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Three free and simple ways to inspire your dealership staff

According to Gallup, most Americans could not care less about the places where they work. A paycheck is the only reason they go. They do just enough to earn that paycheck and not one bit more. They spend a lot of time thinking about how to get a job somewhere else.

Should you care about this?

Gallup says yes. According to their research, a company’s long-term growth, performance, and profitability go up when employee engagement goes up. Gallup shows that amazing things happen when employees care, pay attention, try hard, and actually want to be at work. Engaged employees create new products and solutions. They solve problems. They delight customers. They drive down costs because they don’t leave for other jobs and they take fewer sick days.

Why would you not want that at your dealership?

So the question is: How do you make your dealership the kind of place where employees feel engaged?

Start with inspiration. It’s free, it’s simple, and it works.

The Gallup research shows that employees want to feel inspired by their work and their workplace.

In a nutshell, that means they want two things on the job:

  1. They want to know that the work they are doing counts for more than just dollars in the owner’s pocket. They want to know that the work they are doing makes a real difference to customers, to their fellow employees, and to the greater good.
  2. They want to know that they count for more than just the job they fill in the organization chart. Human beings need to know they are living lives of meaning and purpose. We don’t just go to work looking for a paycheck; we go to work because we mean something to somebody when we work.

So inspiration does two things: It helps employees feel like they mean something and that they are doing work that means something. Gallup shows that companies where employees feel this way about their work and about themselves, outperform companies where employees do only what it takes to get paid.

What kind of company do you want your dealership to be?

If you want to run a dealership where employees are engaged, you need to get good at inspiring them.

Here are three free, simple habits you can start doing today to inspire your employees.

Notice. Back in college, I had a job vacuuming all three floors of a building on campus. Every morning at 4:30 a.m., I’d get up and start pushing an old Hoover around classrooms and hallways. One morning, I was finishing up about 30 minutes before students began arriving for classes. One of the most influential and popular professors on campus came walking into the atrium on his way to class. He noticed me vacuuming and came over to speak to me.

“Excuse me,” he said. “Good morning, I’m Ross. What’s your name?”

“I’m Brad,” I said, wondering what complaint or criticism I was about to hear from the professor.

“I work here in this building,” he said. “I just want you to know what a great job you do here every day. It is so nice to come to work in a clean space.”

With that, he smiled and walked away. Important people have said thousands of things to me over the last 20 years and I’ve forgotten most of them. I’ll never forget what that professor said to me. It still inspires me to this day to think of every job and every person as very important.

If you want to inspire your employees, just notice them and what they are doing.

Recognize. Research shows that nothing–not even money–does more to inspire people than recognizing them for their contributions. My business coach always tells me that one compliment from a boss will generate a hundred times more energy and loyalty than a hundred bonuses ever will.

Recognition can be private, like when that professor complimented me for keeping his workplace clean. The most effective recognition is public. It is easy to set aside space and time in every team communication or team meeting to call out people who did something really well. Simply telling the team what they did and asking their colleagues to applaud them will fill their sails for weeks. This is not mere ego-stroking; it makes people feel capable, confident, valuable. People who feel capable, confident, and valuable go do more capable, confident, and valuable things for your company.

Tell stories. Dave Ramsey famously built his financial coaching empire from a card table in his living room. Today, his fast-growing company employs over 500 people and is considered one of the best places to work. Ramsey says one of the secrets to his success is storytelling. Twice a week, all of his employees gather for a team meeting. One of the most important items on the agenda is story time. During story time, employees listen to Dave and other leaders tell stories about how the company started and survived through hard times. They listen to stories about how the company is changing the lives of its customers. Employees also share their own stories about customer interactions, personal achievements, and personal tragedies and triumphs. Ramsey believes that telling stories is the best way to communicate what the company–and its people–are all about.    

Inspiration does not have to be corny, elaborate, or expensive. It’s simple: Just make it a habit to notice, recognize, and tell stories. Watch over time as these three simple habits change the culture of your dealership and increase employee engagement. You’ll see a difference in the workplace and you’ll see a difference in your bottom line.

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BT Irwin
BT Irwin
Freelance Automotive Journalist for CBT News

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