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In the automotive industry, VINs or vehicle identification numbers provide a wealth of information about any street legal vehicle. From the country and plant in which the car was assembled to the make, year, and model of the automobile, each vehicle’s VIN is unique and gives automotive dealers, manufacturers, law enforcement, and other industries valuable insights when working with vehicles that have them.

In the case of auto dealers, VINs help them to identify cars, track their sales and repair history, and obtain manufacturing information. These details help to establish a fair purchasing price, set buyer expectations for the car in question, and give mechanics insights into any previous repairs, modifications, or manufacturing defects when working on the vehicle.

In short, auto dealers use VINs to sell and repair vehicles, and much of the information about these deals and repairs, as well as the VINs themselves, are recorded in repair orders and deal jackets. Although these documents are essential for the sale and repair of automobiles, the form in which many of these files are kept can have drawbacks.

Enough Sifting and Searching: Find your documents with ease

Repair orders and deal jackets in paper form can pile up fast and take up a lot of storage space. In fact, a single 5 Drawer filing cabinet can take up 16 feet of space. Think about how much real estate costs for you and how much it’s used for storing paper! Repair orders and deal jackets also need to be referenced quickly to answer customer questions and provide fast repair service. Finding these documents slowly can even be quite costly. According to the National Auto Dealers Association, the average dealership spends $20 in labor to file a single document, $120 to find a misfiled document and $220 to replace a lost document.

Moreover, both repair orders and deal jackets have federally mandated retention rates. They are subject to audit by the Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the vehicle manufacturers. This means that it’s imperative to be able to find these documents quickly, not only when helping customers but also when they are requested in an audit. Meeting these regulations is so important that, according to The Center for Automotive Research, the average dealership spends close to $200,000 annually on regulatory compliance. Even if you don’t use paper, storing your documents in a typical digital file tree can also be time-consuming to find what you’re looking for. Even with rules and best practices in place, documents can get misfiled, and multiple copies can be created, leading to confusion on the most current version.

An Enterprise Content Management system can alleviate these problems by providing a centralized repository for these documents. The documents can be easily searched using any number of index fields, and version control can also allow you to search for a specific version of the files. If your dealership is struggling to maintain the quality of its documents, is bombarded with more paperwork than it can handle, or is approaching unsustainable operational costs related to managing documents, then an ECM solution may aid considerably in helping your business grow.

With large volumes of repair orders and deal jackets, it can still take time to file and index these documents. A document capture solution can speed up this process drastically, especially when a solution provider that knows VINs knows that these numbers were practically made for complex document capture, a strategy that uses logic and other various checks to verify capture accuracy.

VINs Were Practically Made for Complex Document Capture

Document capture solutions lift information kept in a non-manipulatable form, such as a PDF or scanned image, and turn it into computer-readable text. This allows documents like those used in the automotive industry to be indexed quickly and efficiently. Document Capture solutions typically boast a 99.7% accuracy rate. This means that some documents may still need to be checked by hand to ensure accurate information. Luckily for auto dealers, VINs have plenty of built-in ways to find documents that may need human review.

Made With Misreads in Mind:

VINs must be recorded and captured regularly by the automotive industry, so they must be easy to read. However, even the human eye can make mistakes when reading or typing, which is why VINs exclude certain letters and numbers from being used. When trying to discern whether a VIN is using a 1 or an I, for example, or a 0 or an O, the answer will always be the former. Therefore, a document capture solution designed for VINs will exclude these characters from the system’s vocabulary to ensure an accurate read.

The Sum Check Secret:

Many people don’t realize that the middle digit in a VIN will always be a sum of the numbers on either side of it. This system is used to ensure the VIN provided is valid, similar to reflective seals and other measures on a personal ID. Even so, this system is very useful for validating VINs being lifted by a document capture solution as well. For example, if a VIN’s digits don’t add up to the sum check digit in the center, a suitable document capture solution will flag the VIN as invalid and route it to an employee to check manually.

A Famous Format:

VIN formats are very easy to recognize. The number of and distribution of digits in each section of the code are actually fairly unique. This means that a well-designed document capture solution can search a repair order or deal jacket for number and letter combinations in that format and compare them to other combinations in that format on the same document. If these combinations don’t match, then the document can be flagged for manual quality assurance by an employee.

In short, VINs provide plenty of helpful information to auto dealers. The right solutions can even help provide quality customer service, boost efficiency, maintain regulatory compliance, and reduce costs.

Automotive Essentials is an Enterprise Content Management solution from Square 9 developed specifically for auto dealerships. This ensures dealerships have everything they need to better manage their documents and digitally transform their business. To find out more about how Automotive Essentials helps dealerships manage their documents, you can view our webinar recording available here.

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