AKRON (Nov. 10, 2008) — Every tire dealership probably has a set of guidelines printed or posted somewhere in the shop about what to do in certain service situations.
That's all well and good, but they should be there to do more than just cover a hole in the wall or serve as an accent to store design. The crucial questions are: Does everyone in the dealership know about them? Are they regularly followed? Is anyone actually checking to make certain these policies are adhered to without variance?
This issue comes up periodically, usually following an accident causing someone to be hurt or killed, or when a lawsuit results.
Each time that happens, it serves as a reminder about how important it is to remain vigilant regarding safety issues and service procedures when working on customers' vehicles. Doing so literally can—and often does—mean the difference be¬tween life and death.
The latest incident of just how critical this can be involves a California tire dealership that performed an alignment and tire rotation on a customer's car. In carrying out the work, the dealership noticed the front tires on the car were worn “almost to the steel.”
That was the first “red flag.”
The shop claimed it tried unsuccessfully to contact the vehicle's owner about the worn tires, then went ahead and did the rotation, putting the worn front tires on the rear axle.
Two weeks later, the car's 18-year-old driver was killed in an accident. Investigators determined the rear tires were badly worn.
In this case, the dealership involved had a policy posted on its Web site that stated: “New tires go on the rear.”
Although a California court ruled that the Los Angeles-area dealership was in accordance with two California statutes and did not act negligently, the case is expected to be retried—due in large part to those six words on the Web site about the installation of new tires.
Regardless of the case's final outcome, it points out how easily problems can arise if proper service procedures and industry recommended practices aren't followed religiously.
What can exacerbate situations like this is the high turnover rate that often occurs at tire dealerships and service shops, particularly among employees working in the service bays changing tires.
This means that to be effective, training and education must be regular and ongoing, not only to serve as reminders to veteran workers but to make sure all new employees also are aware of them.
Mounting and demounting tires is, for the most part, an uncomplicated, straightforward, routine task. That's why these jobs often are assigned to newer employees.
But occasionally situations arise where something is amiss. It's at these times that you want tire technicians to have enough knowledge to assess the situation and take appropriate action.
This takes training and time but is well worth the cost. And that's why all dealership employees—from the owner on down—need to not only be aware of policies and guidelines but stick to them. It only takes one error, momentary lapse of concentration or failure to follow industry practices to cause a mishap or death and put the business' future in jeopardy.