Practicing mutual loyalty is essential to competing in this manpower-hungry marketplace known as the automotive repair industry. Mutual loyalty means showing each worker the same loyalty you expect from him or her. One of the single most common complaints I hear from owners and managers at auto service facilities is high worker turnover. The way some bosses describe it, their dealership or service shop ought to have a revolving door on it!
Rest assured that door will continue to spin unless owners begin practicing mutual loyalty. It's time to stop griping about your workers' eagerness to jump ship and analyze why they're leaving you.
Are you part of the problem—or part of the solution to this dilemma?
When all's said and done, the final responsibility rests with the person the boss sees in the mirror every morning!
In this column and the next one, I'll discuss the common kinds of disloyalty I see owners and managers heaping on their employees. It's high time they see the wrong-headedness—the poor business sense—of disloyalty.
Refusing to train or adequately train workers is the most serious disloyalty I encounter. I'm sick of hearing bosses trot out the shop-worn excuse that training is pointless because workers are shameless opportunists who're only going to leave anyway.
``Why train them up for the competition?'' the rationale goes.
First of all, a successful leader will confirm that training is an essential investment in the future health of the business.
Training expenses are not an afterthought at successful businesses. Savvy owners and managers budget for training every year the way they budget for items such as quarterly taxes and utilities.
Second, show me an untrained or undertrained worker, and I'll show you a miserable individual.
Forget for the moment that this person can't keep you competitive with other dealerships and/or service shops. Forget for the moment that this worker can't bring you as much profit as a trained employee. Forget that untrained or undertrained workers severely limit the range of automotive services you can offer.
Then review any study conducted on why employees quit. You'll find the overwhelming reason most workers leave is not money. Feeling underappreciated and unfulfilled is the main reason people change jobs.
Today's million-dollar question is: ``How can untrained or undertrained workers feel important and appreciated?''
The answer is simple: They can't!
Furthermore, a wrong-headed boss can mouth off about loyalty all he wants. But sooner or later his crew realizes his loyalty to them ends the moment it requires spending money on them.
There's an entertaining but revealing exercise I like to do every time an owner or manager gripes that training is useless because the workers they train are just going to leave the business anyway.
Stop this person cold and ask him why he's convinced workers will ``just leave anyway.''
Ask him to clarify what's going on that would make someone consider leaving his dealership or service shop.
Or to put it another way, ask him to enumerate the reasons a good employee would want to remain at his business long-term. Believe me, the silence that follows this question will be deafening!
For years, progressive tire dealers have fought to grow their businesses out of a total dependence upon tire sales and into the high-technology arena of auto repair. Face facts, folks. This transition requires training and lots of it. Consider how underappreciated and frustrated untrained workers feel when they're struggling to cope with anti-lock brakes, computer controls, et al.
In this work atmosphere, weigh their propensity to remain or leave. Then ask yourself if you're practicing the very loyalty you expect from your workers.