Archive for October, 2011

Planning a Trunk or Treat Event? Don’t Forget the Dress Code.

Friday, October 28th, 2011

If your dealership is gearing up for a Spooky Savings event complete with candy, costumes, and lots of customers, take a moment before the party starts to remind employees that Halloween can be a lot of fun, but this is still a work environment. Here are a few tips from an HR perspective to make the event a big success:

1.    Make sure costume guidelines fit with the company dress code and culture. The workplace is not an appropriate venue for suggestive or provocative costumes. Sexual harassment happens in many ways, including visual exposure, which means that it is a good policy to review dress code before any festive company sponsored event, including Halloween work parties (you can read about a sexual harassment case involving inappropriate costumes here).

2.    For Halloween-themed company events, costumes and attendance should always be optional.
Not everyone celebrates Halloween, and some people are offended by the implications of All Hallows’ Eve. While every company has its culture, not everyone is comfortable dressing up in silly costumes. It is important to be respectful of employees and their differences in perspectives.

3.     Most importantly, remind everyone that they are still at work and they have to act professionally. This tip is from Integrity HR:

Employers also need to be aware that Halloween celebrations may raise legal considerations. For example, allowing decorations that some employees find offensive could be construed as contributing to a hostile work environment.

Other legal concerns include workplace violence concerns, “cyber harassment,” and religious accommodation. Of course, it is understood that alcoholic consumption in any context is not tolerated at the workplace.

Remember, the primary function of a Spooky Savings Event is to sell cars. If the event also builds teamwork, and provides an outlet for creativity and a break from the routine… then that is the signature of a successful event from the human resources perspective.


What do you think? Are Halloween Sales events worth it? What is the best, or worst outcome you’ve experienced from a Holiday themed sales event?

The Secret to Getting Ahead of Corporate Responsibility

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Corporate Responsibility used to refer to a few fortune 500 companies, and their efforts to not seem well, “corporatey.” The idea was that companies should care about the environment and their employees as much as their profits (the buzzword for this was triple bottom line). During the recession as profits grew slim, the concept evolved. It is still evolving, but in ways that make it easier for family-owned businesses like dealerships to shine.

The voluntary Global Reporting Initiative is picking-up steam, and most OEMs are already making tracks toward public performance reporting on a number of indicators. It is a matter of time before their affiliated dealerships and repair centers are also affected. This article from EHStoday discusses the direction things are headed in more detail, but here are a few areas of interest that will position your dealership favorably as public reporting gains momentum.

  1. Make sure your facility is up to code.
    Document facility audits, inspections, along with injury and illness rates. Chances are, facility inspections will become more standardized across regions, but the good news is that if you’re already documenting and keeping up with compliance in your area, then your dealership is ready to ride this wave.
  2. Make sure your employment practices are up to code
    For GRI, there are a number of standards around rates of new employee hires and employee turnover by age group, gender and region, return-to-work and retention rates after parental leave by gender, and the ratio of basic salary and remuneration of women and men by employee category and by significant locations of operations. Basically, this means that your HR team needs to document that employment practices are by the books, and keep accurate records, especially around these employment activities.
  3. Keep sponsoring the little league team.
    Small businesses have an advantage in GRI reporting because they rely on a local clientele. Already, most dealerships have learned to reach out and support a number of local community efforts, and they enjoy a return on investment from good publicity, name recognition, and influence that come from these activities.

While businesses in general are moving toward more transparency, it is important to remember that these efforts are not expected to come at the expense of autonomy or profits. A lot is going on right now around implementing public reporting in a way that actually makes businesses more competitive, and ultimately will cut-down on the number of reports and regulatory agencies that companies will have to report to. In the short-term, you’ll be managing a better run business. In the long-term, you’ll be preparing your business for days when public reporting is a by-word for “good-business.”

What is the OSHA Top Ten for Dealerships in FY 2011?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

What is OSHA citing dealerships for most frequently these days? We compared our notes from KPA inspections at dealerships and service centers across the country with the most recent numbers released by OSHA for the transportation industry. We used this information to put together the Top 10 most cited violations by dealers to help your dealership get prepared for 2012.

Get the facts by signing up for tomorrow’s webinar presented by Eric Schmitz, Vice President of Products and Business Development at KPA.

SPCC 101: What You Need to Know About SPCC Plans

Monday, October 17th, 2011

SPCC stands for Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure. At this point, the SPCC is expected to become required for businesses on November 10, 2011. The SPCC rule is complicated, and has implications for many industries. This post focuses on what the rule means for dealerships and automotive service centers.

Who Needs an SPCC Plan?
The EPA requires that all facilities with total above-ground petroleum storage capacity of at least 1320 gallons stored in 55 gallon containers or greater need an SPCC plan. This is regardless of actual petroleum quantity stored on site.

