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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Develop Your Next-Gen Leadership from Service Employees

Service employees work hard, really hard. The service department is a baptism-by-fire style of teaching, especially in busy domestic dealers where there isn’t time to slowly bring new staff along. It’s a matter of getting a new hire to the point of productivity, whether it’s a service tech, a service advisor, a lot attendant, or cashier.

Productive is good – that’s what justifies the wages, working through costly mistakes, and long days of searching through resumes. But if you think that reaching the expectations for your new hire’s position is where it stops, you’re wrong.

Of all the reasons that people quit and move on is job satisfaction, according to The Harris Poll. Second only to low pay, dissatisfaction is the top motivator for the revolving door in some positions like service advisors and technicians. Those are the resumes you’re always filtering through, right?

But what if those employees weren’t unhappy with how their department was managed, or frustrated with being shut out of decision-making, or rubbing elbows with people who wear ties, not tech uniforms? That’s what happens when you start developing employees who want to take the next step on their career path.

Why Develop in the First Place?

Are you worried that one of your senior techs or advisors is going to walk out on you soon? Unsure if you have someone who can slot in if they do? You need someone trained to step up into the gap when the time comes.

But developing staff has a rudimentary role that can mitigate the loss in the first place. Since many of the people who think about leaving are wondering what comes next in their career, dissatisfied with their current status, why not develop them for their next career step?

Yes, that means you could be training your replacement. Hopefully it’s because you’ve stepped up to YOUR next position too, but you shouldn’t shy away from those optics. Developing leaders from your team shows incredible strength as a manager, plus it wipes the thought of leaving, of dissatisfaction, from their mind.

“What if I train them and they leave?”

Yeah. That happens. You put months of investment into them and they get poached by another dealer. At worst, you’re known as someone who trains leaders too well. At best, you’ll have built your network with people who trust you.

How to Develop Leaders from Service

The idea is that you train those who want to move up the ladder for the next rung up. It’s the next-man-up mentality you find in every branch of the military. There are a few steps to take.

Know Who Wants It

The first step is a conversation with each person on your team. Determine who wants to move up the ladder and who is happy where they are. There’s no need to force advancement on an unwilling participant – they’ll resent it and it will damage their view of the workplace.

Give Them a Mentor

One by one, pair up willing employees with a mentor in a position a step above. You are not exempt. As a service manager or fixed ops director, you should be taking on a mentor as well.

This is a small time commitment that nurtures growth, maybe an hour or two a week. When they get together, it should be to discuss skills and education necessary to take the next step.

Give Them Opportunity

When their mentor goes on vacation or a position opens up, you should be glad to give your team member the chance to better themselves. Let them take the plunge if they’re willing. It’s with a mentorship and development opportunities that you’ll take the thought of leaving the dealership out of their mind completely.

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