Bring Back Pride Part 1

It is no great revelation that the American workforce has experienced a significant shift in attitude over the last 20 years.   Gone seems to be the pride of workmanship. Gone seems to be the pride in self-sufficiency. Gone seem to be the days of gratefulness. This all seems to have been replaced with a “what can you do for me” attitude.  This is not just a generational attitude either.  It has seeped into the very fabric of who we are and how we see ourselves. I am hearing and seeing it everywhere, from all ages and all generations.

I encounter leaders who place the responsibility of success solely on their staffs and employees.  They have a “you owe me” attitude – after all, they feel as though they have provided their employees with the opportunity to work.  I see staffs and employees who feel their leaders and business owners owe them.  After all, “I show up on time everyday and work my shift. Don’t you owe me a promotion, a better opportunity, or a raise?”

This wrongheaded thinking and warped perspective has left us in a state of mediocrity.  In no other area is it more evident than in the service side of the automotive business.  Closing ratios and upsell penetration have been stagnating for over a decade.  Undeterred, we keep waiting for the other guy – the dealer, the managers, or the employees – to deliver. We struggle with the “Quick Services” departments in which so many firms have invested. These departments’ deliver numbers lose money and would put them out of business were they an independent firm or a chain like Jiffy Lube. But still, we wait. We struggle with customer retention. Instead of creating fresh ideas to address these issues, we slap a fresh face on the same level of service, hoping for different results. We deceive ourselves with false justifications: “The dealer will figure it out; my manager will figure it out; if I pay my employees enough, then they can figure it out.” Simple solutions that take good old fashion elbow grease to execute get bypassed and ignored while waiting for the “other guy” to figure it out.

Enough is enough. It is time to stop talking, hoping and blaming. It is time to step up and be the responsible person you need to be, not only to succeed, but more importantly, to exceed. Here is how we are going to do it:

Step 1. Stop waiting and blaming leaders, dealers, and managers. Pay close attention.  Every time I meet with service advisors and their support staffs, I bring home the following message:  Your leaders did their job.  They secured the land, built the building and stocked it with many millions of dollars of inventory. Your leaders did their job.  They then hired a sales staff, trained that staff to close deals and monitored their successes. Your leaders did their job. Your leaders then set up an F & I department and trained the F & I staff to sell accessories and extended warranties that would tie the customer to the service department.  Your leaders did their job.  Your leaders hired a service manager that developed a plan to get the customer in the door and the customer came. Your leaders did their job.

But where I see leaders failing and continuing to fail is by stopping a few thousand dollars short and not training your service staff to succeed. We somehow believe that they will either figure it out for themselves or they will learn what they need from the existing staff by putting the employee through the most popular training class ever invented – the “follow him” routine. In one of the most critical areas of the equation, you fail.  You fail your business, you fail your staff and you fail yourself.  You allow a few thousand dollars and simple accountability to deny you the success that is right in front of you. You as the leader may have done your job in every other area, but you have failed, are failing, and continue to fail in this area.  If you want your staff to be successful you must provide them with every essential tool they need to be successful and the main and most important tool you can give them is training in how to handle your customers.