What happened? When your computer system was set up, the retention time was probably set per your F&I manager’s instructions. They only need the data for one to two months. They covered themselves by setting it at three months, knowing they would never have to look up a deal that far back. Or the record retention time was originally set for 12 months when you purchased the computer system, but as time went on, you ran out of hard drive space. The computer vendor wanted a fortune for more hard drive space. You decided to save money and delete old activity to free up enough hard drive space to keep your normal operations working smoothly. You never thought you would ever need data that far back.
What do you do? Have your computer vendor analyze your current computer system for unused hard drive space. Print a report of all your history retention setups. Review both and ask your computer representative how much space it would take to retain your car deals for up to 72 months. For a dealership selling from 80 to 100 vehicles per month, it only takes approximately 25MB of hard drive space to retain car deals for five to six years on one of the major computer systems available today.
By retaining car deals for five to six years, you can look up F&I charge backs to see if they are really yours, print a list of prior customers who purchased specific models from two to four years ago, see what gross you made on the prior deal to the current customer, what F&I income was generated, and more. This is so much easier than rummaging through storage boxes.
It’s probably too late for most dealers to obtain this type information from their computer systems. However, by reviewing your computer setups and capacity today, you can at least prepare for the future. Don’t wait. Faced with the additional time of having to rummage through storage boxes to obtain the information, most dealers will be convinced by their employees to opt not to do anything.
Remember, your best gross and best leads are from your prior customers. You already know how to structure those deals from your history.