People and the Road to Dealership Profitability

My Company Recently launched a blog, here is an article one of my partners wrote. (Link is at the bottom)

Your People are the Lynchpins of Your Dealership

Leaving the most crucial aspect of your business for last was not by accident. Your people are the lynchpins of your dealership. You can focus on product and process all day, but people make or break the success of your business.

Throughout my career I've had the fortune to observe hundreds of dealerships, large and small, from coast to coast. Over time it has become easy to identify thriving and struggling dealerships simply by observing employees at work. The most successful dealerships have a positive energy you can feel as soon as you open the door. (And trust me, consumers feel the energy when they walk in as well.) Employees with a sense of purpose and unity will create a positive atmosphere. But engaged teams don't just happen, they are the result of hard work.

Evaluate From the Top Down

The good news is…managing the people area of your business is a top down proposition. The first employee you need to evaluate is you and work down the line from there. Have you hired the right people? Is there anyone working in your dealership that you wish wasn’t there? If so, you will need to act to change the situation.

Are you approachable? Do your employees feel empowered to talk to you about issues in your dealership? If not, that needs to change for the good of your business. It will ultimately be worth the investment of time and energy.

People Troubles at Honest Foods

In Season 4, Episode 5 of The Profit, Lemonis takes on Honest Foods. Right away it is clear to Marcus that owner, Ted Devlin, creates chaos among his employees with controlling behaviors. Marcus made his investment with a commitment to teach Devlin to be a better leader. As it turned out, Devlin struggled with a fear of losing his business. Devlin dealt with his fear by attempting to be in control of everything. "He worries that other people aren't doing their jobs, then he interferes and wonders why people can't do their job," Lemonis said.

Lemonis’s advice to Devlin: ”Let the employees do their job and let them learn how to work together and let them learn how to solve problems on their own.” Lemonis advised Devlin to cede control, delegate more tasks and trust his employees and his advice worked almost immediately.

Small Changes, Big Difference

In addition to easing up on his controlling behaviors, Lemonis recommended Devlin find ways to express gratitude to his team in tangible ways. Within a short time, the team at Honest Foods was transformed. Lemonis tested out the changes by offering Honest Foods the opportunity to cater an important event for one of his other businesses. The event went off without a hitch and Lemonis was impressed with the change in Devlin and the new close-knit, team-oriented culture among the employees. The atmosphere of the event was electric, and the team from Honest Foods set the tone.

Wouldn’t you agree when you walk in to any business and employees are smiling, looking productive, and moving around with energy it raises your excitement level? Customers want to feel good about making a purchase; they feel more inclined to buy when they feel good about the place they are buying from, and starts when they open the door.

The Profit’s Rule Number One for People: Underperforming Employees are Your Fault

According to Lemonis it is the personal responsibility of leadership to hire and train the right people for your company. [You can hear his take in this short video.] Leaders set the tone for the entire business, but it may surprise you to learn what Lemonis believes is the single most important trait of a strong leader...vulnerability. The product of a challenging childhood, Lemonis believes our vulnerabilities can be transformed into our greatest assets, and has learned they are one of the best ways for you to relate to your employees.

Keep Your Head Above Ground and Your Heart Open

The absolute worst way to uncover employee satisfaction and engagement is to guess, and the same goes for customer experience. Successful brands have built a team atmosphere and have transparency throughout the organization allowing for open communication. If you don’t have several opportunities for employees to share ideas and experiences without fear of reciprocity built into your dealership teams, now is the perfect time to take a look at your dealership as a consumer and as an employee.

A Lesson from The Profit: Observe First.

Every episode of The Profit begins with Marcus observing the businesses at work. Take a play from his book and watch your people at work. Ask them questions to uncover hidden problems in attitude and/or efficiency. Negativity breeds tension and it spreads throughout the whole organization.

What You Ignore Will Impact Your Bottom Line

We know employee engagement impacts profits and customer experience. Smart leaders know investing in their people has inherit ROI. As the leader of your business, you must build in ways to solicit feedback from your employees individually and teach your managers and leaders to do the same. Find out if there is something practical or tactical you can do to support their goals and improve workplace morale. Listening gives you the opportunity to identify problem areas and prevent problems before they occur. Clearly communicate an open door policy from the top down, particularly if you have not embraced an open workplace previously.

Growing Individuals Mean a Growing Organization

Listening means you might actually hear some things about your business that you’d rather not know. But you might also learn there are small changes that could make a big difference. It is possible that among your “good” employees there are some who are waiting for the chance to improve. Offering additional training or moving them to a position that leverages their strengths more effectively could change the game.

Good people want to work for good leaders. Good people want to contribute to something greater than themselves. When good people feel heard, valued and understood the result will be a commitment to the growth of your business. Good employees want to be excited to walk in the front door every morning.

Do You Want to Go to Work?

If you dread walking into your dealership, ask yourself what needs to change. If your employees aren’t excited to come to work today, why would you expect your customers to feel excited when they walk in the door tomorrow? Address the issues with your employees, and you will create a place where customers feel valued and welcomed.

If you think the employees at your dealership might not be as excited as they could be, you’re probably right. The good news is, you can change it starting right now. If you would like to discuss a challenge you're facing, I'd be happy to share what I've learned from some of the most successful dealerships throughout the country. Contact me or 816-588-2955.

Article By Adam Tobias

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Comment by Mark Handlon on February 21, 2017 at 10:24am

You nailed it Adam!

       The "positive" culture starts at the top and needs to be demonstrated every day. Each employee needs to feel valued. Each employee needs encouragement. Each employee needs to feel that the employer is concerned about his or her people. Each employer needs to strive to create an environment that makes the employee show up for work because they want to- not because they have to!

       The customer will be more inclined to do business with the salesperson who states "This is a great place to work for!" The enthusiasm is contagious!

Comment by DealerELITE on February 16, 2017 at 4:35pm
Thank you for sharing Angela

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