Merriam-Webster defines communication as: the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else; successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.
I would say this is one of the most important skills a person can have in all aspects of their lives. I’m sure you can appreciate that in your personal life, the key to a healthy relationship is communication. The same can be said for our relationships at work so in order to get all of your staff going in the same direction which will improve productivity and profit, we must be able to effectively communicate the direction we want the business to take and how.
We strive to communicate our message to consumers on a daily basis. Large amounts of money and energy are spent on an inviting showroom, signage, print and radio as well as a website and other forms of social media, to get those consumers inside your store and give you business. If the same level of energies and resources are not used with staff in communicating direction and expectations, your efforts to get consumers into your store could be wasted.
As an owner or manager, have you actually talked to your staff about what your vision is for the business and do they really know what your business philosophy is? Do they know you want the business to be known as “The place with the best selection at the best price” or “The best service available” or whatever your vision is and does your staff understand how that vision will be accomplished?
I’ve had business owners and managers tell me that they have trouble getting a full day’s work from some of their employees or they are tired of having to tell their staff what to do. When I ask these owners and managers if they have a job description for their employees that outlines responsibilities and expectations, many tell me that they don’t have such an outline. I call that communication breakdown.
We’re all different which makes us unique. Some of us think outside of the box and thrive on working independently while there are others who work best in a structured setting where direction is required and appreciated. I’m not saying that one is better than the other but when you sit down and discuss responsibilities and expectations, it takes out all the guesswork for everyone involved. It also provides a gauge in which to measure quality and quantity of work and can be used as positive feedback for a job well done as well as a starting point to initiate a discussion regarding weak or poor performance.
We all know that it's important to hold regular staff meetings so that various issues can be discussed, followed on and resolved but how many dealers actually hold those meetings? It’s been my experience that a majority of dealers do not have these meetings and I’m told that it’s too busy or it’s difficult to get everyone together before the store opens. What does that say about your management style and where you are with your vision?
Another way to improve communication is through training. In providing training for your staff, you are investing in the improvement of communication and the value it provides in not only helping your business grow but bringing your business closer to your vision. Training for all of your departments provides an education in how your staff can better communicate with your customers to provide a positive experience when they are in your store.
Your staff can make or break your business which makes it so important that everyone is on the same page. Ensure that the lines of communication are always open. Show and explain to your staff what their responsibilities are and what your expectations are. People are more open and receptive when they understand what they are doing and why.
Finally, let your staff know that your door is always open to discuss any issues that they have. You must be approachable and you have to provide them with tools and training so they can do the best job possible. Not only will this gain you more respect but you’ll notice a stronger work ethic and you’ll build a healthier relationship with them. Communication opens the doors to endless opportunities.
Bruce Marcia is the director of Bruce Marcia and Associates, a retail management consulting firm that specializes in assisting and supporting dealerships in the RV/marine and powersports industries. As a recognized troubleshooter with over 30 years of experience in inventory finance, dealership general management and as a district manager for a major OEM, Bruce has had the unique opportunity to understand and learn from all three important fields that make these industries function.
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