No, I’m not having the same talk with you that your mom had with you in high school. Have you ever gone into a store, or spoken to someone on the phone who just exudes arrogance? You know, the type that just can’t be bothered with your problems even though they are paid to help you solve them. If so, then you have met Bob the Burnout and we have to guard against becoming him ourselves.
Bob used to be a good employee. He showed up for work consistently on time, did his job, learned new skills and grew with the dealership. But somewhere along the way he got burnt out. It may have happened quick or it may have happened over a longer period of time. It may be the result of an internal factor such as being passed up for a promotion or getting a new boss that he just can’t seem to get along with. Or it may be from an external factor such as going for a big job outside of this industry and not being selected one or multiple times. Maybe he is just burnt out on retail? Either way, now he feels like he is trapped at the dealership. We value his contribution because he is still doing his job, but it is growing harder and harder to get him to go above and beyond for his customers and to just get basic information out of him without him seeming irritated.
This can happen to any of us for any of those reasons and more. Especially in sales, we are prone to internalize a lot more than other professions, and that internalization can turn toxic quick. So how do we combat this? Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming like Bob the Burnout:
Remember who you work for — Yes, XYZ Powersports signs your paycheck and yes, you have a boss. But let’s not forget that our customers are the reason for our existence. Without them, this hobby we have been able to turn into a job would still be a hobby. When they ask a question, instead of rolling your eyes in awe of how someone with their brain capacity could possibly function on their own, you should be thankful that they are coming to you for help.
Stay involved — I know it’s ironic that we got into this business because we all love to ride and now that we are in the business we either don’t have time to ride or on our limited days off we prefer to stay as far away from powersports as possible. That’s fine. But maybe instead of taking long rides on Saturdays with the crew, you can commute to work on the bike? Take the long way home as a means to decompress and enjoy your bike at the same time. Maybe you come in late because you only go on half the ride instead of the whole thing?
Keep this job fun — Take advantage of our culture to have a bit more fun than usual. I’ve seen employees take the push scooter from the parts to the sales department. I’ve seen beers come out after an open house during teardown (sometimes prematurely). I’ve had sales meetings at go kart tracks, arcades, bars and more. I’ve seen a prominent franchised dealer have a hot body contest and another host pole dancing classes for ladies' night. Smiles and laughs are contagious—whatever works!
Put your customer’s needs first, be relevant, be part of the culture and make sure you are having fun. These few things are not an all-encompassing recipe for success, but they will help you be more engaging and be less like a burnout.
Comments and personal experiences to help us all grow are welcome below.
Napoleon Tetreault is a sales representative with Tucker Rocky, an aftermarket PG&A distributor in the powersports industry. He works with powersports retailers on merchandising, profitability and management of the parts department as well as the education of dealership personnel. His experience includes being the GM of the largest indoor motocross facility in the US, owner/operator of a regional distribution company and current role with Tucker Rocky. He can be reached at: