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While visiting dealerships across the country with many different manufacturers, we constantly hear how important customer retention is. This is an accurate statement as well as a potential concern. I often hear from retailers about how hard it is to attract new talent to our industry in the service department. In my opinion, the real question is, what are we doing to retain our current employees? If high turnover is an issue, what is the root cause that is creating the turnover?

It has been said that 80% of the employees who leave do so not because they were unhappy with the company but because they did not feel valued by their manager or retailer. I believe that most managers/retailers do value their employees but don’t do a very good job of showing them they care. Do you manage from your office, or are you out and about with the troops? Leading from the front is the preferred method.

All employees want to feel that they are a vital part of the department and the company. Are we keeping them informed of what is happening with the company? Are we asking them for their ideas on solutions to issues that arise? Are we reviewing performance and staying competitive with pay amounts? This can go a long way to making them feel they are valued and an integral part of the operation. When was the last time you had a shop meeting that was not a session designed to chew them out about something? Why not have regular meetings to accentuate positive things going on and praise their successes? Do you know what your employees are going through in their professional lives? Yes, of course, but what about their personal lives? We all know that you need to separate work from home, but it is impossible to do so completely.

What if, during our walk through the department, we took a little time to get to know something about their families and hobbies and made some inquiries about their daughter’s soccer team or their weekend fishing trip? When managers connect on a personal level, it helps to bond with the employees and make them feel part of the team, creating a more personal connection to the company.

We all work hard every day to retain customers. Could we put some additional effort into retaining employees, as well? Being told you’re appreciated is one of the simplest, yet most incredible things you can ever hear, and an employee who feels appreciated will always produce more than one who doesn’t.

Companies that do a good job of creating a bond with the employees generally do not have a problem recruiting new talent but have a backlog of applications waiting for an opening. This allows them to be selective and hire the best of the best, rather than taking on anyone just to fill a slot.

We all know that there is not a lot of new talent entering the workforce in our industry. Why not work hard to retain our great employees and create an environment at your place of business that separates your dealership from the competition? This would give you an advantage when needing to hire new employees because your store is the place to work.

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