Two of the best motivational tools tire dealers can wield are keeping workers involved in and informed about the business that supports them. All the pep talks in the world aren't as effective as showing your work force the direct impact its actions have on the profitability of the business, a dealer told me.
This dealer, who I will call ``Mr. M,'' is an upbeat, self-starter type with a knack for identifying the silver lining in every cloud.
But although he'd tried several ``feel-good'' motivational approaches over the years, the effects seemed to wear off and productivity would eventually slide backward again.
Furthermore, lackadaisical attitudes that he blamed for service mistakes and wasted shop supplies reappeared like dandelions on an untreated lawn.
Implementing a profit-sharing program in his dealership has been just the motivational medicine the doctor ordered, he said. The plan has had a lasting effect on morale and therefore, on productivity too.
Mr. M also emphasized that profit-sharing was the catalyst that finally focused his technicians on what he calls the ``business side of the business.''
``Owners and managers forget that techs are highly focused on technical problem-solving. They're so focused on it that they often don't see the big business picture,'' he said. ``Ultimately, failing to see the dealership's big business picture limits their involvement and commitment to the business.''
Involvement induced by profit-sharing is the most effective way to overcome the age-old technician mentality, ``I'm just here to fix cars, so don't distract me with all that business mumbo-jumbo.''
Mr. M believes profit-sharing works simply because it establishes a direct relationship between technicians' actions and the store's profitability.
For example, he has made sizable investments in both tra-ditional solvent-based parts washers as well as high-tech water-based cleaning equipment. Besides being environmentally friendly, the water-based kind-which runs automatically like an oversized dishwasher-was intended to reduce the time techs spend cleaning parts with a brush.
The machine also was supposed to reduce usage of costly aerosol spray can cleaners.
Unfortunately, Mr. M found that techs were still inclined to hold a dirty part over a trash barrel and flush it off with a can of aerosol cleaner. This seemed easier than walking several additional steps, tossing the component into the parts washer and resuming work on the vehicle.
Another example: those expensive but necessary chemical sealers. Many techs found it easier to grab a new tube of sealer rather than to retrieve the partially used tube they left on a workbench at the opposite end of the shop.
Invariably, the partially used tube either dried out or was accidentally discarded while the area was being cleaned up.
Mr. M said these kinds of wastefulness don't occur anymore because he holds update meetings that give his crew the status of their profit-sharing plan. Here, all workers see the cold, hard numbers on the store's health-including the direct impact wasting shop supplies has on profitability!
The numbers give techs a real wake-up call by showing them how their wasteful actions steal money from their own pockets. Once they see the dollars-and-cents impact wastefulness has on profitability, they think twice before grabbing a new tube of sealer or aerosol cleaner, Mr. M said.
These meetings also give this owner a chance to update techs on how much he's invested in them in education, uniforms, health benefits, retirement funds, etc.
What's more, Mr. M actually gives each technician a computer printout of these costs to show to their wives. The printout, Mr. M noted, often has a sobering, quieting effect on spouses who tell their husbands that the store doesn't treat them as well as it should.
``The printout is always a major eye-opener for the lackadaisical tech. When he sees the total, he can't believe the store has invested thousands of dollars in his growth and development,'' Mr. M explained. ``He can't believe that the benefits he takes for granted cost so much.''
Today, people look for easy ways to escape responsibility for their actions. This owner has found that his profit-sharing plan boosts worker accountability because the numbers politely serve this notice to the crew: Ultimately, you are more responsible for your own well-being than anyone else. The harder and smarter you work, the more money you make.
And that leads to a healthier store, which in turn provides more job security for workers.
Now that's motivation!