When new regulations for consumer security rolled out in California, Mike Walsh of Tracy Chevrolet in Tracy, CA knew that his existing IT structure needed an upgrade. Tracy Chevrolet was faced with the need to install a comprehensive system in a short amount of time – and without sinking needless resources into the project. But with something as complex as information security, how can an individual dealership know they’ve covered all their bases without installing systems that are so complex they can’t possibly be maintained? And what did their new day-to-day look like once the solutions were put in place?
Waiting to React – Treating IT like plumbing.
Like many dealerships, Tracy Chevrolet’s approach to IT was much the way you’d treat plumbing in an old house. They seemed to be doing all the right things- their internet and email solutions were “good enough”, and when things went down, there was an independent contractor they would call to get things up and running. They knew there were more extensive solutions they could put in place… but as long as things don’t break most businesses don’t have the luxury to go looking for things to fix.
We’d all be wary of the plumber that gets called to fix a leaky kitchen faucet and proposes putting all new plumbing in the entire house. When you approach managing a system – whether it’s plumbing or IT security – on a reactive basis, your fixes will only ever be proportional to the perceived break. But ask anyone who’s ever pulled back a wall panel expecting to find a drip only to be flooded with a deluge from a long-neglected leaky pipe – reactive solutions can hide a myriad of unseen issues!
Luckily for Tracy Chevrolet they didn’t face any catastrophic failures – no data breaches or similar “flooded basement” type of catastrophes. But looming changes to consumer regulations meant that their ad-hoc IT systems would soon be obsolete – they needed to “replumb their house” – and fast! But where to start?
Finding a Vendor
Walsh knew going into the project that he had two specific requirements.
First, any system changes needed to be done with minimal impact on the day-to-day business of selling cars – his employees couldn’t be held up with inaccessible computers or bogged down with learning new and complicated systems.
Second, any potential vendor needed to understand the particular requirements that dealerships face.
“For most people, buying a car is the second or first largest purchase they’re ever going to make,” Walsh explains. “That means when it comes to anything you’d need with identity theft – references, account information, addresses – we’re going to have to handle that. We’re going to be a target.”
With so much potential customer data on the line and Tracy Chevrolet’s own steadfast commitment to protecting their customers, they knew that they would need a vendor who specialized in more than just generic commercial IT solutions.
Luckily, because VTech works exclusively with car dealerships, when Walsh contacted us, we were able to quickly assess and customize a package that would give him exactly the security he needed – without any extra bloat.
Making the Change
Time was of the essence and Walsh needed to know that the job could be done quickly. At first, he struggled to find a vendor that could make him a priority.
“I talked to one- and two-man shops and it was clear they just didn’t have the bandwidth to get things done quickly,” Walsh said, adding: “VTech came in at the last minute and was still able to meet the deadline – and they did a tiered rollout so we could address the most critical systems first and make sure those were ready to go.”
By breaking the project into stages, we were able to triage exactly what changes needed to be made immediately, what changes needed to be addressed soon, and what upgrades should be included moving forward. Our onsite team got the new system installed quickly, and a dedicated field agent works specifically with Tracy Chevrolet keeping everything in working order. By breaking the project into stages, not only we were able to meet Tracy Chevrolet’s deadline, but we were also able to give them a roadmap that showed where their IT needs and milestones would be in the future. Finally, we made sure that our team stayed connected and available – ready to answer any questions or concerns that came up!
Stable. Simple. Secure.
With VTech on the job, Walsh was able to rest easy and focus on the business of selling cars. Tracy Chevrolet’s IT systems once again became “invisible” in the day-to-day actions of employees but now they had the peace of mind that this was backed up with the expert watchfulness of their IT vendor. And after nearly a year of working with VTech, Mike has had the opportunity to see the added and unexpected benefits that VTech’s new comprehensive approach has brought.
- Threat Prevention – The VTech team regularly talks with Walsh, updating him on what threats they’ve seen come through and how the risks are dealt with. Most importantly, he knows that his customer’s data is safe from attacks and he’s not tying up employee manpower monitoring for threats. “We might get hundreds of cybercrime hits a day,” he says, but VTech stops the attacks before the dealership ever sees them.
- Business Continuity – Any manager knows that employee turnover can result in a slew of operational headaches. For example, imagine the manager in charge of your Accounts Payable leaves the company. Leaving their email accounts active but unmonitored (or worse – not even changing the password after an employee leaves!) creates large security gaps. But just terminating the account means that your vendors may be left communicating with a broken email address.
The first approach leaves the business vulnerable to attacks, but the second approach risks missing a payment and your business operations becoming suddenly inoperable. Your vendors are frustrated and you’re left scrambling to recover.
As Tracy Chevrolet has found, VTech lets the business manage all of this seamlessly – now they notify their IT contact of a terminated employee and trust that a standard set of actions is done. Relevant messages are forwarded so business keeps running smoothly without the security risk of a poorly managed legacy email address.
Employee Management – The last thing that Walsh expected to find from his IT system was increased employee productivity. In the past, at best IT was something that didn’t hinder his employees from doing their jobs. Now, Mike is able to see it actively improve workplace activity.
Obviously the internet is a key tool for dealership employees, and the obvious business risk is the internet going out during a peak busy hour. But what about the risks the internet presents on a slow day? Employees using company computers to browse social media sites introduce the risk of exposure to viruses and phishing attacks. Furthermore, a quick “scrolling my feed while I wait for a customer to call me back” can easily devolve into a wasted afternoon of employees watching videos of cats skateboarding.
Previous solutions for hazardous internet usage had to be enforced either via office policy – which is inefficient and hard to monitor- or via extensive third-party applications. A business the size of Tracy Chevrolet will find that they’re quickly spending more on applications than they’re saving through lost employee time. VTech has browser management built into their solutions so now Mike can make sure that his employees are keeping the business safe from risks and keeping their focus where it belongs – on the customers!
From Plumbing to Insurance – Moving to a Proactive Approach
Prior to working with VTech, Walsh was apprehensive about upgrading his IT systems. The project seemed risky, hard to manage, and expensive. “I was worried that the cost would be prohibitive,” he says “but with VTech, the process was painless.”
By making IT solutions affordable, dependable, and straightforward, we’ve been able to change how Tracy Chevrolet thinks about IT security. It’s no longer a background system to be dealt with only when it breaks. Instead, it’s a vital – but manageable – backbone of the business. When asked how his view of IT and security have changed, he explains that now he sees it like “Fire Insurance” – “you don’t want to have to need it, but you really don’t want to be without it.”
And by partnering with VTech, Tracy Chevrolet is assured that we’re there when they need us and still on the job even when we’re “invisible.”