Technology in 2008

October 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by David Keller, CPA, CFE - Also by this author

Well, it is 2008. Yes, you probably know that by now. But are you really living in the year 2008? Is your business? The only way to know is to ask a few simple questions.

Do you have a business e-mail address that is different from your personal e-mail address? Why would you want to mix your business e-mail with your personal e-mail? If you want to present a professional look for your company to your customers and vendors, set up e-mail addresses using your company name. It is not that expensive and gives everyone in your company a consistent e-mail address using their name and your company name. Yes, you can and may use your personal e-mail address for confidential e-mails.

Also, make sure your e-mail is capable of receiving and sending files large enough so your most commonly used files will not get rejected in either incoming or outgoing mail. You should know how to attach a file and e-mail it to someone as well as how to download an attached file and save it on your hard drive rather than opening it?

Computer Hardware
Take an inventory of your current computer system hardware. If you don’t know how, talk to a local IT firm and have them evaluate it for you. Your computer should have all necessary software updates installed. Are your computers and server secure from being tampered with? You should have some sort of secure password system to protect your files from being deleted accidentally or on purpose by employees.

Do you even back up your company data on a regular basis, meaning daily? You should have an adequate backup system in place and it should be tested regularly. You need to restore data on a scheduled basis to ensure that your backups are functioning properly. If you are still using tape backups you need to replace your tapes regularly so they don’t wear out. External hard drives are an inexpensive option for backups instead of tapes.

Many dealerships back up their primary server but fail to backup individual workstations. This isn’t a problem if all users save all important files on the server hard drives rather than their local computers.

Accounting Systems
Is your accounting system fully integrated with all the departments in your dealership? It should be. Just as important as having a fully integrated system is the need to have the most recent version of that software which usually offers better stability, security and usability?

If you are already using integrated accounting software, you should be using everything the software offers to make your job easier. If you haven’t done it yet, print the reports offered in your software to see what information they can furnish to you to operate and manage your business better. When I ask dealership personnel if they have ever printed the reports that are available to track profitability, efficiency, write offs, etc., they almost always answer, “No.” Doesn’t it make sense to at least check what is available in your software system to help run your business?

If you are using Quickbooks or Peachtree for your general ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable systems, is it integrated with the software you use to create your car deals? If yours is not integrated, check with your “car” software vendor to find what integration is available.

Most software is capable of exporting various reports and data to Excel and or Word. Sometimes it is much easier to export the data than to print it and enter it into a spreadsheet. If you don’t know if your software is capable of this, consult with the vendor to find out what is available to export or to copy and paste into Excel or Word. Once you export the data from your software system, do you know how to convert the data to an appropriate format to use it without having to re-enter it?

Have you considered scanning important documents into PDF files and archiving them so you can shred all the old paper files you have stored? Scanners are now fairly inexpensive and very easy to use. You can scan documents the same way you make copies. In fact, many copiers are capable of also scanning and saving the documents in various formats.

For example, you could scan car deals so you don’t have to keep all the paper upstairs in your attic, offsite or in a multitude of file cabinets. The files could be saved on your server by client name with secure access available only to authorized individuals.

Other Software
Do you and your employees have a somewhat current version of Excel and Word? If you have it, make sure your employees know the basics of how to use them. If they don’t check into your local college or high school to see if classes are offered.

There are many things you can do in Excel or Word to improve productivity and speed up the information process you use in your dealership. We see many reports completed in dealerships manually that are reproduced each day, week or month using the same formats with just a change in the data. Yes, you can have errors in Excel when calculating totals and using various formulas, but if proofed and checked for accuracy the first time, you can hopefully eliminate the chance of manually totaling columns of numbers incorrectly. Look at all the reports you get each month and try to eliminate the manually prepared ones.

Hopefully, you’ll take the time to see how up to date you really are. Let me know if you are living in 2008.

Vol 5, Issue 9

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