At 11 years old, I began my working life—cashiering for my family’s grocery store. I was not aware of it then, but I was learning about customer service. At the time, I was just excited to receive a pay check so I could go to the mall on Saturdays. I became the smiling face who greeted our customers as they walked in the door. I came to know about their lives and families—I even still remember some of the regular customers’ lottery numbers! I learned to say thank you and mean it as I counted back their change (the old-fashioned way as my dad taught me). I learned that customer service is based in relationship building and genuine caring for others, coupled with a sincere desire to fill their needs. Of course, I was learning from my father’s example as he joked with our customers, asked about their children or parents, sometimes offering delicacies at almost cost—items that were normally unaffordable in our blue-collar neighborhood—building loyalty and thanking them for their patronage that kept our family’s business going.
In The Simple Truths of Service by Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz, the authors state, “Great customer service has to come from the inside out. You cannot mandate it. You can’t threaten, reward, or coerce people to care. You can only awaken the desire and then give them the permission and encouragement to make it come alive in their work” (p 71). Today as a Human Resources Professional I consciously make the effort to take the spirit of service with me into my work. This innate desire to fill the needs of all my stakeholders has helped me create lasting and loyal relationships.
My customers are all internal—the company, managers, and employees. As HR Manager, I’ve often been the smiling face that greets new employees, communicating the company culture, policies and benefits—a representative and profit protection for the organization first and foremost. As HR Manager I’ve created learning relationships with department managers—always with the goal in mind of finding out what they need and how I can help them achieve their goals for their department through hiring and retaining the right people. As HR Manager, I’ve been able to help employees with their requests—from benefit enrollments to FMLA and more. I’ve discovered that when I approach the balance of company, managers, and employees from a customer service orientation I can create win/win outcomes. Thanks Dad!
I come from a family of small business owners, however, it wasn’t until March of last year that I decided to jump head first into the entrepreneurial waters—and I’m having a BALL! Stretching myself, reaching out to find mentors, learning about sales, learning marketing, building relationships. As a lifelong learner and inherent extrovert these activities fill me with energy. One of the things I have committed to doing is surround myself with people who I can learn from. So, I regularly reach out to, talk with, connect with, read from, or listen to someone who knows more than me. I often listen to Dave Anderson’s “The Game Changer” podcasts. Mr. Anderson always makes me laugh and more importantly, takes me to a place of introspection and action. You can find his podcasts here http://thegamechangerlife.libsyn.com/
One of these podcasts last summer (June I think) moved me to begin to clarify—in writing—my personal philosophy. It is a work in progress and as I continue to work on this, I am incorporating these beliefs in IAHR’s core values statement and these will govern how I do business. The full statement is also a work in progress however, the values are: Focused dedication, Integrity, Service, & Enthusiasm.
Recently I was able to attend Digital Dealer 24 and while at the pre-conference event by Women in Automotive answered a pretty important question about discovering one’s why. The question was asked by Lisa Copeland. I’m paraphrasing but the gist was: If money was not an issue, what you do with your life? My answer was that I would help. That’s what I do. I’m a helper. I’m a solution finder. Nothing brings me greater satisfaction than a solution well found!
This is really what I love to do…I love the idea of creating win/win/win solutions. Why win/win/win? Because in human resources I discovered that I can create three pronged successes and not just two—The employer, the department managers, and employees all win. Just the thought of it makes me smile!
I opened my business with the knowledge that every dealer is unique, with different HR pain points, sales and service processes, organizational culture, and particularly technology (none of which integrates). As I’m moving forward into my second year of business (wow, did I just say that!?) I’m keeping in mind my commitment to learning and growing, my why, and my core values—so I can create win/win/win outcomes with Focused Dedication, Integrity, Service & Enthusiasm!
You know it. I know it. We all know it. Turnover in retail car dealerships is and historically has been high. It seems as if the struggle never ends. NADA’s 2016 Workforce Study recently came out and my reading of it kind of went like this: Read a sentence, sigh—Read—Sigh—head shake…You get the picture.
When I read that average tenure at dealerships has steadily gone DOWN (sitting at 2.4 years for 2015) I decided to write this article. Why? Because I believe that there are simple and easy to implement ways to reducing turnover at dealerships. I believe this because I have experienced it. I’ve experienced working for a dealer as head of HR with an impressive 26% turnover rate across three stores.
When looking at turnover departmentally, sales has the highest turnover. NADA states that overall sales turnover is 67%!!! (Luxury lines at 47% and non-luxury at a whopping 72%) We’ve all read the statistics about the thousands of dollars turnover costs an organization. While these are all true there is another soft cost not as often talked about. Loyalty. Customer Loyalty is built upon relationships…if sales staff is turning over before they have the chance to reach maximum productivity (3 years if NADA is to be believed)…how are they building strong customer relationships for the dealership? Why are they turning over? Is it because they aren’t loyal to you, their employer? Employee loyalty leads to customer loyalty. Loyal employees lead to lower turnover. Lower turnover leads to higher bottom line.
So, how can dealers effectively tackle turnover and begin making headway? It can be done.