Professional Community for Car Dealers, Automotive Marketers and Sales Managers
At the NCM Institute Center for Automotive Retail Excellence, the training that we provide in our Service Management courses focuses primarily on strategies and tactics. However, we have discovered that the effective execution of the strategies that we teach is most often hampered by an important missing ingredient: most dealership service departments do not have a “high-performance culture.” And as noted management thought leader Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Without a strong and persistent focus on workplace culture and technical knowledge, business expertise alone will not optimize service department sales, gross and profitability.
To gauge whether or not you have a high-performance culture in your service department, ask yourself the following questions:
Are your service advisors, technicians, and support personnel fully engaged? Are they producing at 100% of their capability? Do they love what they do and look forward to arriving at work each day because of the passion they have for serving your clients and each other, finding it meaningful, challenging, and fun?
Does your service manager lead from the front (in the service lane and on the shop floor) or from the back (in his office)?
Is your service department a “selling organization” or a “fix it and smile organization?”
Employee engagement is a problem in the retail automotive workplace. We find in every dealership we have the opportunity to work with, that employees actually care less about the bottom line and more about their inner wellbeing. People will sacrifice wages for a positive business culture. So what are the values you need to employ to create greater employee engagement? Research shows that the following represent some of the key elements that the best employees desire from the workplace:
Clear performance expectations
Coaching that develops employee skills and potential
Resources that enable employees to do their job right
Opportunities to do their best work
Sincere and genuine recognition and appreciation for efforts
Meaningful participation in matters that affect them
Encouragement and support for development
Fair, equitable and respectful treatment
Genuine concern for them as a person.
The four service management training programs (and also the Webinars) offered by NCMi include significant emphasis on Accountability Management and Leadership…the cultural drivers of employee engagement, sales and productivity. We recognize that great leaders focus on building positive, lasting relationships with the people they lead…and they should be sensitive to how they are perceived by their direct reports. This approach requires department managers to:
Identify and communicate the important aspects of the employee’s position
Designate and communicate what acceptable performance looks like
Communicate clearly to the employee what performance is expected and how performance will be rated
Communicate performance feedback and conduct performance discussions during the rating period, and evaluate performance based on the agreed-upon performance targets
There should be little doubt that the operative word is “communicate.”
Improving workplace culture shouldn’t be reserved just for service departments with obvious issues. It can also help well-performing dealerships progress to their full potential. Once the store’s leaders recognize that the behavioral culture is as important to success as are resources, processes, marketing and the rest, enhanced employee engagement will follow. Culture optimization needs to go hand-in-hand with the dealership’s business strategy. Service departments that integrate cultural optimization into their day-to-day business practices are far more likely to position themselves for success. In most instances, what is good for your people ultimately proves good for your business.