March 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
There are many aspects of running a business that I enjoy. One of the highlights for me comes on those super-busy days. You know, the ones where so many folks are on the lot, it looks like a county fair. The phones are ringing almost nonstop, including the cell. There is a line at the payment window for regular and service payments. Inside the building, the employees and customers are moving around like you’re in a big-city train station. When I have these days, I always stand back for a minute and watch the action. It is like coaching a football team and having the game happen just like you drew it up.
The satisfaction I get from the above scene is what makes all the headaches worth it. I started this operation with a business model I created. I used policies and procedures from my experiences at other dealerships. I hired and trained everyone working with me, using a coaching style that included cross-training so several people know what happens in different areas of the store. Our employees work hard and understand that the decisions they make everyday effect how the public perceives our dealership.
As a manager/owner of any business, it is important that you realize that the attitude and motivation of your personnel are directly affected by your actions. Paying your people a fair wage is important to maintain morale, but that is only one aspect of your duty to your people. I believe that a stress-free atmosphere is important. Our people work well together. We never hire anyone without taking the team into consideration. If your people dread coming to work, then you are not getting the best performance from the team.
When that crazy-busy day comes and everyone is on their feet running from one customer to the next, I want my employees’ minds on doing what is right for our dealership. In our operation, “right for the dealership” means satisfying the customers. I have always made sure my people know that I am concerned about them. I try not to over-hire, so that everyone working here can get all the hours possible. If I see or hear about personal issues affecting someone, I will get involved and make sure the employee or employees concerned get to a reasonable settlement quickly so their focus remains on work. The gears of your “machine” have to mesh well together and this requires maintenance from you, even if you are dealing with a problem at home for a team member.
The days when our dealership “machine” is being pushed to the limit are very satisfying because our people are sure of what they are doing. As a manager, it’s what you do when you’re not busy that is important. Good procedures and trained people who work well together make those almost-out-of-control days stay under control and profitable.