With more independent shops aggressively pursuing our customers, dealerships are challenged every day with the task of cultivating new customers while maintaining the current customer base. What resources is your dealership using to meet this challenge?
There are many resources available that provide ideas and guidance to keep your facility fresh and new in the eyes of customers – seminars, books, 20 groups. While those resources are valid and helpful however, many dealerships overlook their most valuable resource, their employees. Your staff consists of local consumers, just like your customers and potential customers, so they are in a position to provide valuable feedback.
When was the last time your general manager or service manager approached a porter and asked him/her if they have any ideas regarding how to improve customer satisfaction? I recently had the privilege of working at Red Noland Cadillac in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During my visit, I was invited and attended the monthly dealership luncheon. Dealer principle, Mike Jorgensen, holds this meeting in the showroom for all employees. On this occasion, he grilled a July 4th type feast for the entire staff. Mike began the meeting with a “State of the Dealership” overview conveying company goals and relevant upcoming changes. Then he recognized employees with birthdays and employment anniversaries for the month. In the final part of the luncheon, Mike asked two employees to provide feedback on business operations.
Every month, Mike provides two randomly drawn employees with a gift certificate for a local business or event and asks them to return with a report on the experience. Each person is asked what did they enjoy about the experience? Was there something you did not enjoy? If so, how was a resolution to satisfy you achieved? Did management become involved? Most importantly, how can the positive parts of their experience translate into providing better customer service in the dealership? Once the two employees share their experiences, they draw the names of two other employees who will perform the same task next month.
This exercise serves several purposes. First and foremost, it promotes a sense of mutual respect and teamwork throughout the dealership. The employee gets to experience and event that they previously may not have participated in and it provides a constant reminder that the entire staff is actively responsible for a higher standard of customer service.
In the hectic pace of everyday life at a dealership, it is easy to lose sight of the customer perspective. By actively soliciting employee feedback, Mike has created an environment that encourages teamwork and respect, all geared to providing the best customer service experience for every customer, every time. Simply knowing that employee feedback is valued by upper management overcomes the helpless, monotonous poison that can seep into the psyche of employees and can prove corrosive to the entire facility if allowed to take hold.
We all hope to be a valuable and relevant part of a team. By providing an environment that encourages creativity, welcomes new ideas and demonstrates respect, Mike is cultivating loyalty and tapping into the most valuable resource – the employees. Are you utilizing your best resource?