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Case Study: Jaffers Motors

Textbook has left the forecourt.

Jaffers Motors is the sort of petrol station you’ll find in your neighbourhood.

You’ll have stopped at a place like this. This one’s in Grassy Park, Cape Town. Prominently positioned, with big glowing signage, and a team of friendly staff controlling the forecourt. It sells forward motion: fuel, coffee and convenience items. On a typical day it’s bustling.

Next to bustle is hustle.

Sometimes—maybe the next day or perhaps days later—a customer returns to complain that their petrol cap is missing. It was stolen, or not put back. It happened at the petrol station, it didn’t happen elsewhere. It’s not their fault, it’s the petrol attendant’s fault. And now it is the station owners fault.

This happens regularly—more often than you may think—and when it does it takes time to resolve. The customer explains what happened, when it happened, where it happened—which pump they filled up at. And then they wait, while the camera footage is combed through.

The outcome of this situation, simply, goes one of two ways: either it did happen at the petrol station or it didn’t happen at the petrol station.

And when it doesn’t happen at the petrol station (which is usually the case) the customer insists on seeing the footage for themselves. Taking more time. And even then, once they’ve seen that the petrol cap was put back in place, their complaint becomes that it must have not been put back properly and fallen out on the road, later. It is the petrol attendant’s fault. It is the station owners fault.

For the station owner, it’s a lose/lose situation. This doesn’t leave anyone with a good taste in their mouth. It’s small things like this that can cause customers go elsewhere.

A textbook business analyst would:

  1. Check for a record of past incidents, to identify event dates and times
  2. Comb the camera footage to view the incidents
  3. Query the shift roster to identify which attendants were on duty
  4. Visit the forecourt to observe the business operations
  5. Interview the petrol attendants and discuss the issues
  6. Analyse the root cause of the problem
  7. Specify the solution requirements
  8. Re-engineer the business process
  9. Document the standard operating procedures.
  10. Create a simple checklist for the attendant: welcome the customer, ask how they can help, fill up the tank, offer extras—wash the windscreen, check the water, oil, and tyres—point out the specials in the shop AND put the petrol cap back.
  11. Retrain the petrol attendants
  12. Discuss the topic at the daily forecourt stand-up.
  13. Monitor future volume of complaints, causes, and exceptions. 

Logical, right? Creative, no.

This gives an air of control to the situation, yet is unlikely to prevent future occurrences. When it does happen, it’s still going to take time to resolve. And it’s still going to leave a bad taste.

So that’s not how Jaffers Motors approached it.

Jaffer’s Motors went out and bought a stockpile of a wide variety of petrol caps—to fit many makes and models—to have available on hand. Now, whenever a customer raises this issue, the customer gets an apology for the inconvenience and a replacement petrol cap.

HT: Mo Bray

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