It’s a typical day, if there is such a thing in this business. You start thinking about what has to be done during your drive into the shop. You get to the shop and it begins. Your service advisor wants to know how to handle a warranty situation. Next is your lead tech and he’s not sure what to recommend on a car because fixing it the right way may cost more than the car is worth. Just as things are starting to settle down another tech pops in your office and needs you to see the play in some upper control arms bushings, then “call the ball” for him. Next is a customer that wants to deal with you directly. Your service advisor asks you to help Mr. Jackson, who is one of many who insists on dealing with you and only you. This continues through the day. The details of each situation are different, but the issue is always the same. Your employees cannot or will not make decisions. Does any of this sound familiar? It probably does.
Shops that operate like this are stuck in a type of dysfunction and will never experience any real growth. This begs the question, how can you break out of this cycle and have your staff function independently and efficiently? The primary problem in shops that function like this is that the employees feel disconnected from the company. Employees can feel this way for a number of different reasons. It may be that they do not understand your vision for the company. They may feel that no matter what they do, it won’t be good enough. Many times employees are reluctant to make a decision because the owner seems to think job one is to assign blame when something goes wrong, and take credit when it goes well. Some owners and managers engage in gossip and closed door criticism with other employees. All of these things, and more, can and do contribute to a culture of dysfunction that is apparent throughout the shop.
First thing first. Stop this type of negative behavior. You must decide to adopt a positive attitude and lead in a productive way that empowers your employees to function independently and contribute to their own success and the success of the shop.
Hold regular meetings and share your vision for the business. Hold meetings at least once each week. Tell your staff what you expect and give them the authority to make decisions. Assure them that they will have your full support. Make sure your meetings are interactive and get your staff to participate.
Commit to spending at least one hour per day developing written standards and procedures on how you want your shop to be run. Develop an employee policy book. Have a written procedure for the top ten jobs performed at your shop and let your staff have plenty of input.
Get with your service advisors and develop a procedure for customer write-ups. Be sure to always emphasize the three C’s; Cause, Concern, and Correction. Be positive with your staff every day. Compliment them on their success. You need to be a force for positive change every chance you get.
The gold standard of shop management is that the shop functions as if you were there, even in your absence. Break the cycle of employee emotional dependency and take your shop to the next level!
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