What Goes in an SPCC Plan
Your plan is required to describe
•    oil handling operations
•    spill prevention practices, discharge or drainage controls
•    personnel, equipment and resources at the facility that are used to prevent oil spills from reaching navigable waters or adjoining shorelines
•    countermeasures to contain, cleanup, and mitigate the effects of an oil spill that would impact navigable waters or adjoining shorelines

How to Get an SPCC Plan
Businesses can either have a Professional  Engineer create and certify an SPCC plan for their facility, or they can self-certify (see details here). If a business chooses to self-certify, only an owner or operator of the facility can certify the plan.  If you certify the plan, ultimately you are responsible for all the information in it. That is one benefit of having a Professional Engineer look it over. When they stamp your plan, they are putting their credentials behind the plan.

Do You Need a Bloodborne Pathogens Program? Here’s the Straight Answer

Friday, October 14th, 2011

KPA’s latest project, the Bloodborne Pathogens Quiz, helps dealerships and automotive service centers decide if a bloodborne pathogens program is right for their facility. The online self-assessment tool takes into account all federal regulatory compliance mandates, interpretations, and clarifications around employer responsibilities to provide bloodborne pathogen training for their employees.

At the end of the quiz, there is an immediate result. Participants either receive a printable certificate documenting that a program is not necessary, or they are directed to information about getting a bloodborn pathogens program.

The only limitation for this self-assessment tool is that it only takes into account federal guidelines, so dealerships and automotive service centers in states where state-level regulatory agencies act independently form OSHA may still need to consult occupational safety professionals, or research state guidelines about bloodborne pathogen programs.


NLRB Delays NLRA Employee Rights Notice Posting Requirement Until January 31, 2011

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

The National Labor Relations Board  has pushed back the requirement to post a notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act from November 14, 2011 until January 31, 2012. A number of trade and industry groups have challenged the posting requirements include NADA.
The NLRB website states “as of January 31, 2012, most private sector employers are required to post a notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The 11-by-17-inch notice should be posted in a conspicuous place, where other notifications of workplace rights and employer rules and policies are posted. View the final rule in the Federal Register.”


How Do You Know if Your Safety Program Is Working?

Friday, October 7th, 2011

How do you measure success? You look for things that you can track and measure. These key indicators are pretty standard, and should be documented and communicated as part of your safety program:

•Workplace inspections (KPA audits and your account are excellent resources)
•Exposure assessments
•Injury, illness, and incident tracking
•Employee input
•OSHA assessment

A note about injury rates: They’re a little misleading because they are lagging indicators- they do a great job at showing performance under past circumstances and are not reliable for predicting future performance (but you still have to track injury rates for reporting to regulatory agencies- so don’t ignore them).


Get a clear picture of where your program is headed: Culture predicts outcomes.

•Track work practices and sustained behaviors that increase or reduce hazards
•The level that culture supports safety objectives and activities
For example, how fast are issues addressed in your myKPAonline account?
•Workers’ interest in safety activities and behaviors
•The value placed on workplace safety by senior leadership compared to other objectives

Firing for a Facebook Post? Maybe Yes, Maybe No

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

An NLRB administrative law judge has ruled that a Chicago-area luxury car dealership did not violate federal labor law when it terminated a salesman who posted pictures and  comments about an accident on his Facebook page. The judge rejected the NLRB’s argument that the termination was motivated by other Facebook postings by the employee related to a customer  event  that mocked the quality of the food and beverages provided.

KPA’s partner law firm Ford & Harrison represented the dealership.  Frequent guest speaker at KPA’s  webinars Jim Hendricks, was the attorney of record.  A full review of the case is  available at

When firing for  a Facebook post what many private sector employers do not realize is that – employee may engage in “protective concerted” activity”  under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) .  Facebook posts and the subsequent “wall” posting and comments  and other social media  communications can be protected concerted activity within the meaning of Section 7 of the NLRA.

While the firing of the sales person was upheld in Chicago,  in another case involving Facebook posts the firing were deemed illegal.  In a case a case called Hispanics United of Buffalo, administrative law judge Arthur Amchan said HUB violated the National Labor Relations Act when it fired five employees who commiserated about their jobs on Facebook. Judge Amchan’s ruling endorsed the NLRB’s stance that employees are protected from retribution for job-related postings.

So can you fire for a Facebook post?

According to Jim Hendricks “Employers, especially non-union employers, must be mindful of the concept of protected concerted activity before taking adverse action against an employee. Also, employer policies and practices need to keep pace with emerging technology, including social media. This remains a largely uncharted area of the law. If one of your employees publishes something offensive or confidential on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, proceed with caution before taking action.employer policies and practices need to keep pace with emerging technology, including social media. This remains a largely uncharted area of the law. If one of your employees publishes something offensive or confidential on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, proceed with caution before taking action.”

DOT Hazard Signs Memory Game

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Did you take the October Newsletter matching game challenge? Think fast! This is a quick refresher for DOT signs that you might see around the service bay. Match symbols to win. See how fast you can go! Play solo or with a group. Follow this link to test your skills:

Are You a Focused, Distracted, or Dangerous Driver?

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Sixty-six percent of people feel their safety is threatened by other drivers talking on the phone…yet 66 percent of people also admitted to talking on the phone at least once while driving in the last month. How well do you pay attention when you’re behind the wheel? Are you an accident waiting to happen? KPA has developed a quick survey to help you find out how safe of a driver you are. Give it a spin in honor of Safe Driving Week – it’s free! You might just be surprised at the results.

Take the safe driving survey.