Treasure Your Employees
An old-school dealer once told me “I don’t worry about motivating my employees. If their paychecks aren’t enough to motivate them, they can find something else to do.”
Unfortunately, although seldom said out loud, too many dealers act as if their team members are disposable.
The America’s Dynamic Workforce: 2007 report from the U. S. Department of Labor finds that unemployment has dropped to a record-low 4.5 percent while the number of unfilled jobs continues to climb. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to hire skilled labor to replace retiring baby boomers.
Add to the equation long retail hours, the fact that the industry isn’t the best paying place to work, and that their staffers create relationships with their customers, dealers better understand that their team members are some of their greatest assets.
Just like cash or inventory, people are assets that need to be protected and valued. Keeping associates enthusiastic and motivated reduces costly turnover. According to Daniel Abramson of Staff Dynamics, turnover costs three times the annual salary paid for the position. If you lose a team member in a $50,000 job, replacement can cost up to $150,000 in hiring and training costs, lost sales, and low morale from other team members. In addition, you risk losing customers who may be loyal to your former staffers.
Let’s face it, when business is slow, cash is tight and economic news is grim, it’s difficult for owners and managers to keep morale high. But when associates are meeting fewer prospects and getting slimmer commission checks, they need extra coddling and additional incentives to keep them going.
Keep them in the loop. Communication is critical in uncertain times. Be honest in telling associates about business conditions, but don’t dramatize. Let them know about your plans to weather the storm and that you have plenty of reserves to stay afloat. Ask for their ideas and encourage their feedback. Be a good listener.