Activities with Customers
Automobile auctions are transactions between members who consign vehicles and members who submit bids for vehicles. Successfully operating these auctions requires the ability to provide member companies with a place where it is easy to do business. This is one of our most important obligations.
We are also well aware that the used vehicles purchased at our auctions are ultimately sold to an end user. To ensure that end users can buy and use these vehicles with confidence, USS must accurately inspect vehicles that are auctioned and maintain a framework for selling all vehicles at a suitable price.
USS will remain a leader of the used car distribution industry and use many activities in order to create and maintain a market infrastructure that can be trusted by member companies as well as individuals who buy used cars.
Increasing Trust in the Used Car Market
Management of member information
All participants in USS used car auctions are registered members and many are businesses that sell used cars. Since the information provided by members includes personal information, we handle this information very carefully in accordance with our personal information protection policy.
Prevention of improper auction transactions
Since our inception, we have placed priority on conducting used car auctions that are fair and equitable in order to maintain the fairness and transparency of the used vehicle market. Properly managing information is vital to the success of these auctions. This is why we use a surveillance system and other measures for the strict oversight of auctions in order to provide a fair and equitable marketplace where all transactions are done properly.
Accurate vehicle assessments and data
Both USS auction members and the end users of vehicles depend on us to perform vehicle inspections with no oversights and to supply accurate information about vehicles to be auctioned.
To evaluate a vehicle, we have a 10-grade scoring system that uses our own rigorous inspection system. At all our auction sites, inspections are performed by individuals who have completed the strict USS certification process. These inspectors quickly check vehicles by using the prescribed assessment standards. Information is then placed on the vehicle's auction tag and entered in a database so that members can perform real-time data searches.
Odometer checking system
Many years ago, altering the odometer readings of used cars was a problem. Odometer fraud created worries and suspicions among end users about buying used cars.
As part of its policy of placing priority on fairness, USS has been taking actions to eliminate fraud since its inception. One step was the 2001 establishment of the Nippon Auto Auction Association and the use of this association's system for confirming the accuracy of odometer readings.
The system operates by maintaining a database of chassis numbers and odometer readings for vehicles submitted at auctions. Checking vehicles against the database makes it possible to identify fraudulent odometer settings.
Increasing the Convenience of Auction Sites
USS allows members to participate in automobile auctions at its 19 auction sites in three ways. Members can attend auctions, use the USS Globe Network to participate via a satellite TV link or use the USS Internet Live service to submit bids via the Internet.
USS auction sites hold on-site auctions once every week. These events allow members to inspect vehicles themselves prior to submitting bids. Furthermore, members benefit from our strict and fair vehicle inspections and from a variety of services and other assistance from our employees, who undergo extensive training to offer the best possible customer services.
Seminars and study groups for members
USS auction sites hold a variety of educational events for members. Seminars and other events give members information about using the auction facility, the vehicle inspection system, automobile taxes, documentation needed to sell used cars and many other subjects. There are also classes led by new car dealers to give members information about the features of new models. Members tell us that these activities to supply information that matches their requirements help reduce and even solve problems involving their business activities.
Dedicated to making auctions convenient and pleasant
All USS auction sites have areas where used vehicles are shown separately based on their categories and prices. For example, there is an area exclusively for hybrid and electric cars and we add new categories to reflect changes in the automobile market. Displaying cars like this makes it easier for members to consign and buy used vehicles and gives our auction sites a highly distinctive format.
Members who attend auctions in person receive gifts to show our appreciation for their participation. We select well-known items produced in the area where each auction site is located, items that support disaster relief efforts and other items that members will appreciate receiving.
Equipment and services that match members' needs
We have a full line of services to ensure that members purchase vehicles at auctions can complete the transaction efficiently. We handle all documents needed to change ownership, including confirmation of vehicle inspection, transfer and other documents, and confirm receipt of payments.
Currently, a number of projects are under way to renovate or rebuild older auction sites. These projects always include the installation of chairs, desks and other facilities that maximize the comfort and convenience of our members.
