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The No. 1 Way to Protect Your Dealership From Lawsuits
During our most recent Series of NE Seminars for our auto dealer clients, one of our panelists (a lawyer) spoke on the No. 1 way that dealers can protect themselves from lawsuits. Another panelist (also a lawyer) spoke on the best way that dealers can protect themselves from employment law action. What was interesting is that they both pointed to the same action: The dealer must have an effective program for investigating and resolving claims brought against them.
Our speakers were focused on claims from different groups, one on clients and the other on employees. However the steps dealers should take are the same, regardless of the source of the complaint.
Here are a few of their recommended steps:
1. Have a policy and procedure in place on how investigations will be handled in your dealership.
2. Follow the policy and procedure each and every time. Consistency, whether it is a customer complaint or an employee claim, will put your dealership in a much more secure position.
3. Assign a process owner for the investigation who will lead from "cradle to grave."
4. Document each step of the process. Whether it is a customer or employee complaint, you could still be sued after a proper investigation and action. Your documentation of actions will be vital to defending your case.
5. Complete a post mortem review with the key employees involved in a customer incident or with the managers surrounding an employment claim. This is not a finger-pointing session — that should have been completed in the investigation. The goal is to learn from the incident, change your policy and procedure if necessary and show that your dealership embraces a culture of compliance.
Remember, no claim is too small or frivolous to gain your attention. Often, it is a small claim that is not properly investigated and responded to that leads to a lawsuit. Treat every claim or complaint like it could result in a major legal liability and apply the appropriate resources.