Have You Checked Your Tires Lately?

Take Care of Your Shop the Way You Would Your Car

By Published on .

Bart Cleveland Bart Cleveland
I recently bought a new car that has the latest technology to help one travel safely. About a month after buying it, a warning light came on indicating that a tire had low air pressure. "Great," I thought, "I probably ran over a nail." After visually examining all four tires carefully, I found nothing wrong. "Great," I thought, "a faulty gauge on a brand new car." I decided to watch my tires and see if they got lower. After a couple of days of watching my tires, I decided to check the inflation of each. All four tires were about 3 pounds psi lower than the car manufacturer states is optimal. I inflated each tire to the appropriate inflation and voila, the warning light was extinguished. Suffice it to say that I was impressed that a mere 3-pounds-per-square-inch deficit was enough to receive a warning.

This experience caused me to think about slight adjustments that are needed to keep one's agency operating at its maximum potential. Are the warning lights in your agency being attended to? Mind you, a slightly under-inflated tire is not exactly catastrophic, but according to my car's manufacturer and political candidates, it can cause poor gas mileage and as well as being an example of poor citizenship. An agency's workings need maintenance just like a car.

For example, how's the workload at your office? If your people work late every night and over most weekends, they will wear quicker than those who have a more normal work cycle. What if your workload is too light? In a suffering economy many agencies can go dormant. A lack of productivity de-motivates employees. Don't ignore either too much work or not enough work if you want to maintain the quality of the work your staff produces.

I know this is odd but when I was a 16-year-old kid driving an old heap, I always felt that my car ran better when I cleaned it up. It is true that a clean car has less drag than a dirty one and actually is more fuel efficient, but as a guy who loves cars, I almost believed the car ran better because it felt I had showed it my love by keeping it freshly waxed. Translate this attitude toward your employees. What kind of love do you show them on occasion? Do you bring them donuts for no reason at all? Do you publicly pat them on the back for a job well done? A frequent salute to your staff for doing what they get paid to do is like waxing your car. It will keep them from dragging.

Since I'm using the car metaphor to excess, I'll wrap this up with one more: Check under the hood. My older sister drove an old Ford Pinto when she was a teenager. She drove it for more than 100,000 miles and never once did she ever change the oil. This is not an exaggeration. She just kept adding oil to the car when it got low, but she never changed it! The secret to her successfully driving the car over 100,000 miles was that she checked the oil. Even though the oil was filthy, the car ran because it had oil. For those of you ignorant of what oil does for an engine, it's the lubricant that keeps friction from heating the engine to the point that the pistons literally weld themselves to the cylinders. Agencies use a lubricant too. It's called teamwork. Departments of agencies work best when they aren't departmentalized. Foster interdepartmental teamwork. It is the most important maintenance you can do for your agency.

I have a new appreciation for my car with all of its fancy technology. But your agency has the same sophisticated warning system if you pay attention. It's called employees. If you keep your door and your mind open, they will warn you well ahead of time when something needs attention.
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