Tire dealers and service shop operators should hold technicians responsible for all business-owned tools and equipment.
Employees who won't treat business property respectfully don't deserve to use it.
This is the second of two consecutive columns on this issue. All too often, I have encountered bosses of automotive service facilities who bemoan the condition of their shop tools and equipment.
Yet they never have laid down the law about proper use and care of that company property. These owners and managers accept the abuse as collateral damage on their campaigns toward bigger profits.
Consider taking these steps to protect your tool and equipment (T&E) investment.
Protecting T&E fosters higher-quality, more-consistent results from the service department. Long-term, these results are the fuel that propels the business.
First, prepare a brief list of guidelines for equipment use and maintenance. Task the service manager and/or shop foreman with enforcing these guidelines.
The guidelines amount to adult behavior, such as following the operator's manual, using the proper piece for the task at hand and putting a tool back where it belongs when the job is finished.
My field experience suggests that some workers lack the skill or interest in pursuing adult activities. Dismiss these people if they don't respond to coaching.
Second, require technicians to report any T&E issues as soon as they discover them. After all, the sooner the boss learns about these issues, the sooner he or she can resolve them.
For example, create a T&E record on which techs can log items such as missing or broken adapters and pullers, or note the discovery of a cracked control panel on a wheel balancer or a damaged alignment head on the wheel aligner.
Third, explain your T&E guidelines at a team meeting and add those guidelines to the employee manual. The guidelines should be issued in writing.
What's more, the guidelines should describe penalties for obvious cases of carelessness or abuse.
Some workers are inclined to get away with whatever they can. They should understand that eventually their attitudes may be a ticket to dismissal.
By all means, emphasize that reliable shop gear is essential to boosting technician productivity.
Meantime, improved productivity leads to increased profitability and a healthier business.
A healthier business means better job security for everyone.
Fourth, clarify that reporting and recording T&E breakdowns or missing pieces doesn't represent a witch hunt for a guilty party.
To the contrary, it's a basic responsibility of and expectation for conscientious, competent employees.
Mistakes occur at any given time in any given auto service facility. Missteps and accidents are a fact of life.
But conscientious workers learn from these mistakes rather than blindly repeating them.
That said, ongoing accidents or mistakes out in the shop are big, red warning flags about a worker's attitude and/or ability. Persistent missteps mean a tech needs additional coaching and training.
To me, a worker who doesn't respond to this help shouldn't be allowed near your company's valuable T&E. Perhaps he or she is better suited to other work or needs to find other employment.
Finally, try to organize T&E parts, pieces and adapters as effectively as you can. Sometimes, this simply means returning them to their original cases or cabinets.
But the way to organize other items may be creating dedicated storage shelves or peg boards for them.
Ideally, you want adapters, cables, etc., to be readily accessible, but hopefully you also can create a storage arrangement that makes individual parts and pieces easier to track — easier to inventory.
Organized, well-maintained T&E is a foregone conclusion and a standard practice at premier auto service facilities.
If it isn't procedure at your service shop or tire dealership, it certainly should be.