Some people forget that good manners and basic courtesy are the cornerstones of friendly, personal service.
Tire dealers who don't demand these fundamentals from employees are shortchanging themselves and their businesses.
What's more, ignoring these basics will undermine your best efforts to build teamwork and reduce employee turnover. It may also damage customer loyalty at a time when you need every competitive advantage your dealership can muster.
Obviously, we're living in very stressful times and the mass media compound the problem by constantly reminding us of that fact. What's not obvious to so many owners and managers I meet is the need to reduce stress wherever and whenever possible. Reducing stress and friction is essential to creating the positive, cheerful work atmosphere employees really crave.
Human resources experts will tell you that many workers value a pleasant work atmosphere more than a bigger paycheck! Given all the stressful issues in our lives today, the last thing most people want to endure is a stressful workplace.
I can't count the times I meet technicians who admit that they're actively searching for a new job specifically to find more cheer and less stress. Repeatedly, these techs emphasize that their bosses-experienced people who should know better-simply don't get it. They don't recognize the terrible conditions occurring right under their noses. Interestingly enough, these same bosses are the ones bellyaching about employee turnover and poor customer relations.
Remember that a stressful workplace discourages customers from either buying service or repairs in the first place or from coming back again after they have purchased. Any service salesperson worth his salt has recognized that consumers sense stress and friction among workers the way that sharks sense blood in the water. Once again, stress repels people.
OK, let's focus on the root cause of this stress: ignorant, uncouth, mouthy and self-centered employees who should have been reprimanded or fired long ago. From what I've observed firsthand, many of these ignoramuses happen to be very good technicians. They do produce and they make the dealership or repair shop a lot of money. If-and I do mean if-the boss recognizes their lack of social skills, he or she tolerates it because talented techs are hard to find.
But what is the true cost to the business when the ill-mannered, short-tempered trash-mouths are tolerated at the expense of the rest of the staff? How many times have I seen the situation where there's constant turnover surrounding one or two workers the boss refuses to discipline?
In other words, turnover keeps occurring because truly normal, pleasant people who are hired soon realize that they can't escape the mouthy, mannerless co-workers during a routine work day. Yes, there's a chance they'll find a way to tolerate the socially unadjusted types in order to get a paycheck. But working hard just to tolerate a co-worker doesn't engender productivity in normal people.
The other option, which I already mentioned, is that normal people with manners and competent social skills look for another job. There you go, Mr. Tire Dealer-more turnover you don't want. More incontinuity and more wasted time and dollars training new hires who may also leave before their time. If you doubt that this is costly, put a pencil to the time and money you spend coaching and breaking in new hires.
I say it's time to spell out social skills in your employee handbook, or give prospective hires a document that spells out your work philosophy. Your philosophy is that you build loyalty with a pleasant working atmosphere. Workers have to speak to each other in a respectful way. There's no shouting or swearing. People help each other out without being asked to do so.
Workers who make a mistake admit it and everyone deals with the mistake as a team. The biggest superstar in the service department treats the newly hired tire buster with as much respect as he gives the owner.
Explain this philosophy to prospective new hires and caution them that if they don't like it, they probably won't fit in. After all, you're building a winning team and winning teams usually have strong ``chemistry.'' Simply put, mutual respect and courtesy breed that chemistry.