Your dealership has made it this far. Yet, building resilience in the current environment will not be possible without a dedicated effort to re-engage your staff. Most General Managers have shifted the way they engage with staff since social distancing restrictions went into effect around mid-March. And while many auto dealers have rolled out remote access programs, limited on-site staff, and built new virtual processes, the long-term success of retaining top talent, developing future leaders, and recruiting new hires depends on what happens next. In the third episode of Dealer Forward: Reimaging Automotive Retail, a weekly panel discussion from CBTnews, Lori Whitman, Senior VP of Dealer Software, and James Maynard, Senior VP of Product Development for Cox Auto, went in search of tips and best-practices from auto groups working to re-engage their staff and help them embrace the “new normal.” Here are the top three tips from dealership experts in the field that you can implement at your dealership:
Convey a single mindset: where we’re going and why it matters
Cox Automotive University offers a series of fantastic training courses designed to create better workplace culture. In one Dealer Leadership program designed for managing and engaging employees, leaders are encouraged to build upon four key competencies: Clarity, Communication, Connection, Collaboration. These competencies have always been important in creating a winning team. Now, more than ever, clear communication of new roles and processes is vital.
Go back to your values
The foundation of your dealership was likely established on a set of principles and values. If you had a list of values like, “Put people first. Be honest. Treat customers with dignity,” you probably used those values to guide your actions like offering great deals, exceptional value, and great customer service. Now that things are drastically different, go back to your values. If your business can’t open its doors, could you still put people first? Could you find a way to give back to the community by treating people with dignity? Businesses like Del Grande Dealer Group, and Carter Myers Automotive are finding ways to translate their core values into volunteering in their community (delivering meals to the needy with their service fleets), being kind and taking care of each other (as team members take on new roles and shelter in place), and pitching in to support new safety measures.
Communication is (still) Key
Your dealership likely had standing staff meetings before the lockdown. But, there also (likely) days when you were too busy to focus or business interruptions occurred. Now that your team is even more spread out, it’s up to leadership to stay consistent. Sharing challenges, addressing anxieties, and using experience will help your dealership engage your staff and develop future leaders. Eventually, business will recover and you will want (and need) your best talent to be fully engaged. Make sure you’re sharing important information on multiple channels and in multiple ways. And, allow your staff various ways to collaborate, whether it’s via social media like closed FaceBook groups, chat rooms, etc. Now that your “water cooler” and breakroom spaces are closed off, your team could be feeling disengaged and disconnected.
It’s more important than ever to keep your employees engaged and to plan for recovery by training your staff as everyone takes on new and revised roles at work. Start leading the change with positivity and resilience on the road to recovery.