It’s All About the Processes

Central to our function as Consultant/Coach is the ability to recognize processes, analyze processes and work with Clients to implement and train on processes. As a result, we have a habit of looking at everything as an opportunity for process improvement. I have been accused (deservedly) of the overuse of the phrase: “It’s a Process.” So much so, my “Better-Half” has threatened to have it engraved on my Tombstone!  A Google search of the question: “What is a Process?”  returns about 1,740,000,000 references to the subject.  A quick search of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (online version) lists two simple definitions of “Process.”

  • a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result
  • a series of changes that happen naturally

The purpose of this clarification for “Process” highlights the following (actual) account of process gone awry, when a critical action, in a series of actions, was overlooked. Often, when a Client is asked what their process is for any given function, their description of the process and what is actually observed contradict each other. A good example of this was witnessed during a recent onsite evaluation at an actual Dealership.

Initial observation of the Service Drive found the Service Advisors not performing a vehicle walk-around inspection at any time during the write-up process. The only contact the Service Advisor had with the vehicle was to jot down the vehicle identification number and mileage.   A quick “tag-n-bag” by the Advisor and the vehicle was whisked away by an Attendant.
Later, when the Service Manager was asked if the Service Advisors were required to perform a vehicle walk-around on every vehicle, his reply was, “Yes, we require it on every vehicle.”

During the subsequent Employee Interview phase of the evaluation it was discovered that one of the Journeyman Technicians had been accused of damaging a Customer’s vehicle–a charge he vehemently denied. The fact that he did, or not, was immaterial to the catastrophic chain of events that ensued as a result of the incident.  Apparently, according to the Customer, their vehicle was damaged while in for repair. A review of the write up “cheat sheet” did not note any damage; it just contained “Illegible” scribbles.  A quick investigation by the Service Manager determined the damage had to be caused a “Swing Arm” on the Technician’s lift.

Bam! Just like that; case solved! The Service Manager ordered an immediate covering of all Swing Arms (with duct tape). Parts were ordered for the damaged vehicle and apologies made to the Customer. The Service Manager agreed to absorb the cost of the part, since the Technician denied fault. Still, the innuendos of blame laid heavily on the Technician’s mind. When the parts arrived and vehicle returned for repair, guess who got the job?  If you guessed the accused Technician, you’re right!  It gets worse! During the installation of the damaged panel, another panel was inadvertently damaged.  The (poor) Technician quickly claimed responsibility and offered to pay for the newly damaged part. Guess what? If you guessed the new part had to be ordered, you’re right again.  The total cost of this incident exceeded $500.00!  Not to mention the irreparable damage to the Technician and Customer.

It was no surprise during the Financial Evaluation of this Dealership to find “Policy Adjustments” in excess of $1,000 per month.  To make matters worse, this incident took place prior to my “initial observation,”  which meant nothing had been done to enforce the “required’ walk-around process after this incident!  As a sidebar; the Customer Satisfaction Score was below the national average, as well.

Processes, in our world, are meant to “produce results” that are efficient, profitable and nurturing to our Customers’ and Employees’ satisfaction.  They must be constructed with thought and simplicity, then communicated to the entire organization, and most importantly, enforced with follow-up and consequence to insure accountability.
Imagine if you will, what would happen if Nick Saban, The Famed Coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Roll Tide) was to hold a meeting prior to the game outlining the game plan, then go sit in the stands when the game began?  Two things are certain: 1.) He wouldn’t have won any National Championships 2.) He wouldn’t have to worry about Championships since he wouldn’t have a job!

For help on developing Processes and “Winning Championships” at your Dealership, please contact me at (865) 661-5019, to set up an Evaluation.

Written by Gary Sergent

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