How can dealers protect themselves? First, consider that being forced to behave a certain way — when the usual tools and services will fail them — is a recipe for problems. Second, recognize this legislation won't strictly become a liability issue. Dealers can prepare and turn this problem into an opportunity for a significant source of income. Manufacturers cover recall repairs financially, so this could become a windfall for dealers.
Like anything else in business, putting the right process in place is the key to success. Dealers are better prepared if they have a written policy outlining their safety recall repair management strategy. Employees need to be trained on the policy, then sign off on it so they are clearly on board.
There also should be one person in the dealership charged with implementing and overseeing the recall repair process. Appointing a champion with authority and accountability will ensure recall repairs become a priority at the dealership. Even at large dealership groups, assigning one person to head this initiative will pay dividends.
Next, thoroughly understand any legislation adopted and how it impacts current operations. Dealers might be doing several things well already that help prepare for the coming legislation. Auditing current practices against pending legislation will help chart a path for needed changes.
Another critical factor in dealers' success will be automating the recall-finding process. Manual processes are simply too costly and miss too many open recalls. This will leave the dealership open to potential liability and will leave potential profit on the table.
Finally, do not fear these changes. It is possible to both increase revenue and decrease liability by fully understanding the recall management process. In fact, they are two sides of the same coin.
Even if mandated by the federal government, recall policies can be turned into a competitive advantage. But only if dealers are prepared.