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Choose your words carefully

By Glenice Wilder

GleniceWilderBlogI’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, "A picture paints a thousand words." But more importantly, words can mean the difference between a motivated team – or an unproductive, disgruntled one. Communication also impacts your bottom line. Not only is it a nuisance, but miscommunication can equal dollars lost. Are your managers utilizing good communications skills to foster effective teamwork? Do they recognize that different age groups have different communication preferences?

Today’s American workforce could include four generations of employees, working together in a never-before-seen generational melting pot. Each generation brings unique strengths, qualities and even requirements to the powersports dealership. One-size-fits-all communication does not work in today’s dealership.

In fact, a recent Ernst & Young survey indicated that 75 percent of managers reported that managing multi-generational teams is a challenge, and 77 percent said that different work expectations among generations is a leading challenge they face.

There are some preconceived notions about generational styles. Traditionalists, born prior to 1945, may prefer a top-down chain of command and value acknowledgement for their experience and work. Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, often are viewed as competitive workaholics who are optimistic, results-oriented and question authority. Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, are often characterized as independent self-starters with entrepreneurial traits, who can be loyal employees, but are not as attached to their employers as previous generations. And Millennials, or Generation Y, born between 1981 and 2000, are non-conformists who are collaborative, open-minded and socially conscious. While this generation is very capable of multi-tasking, it expects flexible hours and work-life balance.

Given these generational differences, it’s easy to see where managers are challenged to foster and keep groups motivated and working together. Each generation has its own preferred method of communication. A Traditionalist or Baby Boomer might prefer a face-to-face meeting, whereas Generation X or Y employees have spent most, or all, of their lives surrounded by technology and may prefer a more casual email. Powersports dealers need to accommodate each group’s style and mix face-to-face meetings with emails.

Here are a few tips to ensure communication harmony — and improved profitability — throughout your dealership:

Keep everyone on the same page

Whether you start the day with a face-to-face meeting or an email, make sure all of your dealership employees clearly understand your daily, weekly and month-end goals. If you are bringing in new inventory – or trying to move some older bikes off the floor – step through the dealership goals and ensure everyone knows their role.

Document every process

Whether it’s the F&I department or the service bay, your team needs the follow the same process for every transaction. Document each step – and update the documentation when necessary. Hold frequent reviews and offer incentives for team members to demonstrate their knowledge. This is a good place to bridge those generational communication gaps.

Work the process…and process the work

Generational differences often appear around detailed tasks. Some team members relish the details, while others just want to get to the final result. Make sure that everyone understands the importance of crossing their “t’s” and dotting their “i’s” – and the dealership-wide repercussions of failure to do so.

There is no ‘I’ in TEAM

Everyone wants to be recognized for their work. Generational differences also appear when it comes to employee recognition. Communicate those “shining moments” in an appropriate way – and be sure to recognize everyone for their accomplishments. But reinforce the concept of team in your communication. Unless you are truly a one-person dealership, there is no “I” on your dealership floor.

A focus on communications – and the generational preferences of your dealership employees – will impact your bottom line. A highly functioning team will be more inclined to secure every sale, maximize the F&I package, secure the best lender deal, lock-in a return service schedule and build a customer relationship for life. Regardless of age, if everyone is committed to the same result, then everyone will benefit.

Glenice Wilder is the vice president of Powersports for EFG Companies. A 33-year industry veteran, Glenice is responsible for growing and developing EFG’s action and powersports market channel. She combines her passion for motorcycles and her dedication to serving EFG’s customers to develop solutions that consistently exceed their expectations. Glenice acts as a strategic partner to assess her clients’ areas for improvement and how EFG can fill that role. She provides insight in how to increase productivity by pairing the right products within the right markets for the greatest return on investment.

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