Crime Scene Clean Up Tactics: Dealership Edition
This is going to start as grim. It gets better.
Aftermath® (the name of an actual ServiceMaster company) pioneered the field of performing crime scene services and trauma clean-up. They coined this terminology.
Their services include, and I quote, “unintended death remediation,” which is a term I had not heard before. I looked it up: it’s a death in which the body is not found for days, weeks, or even months. Aftermath services include homicide and suicide clean-up, hoarding clean-up, and specialty biohazard services, like tear gas clean-up. Before thirty (30) days ago, I had no knowledge of any of this.
They site a five (5) step “Aftermath® Remediation Process,” which includes the assessment, the protocol to control the affected area, the removal, deodorizing, and verification to ensure cleanliness.
It’s awful this kind of service exists, right?
Now let’s bring it back to our business, the automobile business.
When we don’t handle the problems in front of us, bad things happen. You can stop problems from developing, though. These are also called “preventative measures.” What procedures can you put in place, or what policies can you implement to stop problems before they happen?
If you hear or see a problem in the making, bring it to someone’s attention in your chain of command. If you don’t know who that person is, then please ask.
It’s much less expensive to solve a problem “now” versus assuming someone else will get around to it or fix it. They won’t. Own it and fix it. Problems are like rotten fish; they smell worse and worse each day.
Mitigative measures are defined as those techniques which you use to conclude a problem after it has festered. It’s well known to be more expensive than fixing the issue early upon discovery.
The more time you spend personally living and acting with a preventative problem paradigm, the less time you will be required to be reactive and dragged into the time-sucking muck of mitigative measures. You may have heard an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it’s true.
If we look at Aftermath’s five (5) step process and use it as a guide, it can teach us a lot about our business:
- Assess the problem in front of you.
- Control the affected areas of the business by “securing” it or stopping the problem before it becomes larger or seeps further.
- Remove the affected area by solving the problem.
- Deodorize the problem by making sure there are no lingering effects. Here, make sure you leave the situation better than when you found it. Perhaps you should define a new company policy to ensure this issue doesn’t arise again.
- Revisit the “crime scene” later to verify that the issue has been squelched and will not reappear.
The analogy here is dark and gruesome. Why use such negativity?
Businesses fail due to a lack of discipline, governance, and compliance with company policies and government rules and regulations. Don’t create hazards by ignoring the rules, laws, and regulations.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) routinely sends out press releases when they impose fines against businesses. At the bottom of each one, this language is prominent: “NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.”
So, these regulators can take action if they believe your company is “about to violate the law.” Translated, this means your company is guilty as long as the FTC believes your company is doing something wrong. Then you would have to prove “you are innocent.”
There are two main reasons to solve problems upon discovery:
- It’s less expensive.
- It will help keep your company clear of bigger problems and issues down the road.
Let’s concentrate on preventing concerns instead of trying to fix issues as they arise. This is the basis of robust governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) process.
Our business is the people business, so most problems begin with unhappy customers. Left unchecked and unmonitored, those unsatisfied customers turn into legal problems or problems where regulators get involved. Then it becomes ugly and expensive, as they inevitably turn into aftermath problems.
A dealership franchise owner for thirty years, Tom is now the Lead Consultant & Founder of Better Vantage Point, providing Dealer Dispute, Compliance and Risk Mitigation Solutions.
Tom also spearheads Tuck The Octopus which helps dealerships proactively manage governance, risk and compliance which has a direct impact on the customer experience.View full profile