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With a steadily improving economy and declining unemployment rates, the automobile industry is geared up to experience another year of expansion and progress. While this is great news, it would be wise to consider that just as customers now have more choices when it comes to buying or servicing their vehicle, employees (and prospective employees) also have more options than they did just a few years ago. In general they no longer feel quite so loyal to their position, nor do they fear obtaining jobs quite as much as they did during the recession. Whether it’s your service advisor, top technician, cashier, or office manager, the wheels might already be in motion for some of your valuable employees to leave your company. Are you prepared if they leave? What about the customers they will leave behind – or take with them?
As has been quoted by many business leaders, “Customers don’t buy from companies – they buy from people.” This statement is a good way to emphasize the importance of keeping your employees happy so they in turn can keep your customers happy and loyal. I recently read an interesting post on Inc.com: 8 Guaranteed Ways to Drive Customers Away. It’s a good read and points out again how building and developing relationships with customers is key to long-term success. But this has to start with building relationships with your employees. If you have high turnover within your organization, you are more likely to have higher turnover within your customer base.
Is the grass greener on the other side? In the automobile industry, just as it is in other retail markets, it’s not uncommon to have a revolving door of sales and customer service positions. If you’re a successful and profitable operation, you most likely have a core group of employees that are in it for the long haul and see themselves as a key ingredient to your company’s success. These employees, no matter the department, and regardless of their position, can single-handedly make or break your company. If they are happy with their jobs, their working environment, and of course their compensation and company benefits, the chances of retaining these valuable employees increase significantly.
How many true superstars are on your team? The list is endless, but consider the service technician that could virtually overhaul a transmission in his sleep, the sales consultant that sells twice as many cars as the next guy, the computer or software guru that everyone turns to when something goes awry, or the manager that everyone loves because he/she is fair, down-to-earth, and friendly, but also gets the job done effectively. Are you making sure that these superstars are shining for your company? Or are you giving them the opportunity to see what else is out there? Just as the Inc.com article points out, “in most cases employees leave because they aren't treated well.” And this is usually the case with customers. You can have both, but rarely one without the other.
The key to long-term success and prosperity is a loyal customer base that repeatedly brings in not just their own business, but that of their business associates, family and friends. The same principal applies to your key players. Just as you depend upon these loyal and happy customers to keep the bottom line in check, your employees, when happy, are more likely to stay.
2015 is still young. Make employee retention a high priority this year. Starting at the top down to the managers and the supervisors, be on the lookout for the key players that make a difference in the workplace and especially those that have an impact with customers. Because all too often, where the best employees go, the customers soon follow.