The retail auto business is stressful for all departments. In normal times, employees work 50+ hours per week simply to keep up with the demand from both customers and management. However, during the current pandemic, all departments are working harder than before to not only make a living but also to keep up with the expectations of their managers.
Front-line employees reflect your business as a whole. If those employees are stressed out over money or overtaxed by management’s expectations, this can easily spill over into the customer’s experience and affect their perception of the dealership.
So, what can be done? Here are a couple of simple points I have found that successful dealerships apply rigorously. And, best of all, they do not cost any money, but yield a huge ROI! These simple things can help lighten the mood for your team, which can translate into an exceptional experience for your customers.
1. Recognition – Not everyone is motivated by money. But don’t misunderstand me; of course, the reason employees work in the first place is for that paycheck. However, that $50 spiff may not be as important as being recognized for their work, either personally, or as part of a team. Many people are working from home, or in a limited capacity. Be sure to make it a point to let all of your employees know that you appreciate them.
2. Compassion and Flexibility – During these difficult times, you may find that your employees are experiencing stress in their personal lives as well. They may have kids at home and have trouble juggling schedules and childcare duties as babysitters can be harder to come by. Hopefully, your employees have found suitable solutions but, if they have not, work with them and let your team know that you understand. Show them that your dealership cares about them and their family. This small investment of time will make employees more invested in your business.
3. Performance Metrics – I am sure you are familiar with the “hero to zero” phrase. Every month starts over. If you are holding your employees to the same performance metrics as you were before, but your business has gone down, you might want to reconsider what a “good job” is right now. For example, let’s take a salesperson who averaged 12 cars per month pre-COVID. If your traffic or leads have dropped 25% because of the pandemic, it may be unfair to hold your employees to the same metrics as before when considering job performance. This not only applies to sales but also to service. And if your business is doing better, as it is in some states, then perhaps you need to reevaluate up!
The point is that we are living in abnormal times. It is more important than ever to treat your employees just like you would your customers – or perhaps even better! Thank them for their business (work), show them that you care about them (compassion), and reevaluate what you are expecting them to do about how your business is currently affected. It is often said that your employees will treat your customers only as well as they are treated as employees. How do you want your staff to treat customers when you're not looking?
I hope these simple tips are of some help. These are just a few ways to maintain a great company culture and keep your employees engaged with your business. They can help encourage your employees to be more invested in your business and that will translate into a better customer experience.