National Oil & Lube News

February 2017

Digital issues of National Oil & Lube News, the trade magazine for the preventive maintenance industry

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Page 57 of 67

58 NOLN | VIEWPOINT The Training Never Stops Policies, Standards, Procedures and Guidelines by Ragan Holt Policies, procedures, standards and guide- lines — you have to have them. I believe in them. I have written, rewritten, re- searched and taught others about them during my career as both an overseer of multiple shops and as a trainer in the in- dustry. It seems most conversations with other operators ultimately revolve around what the policies should be, how the pro- cedures need to work or if there is a stan- dard. All of these traits are paramount to running the shop in an effective way. But with all that being said, I do not like need- ing to have them. You see, once you put into writing what the policy is, it becomes the "law of the land," and like most laws, it takes an act of Congress to change them. But, I really don't like them, because sometimes our own policies prevent us from achieving our goals — in particular, our customer satisfaction goals. As the saying in the shop goes, "Custom- ers are like Momma, and if Momma ain't happy, then nobody's happy!" As an example of company policy gone wrong: e other day, my wife called our local electric company to ask a question about a recent bill. In our community, the power company is a city-owned enti- ty, the only power company in town and as far as power companies go, a relatively small organization. e point is, every- one who works there is local, all of their customers are local people and my wife and I have done business with them for almost 30 years. My wife called them to ask a question about our bill, and the lady at the power company told her she could not answer my wife's question because the bill was not in my wife's name. Never mind the fact that for almost 30 years they have accepted a check with her name on it. Sweet Mrs. Holt wasn't trying to change the service, add service or cancel anything. She just had a question, but according to the employee, the "company policy" pre- vented her from answering the question. Irritated, I called the next day and spoke to the same lady, who was humiliated that she couldn't answer the question for my wife. She then told me the answer, started to apologize and implied that "company policy" prevented her from "achieving the company's slogan of customer-first blah, blah, blah…" I told her not to apologize but instead commended her for following the policy. I then asked what needed to be done so my wife could inquire about the account. After all, it wasn't the lady at the power company's fault — she was just fol- lowing policy. Policy and procedure shouldn't be the "law of the land" but, rather, a guideline for how and why the shop operates the way it does. Most trainers in our industry use a 90-percent rule, meaning that 90 per- cent of the time the shop should operate as instructed. e other 10 percent of the time the shop should be flexible enough to meet the customers' needs. In the case of the lady at the power company, she could have written down the question, verified authorization and called back with the an- swer. I prefer using word tracts for employ- ees, and hers could have been, "I am sorry. I am not sure what the correct answer is to your question. Let me find out, and call you back." I came across this explanation from Parinita Bahadur, a human resource pro- fessional, several years ago about the dif- ference between guideline, procedure, standard and policy: Guideline A piece of advice on how to act in a given situation; recommended but non-manda- tory control Example: employment discrimination guidelines, screening guidelines Extras: "guide" + "lines" — meaning in- structions for guiding purposes only Procedure A series of detailed steps to accomplish an end; step-by-step instructions for imple- mentation Example: standard operating procedures, a medical procedure Extras: derived from "process" — it's an established way of doing something Standard Acceptable level of quality or attainment; quantifiable, low-level, mandatory con- trols Example: standard of living, standard size Extras: "yardstick" — we don't make or write standards, we follow them Policy Recommended, high-level statement, pro- tecting information across the busines; business rules for fair and consistent staff treatment and to ensure compliance Example: dress code policy, sick leave pol- icy, email and Internet policy Extras: "police" — ensure discipline and compliance No question we need these disciplines in the shop. Without them, we would have chaos and complete inconsistency in how we operate, but remember the 90 percent rule and allow for flexibility. It will give you higher customer satisfaction, more confident employees and a healthier bot- tom line. S RAGAN HOLT is the quick lube advisor for National Oil & Lube News. He is available for consulting and training in the quick oil and lube industry. He can be contacted at: How do I Do It? What Is Required? Why Do I Need to Do This? GUIDELINE PROCEDURE STANDARD POLICY [provides additional, recommended guidance] [establishes proper steps to take] [assigns quantifiable measures] [identifies issue & scope]

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