Members go to auctions mainly to buy vehicles, but sharing information with other members is another important reason for attending auctions. This is why our auction sites have snack bars and other areas where members can spend time with each other. Furthermore, since most people stay at an auction for long time, auction sites have restaurants that serve meals to members at no charge. Members can also receive massages and other services to make their stay more pleasant.
Respect for human rights
The USS Code of Conduct and Ethics prohibits discrimination among the USS Group's workforce based on race, ethnicity, nationality, beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and other personal characteristics. We also have a firm commitment to serving members equally regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and other personal characteristics. For example, there are auction sites that serve food for Muslims and have a Muslim prayer room. We have many other measures that reflect the cultural needs and preferences of members of various backgrounds so they can participate in auctions.
Resolution of Complaints
USS has an arbitration system for handling disputes and other problems from members who have submitted a winning auction bid. There is also a system for the oversight of measures to respond to complaints. We access information throughout the company with the goal of resolving problems quickly. Information about complaints, responses, time required to solve the problem and other items are stored in a database for use when a similar problem occurs. Furthermore, the database allows upgrading the skills of people who deal with problems by analyzing the responses and solutions of each complaint inspector.
Activities with Employees
Basic Stance Regarding Our Social Responsibility
The people who work at USS are the source of our group's ability to grow and remain competitive. We are dedicated to providing our people with an environment where they can realize their full potential and perform their jobs to the best of their ability.
Another priority is providing workplaces where people can work with no worries and upgrade their skills while respecting one another. We also recognize the importance of maintaining a framework for fair and proper employee performance evaluations and compensation.
Respect for human rights
The USS Code of Conduct and Ethics prohibits discrimination among the USS Group's workforce based on race, ethnicity, nationality, beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and other personal characteristics.
As automobile auctions in Japan are the primary activity of the USS Group, problems involving child labor and forced labor are unlikely to occur. There has never been an instance of these problems at the group.
As part of our normal business activities, we perform checks for the prevention of infringements on human rights, discrimination, child labor and forced labor. Violations by employees of any of these guidelines can be reported by using the USS Corporate Ethics Help Line.
There were no serious violations of human rights or incidences of discrimination at the USS Group during the fiscal year that ended in March 2021.
Our commitment to equal opportunity
The USS Group is dedicated to equal employment opportunities and compensation for everyone regardless of gender and other personal characteristics. We recruit people with many backgrounds in order to maintain a diverse workforce with outstanding skills. We treat everyone fairly, whether hired as a new graduate or as an experienced professional, regarding promotions and raises and ensure that our people have opportunities to advance and accomplish their goals.
At USS, 9.1% of directors and Audit & Supervisory Committee members are women and there is one female outside director.
Recruiting and Employment
Local emphasis for recruiting
We believe that recruiting people who live in areas near the automobile auction sites where they will work contributes to the vitality of these areas. Our policy is to conduct initial interviews of job applicants at auction and other business sites. The next step is an interview at the head office. Following the interview new employees will be assigned to USS Group locations under a basic premise that each new employee will be able to work near his/her home.
During the fiscal year that ended in March 2021, 2.9% of the USS Group's workforce left their jobs voluntarily.
Fair Evaluations and Compensation
The USS Group pays salaries at a rate that is higher than the minimum wage in the area where each employee is located. In addition, employees who are highly motivated and interested in improving themselves and our business activities receive favorable evaluations. We do our best to incorporate their ideas and suggestions in our business operations. In 2014, we established personnel and salary frameworks that placed emphasis on the performance and capabilities of individuals in order to retain people and enable employees to advance their careers. The average annual salary at the USS Group was ¥6,169,000 in the fiscal year that ended in March 2021.
We assess the performance of employees twice every year and perform evaluations based on how people fulfill the roles and responsibilities of their respective jobs. Individuals undergoing an evaluation submit reports on progress regarding goals, actions to improve their job skills and specific measures taken for business process and other improvements. Assessments also include motivation concerning teamwork and improving how jobs are done, the ability to do one's job, and other aspects of personal performance. Furthermore, people performing and undergoing evaluations hold meetings for direct communication concerning the next goals and other subjects.
