Drainage services for motor dealerships – 6 important ways healthy drains support healthy vehicle sales

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Drainage services for motor dealerships – 6 important ways healthy drains support healthy vehicle sales

Motor dealerships have enough to contend with, so why should they be worried about what’s going on beneath their feet?

Car salesmen and women are much more likely to be concerned about customer attitudes to the current debate on diesel engines than the health of their drains.

However, the most successful car dealerships care greatly about the sales environment, as well as the need to close each individual sale. Being concerned about the drainage system on car dealer premises is a key part of that process.

In fact, there are six important ways that a drainage specialist can help a car dealership add real value to its ability to close deals on vehicles, sell more of them, and make more money.

 Staying legally compliant

All businesses must comply with water pollution legislation designed to protect natural water courses and groundwater. They must ensure they have drainage systems that are adequate to comply with this legislation.

Part of this process is deciding if you need to have oil and fuel interceptors, or separators as they are known as, fitted as part of your drainage system. These capture oil and fuel residue washed down drains, preventing it from reaching water courses.

The Government publishes guidance on actions businesses must take to avoid causing pollution, which included discharges to the sewer system. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has similar guidance for businesses in Scotland.



Many motor dealerships, certainly larger ones, will be required to have oil and fuel interceptors built into their surface water drainage systems. These interceptors and associated drainage channels have to be maintained and cleaned regularly for them to work properly.

Failure to do this could result in car dealerships being prosecuted by the EA. This could be costly, both for the balance sheet and reputation.

In 2013, a national car dealership had to pay £40,000 in fine and costs after it pleaded guilty to polluting a four-mile stretch of the River Wye in Buckinghamshire due to an oil spill caused by a poorly-maintained oil and fuel interceptor.

Commissioning a drainage specialist to clean and empty these interceptors is preferable to this sort of legal action, which can result in the temporary closure of vehicle sales premises, while remedial work is carried out.

If a car dealership forecourt is closed, it is not possible to sell many vehicles from it.

Supporting business continuity

It is not just the economy that is expected to become a lot more volatile during 2017, not least because of Brexit. The weather is also becoming more extreme, resulting in localised flooding that can devastate a business in minutes.

Car dealerships are, arguably, at significant risk from this process. With large areas of hard surface, inadequate drainage caused by drain blockages, can lead to significant surface water pooling, or worse, very quickly.

Disruption to the selling process, or even damage to large numbers of very valuable vehicles could follow.

Drainage service providers are at the forefront of protecting car dealers from this risk, by making sure drainage channels, including slot drainage channels and underground pipe systems are clear and in good working order.

They can also carry out detailed CCTV drainage surveys of a car dealership’s display, storage and customer parking areas to ensure that it is fit for purpose and has kept up with site utilisation.

 Managing maintenance costs

Drainage systems are largely out of site, so they can be out of mind. This adds to the drainage risks for car dealerships, because problems that build up over time are more costly to put right, and can have more serious consequences, for example in terms of the flooding already described.

Key risks include pipes and slot drainage becoming blocked with silt. Pipes can also be deformed and crushed over time by the weight of cars and vehicle transporters continuously moving above them.

If there are trees or other vegetation adjacent to or on the site, roots can force their way into pipes, causing blockages and damage. This process is more acute for hard surface areas because plants are seeking water and nutrients not otherwise available under such spaces.

Having a preventative planned maintenance (PPM) programme in place reduces the risk of these processes causing problems, and causing costly drainage failure. A PPM for motor dealership drainage systems is much less costly in the long-run than the catastrophic failure it is designed to prevent.

Expert drainage advice

Having access to business advice you have confidence in is a great thing. Increasingly, we live in a world where we accept we cannot know everything. We rely on a myriad of experts, whether in our supply chains, or online, to help us as the need arises.

The same surely applies for drainage systems. Motor dealerships that want to be confident their surface water interceptors comply with latest standards do not want to wait until EA inspectors come knocking.

Many motor dealerships are seeking to add customer value and profit streams by adding vehicle valeting, vehicle washing and vehicle deep-cleaning to their portfolio of services. Then drainage implications of such a move could be significant.

Opening or extending a vehicle repair workshop also implications for drainage management. A reputable drainage specialist can advise motor dealerships on such matters, and carry out remedial work or asset installation needed to ensure developments comply with water regulation.

Lanes Group always provide free advice on a first visit about what maintenance work or site improvement work is needed to ensure a motor dealership’s drainage system is legally-compliant and fit for purpose.

Responding to emergencies

Being realistic, no amount of preventative maintenance will prevent drainage systems going wrong. Pipes can become blocked for all sorts of reasons. The child of a customer could drop a toy down the toilet. More likely, the customer could flush the child’s nappy down the toilet. Both can easily cause a blockage.

The important thing is to respond quickly to the emergency. Not having a customer toilet that works. Or, worse still, having one that has caused a sewage spill, is a significant business risk.

It is important to have access to a drainage company that can respond very quickly, and be guaranteed to have all the specialist vehicles, equipment, and expertise needed to deal with the wide range of emergencies.

What is not always considered, but is also important, is commissioning a drainage specialist with staff who have the training and skills to work quickly, sensitively and, most importantly, SAFELY in a live environment. The way an emergency is handled goes a long way towards influencing customer perception of the difficulties it has caused.

Supporting brand promise

Maintaining a brand promise is a vital consideration for many motor dealerships, whether they are selling second hand family saloons or new luxury sports cars.

So, consider this: how many vehicles with a motor dealership sell if its drains smell, or the customer toilets do not work because they are blocked? What are customers going to think if they have to step through puddles to take a look inside a car they want buy? And, are they really going to be impressed if there are weeds growing vigorously through the slot drainage on the sales forecourt, because it is blocked with so much silt?

The right ambiance in motor dealerships is crucial to sales success, and poor drainage can easily play its part in damaging it.

In the age of social media, if a customer gets their feet wet stepping out of a car they have just test driven, the soggy shoes could be posted and being viewed on Facebook and Twitter in the time it takes the customer to slosh back to the sales person to complain.

For national motor dealership chains, brand promise extends to service promise. They often want suppliers that share their ethos of delivering excellent service, using the latest technologies, and high levels of consistency.

They also want to work with a drainage specialist that shares business values on key issues, such as sustainability, or social responsibility.

Drainage is not a front-of-mind concern for most businesses, let along motor dealerships. But these six critical issues – legal compliance, business continuity, maintenance cost, expert advice, emergency response, and brand promise – show the best way to ensure it stays that way is for motor dealerships to give it the consideration it deserves.








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