Beware the Ides of March

Julius Caesar didn’t, and you remember what happened to him!  Does anyone actually know exactly what or who the “Ides” in the Ides of March really where.  Perhaps they were a nomadic band of miscreants who went marching about wreaking havoc as opposed to riding in chariots or on horseback?   I really didn’t have a clue so I poured a cold one and did a bit of research on this subject. I, quite frankly, ended up almost as confused, but not as thirsty, as when I began.  It seems that the early Roman calendar did not label the days numerically as we do today.  Days were described as “x” number of days before or after the “Kalends”, the “Nones” or the “Ides.”  Now here is where it gets about as simple as deciphering women’s dress sizes:  The Kalends are always on the first day of the month, but the Nones are on either the 5th or the 7th and the Ides are either on the 13th or the 15th depending on the Nones!  And you thought that you had trouble remembering what day of the week it is!  I suppose it probably made more sense in Latin!  All of this vaguely reminds me of the old ‘Who’s on First” comedy skit.

So maybe, totally immersed in the affairs of state, Julius C was looking for trouble on the 13th when in fact The Ides was scheduled for the 15th of March.  Who knows, but we do know that he paid a heavy price for his inattention.

Some of us are going to be paddling that same canoe as our focus on regulatory specifics diverts attention from the “big picture.”  We have talked an awful lot, in this column; about the effects and pitfalls of the various laws and regulations that dictate the way we do business on a daily basis.  You and I and the various legal minds in our industry have spent vast amounts of time attempting to decipher all the requirements and restrictions of each statute.  We have spent additional time reviewing the decisions and interpretations of the courts and regulatory bodies as matters involving these statutes find their way before these august bodies. We have talked, at length, about making certain that our suppliers and service providers are complying with legislation and regulation with the very same degree of concern.   But what we haven’t done an awful lot of, is directing our attention to the security and safety of our systems and those of our vendors when it comes to protecting our customers’ information.

And while we are concerning ourselves with that topic and since March also signals the beginning of the Spring tornado season, now would be a very good time to look at the ability of our systems and those of our suppliers and vendors to survive natural disasters. The property damage caused by weather related incidents in the past year have been phenomenal.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, ice storms and volcanic eruptions are just a few of the dangers we faced on a regular basis.  I don’t know of any area of the country, or the world for that matter, that is immune from these dangers.

And, lest we forget, there is the matter of terrorism, foreign and homegrown, to consider.  Who knows what prompts a group of individuals to target a vehicle dealer and torch a bunch of Escalades in retribution for alleged environmental damage!  How effective are our security and disaster recovery programs and those of our suppliers and vendors?

In the event of a hurricane or earthquake, could your service providers guarantee uninterrupted service or the security of your customers’ personal information?

I know that we all do backups of our computer files on a regular basis.  But do you know the policies of your vendors or service providers when it comes to protecting your customers’ and prospects’ information on their computers?  Can they recreate files that they have already transmitted to you if they are destroyed or lost at your dealership?

Consider this scenario, if you will.  Your dealership has just spent an enormous amount of money; roughly equivalent to the gross national product of a small third world country, on the most fantastic weekend advertising campaign your ad agency has ever conceived.  All the responses are directed to a toll-free number or a website serviced by a vendor chosen by virtue of the fact that they offered you the lowest prices on “comparable” services.  At roughly the moment your first expensive, prime time television spot is scheduled to air, a tornado of historic proportions rumbles through East Egypt, Iowa or wherever your vendor is located.  This atmospheric disruption destroys the majority of the town and decimates the local electrical grid as well as the telephone lines into and out of town.  Your prospects are getting an “all circuits are busy” recording and an unintelligible error message if they use the Internet.  You finally manage to contact your “rep” on his or her cell phone and after explaining that, realistically things should be back to normal in a week or ten days, he or she points out the “act of God” provision in your agreement.  After your blood pressure recedes, the flushing sound that you hear barely conceals the melodic strains of Anchors Aweigh as your ad dollars sail on down the toilet. Could this tragedy have been avoided?  It probably could have been avoided.  Did you anticipate or even talk to your service provider about their ability to guarantee uninterrupted service?  I would bet against it!

I could captivate you with actual and hypothetical horror stories for hours, but I am saving the majority of them for my Halloween article.

Right now, whether it is the Kalends or the Nones or the Ides of March, take time to investigate your disaster recovery policies and especially those of your suppliers, vendors and service providers.  A little bit of investigation and planning now could pay huge dividends at a moment when you need help the most.  Disasters don’t always happen to the other guy and prevention takes planning.  Take the steps, now, to make certain that your systems are set to “duck” the majority of problems and recover quickly from those you cannot avoid.

And I don’t know about you, but I would keep a close eye on any prospective employee named Brutus!

Just my two cents worth!


About the author
Dick Hassberger, of Lake Orion, Michigan is a veteran of over 50 years in the Automotive Financing and Leasing industry, starting his career with the former Wayne Oakland Bank in September 1960.  Dick is National Sales Director for VOISYS.  He has held executive positions with Major Banks, Lending Institutions and Leasing companies and has accumulated a vast store of knowledge in the automotive financing industry, which he regularly shares with his client dealerships as well as readers of this blog.  Dick was a regular author for World of Special Finance Magazine.