Tire dealers who espouse family values should provide the pay, benefits and perks that engender or promote these values.
Besides being a genuinely decent thing to do, this approach helps build worker loyalty and reduces turnover.
Predictably, the recent mid-term elections brought us the sloganeering by politicians eager to express their beliefs or priorities in simple, sound-bite worthy chunks. ``Family values'' is a prime example of a simple, seemingly unassailable message. Coincidentally, I've heard tire dealers and service shop operators spout the same sound bites when describing their business philosophy or modus operandi to their colleagues.
Sometimes, this supposed support of family values is really as shallow as the politician's pronouncements. When you politely press this boss for examples of his pro-family stance, you hear about the proverbial, second-to-none Christmas party or Thanksgiving turkey for each employee. That's the extent of the company's pro-family philosophy!
Imagine...the pay at this company is OK and the benefits are meager to nonexistent. The boss or his manager runs the joint like a cold, steely-eyed warden. He speaks of family values from one side of his mouth; from the other side he wonders why employee turnover is so high and why these darned people don't approach their jobs the same way he used to approach his.
For what it's worth, the technicians and other rank-and-file employees I talk to nationwide define family values as much more than turkeys or Christmas parties. First of all, the majority of workers I meet come from two-income households. No, they don't live in castles nor do they drive luxury vehicles. Rather, they need two incomes in order to live in relatively safe neighborhoods where their kids can attend decent schools. Time is particularly precious to these employees simply because husband and wife both work.
Second, raising kids was never cheap (or easy) and that's certainly true today. Combine that with the cost of keeping your family in a decent neighborhood, and it's no wonder parents have a lot on their minds today. Consequently, bosses who espouse family values should charge for diagnostic time and charge for what techs know-concepts I've promoted in this column for years. These business practices help tire dealers and service shop owners generate the income needed to pay competitive wages and provide competitive benefits.
Third, given the scenario I described earlier, a competitive benefit package is more important to families than ever before. Increasingly, good benefits packages are a valuable tool for creating and maintaining employee loyalty.
Fourth, think of perks that enable employees to spend more time with their families. Time off is or would be very valuable to many workers I meet. Be as creative as you can be. For example, some bosses use a sliding scale to increase a tech's hourly rate as his or her efficiency on a repair job increases. Maybe that scale could include paid time off to spend with the kids. Maybe the most consecutive efficiency gains by a tech or the tech with the highest average efficiency for the month would earn a day or afternoon off with pay.
Try incentives such as a paid day or half-day off for employees who accrue the most on-time arrivals. Or award the time on a subjective basis to the worker of the month or worker of the business quarter-someone who's delivered above and beyond the call of duty, for example.
Last but not least, help workers who incur babysitting expenses when they attend training classes or trade events. Many workers said to me that they'd attend more classes if they didn't have the expense of a babysitter and/or the stress of finding trustworthy child care. Sometimes the most useful thing a boss can do is help working parents with their need for high-quality child care.
Remember: Everyone doesn't have the loving parents you had who were willing and able to care for your kids whenever you needed that assistance.
Giving a turkey or throwing a party is only one very small aspect of family friendliness and family values. I've offered a few suggestions here; see how many ways-however small-you can help workers' families in these tough times.
Dan can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]