Having worked on the line, desked deals, and managed finance departments I can personally attest to the state of legal compliance within dealerships and it isn’t great. The vast majority of dealers want to follow the letter of the law but often have difficulty keeping up with the constant stream of new legislation impacting their business. Unfortunately, ignorance is no defense to a violation.

The responsibility for legal compliance within a dealership falls directly on the dealers’ shoulders. Dealers themselves are ultimately responsible for the actions of their employees. So if your desk manager is caught packing payments, your finance guy fails to make the required disclosures, or your lot attendant doesn’t put the buyer’s guide on every car, the store is responsible. As unfair as it may seem, when your employee screws up, you’re on the hook.

By now it should be clear that dealers have a tremendous incentive to ensure that their employees know and abide by the law. But where do you go for compliance training? Many dealers depend on third-party vendors to train their staff in legal compliance but most don’t make the effort to verify that the trainer is an attorney licensed in their state. This is a serious problem because you won’t be able to use your vendor’s incompetence as an excuse for your violations – remember, you are responsible for the violations occurring in your store. Take care to properly vet your compliance trainers before giving them free reign because you’ll ultimately pay for their mistakes.

It is often difficult for the uninitiated to separate reliable resources from bad. One of the considerations should be to determine where the “source” gained his/her experience.  Is the trainer licensed to practice law in your state? Another consideration may be how much weight they place in certifications. If your “expert” hasn’t even taken the time to obtain a certification in the basics you should be skeptical about the depth of their knowledge and their devotion to compliance training. What they don’t know can hurt you.

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