So, let me ask you a question, do you believe that if you perform business both morally and ethically everything will be OK?  Sure, you also need to make a reasonable profit, have a great crew, have a good reputation but then everything will be OK, right?  Well, occasionally it takes more, much more!

Have you ever brought a vehicle into your facility for electrical issues for what you expected to be a starting or charging system issue, it gets late and you realize you have to keep it overnight to figure out what was wrong?  Most of you have at one point or another, “this is part of business” you say, and, you’d be correct.  But what happens if that electrical issue causes a fire, and to make it worse, everyone has gone home for the day and nobody is there to notice?  Could that happen…… “no, not to you” because those things only happen to the bad shops?  This article is about the FACT that this can and does happen, even to the best facilities around.

One of the facilities I coach and train with recently brought a car into the shop for a starting issue that had yet to be diagnosed or inspected for the cause of the customer complaint and as the day came to an end, the vehicle was started with no issues, and pulled into the shop, luckily it was the last car pulled into the shop.  The shop manager did his normal walk through to make sure all the shop doors were locked, all the driver side vehicle windows were down (you all do this or should to make sure a vehicle does not “auto” lock with the keys in them, right?), checked that power is off to all the equipment, set the alarm and left.  Normal right?  It is 99.9% of the time and it occurs in every shop across the country virtually the same way every day.  In the morning you come in to everything as you’ve left it the night before and your day starts……..until it doesn’t!

The fire chief investigating determined as far as he could that the “starting” issue was probably something inside the starter failing and after the lights went out for the day, the connections somehow overheated or the starter engaged with no actual trigger and worked until superheating causing the car to catch on fire.  This car had probably burnt almost to the ground before the smoke started exiting the building through vents and a passerby noticed the smoke.  With smoke alarms going off and the calls of passerby’s the fire and police departments were notified and arrived VERY quickly, broke in the side and front doors and got the fire out.  Major disaster avoided, right?  Not so much!  The primary vehicle was completely destroyed, but it had lit 2 other cars on fire parked right next to and tight up to the first car, so only the 3 cars right?  Wrong again, another car was close enough that a lot of its bodywork melted being primarily made of plastic, 4 cars, wow, it could have been a lot worse!  NOPE, it got worse!  Remember that the windows were down in all the cars including a late model high end European vehicle, smoke permeated the interior of every car in the shop.  Could anything else go wrong?  Never be too quick to ask that question, and never, never say it out load!  Most of the primary electricity came in the building through a junction in the rear of the shop…..YEP, the rear where the original car was parked.  So remaining power was turned off and locked out by the Fire Department and rightfully so.  Cars are in the air and on the lifts with no way of lowering them IF & when the fire department allowed it to happen, which was days later.  Now for the damage not directly caused by the fire, the doors and glass that were broken out to access the building and fire, and that phone call to your insurance agent in the morning, yes it could get worse!  Did I mention that the owner and his family were clear on the other side of the country on a vacation when this all happened?

The good news and yes there is good news?  Nobody was hurt!  There was insurance and within this insurance were VERY important clauses like business interruption payments, required city upgrades covered and an agent and facility Team who have stepped up and took care of everything that had to be corrected to get the shop back working again.  It will probably be a couple of weeks or maybe even months before business is back up and running again, but because of the forethought of the owner in hiring good people and trusting his insurance agent the business will survive.  Because his insurance coverage needs were scrutinized by him and his agent and he stepped up to those premiums, the incident is being covered mostly completely.  The clean-up work in getting done, everything is being organized and started.  Most of this is being spread between the agent & the shop manager and it is getting done!  The shop manager; came to the shop when the alarm went off and has been a fixture daily (even through the weekend) making sure that the owner is up to date and that things are being handled in a timely manner.

The end of this situation has hopefully resolved itself by the time you read this and everybody has moved on and is living a “happily ever after life”.  But, the “take away” from this and the message here is: hire the best people you can (for when you are not there), trust in your insurance agent, support your local fire and police departments at every level you can and remember, bad things happen to good people too.

If you need help with your business and want to see and feel the successes you expected when you opened your doors, give us a call at: The ACT Group, 805-444-2598 or visit our website for more information