Compliance- AKA the “Rules”

As a small business owner and operator, you know it can be tough keeping up on what’s going on in your business, much less what is going on in the world around you. Its easy to be misled by sensational articles about different state and local agencies, a well federal ones, assigning new regulations and levying fines. But not all articles are just sensational hype, these agencies do enforce the “Rules”.

So how do you find time to address all the “Rules”. Which rules are more important than others? What are the risks involved in not following a “Rule”? How much are typical fines for a particular item? And, most importantly, how do you know where best to spend your time.

The good news is that most of the time you spend on Compliance at your company is simply a systematic look at how YOU, the owner and operator, wish to have things done, and communicating these to your associates.  

  • In order to meet the objectives of the company, there must be a systematic approach to each task.
  • There can be no accountability for completing a task when the company’s objectives are not clear.

There is help! Over the next few posts, I will be pointing you to several places that will not cost you any more to keep abreast of the ever-changing world of the “Rules”.

The first place that you may or may not know about is the State Independent Dealer Associations. These Associations often do a wonderful job of keeping an eye on new legislation and regulations being considered. They usually have a way to let the state bodies express the wishes of the Independent dealers.

According to the NIADA (https://www.niada.com/state_affiliates.php) website:

“NIADA has a well-established nationwide group of federated State Associations that each operate independently of each other but work together for a united cause. At the heart of our collective effort is the drive to maintain strong national and state dealer associations, better serve the interests of the public, provide educational opportunities for our members and preserve a strong legislative and regulatory presence that protects independent dealers from unnecessary litigation, rule-making or legislation that would prohibit them from serving their customers and the public fairly and honestly.  When you join your state association, you automatically become a member of NIADA as well.”

From this website, one may find links to their state association.  Many of the state websites offer monthly blogs, free dealer classes, sales tax help as well as free copies of dealer state specific manuals.

In my next blog, I will discuss some other great resources for you to use when considering Compliance.

There will be further discussion on this and many other issues you face at our National Dealer Seminar in Clearwater Florida, February 19 and 20, 2019. For more information on this seminar, please click on the Seminar tab at the top of our website. https://www.afsdealers.com/seminar.a5w#page-top

Joyce Guest, February 8th, 2019

Big Adventure!

Change makes everybody a little apprehensive, nervous, scared, whatever term you might want to use. Some people let it make them lose focus on everything else. Somehow folks got the impression that change equaled “BAD”. However, over the years I have learned not to make up my mind too quickly.

It’s like starting a new job. Everyone is not on their “A game” everyday. Additionally, some folks just don’t trust the new guy easily. Usually it takes a while to really get to know a person, and goes for both sides, you and them.

Another mistake is passing judgement too quickly on new things. When Windows first came out, I ignored it saying, “It’s just a passing phase.” Boy was I wrong! A couple of years later, I was way behind and had to catch up quickly. This made learning it so much more difficult.

Then came along cell phones and “Smart phones”. Some folks thought the phone was good enough and did not want to change. But as technology changed, they were forced to. These days, who would be anywhere without their smart phone?

Along come changes at work. The initial thought is “WHY??” But, again, change is not bad. Maybe a new leader, procedure, idea, job title, etc. is going to be “Great!”, but how will one know if it is not given a chance?

In all these examples, the “change” puts people out of their “COMFORT ZONE”. And we just do not like it. We are comfortable knowing everyone around us, knowing how to follow routine, knowing how to do what is needed, and, knowing how to use the tools provided.

Almost every time like throws me a new curve, it has been for the better! Look at getting out of your comfort zone as something new and exciting! Old routines can get to be, well, just boring. Take on new challenges willingly! Look at new situations, ideas, technology, ect., as a big adventure! Being nervously excited is part of the adventure. Take a deep breath, do it again, now move forward. That’s the first step.

-Joyce Guest, November 2nd, 2018

What’s The Problem?

Lightbulb on blackboard idea bubble

Some days it’s more like “what’s NOT the problem”! Of the many hats we wear daily as owner/operators or managers, the Problem Solver hat often occupies much more of our time than needed.

Consider the following questions:

  • Do I have the right associates in the right positions?
  • Are my associates adequately trained considering their tenure?
  • Have I empowered them to make decisions within the boundaries set for them?
  • Have I created a culture in which my associates aren’t afraid to make a mistake (customer service withstanding) without fear of reprimand?
  • Can my business function smoothly if I am unreachable for one week?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you my friend are the problem. As your business grows, so does your staff, inventory, customer base, and sometimes your facility. When you feel that you must make all the decisions, or at least be in control of the outcome of decisions, you become a bottleneck that slows associate productivity and stifles associate growth.

There are problems that only you can solve; decisions that only you can make. Those belong to you and no one else. But train your associates to handle the problems that are inherent to their position, establish the boundaries within which they can freely make decisions. Then provide routine follow up.

As owners or managers, we can get in our own way and make things more difficult than necessary. I can’t speak to their validity, but I want to close with some humorous but very real examples of how management can allow a problem to become much larger than the solution.

In the early days of our space program, NASA discovered normal pens would not work in space. They subsequently spent years and millions of dollars developing a pen that would write on any surface under any condition. Russia simply chose to use pencils.

A rather sizable Japanese cosmetic company received a consumer complaint that a couple of the boxes purchased contained no product (which happened to be bars of soap) inside the box. Management demanded immediate action and the engineers implemented a high definition X-ray machine monitored by two associates, to see inside the boxes as they passed by on the line.

A rank and file associate questioned the need for such an elaborate and time-consuming process and asked he could have a crack at it. He returned with a pedestal fan, plugged it in, faced it towards the production line and turned it on high. A $40 fan accomplished the same thing as the X-Ray machine for a fraction of the cost. I can list a few examples that relate directly to your business, but you get the idea…

  • Train your associates
  • Establish boundaries
  • Empower your associates
  • Get out of their way and allow them to do their job, so you have the time to do yours!

Training and empowering your associates will!

-Eddie Hight, June 8th, 2018