Is low employee engagement decreasing your bottom line?

1-15 Forrest Flinn blogDealership management is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding what is important to your employees, in my opinion, defines your dealership culture, which in turn, affects your profitability.

What is employee engagement? Employee engagement is a management approach that results in the right conditions for all employees to give their best each day, commit to the dealership’s goals and values and be motivated to contribute to the dealership’s success. The end result with this approach is that your employees will have an enhanced sense of their own well-being, be happy in their work and hopefully, become long-term team members.

What makes a dealership employee highly engaged? Below are some factors that have been tied to highly engaged employees in other industries:

  1. Someone has talked about an employee’s progress. Engaged employees say that they feel good when someone, perhaps their manager or owner, has recently spoken about their progress in their jobs. Our job as managers is to lift people up and make them feel good about their progress in their jobs at the dealership.
  2. Someone encourages an employee’s development. You should always provide ways for your employees to increase their skills and knowledge. Investing in employee training and development is not an expense — it’s an investment! Some dealers have stated that they are afraid to spend money on training because they are afraid that the employee will leave afterwards. I say, “What if you don’t invest in training and development, and they stay?” It costs you money either way. A highly trained and valued employee significantly increases his or her contribution toward the dealership’s bottom line, and over time, engaged employees are more likely to stay.
  3. Highly engaged employees report that they receive regular praise for a job well done. When you see an employee do something well, make sure that you let him or her know that you are watching and that you appreciate what you are seeing. Be careful not to over praise because saying the same thing over and over loses its value and becomes less meaningful.
  4. The manager cares for the employee. Working in an environment where an employee knows that he or she is truly cared for increases trust and job performance. I know personally I have excelled in certain aspects of my work when I knew that my manager truly cared about me as a person.
  5. An employee views his or her job as important to the company. When an employee knows how their individual contributions fit into the bigger picture of the dealership, they tend to be more engaged in their work. For example: When a parts receiving person understands how his or her job affects accounting and inventory values, he or she will tend to be more accurate when performing tasks.
  6. When coworkers are committed to quality work. Dealership employees who are surrounded by other high performers perform well themselves. Nobody wants to be the weakest link in the chain, so they will be more engaged in performing at a higher level. If you surround a high performer with lower performers, however, that is a recipe for disaster. It is only a matter of time before their individual performance decreases.
  7. An employee has the proper tools and equipment needed to do his or her job. You cannot expect your staff to be engaged in their work and perform at high levels when they do not have the proper tools and equipment to do so. For example: If you give an employee a computer that is old and has to be restarted 10 times per day, he or she will get frustrated, and job engagement will go down.
  8. An employee knows what is expected of him or her at work. If an employee does not know what is expected at work, his or her job engagement will be decreased. If employees have to guess at what is expected of them, they will often guess wrong and will be penalized for doing so. Regular meetings and detailed job descriptions can help with communicating what is expected from your staff.
  9. An employee’s opinion counts at work. When an employee feels that his or her opinion matters at work, he or she will be more engaged at achieving the overall goals and strategy of the dealership. If employees' thoughts and feelings are rejected or ridiculed, they are less likely to offer them up in the future.
  10. An employee has a best friend at work. Studies have shown that when an employee develops friendships at work that extends beyond working hours, his or her commitment towards job engagement is higher. As a dealer, you should not discourage these types of friendships, for they build a positive dealership culture and will make a positive impact on your dealership’s bottom line. I see where some dealerships discourage this because they feel that these employees are part of an internal club that they do not trust.

These are just a few of the things that can help you keep your employee’s eyes on the end game of being profitable. Having fun at work isn’t a bad thing, in fact, your job as the owner of a dealership is to foster and increase employee engagement. Low employee morale and poor employee engagement causes good employees to leave and bad employees to stay! What do you think the impact of not addressing employee engagement in your dealership is? Make sure you think about it from time to time because the costs of low employee engagement are bigger than you think.

Forrest Flinn, MBA, PHR, SMS has been in the motorcycle industry for more than 20 years and has been a true student and leader serving in various capacities. He previously worked as an implementation consultant for Lightspeed and as a general manager with P&L responsibility for a large metro multi-line dealership. Currently Forrest is the managing partner and chief visionary for a consulting firm that specializes in outsourced accounting, human resources, social media strategy, dealership operations consulting and Lightspeed/EVO training.


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