In my last column, I explained why loyalty is a two-way street. Namely, the boss must show as much loyalty to workers as he or she demands from them. In short, ask yourself why your employees would want to work for you long-term.
Plus, loyalty is more than just a trendy, touchy-feely concept—it's solid business sense. Here's why.
Last time, I said successful bosses demonstrate their loyalty by investing in training. Training helps owners and managers groom happier, more content employees.
Happier workers are much less likely to change jobs than miserable ones are. Here's an aspect of the business where you can see a direct relationship between the amount of loyalty you give and the amount you get.
Regular readers know I admire the late W. Edwards Deming, the mathematician and statistical genius who taught Japanese manufacturers why building in quality up front made dollars and sense.
When I heard Mr. Deming lecture, he emphasized that most items of critical information—the most useful numbers—are often ``great unknowns.''
For example, Mr. Deming challenged the audience to calculate the exact dollar cost to their businesses of the unhappy customer who negatively influences countless potential customers within his realm of influence.
Likewise, I challenge tire dealers and service shop owners to calculate the actual dollar loss resulting from their shortsighted, disloyal behavior. You say you don't want to invest in training because technicians just come and go like nomads? That's certainly your prerogative.
That said, please begin by calculating the actual profits you've lost because the untrained or inadequately trained employees at your store didn't know how to do the work.
Of course, the motorist didn't park his vehicle simply because your store couldn't tackle its problem. He or she probably had a competitor fix the vehicle.
By satisfying this motorist's needs, there's at least a 50-50 chance that your competitor earned his trust and converted him into a regular customer. Soon after, this competitor begins grabbing all the gravy maintenance work on this car—not to mention routine mechanical repairs.
Give the total dollar volume of lost service just for this vehicle. Then calculate it for all service jobs your store lost directly due to inadequate training over a one-year period.
Got that totaled up? That whopping sum represents the kind of significant unknown quantities that intrigued someone as bright as Mr. Deming. Hopefully, that sum of potential lost service work has gotten your attention, too!
Let's return to our loyalty discussion. Ask yourself which is ultimately more profitable: unschooled, unhappy workers, whose limited knowledge scares customers away, or trained, motivated technicians whose high-quality work builds your store's reputation?
And by the way, a handful of these techs may someday want to open their own businesses or work for someone else.
Your rebuttal may be, ``Well, my crew gets some training.'' OK, so your employees are only partially instead of totally incompetent. If your store is open 70 hours weekly, that means you have 70 potential labor hours to sell. Ideally, you want to sell as many of those hours as possible.
Please calculate how many of those 70 available hours were wasted by inadequately trained technicians who take twice as long as necessary to fix vehicles?
After all, time is the only thing your service department really has to sell. Once the time's wasted, it's gone for good.
A decent workplace
Last but not least, smart bosses demonstrate their loyalty by providing and maintaining a decent, clean and professional work environment.
``Professional'' does not mean a washroom with no hot water, no ventilation fan, no paper towels, a lone 40-watt bulb for lighting and a toilet that flushes some of the time. Professional doesn't mean hand cleaner that treats your skin like kerosene.
If you're still in doubt about what employer loyalty really means, try treating your crew the same way you like to be treated. Then tell me if that doesn't improve your bottom line.