Regularly recognizing and rewarding employees builds teamwork and loyalty at any business, including automotive service facilities.
This recognition is a small investment that can yield big returns for tire dealers and service shop operators.
Certainly, many factors go into building employee loyalty. These include competitive pay, good working conditions, plenty of vehicles to service, etc. All too often, it seems, some bosses fail to recognize workers for being reliable employees.
On the one hand, there's a philosophy that you shouldn't give people awards for doing the things they're supposed to do or expected to do. After all, isn't that what a paycheck's for?
On the other hand, there's a school of thought that a pat on the back and a “Way to go!” can really improve morale.
During my travels, the automotive service businesses that have enjoyed long-term success seem to share the trait of good morale.
Experience also has convinced me that good morale is a condition that's easy to discuss but very challenging to establish and maintain. The bosses I respect the most repeatedly have emphasized that worker recognition is a foundation of good morale.
Perhaps the most fundamental and essential morale builder is the proverbial “atta boy” or “atta girl” I just mentioned a moment ago. Consider the times when a service writer carefully calms an angry or confused customer. Think of the instances when a technician you're grooming patiently inspects a vehicle's undercarriage and finds some unsafe conditions that your competitors overlooked.
How many times have you responded with a compliment — some small recognition that you saw the employee meet or exceed expectations? Perhaps you would commend the service writer for not losing his or her temper with that obstinate customer. Or you could compliment the tech for finding the cracked control arm mount and the seeping brake line that the other shop missed completely.
In recent columns I've discussed the value of a boss who inspects what he or she expects. Complimenting good work is a form of that “inspection” concept.
Maybe you could create an informal, quarterly award for excellence. You and your managers would watch for instances where an employee did, in fact, excel at doing his or her job — especially under challenging circumstances.
Yes indeed, such awards are highly subjective, but these notices also give recognition and build pride. Perhaps you could give a worker a savings bond, a dinner certificate at a local restaurant, or a gift card for the home center.
Some businesses also report these accomplishments in a company or store newsletter. Remember that as a rule, people love hearing their name and/or seeing their name in print.
Many managers are grooming techs to be more thorough in order to minimize or eliminate comebacks. (I'm referring here to those very avoidable comebacks.) Consider creating a periodic award for the tech in your service department with the fewest comebacks.
Prudent service managers monitor technician efficiency very closely. You might create an award for the tech who turns the greatest or most consistent efficiency during each quarter.
Mind you, everyone cannot be an efficiency superstar out in the bays. Given that, maybe you could present an occasional prize for top efficiency.
Good bosses also notice and recognize plain, old-fashioned effort. The worker who tries the hardest may not win the game, per se. Yet someone who gives a dedicated and persistent effort is a valuable part of any team — acknowledge that in some way.
These are but a few ways to recognize workers. Surely there are others and I welcome hearing Tire Business readers' suggestions for employee awards, large and small.