July 2012, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Do you enjoy what you do each work day? Maybe I’m a little “off,” but I enjoy the craziness of a very busy day. You know—the ones where so many folks are on the lot it reminds you of a county fair. Everybody’s phones are ringing almost nonstop. There is a line at the payment window. 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 baseball team that keeps turning double plays.
The satisfaction I get from the above scene helps make the daily grind worth it. I have always trained staff using a coaching style that includes cross-training of personnel so there is “depth” at every position. Our employees work hard and understand that the decisions they make every day affect how the public perceives our dealership. I try to include as many of our people in “teachable moments” as I can. If an issue arises, everyone is brought together for an explanation of what took place and why it was good or bad for the customer (or employee) and our company. I feel that if your people understand what is happening in your store and why you want certain responses to occur, your team will be more proactive solving problems instead of just reacting to issues as they happen.
As a manager/owner of any business that deals with customers, it is important that you realize the attitude and motivation of your personnel is directly affected by your actions. Compensation is important to maintain morale, but that is only one aspect of your duty to your people. I believe that an atmosphere free of useless stress 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 them. 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. Right for the dealership means satisfying our customers while maintaining a profit.
I have always made sure the employees know that I am concerned about them. I do not over-hire, so our employees can get all the hours possible, and they know the team needs them every day. If I see or hear about personal issues affecting someone, I will interject myself and make sure the employee(s) involved get to a reasonable settlement quickly so the focus at work remains on work. The gears of your “machine” have to mesh well together and this requires attention from you, even if you are helping a team member deal with a problem at home.
The days when our team is being pushed to the limit are very satisfying because our people are sure of what they are doing and why. As a manager, it’s what you do when it’s not busy that is important. Good procedures and trained people that work well together make those crazy-busy days manageable and profitable.