Who’s The Boss?

Adam Wright NewsletterIt may not be as simple as it seems.  Let’s try a simple 60-second exercise.  Grab a piece of paper and a pen and sketch out an organizational chart for the service department.   It may look something like this:

Who's the Boss?

Then, on your next trip through the service department, conduct a simple poll to ask everyone who their direct supervisor is.  Be sure to also ask who they believe is the direct supervisor of people in positions different than their own.  There will likely be some interesting answers.

When I visit a dealership, creating an organizational chart is always one of the first things I do.  A clear chain of command allows every person on the team to better define what a “good” job is for themself.  In the sample structure above, service advisors know they take their focus and goals directly from the service manager.  If he/she says CSI needs to be above a certain benchmark for the month. the advisor can be confident that rewards – or the lack thereof – will result if the goal is not reached.

But, can the same be said for the dispatcher, shop foreman or the support personnel (cashiers and porters)?  This is where the water gets muddy.  Most technicians, when asked who their boss is, will answer that it is the service manager, not the dispatcher.  It can put a dispatcher in the unenviable position of a middle man (or woman) without any real power to affect positive change or make progress towards their personal daily work goals.  Many shop foreman’s face a similar challenge.  Many porters/lot valets have it even harder; receiving instruction or requests from (in the case of above example) as many as 17 different people!  A person in that position is relegated to a go-fetch role and as a result, may feel a high level of job dissatisfaction.

There are several benefits to taking a few minutes to create and review an organizational chart for your department.  The primary is an immediate – and in most cases welcomed – clarification of the hierarchy within the store.  With chart in hand, a previously over stressed porter knows exactly who to listen to and how to prioritize his/her given tasks.  A service manager can confidently ask the dispatcher or shop foreman to monitor, display and discuss daily technician production objectives.  Studies have found that most people can effectively manage roughly seven others.  In the case above, the service manager has 17 “direct” reports.  Instead of focusing on growing the business and holding his/her people accountable to established goals and objectives, the first order of business shifts to getting through the day and reactively putting out fires as they pop up.

A simple organizational chart streamlines the channels of communication within a department and creates a more informed and relaxed staff.  This leads to improved levels of employee satisfaction and in turn higher levels of customer satisfaction.  Happy employees equal happy customers.  So don’t wait – grab a pen, some paper and let everyone know who’s the boss.


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