Steve Weston: "What I have learnt throughout my automotive career"
Embrace technology but don’t rely on it solely
We have pioneered new technology around vehicle inspection because we couldn’t find an external system that would do what we needed. We have adopted the latest Android tablets and Windows 8 software but ultimately we have a national network of inspectors that have to use it. Therefore we have developed the system and trained them accordingly to get the most out of the technology to ensure a consistent inspection is undertaken for the customer every time. We have worked with them to develop the correct process for getting the most out of the technology but can’t just rely on technology alone.
Growing and mentoring a team
We mustn’t forget that the graduates, apprentices and junior managers are the general managers, directors and business owners of the future so we should invest time and effort to ensure they are the best as they can possibly be. I have built teams working in the UK and Europe and often some of the hardest working and most talented people haven’t always achieved the best exam results. Give them a chance and help and guide them whenever you can is my mantra.
The automotive industry is a very incestuous place and I have always approached my job with honesty and integrity. Even when something has gone wrong being honest with the customer and giving them an immediate view on how we can avoid it happening again is important. Obviously the reputation of a company is at stake and wherever I have worked we have always given 100% to achieving the best result for the customer. Bring honest is the best way of keeping that reputation in one piece.
Providing the best service possible to a customer
I have been in sales and operations for over 30 years and it gives me great pride in some of the things my team and I have achieved, even when everything seems to be working against you. Working in other European countries was a brilliant experience as it taught me to truly understand a customer’s needs and to work with suppliers to achieve these aims despite sometimes working with a language barrier on both sides. Clarity of communication both verbal and written helped speed up projects to ensure we delivered a good service.
First appearances are all important
When we work for many of our customers we are the first point of contact with their customer’s driver when we inspect or collect their car. Being smart, polite and helpful is a major part of our commitment to the customer. All of our inspectors wear VQS corporate uniforms so it is immediately obvious where they come from. And if a driver is unsure about signing off the inspection report when their car is defleeted it is important that our inspector has the communication skills and knowledge to take them through why something has been identified as damage and why it sits outside the realms of Fair Wear and Tear. That goes back to training and developing a person’s softer skills, not just teaching them how to use a Tablet computer.