gil Van Over

Columnist

Gil Van Over is the executive director of Automotive Compliance Education (ACE), the founder and president of gvo3 & Associates, and author of “Automotive Compliance in a Digital World.” Email him at [email protected]

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Gil Van Over is the executive director of Automotive Compliance Education (ACE), the founder and president of gvo3 & Associates, and author of “Automotive Compliance in a Digital World.” Email him at [email protected]

View Bio
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