Audit compliance at the dealership

by Oguz Özgüler

An audit is never pleasant and yet there is hope for an audit without complaint, for this you should follow a few simple rules for documentation and ensure that employees do not take bribes. The topic of audit security has become increasingly important in audits, and more and more companies are being audited in this regard. Audit security, or more precisely the documentation obligations of companies, is defined in the GoDB. Many a car dealership manager has been caught cold with an audit and wishes to have ensured audit security earlier.

Smear money in the car dealership - Secret machinations of employees 

The topic of bribes does not always enjoy the attention of management that it would have deserved. Especially in the sale of dealer vehicles, it is unfortunately still often part of the practice that illegal payments take place. This harms the company because the payments usually serve as bribes with the aim of reduced sales prices. A trick that is becoming increasingly common is false damage to the vehicle after trade-in. In this case, dealership employees take vehicles without damage in payment and then subsequently show damage that reduces the value of the vehicle. Thus the low dealer price does not fall on and the coworker economizes into the own bag. 

Besides the damage for the car dealer, also a damage for the treasury develops which thus the investigating authorities on the plan calls. Tax investigation and police therefore focus increasingly on bribe payments at the car dealership. Often the management of car dealerships is ignorant of the machinations of some employees. This does not protect them from punishment. A Beipsiel is the judgement against a car dealer from the Emsland, which was condemned because of tax evasion to more than 750,000 EUR penalty. 

To such cases it comes again and again. In the case of the bribery affair of VW Bank in 2008, some employees even sat in pre-trial detention. The case had caused a nationwide sensation at the time. These examples illustrate the importance of audit security in the automotive trade.

Important for automotive dealers: what does revision safety mean?

Revision refers to looking backward. Revision security therefore refers to the fact that it is ensured that documents in the event of an audit (i.e. a look backwards) are available in their entirety and can be audited unchanged. 

Documents subject to retention and documents worthy of retention

Revision security is regulated in the GoDB, which stipulates that documents subject to retention and documents worthy of retention must be stored in an audit-proof manner. But which documents does this apply to and what exactly do you need to consider?

Audit-proof processes have the following documentation requirements:

Documents must be original

So it is not enough to provide copies of digital documents. For example, if you have a PDF file that you have rescanned after a printout, the original file must still be present.

Intainable and unalterable

As the term intainable suggests, audit-proof documents must be protected against loss. In addition, the documents must be tamper-proof. This means that they cannot be changed by anyone after they have been issued. It must be ensured, for example, that administrators can no longer change the documents unilaterally. If changes are nevertheless made with the agreement of both parties, these changes must be traceable in a version log. The respective versions must also be saved. Away from professional software solutions, version logging often also requires a table in which you name the versions of the log and document the differences.

Uninterrupted availability at all times

Another important criterion for the auditability of your processes is the availability of the documents. Once the documents have been saved, they must be immediately available at all times. For example, in the event of the aforementioned audit.

register now

Machine evaluable

In this case, evaluable equates to readable. It must therefore be possible for machines to read the relevant documents. The legislator formulates the requirement as follows: "Access to all stored data, including master data and linking with sorting and filtering functions, taking into account the principle of proportionality" The evaluability therefore depends on the individual case. For example, a PDF scan is sufficient if a document was only available in printed form. If a document was available digitally in the original, however, the scan of a printout is not sufficient.

Procedural documentation must be given

The procedural documentation is the sufficient documentation of the processes that ensure audit compliance. Meant are therefore the archiving processes with appropriate control mechanisms. Therefore, create processes about how which documents are archived in your dealership. What happens to the invoice for a new vehicle? How is it archived? How do you make sure nothing goes wrong in the process?

What does this mean for your car dealership?

Audit-proof documentation poses major challenges for managing directors of car dealerships. It is not only time but also capital intensive to ensure the documentation. Often managing directors use expensive consulting service providers for fear of committing errors in audit-proofing. This can be saved if you pay attention to audit security when selecting service providers.

Especially when marketing your dealer vehicles, you should pay attention to the clean and transparent processing. If you use digital online auction platforms such as CarOnSale to sell your dealer vehicles, you benefit, among many other advantages, from audit-proof processing. This guarantees you security and transparency.