Your company culture affects both employees and customers in an undeniable way. As Thomas Davenport of Towers Watson Consulting stated, “workplace culture is to employees as soil is to plants” and the workplace environment “contributes to or undermines employee well-being.” Unsurprisingly, corporate cultures have a direct effect on stress levels, happiness, and overall well-being for both staff and customers. This is no different when it comes to the culture within a car dealership, and there are many ways management can improve it.
An excellent study was published in 2015 regarding organizational culture and performance in relation to car dealerships, and the researchers confirmed that company culture greatly impacts a dealerships long-term success and overall customer satisfaction. They also reported that employee involvement, internal consistency in terms of company values and development, and adaptability to the always-changing auto industry are key factors in a dealership’s culture and the effectiveness of it. Ultimately, what you make your company culture to be depends what you want for your dealership.
A poor company culture can have many consequences, which include things like low morale, “toxic” tension, a high turnover rate, and a poor work-life balance. Even though it isn’t an easy task, management can change a negative work environment to improve performance and increase accomplishments, both individually and as a team. David Adcock of WardsAuto stated that the first step towards a great company culture within a dealership is to actually define what you foresee it being.
An outside consultant can be of great assistance when trying to put what management wants into words, and this plan can then be distributed to employees. Deciding what is most important to a dealership is crucial, and this can include answering many different questions. For example, this could include choosing how much you value teamwork versus independent success as well as how much of a priority new technology is to you.
If you choose to focus on employee happiness, you can offer better benefits, provide more time off, and/or look at ways to reward them for achievements. If the budget allows, giving out awards or cash prizes can also keep them motivated. Keeping up with the latest trends such as digital marketing and communications can make employees feel like they are advancing and learning new tools that will help them in their career.
Customer satisfaction, of course, is also one of a dealership’s top priorities that management focuses heavily on. Even just having a “nicer” waiting area with wireless Internet, TV, and a small coffee and snack bar can improve the reputation of your dealership (including the service department) because it makes customers happier.
Implementing your plan isn’t always easy, but it can be done. Creating a committee of employees who can work together to make the work environment better is one option. Holding a meeting with the entire team to discuss improving the culture and asking for suggestions and opinions is a good way to include everyone in the transition.
Creating a stellar environment in your dealership can have many positive outcomes. Turnover rate won’t be as high as the rest of the industry and you can therefore focus more on sales instead of having to train new employees, which can be costly in terms of time and money. The “vibe” your team gives off and how well it works together will also greatly affect customers’ overall experiences. You don’t have to be best friends, but solid teamwork leads to more sales and increased happiness.
A dealership’s leaders should be able to realize when something is wrong with the workplace culture and subsequently take steps to fix it. Leaders who don’t care about it cause other employees to not care about it, and this can lead to negative repercussions. Taking steps to define what a dealership needs and actually initiate the change can result in higher happiness and better business practices.