As rapidly as technology is evolving around us, automobile dealers across Canada report that little has arisen to coax them away from tried and true methods of inventory security.
“We’ve found through experience there’s nothing more powerful than a presence, an actual person patrolling the lot,” says Bob Rintoul, General Manager at Myers Cadillac Chevrolet Buick GMC, one of 11 Myers Automotive Group dealerships in the Ottawa area. “We still have a security company that patrols the lot in the hours we’re closed. We also complement it with security cameras with an app that ties to your phone that you can dial in and do surveillance yourself.”
Such apps are the primary development of the past few years. They allow managers and security companies to monitor cameras either in real-time or via playback remotely from handheld mobile devices.
“Fortunately we’ve not had to use it, but we feel the value could be if you needed a screen shot of something at any point in time,” Rintoul says. “It does record up to 13 hours, and I can rewind or check periods of the evening to see what’s going on.”
Everyday best practices
Those experiences are echoed by Dave Sambrook, Vice-President of Operations at Pfaff Automotive Partners, a group of dealerships ranging from mainstream to ultra-luxury brands operating in Southern Ontario and Vancouver.
Sambrook says that in Pfaff’s case many of its insurance company’s requirements have evolved into everyday best practices.
“In terms of cutting-edge technology, I haven’t really seen anything,” he explains. “It’s just kind of the simple things: securing the perimeter, making sure you’ve got the right lighting, locking the doors, maintaining control of the keys, that sort of thing that helps prevent theft.”
Loss of key control is an underestimated source of theft, and Pfaff has found one technology that helps curb the risk.
Rules of thumb
“Our company has electronic, secure key boxes, so you have to enter a code or in some cases you have to put a thumbprint there to identify yourself,” Sambrook says.
While these methods thrive in urban areas, at least one smaller-market dealer has given up on them almost entirely.
“We’ve done the security guard and we’ve done the cameras, and we’ve found it not to be too helpful with either,” says Todd Clements, General Manager of Cape Breton Hyundai in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
“We’ve witnessed vandalism from people we could actually identify on the film and we were told that they would not stand up in court with the footage that we had, which was troubling to us because at least three of us knew the individual that we caught. We felt our hands were tied.
“We do put some staff on for Halloween and some typically dangerous times, but it’s not an every-single-night thing.”
Clements explains that the market his dealership operates in has a unique culture that active and visible security can detract from.
“We’re closed Sundays, and every single Sunday I’ve ever driven by here there’s several people browsing around looking,” he explains. “They like when there’s no one there to bother them when they want to look around.”