In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the prevalence of missing personal safety gear and improper waste and parts disposal and recycling. Let’s continue with a tour of your facilities and a hard look at your training program and corporate culture.
Look for hazardous conditions. You dealers in the Northern states know an icy service drive and customer walkway when you see one. You must know your facility. A leaky roof is not a big deal in most cases — unless there is a river of water pouring through — and can be dealt with as time permits. If the leak affects an electrical box, that’s a different story.
Look inside the compressor room from time to time. Check the operating certificate. Look for stuff that shouldn’t be stored in there. Who knows? You might even find Jimmy Hoffa.
Look for clutter, equipment blocking other equipment, improper storage of hazardous materials, overflowing trash bins and cans, technician storage of spare parts for their hobby and side jobs, and any other items that don’t belong in your shop.
Finally, take a step back. Is your signage current, appropriate, presentable, and readable? Do the signs have a purpose or are they just hanging there on the wall because they have always hung there? Look at your advisors’ workstations from the customer’s point of view. Are any of them cluttered? Messy? Would you want to work with the advisor behind that workstation?
The fourth area is training. Every position in your dealership has a safety training requirement. It could be required by the factory, the government agencies that monitor dealership operations, or both. You can’t even operate the vehicle lift without annual certification.
Many stores go out of compliance due to ignorance, apathy, or a change in personnel. It is best to onboard all new hires with a few days of compliance training rather than trying to get them to do it later. Once they start working, it will become nearly impossible to pry them away.
Factory mandated training is typically easy enough to monitor and schedule. You should be getting constant reminders. You just need to pay attention.
Compliance training is a different story. Many people in your store are out of compliance right now — I guarantee it! I’ll give you an example: Have you hired a shuttle driver in the last year? Did they attend a safe driving course, whether online or in a seminar? Get them trained, recheck their MVR at least once a year, and make self-reporting of new moving violations a condition of employment.
Your corporate culture must reflect the importance you place on ongoing safety and compliance training. Your employees must understand the value and why they need it. Without such a culture in place, problems are ignored until they become crises. Accidents become commonplace. Managers put off training and certifications lapse.
Leadership is not a top-down program; it is a lift-up program. The service department is no exception. Get your team onboard by building value in safety. Your advisors and techs will be safer, happier, and more productive, and the time you invest will pay off in improved fixed ops profitability and retention.
Leonard Buchholz is the founder of CarBizCoach. He helps dealers meet performance objectives in service sales, CSI, and profitability, and has extensive experience in evaluating fixed operations and providing corrective training and guidance. Contact him at [email protected]
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