AKRONIn a world where one bad tire repair can cost a dealer millions of dollars, it's imperative that tire and service shops implement and follow pre-employment screening policies, said Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training for the Tire Industry Association (TIA).
I think there's a lot more pre-employment screening today than there was 10 years ago, he told Tire Business. Ten years ago, we would've taken anybody that walked in the door that said they knew how to use a tire hammer and a spoon bar. I don't think that's the case anymore at all.
I think right now we're in a society and an industry where we're going to cover every base, he continued. It's just the world we live in. With insurance rates and everything else in terms of liability, dealers are looking to lessen every cost. They see these huge multi-million dollar awards in the trade publications and then wonder about the ones they don't hear about.
Some of the most important screening procedures for a dealer to implement are criminal record checks, credit checks, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) checks and drug tests, he said.
For the largest dealershipsthe ones with too much to losethe practice has become standard, Mr. Rohl-wing said.
For one technician in one store to make one mistake on the wrong day, and there's no test or background check on him, it plays out so poorly in front of a jury, he said. You don't want to say the industry is run by lawyers, but in a lot of ways it is because liability is so huge in the eyes of everybody that's running or owning a business.
Mr. Rohlwing pointed to General Motors Co. and the nearly 6 million vehicles it has recalled during the past two months. While car makers have to worry about problems that arise from the manufacturing process, tire and automotive service businesses are worried about everything elseif we don't get the lug nuts tightened, or we break a bead or if we don't repair the tire properly.
One of the best ways to mitigate these kinds of risks, he said, is to properly vet employees before they touch their first car. While pre-employment screening has seen substantial growth among small independent dealers, Mr. Rohlwing said it has not yet become an industry-wide practice.
On the commercial side, DMV checks are a necessity and have been for a long time, he said. Even 20 years ago, when Mr. Rohlwing was working for the former Rohlwing Brothers Inc.operated by his father Dan and uncle Ken before it was sold to Pomp's Tire Service Inc. in 2003the dealership did DMV checks on all of its drivers.
It did prevent people from being hired, and it did cause people to lose their jobs, he said. At that time, that was our biggest fearthat somebody would get in an accident in one of our trucks. Now, that'd be welcome. I'd be happy if that was the only bad thing that happened to me was my trucks got in a few fender benders.
Mr. Rohlwing said while pre-employment drug screening has become an industry standard, many dealers are afraid to implement random drug tests.
The fact is that if they drug test, they're going to lose people, and it's just the bottom line, he said. That's the way our industry is. The type of people that we hire, it's manual labor, and when you're hiring manual labor then there's going to be a higher incidence of that in a lot of cases.
I do know dealers that are just like, 'Look, I'm flat out afraid to drug test, because I'm afraid if I drug test I'm gonna lose some really good people. I'd rather just keep really good people if it doesn't affect my work, and I don't see it, I don't hear it, whatever they're doing they're doing privately and it's not affecting their performance when they're here,' he said.
Mr. Rohlwing suggested that, at a minimum, dealers implement a policy requiring new hires to take a pre-employment drug test, and to make sure to test employees in the event of an on-the-job accident. Ultimately, businesses should consult with their insurance providers to determine the best course of action for reducing risks and costs, he added.
We're not experts in risk management in that regard, he said. For a company to implement a drug testing program, there has to be the benefits of it and the benefits are going to be on the insurance side.
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