I recently heard a fireman share how he & his fellow firefighters work to avoid disaster. He explained that the best way to deal with a serious problem was to be proactive in order to eliminate or minimize the problem before it occurs. His department invests their time in doing regular checks on the businesses in the area to make sure they are up to code, that the fire extinguishers are working and in the right place and that the smoke detectors are all functional. That way, a major fire can be completely avoided or, at the very least, minimized. The more I thought about this, the more it made sense. The better you are at prevention, the better the outcome when a difficult situation arises. If you are in business, you know just as well as I do that it’s just a matter of time before an issue comes up.

As you think about your business, there are a few things that are important to address so that when a situation comes up you are equipped to handle it and you have the ability to minimize the chaos is creates. In regards to your employees, what should you do ahead of time that will allow you maintain control and calm when an issue arises?

•Put into writing what your process will be if you have an issue with an employee. This process should be outlined in your employee handbook and you should emphasize to your employees at least yearly, how you will handle these difficult situations. In our employee handbook we have a section titled PROGRESSIVE DISCIPLINE that outlines our standard disciplinary policy. However, specific sections in the handbook address situations that may arise such as inappropriate dress, use of cellphones, being late to work or unexcused absence. Both you and your employees should be clear as to how unwelcome issues will be handled.

How to be proactive: Take time to make sure you employee handbook is up-to-date and communicated annually to all employees. If you don’t have one, there is a template in the BCI Dealer Toolbox©.

In regard to your customers, what should you do ahead of time that will allow you maintain control and peace when an issue arises?

•Establish a solid customer contact process to make sure that your customers are followed up within a specific amount of time. This applies to service, parts & sales. Each department should have a system for staying in contact with customers and updating them on the progress of their service, parts or new product orders. Make your customer response time a part of your store policy or at the very least a key value of your organization. Have it printed and placed on the wall as a reminder, and a promise, of your commitment to keeping the customer up-to-date on their equipment or part. The better you are able to communicate your process with your customers and your staff the better you will be at eliminating chaos from your store. (Our DVD Training System outlines all the processes you need. Check it out here.)

How to be proactive: Spend time with your team and talk about communication processes. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding how customers should be communicated with and hold your staff & managers accountable to maintain high customer-response time standards.

It’s true, difficult situations will arise. It’s your job to make sure the processes are in place to minimize issues and problems allowing you to create a better experience for your employees and customers.

Sara Hey

About Sara Hey

Sara Hey is the Vice President of Operations and Development for Bob Clements International. She has spoken at conferences across the country educating dealers on the internal aspects of their business. She graduated from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, and has been a contributing writer for BCI for 3 years.