There is no search button on a file cabinet

For many years filing cabinets have been a necessary part of life for auto dealerships. Government regulation mandates that dealerships hold on to paperwork for a period of 7-10 years which means mountains of files that only grow over time. Many dealerships have huge filing rooms or off-site document storage to manage their files. This means that whenever service, parts, or accounting need to find a customer record, they begin what is known as the “paper chase.”

The paper chase should be very familiar to anyone who has worked in a dealership for even a short period of time. It typically begins with a simple task, a customer request, or a warranty audit, but can quickly morph into an epic journey to the depths of the file room. 

Sometimes the paper chase ends in triumph, with the document successfully retrieved. But just as frequently, it ends in frustrated resignation, with the document forever lost in the ether. Unsuccessful document searches can result in frustrated customers and lost revenue, further shrinking the already thin margins on which most dealers operate.

Because dealerships generate so much paper, more often than not, files older than a few months are moved to accommodate the most recent additions. With each move, it is more and more likely that a document will be misplaced. Unfortunately, there is no “search” button on a file cabinet, meaning, once a document is lost, there is very little chance it will be found again. 

Ditch the file cabinets for cloud storage

The term “cloud storage” might sound scary to some dealerships. Many have been doing things the same way since they started. However, moving from paper-based file cabinets to digital storage has never been easier. Document management solutions now make it incredibly easy to take years of files and move them to a searchable database.  

Storing your documents in the cloud will make them easier to find because you can quickly search for them. Documents are organized in digital “file cabinets” so they can be easily retrieved meaning you will never need to search through another box of paper. You will also be able to access your documents from anywhere, on any digital device, meaning you will never need to run to a different department or location to find a file. Finally, cloud storage increases document security, guarding against unforeseen disasters like a fire or flood, and ensuring that customer information is protected. All files are automatically backed up so there is no risk of losing them.

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How to make the switch

Moving to cloud storage, or “digital document management,” is a lot easier than you may think, but you do need to follow some specific steps to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. 

Take stock of where you’re at

The first thing you’ll want to do is review how you currently manage your files. Where are they stored? Are they organized correctly? Is there anything missing? These are all questions that you should ask yourself before you start the move to digital. In most companies, there are scraps of paper floating everywhere, so be sure to gather everything you can find in one place so you have a clear picture of what needs to be scanned. 

Once you have all of your paper files organized and accounted for, it’s time to evaluate your software. Dealerships often use a variety of software solutions to manage day-to-day operations, but most data is stored in the dealer management system (DMS). Make sure that your current DMS is capable of integrating with a digital scanning and document management solution and determine if you need to consider a new platform. 

Choose your scanning solution

The key to successfully escaping the paper chase and going digital is choosing a scanning solution that can be easily used by everyone at the dealership. Scanning is not the job of one person, everyone in the dealership needs to be on board, so it needs to be fast and easy to manage. It also needs to be cost-effective, helping increase margin. When doing your research make sure to look for the following traits in a scanning partner:

  • A+ support: Digital document management is a big step for your business so make sure you have a partner that will help you when you have questions. 
  • No hostage data: Some scanning solutions charge you to access your own data. Make sure the solution you choose lets you get data out of the platform for free and with no restrictions.
  • Built-in document management: Scanning documents is only half the equation. The other half is organizing the files once they are digitized. Your new solution should assist with the setup of your storage system, provide best practices for management, and teach you how to use the platform. 
  • Unlimited users and scanners: There should be no penalty for growing. Some companies charge more for extra user profiles or for adding extra scanners. Find a solution that doesn’t have these restrictions.

Divide and conquer

Once you have a document management system in place it’s time to scan all of your documents into the cloud. This might seem like an overwhelming prospect but just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can take your time and complete the project in stages. Also consider reaching out to the support team from the solution you selected to help you set up your online document management system, and show you the best way to organize your files. 

When you begin scanning, consider starting with the most recent documents which are most likely to be needed. Once they are in the cloud and can be accessed quickly and easily, you will see an immediate improvement in dealership efficiency. Continue working your way backward until all of your files are digital.

Say goodbye to the paper chase

That’s all there is to it. Ditching your file cabinets in favor of cloud document management may seem unattainable, but its actually a lot easier than you think. The key is finding the right partner to help you make the switch. If you would like to learn more about how Scan123 can help your dealership move to digital document management, schedule a demo. We guarantee that we can help you reduce costs and ensure you never need to chase down a missing file again. 



Save big compared to traditional paper storage

The average dealership wastes $1,500/month storing paper and spending time looking for documents.