Cutting off the Data

Digital Dealer –  Sandi Jerome

 “One of the biggest data extractions is to the factory each night”

At the last Digital Dealer Conference, speaker Jim Ziegler told a packed crowd the 20 things he’d do if he bought your dealership.  According to Ziegler,  “I am going to cut off all companies that are lifting customer data out of my DMS system that do not have an apparent need to use that data in the dealership’s behalf.”   He added, “I am NOT going to do business with any company that has clauses in the EULA Agreements that give them ownership of my customer data or the right to resell or re purpose it or share it with their affiliates.”  You might wonder, “What is the EULA Agreement?”  This is the end-user agreement that defines the rules between you and your DMS provider and other technology providers.  An example of a clause in the EULA Agreement is that you agree not to reverse engineer their technology to create a competing product.  These agreements can be rather broad, for example Apple’s iTunes EULA expressively forbids you from using iTunes to create missiles and biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.  I doubt if any of the various technology companies that you have given access to your data have any intention of going that far in their agreements, but Jim has a point regarding the data.  I’ve always told dealers that they should add a customer in their database with the same name as their dog with their home address and a dummy email address that forward to them.  Regularly you need to sell a vehicle or have your “dog” come in for service in your DMS system.  Use a VIN number belonging to a vehicle that you wholesaled so that it doesn’t conflict with real data.  If your dog starts getting Robot calls, emails, or mail offers that didn’t come from you or one of your technology providers, then there is a leak in your data.  Jim stated that one of the first things he’d do if he bought your dealership is to find out who is getting the data.  It used to be easy; you could look up on the user/password list and figure out who got data out of your system last night, but now your data is going out many different ways.  First of all, you might have authorized your DMS to send your data to various 3rd parties.  You’ll need to have your DMS provider give you that list of direct exports, the data files and fields that are going from them to outside sources.  Next, you probably signed the dreaded EULA Agreement with them.  Did that gave them ownership to your data?  Can they sell it to others?  One of the biggest data extractions is to the factory each night.  Many dealers send all the repair orders, sales (new and used) along with parts sales data to their factory.  There might be something in the fine print when you signed up for a program with an OEM that enables them to sell to your customers. You should have and agreement with every technology provider that defines their access to your data and how they can use it.  This includes companies that process online appointments, service write-up tablets, CRM providers, equity miners, websites, lead providers, and even companies that analyze your inventories.

If you were lucky enough to attend one of the valuable sessions like this at the last Digital Dealer Conference, then I’m sure you’re already making changes to your technology to sell more cars and service more vehicles.  Be sure and attend the next Digital Dealer Conference September 18-20th in fun Las Vegas!



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