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From: Jared Hamilton
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Denim Simkins

Denim Simkins Director, Fixed Ops

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Customer Retention Starts With Employee Retention

98f4b478e88b1a61c513ae808174624b.jpg?t=1Periodically, I get the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and dig into a dealer’s pain point. More often than not these pain points lately are, “How do I get all the customers in to my shop and completed in a timely manner?” or, “Do you know any techs?” and “What is the best way keep my customers coming back?” Here is the extremely tough answer to Mr. Dealer’s questions. The short answer goes something like this, “I have an answer, but I don’t think you will like the timeline it will take to accomplish this once and for all.” After a frustrated perplexed look from the dealer I usually say, “The complete fix sits within your people, your training program and your ability to grow and mentor your staff.” Obviously this is not an overnight fix. Most of the time I feel they are looking for the silver bullet to

Customer retention starts with having a solid process and business model, yes this is a given. The execution of customer retention sits fully on the shoulders of having a well-trained senior staff that builds relationships with every one of your customers. It goes without saying customers like to do business with people and competent ones at that. They may like the facility or the customer waiting lounge or even your movie screen, but when it comes to loosing a customer it is always due to the action or lack of action of a person within your guidance.

How do we create a positive workplace environment that has long-term employees excelling at their position? Here are a few areas to start.

All of these should be completed with regularity within your department.

  • Positive reinforcement of a job well done – This one regularly goes without notice. This doesn’t mean pay a spiff or more money, challenge the owner or GM to walk though and hand out a high five very publicly.
  • Develop your staff – A well-trained staff not only handles tough customer situations better but they also feel valued by the organization to invest in their success.
  • Balance – We work in an intense environment. Help employees understand their needs to be a balance in their work life and personal life. Granted we want them here for the hours of their scheduled time just as important is to enjoy the time they are not there.
  • Communication – Engage in open and thought provoking dialog with your employees. Too many times businesses think of communication as talking about policy change or a new process and this is important but not the entire equation. Talk to your employees about their solution to customer satisfaction. Remember to listen and you might just learn something. 
Denim Simkins
@Gertrude - good point, A simple acknowledgement of doing a good job from a manager or senior level manager really goes a long way in making the employee feel appreciated and makes them want to do more
Steve Tuschen
@Denim, I agree there is never a silver bullet to fix everything and at the core is the culture of your dealership which only comes from the top, inspect what you expect, lead by example, etc. You can take care of the low hanging fruit and see an increase in the short term but to fix anything long term it has to become part of the companies DNA which is set by the leaders and replicated by every employee. If the owner's aren't happy with the way the business it starts with looking in the mirror.

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