A good boss who is an effective leader meets employee issues head-on and deals with them directly and promptly.
Your tire dealership or service shop will never, ever achieve the desired productivity and profitability unless you act now to solve problems that need solving!
For some readers, this assertion may sound terribly trite and obvious. But I've reached the same conclusion about this issue that I've reached about many others. If achieving this goal were so easy, everyone reading Tire Business would have accomplished it already. To the contrary, many bosses I've met would rather run off to the golf course or go fishing than address problems at the store or shop.
What's more, many owners and managers I've met spend much more time complaining to me or anyone else who will listen than the few minutes it would take to meet and resolve these issues head-on. Human nature seems to dictate that it's easier to complain than to act. The recent examples I'll cite here are enlightening.
First, consider the case of Herb, a capable young technician who unfailingly shows up for work 30 minutes early. The issue is that Herb also unfailingly devours a bowl of cereal and reads the morning paper in the back room. Unfortunately, he doesn't think he's responsible for anything going on around him until the clock strikes exactly 8 a.m.
Suppose a customer is dropping off a car early and wants to ask a simple question. Or a vendor's delivery truck is early, and the driver needs a signature and directions back to the local interstate. These people could pound the door down, but Herb would not respond until the official starting time rolled around.
Instead of whining to me about it Mr. Boss, meet Herb tomorrow morning as he's coming in the dealership's back door. Compliment him on his promptness and reliability. Then coolly describe your observations and express your concern that his ``morning indifference'' doesn't fit your expectations for staff teamwork or customer relations.
Explain to him that whenever he's on the property, he's part of the team. Cite the specific examples wherein he should improve his teamwork and define the consequences if he doesn't. For example, he may lose the privilege of working on family cars at the dealership after hours.
Another example of misdirected communication is the service manager who gripes to me about the steady decline in technician John's efficiency. This is not a subjective assessment because the computer software the boss uses to monitor tech performance doesn't lie-John's numbers are way down from normal. The manager seems to be avoiding any kind of confrontation with this tech and simply attributes the poor efficiency to a ``lazy spell.''
First of all, techs like to make money-and a good one understands the impact that old-fashioned hustle has on a paycheck. Second, experience shows that there are very good reasons why a good tech's production suffers and it's almost always personal problems. Third, many managers I've known hate the thought of ``getting involved'' in a worker's life. They literally think it's easier to fire someone or let him quit than it is to try identifying and dealing with the root cause of his decreased work output.
Simply put, this manager doesn't need to be whining to me. Instead, he ought to plan a confidential, heart-to-heart talk with technician John tomorrow morning. The worst thing that could happen is that he'll uncover the reason for John's slowdown and fix it.
The last example concerns the din created by unusually loud radios-often tuned to competing stations-out in the service bays. I can't count the number of times I have heard managers complain about this. When I ask them what they've done about it, they shrug and insist there would be a wholesale revolt if they stifled the noise.
Nonsense! Do what I've seen effective managers do: Call a team meeting and define what you expect. For example, explain that radios in the shop must not be heard up in the customer lounge under any circumstances.
Finally, spell out reasonable consequences for breaking the radio-playing rules. For example, a tech might lose the privilege of having a radio in his bay or the entire service department could lose the privilege.
The bottom line is that the longer you wait to deal with these routine issues, the longer you and the business will suffer as a result of them-period!