October 2005

It's 3am - Do you know where your data is?

Where is your data? Is it yours? Who is watching it? Who is using it? Who is paying to see it, or use it? What is it being used for? Who is “keeping” it? Are they keeping it for you? Or others?

You may or not be aware, but as reported in Automotive News last month, one of the BIG OEM computer systems providers, notably the same one that provides computer software for our industry, was “caught” removing and selling data from the dealers’ systems it provided, without authorization from the dealers.

These are important questions that you need to be considering. I know our Association is concerned and asking these questions. Like all things in life or business, there are different and sometimes competing agendas. I will pose a thought for you on each of the above questions.

Where is your data? – Is it only on your computer, or other systems?

Is it yours? – I know you think it belongs to you, but are you sure? Does your computer system provider or other 3rd parties that are collecting your data agree with you, that it is yours – in writing?

Who is watching it? – Who is seeing your data? And for what purpose?

Who is using it? – Who is using it, just your trading partners? Your competitors? Aftermarket companies or other parties that want to understand pricing?

Are you restricted in who you provide your data to? – Will your provider send the information anywhere you ask? (For a reasonable and competitive fee, of course.)

Is their competition to see and use your data, and more than one place for you to send it? – If not, how can you know you are being treated fairly?

Who is paying to see it, or use it? – Are others’ seeing it free, or paying to see it? I know, you want to sell more parts, so it’s a good thing... you are sure about that, right?

What is it being used for? – There are hundreds of uses... is it being used to help your sales? To track cars you dismantle? To validate cars totaled?

Who is “keeping” it? – Are they “keeping” it? For you? For them? Who is paying for those services, and does it represent any conflict for your business, or sales and profits?

I could go on and on.

BOTTOM LINE –make sure that ANYONE you release your data to commits in writing to only use it for purposes you authorize, and if they are paid for it, to reveal that relationship. Make sure your computer company agrees that the data is yours, and that they won’t let others have it, without your knowledge or permission – and make them do it in writing. (Just like they do, getting your John Henry before they provide anything to you!)

Don’t forget to subscribe to Ron's free monthly auto recycling e-newsletter, with news and tips, register at www.autosalvageconsultant.com.

Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at WWW.autosalvageconsultant.com He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, rons@rdsinvestments.com or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.

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