Process This

I recently took a trip to the UK to attend the ATF Professional Vehicle Recycling conference in Warwick, UK. It was a great convention, very informative and the speakers were awesome. Wish some of them could come to the United States and speak at our conventions.

When I got back home, I started thinking that my trip was similar to the auto recycling business. Let me explain. The one thing I thought about before I left the states was that I couldn’t wait to have fish and chips. I had it many times while there and I noticed that they batter them different ways, some with Ale and some with Cider. While a slightly different process the final product was amazing. This also applies to auto recycling world. While each business may have different processes the final product that is sold should all be the same. The parts should be clean, accurately described and delivered in a professional and timely matter. Processes and systems are the start and finish to all good business’

Driving in the UK can be challenging, if you have never driven a vehicle from the right side and driven on the left side of the road. Now it is all what you are accustomed to. If you were raised in the UK this is all natural, but coming from the US it can be a “baptism by fire” according to Haydn Davies from ATF. Although driving was stressful, it is something that had to be adapted to. We had to know exactly where we were going and how to get there. Very few street signs, lanes only big enough for 2 small vehicles (there must be a big demand for mirrors and wheels there), nowhere to pull over to get your bearings and the roundabouts, every mile and sometimes a double roundabout! This led me to thinking about how It equates to starting an auto recycling yard. Some people go into the business not really thinking things thru or having a good plan. Their thought of “how hard can it be to sell parts from damaged vehicles.” If not prepared it can be very daunting. From buying vehicles, doing inventory, storing parts, sales, deliveries, and the other dozen plus things that make up the business. This is why process’ and procedures are so important, they are like the never-ending roundabouts. You enter the roundabout and you encounter multiple exits. These exits are your processes and procedures, first exit is your vehicle buying, second is inventory, third is depolluting, fourth is dismantling, fifth is stocking, sixth is quality control, etc.  If you’re on the outside lane of the roundabout it is easy to take an exit, but if you get stuck on the inside lane you are like a hamster in a wheel, around and around you go. These are examples of process’ not an exact order to follow There are many articles that describe the process flow that are available to read. You need a process, the exits are your process, does the part go to quality control, does the quality exit get passed up and go directly to shipping, delivery or customer pickup. Now the customer may receive a damaged part. Was skipping the quality step worth it? The customer is displeased and now you have to make a second trip to him to deliver a nice part when this should have been the case in the beginning. Stocking the part, does it go to the rack or shelf in the best spot to avoid damage, or just the easiest location to get to. So many choices. Are you following the process flow?

Doing things, the same way by the owner down to the employees, there must be consistency. This does not mean that if a better way comes along not to try it. Perhaps it would work for your business and things will run smoother.  Perhaps it will not, but you tried and now know that your process is the best for your business, but everybody has to buy into the system. Remember the different fish batters, different ingredients but the end results are the same. The fundamentals of making the batter and frying the fish are the same, but If employees think they are smarter and start doing things their own way it usually doesn’t work and becomes chaotic and more difficult on the others. The system starts to fall apart and the business can suffer. Loss of sales, revenue, unhappy customers and possibly loss of employees.

On my way home from the airport, I started to see how things that I took for granted became relevant. Highway signs, street signs, turn lanes, how much easier it was driving with clear direction. For your employees they need to follow directions and a process and you need to give that to them, guide them, give them the direction. If you don’t, they will do what they want, how they want and you may not like the way it is done. Don’t get mad at them for trying, you gave them no direction or process to follow. Remember why you wanted to start your business. Is it thriving or are you the hamster in the wheel going around and around, looking busy but going nowhere? Step back and take a look at the business from a new perspective with fresh eyes. Make a process for all to follow, your business will run well and you and your employees will be much happier.

Oh, as for my trip, stressful beginning but as the week went on much better. The castles, scenery, people, food all made for great memories.

Debbie Hussey
Manager, Inventory Specialist, Sales, Environmental Compliance, Daily Operations. Serves on the ARI board. Full time Northlake Auto Recyclers employee since 1996.
(219) 937-3960 |