-by Sally Whitesell.
Keep your customers by keeping your employees.
Employee turnover in the automotive industry has increased to 43%(1). We know that turnover takes a big bite out of our profits in every department, but in the service department, it’s also costing you customers. Your clients like to see the same people each time they bring in their car for service. It gives them a since of security. Customers have many choices. If they’re coming back to your store, “Someone” has done a great job building a relationship with them, while building trust and creditability for your store. Now that “Someone” is gone.
After working on drives for over two decades, I’ve found it very easy to get advisors to open up and share what makes them want a career change. You have to face it, a majority of your team DOES want a career change! This is a hard fact to hear, but we have to acknowledge their concerns in order to improve our stability. I rarely enter a store without finding managers and advisors who are overwhelmed and over-worked. It is also disappointing, that in a time when dealerships and repair facilities need to increase female staff members, the female advisors are choosing to leave at an even more rapid rate.
According to the 2016 NADA workforce study, 39% of male advisors and 43% of female advisors left their jobs in 2015.(2)
Those are hefty numbers! In order to correct this issue we need to decipher the cause. Put your seat belts on, because I’m going to share opinions straight from the source: your Fixed Ops teams.
- Too many hours- “I don’t have time for my family or a life outside of work.”
This is a hard one for store owners to understand. As a fellow business owner, I know that we work all of the time to build our businesses. It’s our passion! But our workers have a different perspective. They want to work hard and go home. Working 55 plus hours a week doesn’t allow them to spend quality time with their family and friends or give back to the community (highly important to millennials, women, and baby boomers). It also makes it very hard to find time to get enough rest, eat healthily or exercise. All of these things are critical to creating balanced, fulfilled lives. So we’re hiring potentially productive employees, but seeing them burn out in a short time. They’ll be searching for something better no matter how much we pay them.
You don’t have to make massive changes in order to correct this. I once convinced a store to allow each advisor to come in one hour later one morning a week, and leave one hour early one day a week. It was shocking at how much the morale went up from this extra two hours of time. The managers heard things like “Now I can have breakfast with my kids one day a week,” and “Boy is my wife going to be happy that I am actually home for dinner.” Also, if your advisors work on Saturday, make sure they get a day off during the week to compensate. Keep in mind this is the number one complaint and the number one reason females do not take this position! It’s critical that we listen.
- They feel they can’t get ahead- “As soon as I hit my goals- they change the pay plan again!”
This is a huge mistake. Don’t adjust your pay plan because you feel your top performers are making too much money. They’re your top performers for a reason; they are money motivated. If you keep them from reaching their financial goals, they will be very welcome in another facility. Pay plan changes are a big part of the musical chairs that advisors and technicians are playing. Let your stars that want to work hard and accomplish their goal experience financial success while making you a generous profit.
- We don’t get enough training- “They were so busy I just got thrown right in.” or “I am afraid of making a mistake but don’t know who to ask.”
The last thing we should do to a new employee is allow them to feel inadequate with their skills, or feel like a pest for asking questions. Every advisor should be completely confident in performing your processes, managing your software systems, answering your phones and communicating with clients. This means that no matter how short staffed you may be, we need to set them up for success by designing a complete training process before they hit the drive. Here is one we designed:
- First day, orientation. Review the pay plan and job description in detail. Make sure it is in writing and signed.
- Second and third day is phone training as they learn your greeting and start scheduling appointments/check-in times. This should happen with written phone word tracks.
- Forth and Fifth day they learn to generate ROs and begin to write them for other advisors. No customer interaction yet.
- The following week starts with professional service advisor training either online or in person. We don’t want them to learn other advisor’s bad habits or shortcuts. Find professional service advisor training that teaches the skills you value the most. Commit 100% to a comprehensive curriculum with weekly sessions to help them grow. Role-plays should be required regularly.
This schedule may vary with ability and experience but keep in mind; even an experienced advisor needs to learn how you want things done.
If we focus on the needs of our team, they’ll be more satisfied with their current career instead of looking to the next one. That will reduce our employee turnover, and create more consistency with our customers, which is a key component to keeping your guests coming back. If we focus on our people the numbers will come!
(previously published 5/15/2017, updated 4/25/2018)