All employees are encouraged to submit suggestions for ways to improve business processes in order to create better workplaces. Every suggestion is carefully considered and as many ideas as possible are used in order to improve auction operations and increase the motivation of our workforce.
Employee benefit programs
Employee stock ownership plan (ESOP)
The USS Group has an ESOP that fulfills two purposes. First is giving employees an additional incentive for contributing to the long-term growth of corporate value. Second is creating an opportunity to invest in USS stock in order to help employees accumulate savings.
Long-term disability insurance
USS Group employees are covered by group long-term disability insurance that provides supplementary income to individuals unable to work for a long time due to a disease or injury. With this income, people are better able to concentrate on doing what is needed to restore their health quickly and return to their jobs.
Employees of USS and five consolidated subsidiaries receive a lump-sum payment, which is a defined benefit retirement program requiring no contributions by beneficiaries, when they leave their jobs due to retirement or another reason. In addition, USS and eight consolidated subsidiaries have a defined contribution pension plan. One consolidated subsidiary has a defined benefit pension plan with contributions from beneficiaries.
Education and Training
The USS Group has many programs to give all employees the knowledge and skills needed to be valuable members of the USS team and achieve their personal career goals. On-the-job training is the most important element of these programs because this approach allows both people giving and receiving instructions to upgrade their skills together.
Training for new employees
We have a training program structured specifically for newly hired people in order to give them information about the used car auction industry, the knowledge needed to do their jobs and guidance on proper workplace behavior. Newly hired people then work with a mentor to learn about business operations and receive advice about any issues and uncertainties involving their responsibilities.
Customer interaction and personal appearance
The USS Basic Policy for Customer Services has five components: (1) Proper personal appearance; (2) Always serve customers with a smile; (3) Always greet customers; (4) Use proper words and expressions; and (5) Proper conduct for telephone calls with customers. Once every week, we check the personal appearance of everyone up to and including division managers. Results of these checks as well as of assessments of how employees interact with customers directly and by telephone are incorporated in performance evaluations.
Training for managers
Our management training programs cover individuals at the assistant department manager level and above. At these classes, managers study the basic thinking for the operation of automobile auctions, how to establish targets and other subjects. This training includes classes led by instructors from outside the USS Group.
Training for automobile inspectors
Accurately performing inspections of vehicles to be auctioned is vital to the operation of our auctions. Inspections must be performed consistently at every auction site by using the same set of standards to ensure that decisions are made with accuracy.
USS established its Inspector Certification Program in 2006 in order to improve the methods used for inspecting and evaluating vehicles and ensure the consistency of inspections. Every year, all inspectors are given a test covering practical skills concerning evaluations in order to assign certifications from level one to four. We have a team of instructors and trainers for this certification system who help inspectors upgrade their skills. Every geographic block of Japan has one instructor and every auction site has one trainer. Using this system allows us to perform accurate inspections based on a uniform set of standards nationwide.
An Organization Structured for Diversity
Our commitment to diversity
Everyone at the USS Group receives and equitable and fair performance evaluations and compensation regardless of gender. However, due to the small number of female managers at the group, we believe that more actions are needed to give women the management training and opportunities.
Prevention of long working hours
The USS Group closely manages the amount of overtime to maintain a pleasant workplace environment and prevent excessive working hours during peak periods. Measures to perform tasks more efficiently and the use of shifts are two ways we are holding down working time. Furthermore, every auction site and subsidiary submits working time reports to the board of directors and other supervisory bodies. Directors and others hold discussions in order to determine actions to take as needed.
Days off and paid leave
The average utilization rate for paid leave at USS is 50.6%. We have programs that encourage people to use more of their time off every year.
We have a contract with an external mental health services provider for preventing and assisting with mental health issues of employees. Support is available to everyone at the USS Group.
