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Best-In-Class – Employee Satisfaction: Simply Ride

“If your employees aren’t happy, the team isn’t going to be happy as a whole and you’re going to be less effective,” said Andy Brinkhaus, general manager of Simply Ride, a powersports dealership in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. “Then your customers won’t be happy because that stuff rolls to the customer. In my opinion, employee satisfaction is one of the most important things needed to have a dealership run smoothly.”

When Brinkhaus and fellow managers noticed that employee satisfaction had declined, he knew Simply Ride needed help beyond what he had on hand. “I wanted to figure out a way for us to get honest and open feedback as a leadership team about what we could be doing better,” Brinkhaus said. “I searched for anonymous surveys that could go out on a regular basis. We used to do an annual survey and I didn’t feel like that was enough. So, when I found Officevibe I wanted to try it because it is anonymous. Instantly we started to get open, honest feedback.”

Officevibe is an online platform designed to help managers recognize and retain employees. Brinkhaus explained that the tool sends anonymous weekly surveys to all employees asking questions about happiness, pay, relationship with management and work-life balance. The results go directly to each manager and the general manager.

Brian Cox accepts Simply Ride’s Best-In-Class – Employee Satisfaction award at the 2022 Accelerate Conference.

Using this service, Simply Ride was able to take direct action to improve employee satisfaction. Departments at the store have exceeded the industry benchmark in all categories after a year of using Officevibe. They report that employee relationships with managers have improved greatly. The staff is happy, and Brinkhaus says it’s a direct result of the changes management made in response to the surveys sent by the system as well as the staff’s willingness to be open and honest.

“We chose this tool because it’s anonymous,” said Brinkhaus, “and employees are more likely to mention if something doesn’t line up with the core values of the company so we can make changes and improvements.” This service helped Brinkhaus learn that, for example, managers weren’t as engaged as they should have been with what employees’ work entailed day to day. As a group, the managers went to their teams and explained that they need to improve that. With that focus, the scores started to improve. The team would focus on the questions that had low scores and notice that they would begin to rise after. They would then move on to the next question with the lowest score.

“We went from scoring 4s, 5s and 6s to now there is nothing below a 7.7,” said Brinkhaus. “Employees are able to be open and honest because they know it’s anonymous.”

Brinkhaus and his team are pleased the program helped them make changes and now they’re well above benchmark, and the staff is happier. “We have less people leave after the season’s over. Employee retention has been awesome, plus the vibe in the shop is so much happier.”

And the customers notice. “With the staff happier in their work environment, that translates to the customers,” he said. “You look at our Google reviews and everybody in the last year or so has been saying that everyone was great, everyone was so friendly and happy. It shows.”

While the software helped Brinkhaus and Simply Ride, he can pass on advice to dealers who might not use such a service. “The biggest thing is to talk to employees regularly. When I got promoted to GM, the first thing I did was have a private meeting with every employee in the store, from the leadership team to the detail team to the mechanics.

“Have one-on-one meetings with your team to figure out what you can do better. And I tell everyone in those meetings, ‘anything you say here, there’s going to be no judgement. If you think I’m the wrong guy for this job, tell me so I know how to fix it.’ It’s important for leaders to sit down privately with every employee and have that open and honest conversation to figure out what’s working and what’s not. Then do the work to improve it.”

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