GLASVAN Great Dane Sales in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, became the first Great Dane dealer to achieve ISO 9000 registration, Ward Warkentin, president of Service Quality Associates in London, Ontario, announced at the NTDA convention in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
In the process of achieving ISO 9000, Glasvan reduced annual interest costs by 50% and improved marketability by up to 20%, Warkentin said. The improvement represents up to a 20% increase in customer traffic reported by Glasvan's parts and service divisions, and it was achieved by integrating the marketing of products and services.
Warkentin's firm, Service Quality Associates, is a consulting company focusing on the trucking industry to provide ISO 9000 registration. The focus of the ISO process provides truck trailer dealers a good means to reduce costs while maintaining or even boosting sales, Warkentin said. Service Quality Associates specializes in service companies such as dealers rather than on manufacturing company certification, he added.
Glasvan sought ISO 9000 certification because it viewed the ISO process as an opportunity to develop more synergy with customers and as a business tool for addressing errors, inefficiency, and "slippage" in the business, Warkentin said.
Early in the project, Glasvan identified improvement opportunities mutually important to its customers and its business. Addressing these initiatives prior to receiving registration enabled Glasvan to benefit sooner from the ISO 9000, he said.
One project involved shortening Glasvan's equipment specification, order, and delivery processes. The dealer worked on how to avoid problems that typically cause delays in these processes. Such delays can aggravate customers and result in higher inventory costs for the dealer.
"After analyzing the order delivery process, an improvement team identified the causes that were associated with late delivery times," Warkentin said. "Issues such as writing clearer orders and delays in orders when trailers sit in the yard were identified. An understanding of these causes led to the prevention of their occurrence and helped to reduce interest costs."
The changes needed to resolve these problems were not costly, Warkentin added. They involved clarifying responsibilities and instruction throughout the business. This included a delay notification sheet and reviewing wholesale statements more regularly to help identify which trailer orders were being held up.
Another important improvement initiative related to integrating the marketing of Glasvan's products and services. Though Glasvan trailers are well recognized in the market, customers were not as aware of services provided by Glasvan's parts and service departments. To address this issue, another internal improvement team was formed. It included key managers from the sales, parts, and service departments. They implemented procedures that improved the communication channel for sharing leads among the sales, service, and parts departments.
The ISO standard requires companies to track and resolve customer complaints as well as any internal problems that can impact quality, Warkentin said. Glasvan found that tracking these problems was especially effective for improving processes that directly involved customers and suppliers. The ISO process helped ensure that action was taken to prevent reoccurrence of failures - both with customers and within the business.
Another requirement of ISO that benefited Glasvan was holding management meetings to review the operation of the quality system and its effectiveness. Though regular meetings already were being held in operations, the ISO process further helped to formalize the structure and focus of these meetings.
"One of the immediate benefits of holding management meetings is that more ideas are brought forward for discussion when problems arise," Warkentin said. "Problems that affect different areas of the business can be reviewed and discussed during review meetings, giving all managers an opportunity to offer suggestions."
The management review meetings provided an ongoing forum for the managers to review quality objectives in the business. It also encouraged the managers to consider other useful data - such as customer complaints and internal audit results.
"Implementing ISO has helped Glasvan to be proactive in responding to customers' issues and needs," he said. "Glasvan's quality system is a business tool that enables Glasvan to stay on top of day-to-day issues and ensures that its quality service remains reliable, efficient, and customer-focused."
Service Quality Associates can be reached by calling its toll free number, 800-313-9923. Warkentin's e-mail address is [email protected]