Prevention of harassment
The USS Group has established Rules for Preventing Sexual Harassment and Rules for Preventing Power Harassment and has activities to be certain that everyone at the group is aware of these rules. The USS Corporate Ethics Help Line is available to employees who want to report harassment or receive more information. We have a framework for properly responding to all complaints and requests for consultations.
Workplace Health and Safety
Maintaining the health and safety for everyone at the USS Group is essential to our ability to continue to achieve steady growth. All employees receive periodic medical check-ups. Once individuals reach the age of 45, they must undergo more thorough annual examinations. There is no cost to employees. We plan to increase activities for preserving and improving the health of our workforce as well as for providing our people with pleasant and safe workplaces.
Health and Hygiene Committees
Every USS Group business site with at least 50 people has a Health and Hygiene Committee that is responsible for improving workplace health and hygiene. As a rule, these committees meet once each month. Committee members discuss measures for keeping employees healthy and subjects involving workplace hygiene.
Sound Internal Lines of Communication
Maintaining strong lines of communication among people in different locations and departments is critical to the ability to conduct business operations in an efficient and trouble-free manner. Regular employee trips to destinations in Japan or other countries are one way we bring our people closer together.
|Employees||Number of employees||572||588||624|
|% of male||77%||75%||73%|
|% of female||23%||25%||27%|
|Average age of employees||39.3||39.4||38.9|
|Average years of service||12.6||13.1||13.1|
|% of male||59%||46％||52%|
|% of female||41%||54%||48%|
|Managers||Number of managers||31||33||33|
|% of male||100%||100%||100%|
|% of female||ー||ー||ー|
|Child-care leave||Number of employees used||1||11||10|
|Family care leave||Number of employees used||ー||ー||ー|
|Paid leave||% of paid leave used||54.8%||50.0%||50.6%|
|Overtime||Average monthly overtime||27.3||26.0||17.7|
|Turnover of full-time employees||4.8||4.6||2.9|
Contributing to Local Communities and Society
In accordance with our management philosophy of "Contributing to Local Communities and Society" and as a good corporate citizen, we aim to actively engage with local communities and contribute to the promotion and development of the region.
The presence of our auto auction sites in the areas in which we operate will enable the efficient reuse and recycling of cars, leading to the revitalization of used-car-related businesses and expansion of business opportunities. In addition, by creating employment in these areas and fulfilling our duty of making tax payments to the local government, we believe that we can contribute to the promotion of the area so as to achieve co-existence and co-prosperity.
Initiatives at Our Auto Auction Sites
Consideration of the local area in our site management
Since our auto auction sites are huge facilities, we have a strategy in place of securing sites in industrial areas for their construction, and we also take great care and consideration to ensure that the construction of the sites will affect the lives of local residents as little as possible. Given that there are large numbers of visitors to, and significant volumes of large-sized car transporter vehicle traffic at, our sites, we are also engaged in making every effort to prevent accidents occurring.
Whenever we receive any comments or suggestions from local residents, we take them all very seriously and strive to make whatever improvements we can to the utmost of our ability. We aim to respond in accordance with the specific situation of each site and to create sites that are trusted by everyone in the surrounding area.
Providing site facilities for shelters during disasters
In response to a request from local government, we have entered into a disaster agreement that allows the multilevel parking lots at some of our auto auction sites to be used as evacuation site facilities in the event of a disaster occurring.
Contribution to Economic Activities of Developing and Emerging Countries
A certain number of the used cars handled by the USS Group are exported to developing and emerging countries to be used locally. In developing countries and emerging countries where economic growth is rapid, the need for used cars is high, and the quality of used cars in Japan is particularly highly appreciated.
As the used cars handled by our company are evaluated one by one by means of a strict inspection process, we believe that we can provide safety and security even to such export destinations.
Participation in Local Activities
The USS Group cooperates with local companies wherever our auto auction sites or other business bases are located, and actively participates in discussions and clean-up activities to help create better communities.
In addition, we cooperate with events held by local neighborhood associations and local festivals, etc., to deepen our relationship with local people.