Your Employees Might Be the Driving Force to Future Profits!

Automotive Services Group

In the midst of the recent economic meltdown, some accountants argue that the only way to survive in a tough economy is to take precautionary measures only to guard against volatility. Others, instead, support a more proactive approach: leveraging your dealership’s most important assets: the employees.

Your employees know your business best, and as such can be an invaluable source of ideas and innovation. When was the last time you asked for and got suggestions from your employees? As a business owner or manager, you should work to create a climate in which your employees are motivated to make suggestions that can help the business operate more efficiently. Your employees may hold the key to unlock your dealership’s potential.

Promoting the ideal of a culture of feedback is crucial, however, companies must still be practical.

For example, ask questions ahead of time and have employees prepare a few different viewpoints before a monthly meeting. To ensure efficiency, be sure to have them write their suggestions down in advance.

Set aside some time to filter through the suggestions. Next, follow up with your staff and let them know which suggestions will be used. Tell them why some ideas were selected and others were not, and give credit where it is due; you do not want to discourage employees from expressing their thoughts in the future. Ultimately, you must reassure your staff that you value them and their opinions in order to keep the lines of communication open.

Another way to encourage your staff to become more actively involved in the management of the dealership is to promote unity within the office. After all, "the team that plays together, stays together." Volunteer together, exercise together, socialize together- these are all ways to create camaraderie and reduce disagreements that may crop up in the office. And by building up that team mentality, you will get more and better feedback as people look out for each other and for the company.

Ideas alone will not move projects forward. Ideas, once implemented, need to be measured. Instead of assuming the burden yourself, designate someone other than the creator of the idea, to monitor results. There are generally two ways to gauge results: concrete measurements and non-measurable results.

Here is an example of a concrete measurement at work. A few years ago, an employee at a large coffee shop chain shared her idea of asking customers if they wanted their receipts printed for them. The manager of the chain didn't think this was a great idea, but decided to implement it for a two week trial period. He noticed that almost all customers did not want their receipts printed for them. The manager had another employee budget the cost-savings from the trial period, and she gave a portion of the savings to the entire staff. When asked why the savings were shared by all employees, she said "I want my employees to work together as a family, and if I promote cohesion, I will ultimately benefit."

For a non-measurable example, one can look to an idea that benefited a local auto dealer. One area auto dealer listened to his parts manager, who was interested in philanthropy. The parts manager had asked: “Why is the parts department dead on Tuesday mornings? What can I do to help the company raise awareness in the community?” Tuesday mornings became Teaching Tuesdays. On these days, the parts department assistant and an experienced mechanic went to a community center and gave presentations on how to change oil, safety steps to follow with break-downs, and other car-related topics. The classes were free to the public, and ultimately spread a positive image of the dealership. With more Americans retaining their current cars rather than buying new vehicles, dealerships need to ensure that they maintain a positive profile in the realm of vehicle service. Customers are looking for two things in a mechanic: trust and price. This dealership gained trust with its customer basethrough the Teaching Tuesdays initiative. Although the results might not be fully measurable, the idea ultimately contributed to the success of the company.

Whether concrete figures or more general measurements are used to evaluate initiatives, the entire time should be made aware of progress and results.

In conclusion, make sure you take the time to leverage the knowledge and creativity of your staff. Also, remember the quote from Thomas J. Watson:

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success."

All ideas are not going to be treasures, but give your employees the framework to express their ideas, and consider each one. Take action now to enhance your dealership’s position by better utilizing your employees!

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