The new year is almost here and with that comes the challenge of keeping your team motivated and building/maintaining a customer experience-drive culture. Mornings are cold and dreary and everyone is coming off of the endorphin-high the holidays give us all. So, what can you do to combat the dip in productivity and positivity that generally ensues?

When your people feel motivated and part of something special, they are more engaged and upbeat, which trickles out to their peers and even your customers. In this blog post we will review 3 best practices to motivate your employees and positively influence the culture in your dealership.

  • Empower your people
  • Recognize achievements and behaviors
  • Give them a voice

1. Knowledge is power

As a leader, one of your primary focuses is to support and develop your team. What better way to do this than by providing training and career advancement opportunities? A recent study found that engaged employees lead to 21% more profitability, 41% less absences and a 59% reduction in employee turnover.

Equipping team members with the tools and training needed to succeed allows the dealership to create a culture that is built on delivering exceptional customer experience. Investing in job-specific training, as well as sales and leadership courses, is a great way to keep your staff motivated and inspired, show that you value them, all while empowering them to deliver exemplary customer service.

Another tactic for developing your people, which builds trust and creates an environment in which people want to work, is giving them the power to make decisions and do what is best for customers without having to constantly stop and ask for permission or input. Let’s face it, who enjoys being micromanaged or always relying on someone else to do their job efficiently? When a dealership invests in their employees, those employees invest themselves into the dealership.

2. Make them feel valued

Everyone wants to feel appreciated within their role and enjoys receiving praise and recognition for a job well done. Verbal and/or written praise can go a long way to make them feel like they are truly part of the team and achieving their goals. This could be done in a multitude of ways – a shout-out during the morning team meeting, a hand-written “thank you” note on their desk, an email to the team sharing some of the great things you observed on the sales floor that week, a gift card to their favorite coffee shop, etc. Encourage everyone, not just leaders, to proactively recognize actions and behaviors and build upon a culture of appreciation.

But, making your team feel valued goes beyond praise and recognition. It also stems from the relationship you develop with them as their leader, and the only way to grow any relationship is with communication. Be intentional. Create a routine that includes touching base early and often with everyone. Those few minutes of saying “good morning” and checking in on them professionally and personally are far more meaningful than you may realize.

Did I just say personally? Yes! This may be the most powerful and most overlooked way to demonstrate appreciation and motivate employees in the dealership. By showing that you genuinely care about their physical and emotional wellbeing you are proving that you care about them as an individual, rather than just caring about the results they produce for the store. Furthermore, do you celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, big life events? When those special moments in their lives are just as special to you, your team’s buy-in will become insurmountable.

3. Give your team a voice

The 6 most expensive words in business are: “We’ve always done it that way.” Read that again. How many times have you said this, or something similar, to someone on your team? It’s a crutch statement that the automotive industry is infamous for and has led to a consistently high turnover rate in dealerships across the country. As of 2019, the turnover rate for dealership sales consultants is 80% and overall dealership staff is an all-time high of 46%. It is far more expensive to hire a new employee than retain one, so how do you fight this trend? Understand what is important to your team.

An effective way of measuring employee satisfaction, what areas of the company/role they enjoy as well as what needs improvement, is an anonymous satisfaction survey. The results will highlight issues you were most likely not aware of and help identify changes that you need to make.

It is recommended to send out this survey every quarter, so as to be constantly improving and giving your team a safe space to share feedback. Once the results have been reviewed, share them with your team and address which 2-3 key areas you will be focused on for the following quarter. This creates an opportunity for discussion during 1:1s and check-ins. Ask employees for feedback on how things are improving, or perhaps where change feels stagnant, and use this information to shift your approach as necessary.

Not only will gathering employee insights and taking swift action help you to retain quality talent and improve employee satisfaction, but it also improves customer satisfaction. You know that age old saying: “happy wife, happy life?” Well, when it comes to your business and creating a customer experience-driven culture…happy people make people happy.

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