The Spring Market for Automobile Dealers
With the days getting a little longer and the sun rising a little higher in the sky, it is nearly impossible not to find yourself daydreaming of spring and what the new season ahead will have in store for us. Spring is an exciting change of season for dealerships with new business opportunities and seasonal risk management challenges.
After a long, cold winter, it’s time to welcome new car customers coming out of hibernation and offer service to long-time customers looking for their tune-ups and seasonal tire swaps. If you had implemented new tire inventory controls as suggested in the fall, these next couple of months will be a test of that process. If you are considering a new tire inventory control practice, there is still time to have this ready for implementation before the anticipated rush to remove winter tires. Regardless of the control practice, it is essential that every dealership have a proper tire storage system in place to help safeguard your business from a related loss. Please see below for a recap of our tire storage suggestions from last fall:
- Racking or stacking of tires must terminate at least two feet below sprinkler heads or ceilings.
- Tires should not be stacked more than eight high.
- Consider Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) requirements when staff are required to move tires up or down stairs.
- Any building being used for tire storage should be fitted with automatic sprinklers.
- Any building being used for tire storage should also be fitted with intrusion, heat, and smoke alarms.
At this time of year we typically see snow on the retreat, yet temperatures still remaining cool at night. It is therefore important to continue to be vigilant with salting and sanding your lots, as required. Often times dealership plow trucks will be retired, serviced, and/or sold in the spring before the actual end of ice season. It is not surprising that we tend to see higher rates of slip and fall incidents during the shoulder seasons when the warmer days cause melting and that same melting refreezes overnight. Remember to keep salt on hand at building entrances and to continue to log your ice mitigation efforts.
As the snow melts, debris deposited on dealership lots may be revealed. It is a good idea to have an extra dumpster on hand, and to increase pick-up intervals to clear this excess build-up on the premises. Please remember scrap rubber tires should be stored a minimum of nine metres (or approximately 30 feet) from a structure. We also encourage the return of any extra pallets, shipping containers, and batteries for recycling at this time of year.
From time-to-time we will see a rapid thaw, or significant rainfall before the ground has thawed, so it is important to keep a close eye on drainage basins and ditches as debris or ice impeding drainage can appear quickly. Pay particular attention if your dealership, or one of your lots, is located next to a watershed. Monitor these areas closely for changing conditions, and have a plan in place to relocate inventory if necessary. With the significant snow accumulation we have seen in most of Eastern Canada this year, there are some areas where it may be best to relocate inventory altogether for the duration of the thaw.
Thinking of bringing in a few students to help with spring cleaning? Good idea, but remember regardless of how busy the dealership is, uninsured students should not drive company or customers vehicles, even on the dealership lot. Every year, we visit dealerships where students or non-fully licensed individuals have been involved in accidents both on and off of lots — for the most part these are uninsured losses for the dealership.
As with any change of season, it is important to complete a thorough building and property inspection. Many dealerships have moved to include these seasonal inspections as a role of their Worker’s Health and Safety Committees. Consider adding the following tasks to your spring inspection checklist:
- Check flat roofs for ponding and the condition of drainage, ensuring drains remain unblocked.
- Ensure eavestroughs and downspouts are in good condition.
- Check that doors and locks are in good condition.
- Ensure external lighting is in good repair and any timers are adjusted.
- Check that fencing, posts, and gates are in good repair.
- Ensure that signage is in place and visible.
- Check condition of the parking lots and sidewalks.
- Check for tripping hazards.
- Ensure interior and exterior areas are free of debris, including service areas.
- Ensure storm drains are unblocked (free of ice, debris, and other foreign matter).
- Reconnect hoses on the outside of the building once the danger of freezing has passed.
- Engage a professional in the proper shutdown of boilers.
For a complete spring inspection checklist, please contact your insurance broker or risk manager. During these busy months, remember to manage risk actively so that any incidents are minimized.