How to Address Employee Communication Issues in Your Dealership

How to Address Employee Communication Issues in Your DealershipAfter surveying multiple dealers across North America on what they consider to be their biggest challenges, dealership expert Michael Rees has seen the word “communication” come up quite often. In particular, many dealers seem to struggle with establishing communication among their employees and across multiple departments.

The lack of proper communication can have an enormous impact on employee productivity and accountability, which in turn – you guessed it! – can lead to a less effective dealership. Perhaps, some of your employees are to blame, so be sure to evaluate them, but if bad communication is affecting more than half of them, then you may need to make some changes.

So, if your dealership is having employee communication issues, Rees has the following three tips for you:

1. Say hello to EVERYONE, every day

Say hello to EVERYONE, every dayMany general managers tend to spend the majority of their time with the department they’re used to the most – typically the one where they started their career path.

However, by devoting most of your time to one particular department, you’re neglecting a large portion of your employees. This creates communication barriers between you and them because they can only perceive you as the person who signs their paycheck – not their friend or mentor.

To connect with your other departments, Rees suggests saying hello to every employee in your dealership every day, first thing in the morning. Additionally, he suggests engaging in small talk, whether it’s about the employee’s family, their recreational activities or anything else you can think of.

This may feel uncomfortable at first (your employees may look at you strangely), but once you fully commit to this routine, your employees will appreciate you and their workplace a lot more – and in turn, work harder and smarter.

That’s why Dianne Donato, the Controller at Scott Motor Coach RV Center, called her dealership a “well-run ship” in our interview with her.

“I believe our success stems from the owner, who is very hands-on,” she said. “He works side by side with the managers and the employees, most of whom have been with the company for years. We do not have a high turnover.

“This consistency, I believe, allows us to grow and run a more efficient dealership.”

bonus tipTip: Congratulate those who are doing well on their performance when you talk to them in the morning to encourage them to work even harder in the future.
2. Conduct weekly management meetings

Weekly management meetings are important because through them you get to convey to your managers how you want your dealership to be run, what you want to happen and how they perform in their individual departments.

Many dealers cite time as one of the main obstacles in the way of conducting these meetings. When is a good time to have them? How long should the meetings be? Rees strongly suggests that you spend roughly 30 to 60 minutes on them each time and conduct them outside of regular business hours, if possible, to avoid neglecting other daily priorities.

Bob Scholl, the Assistant General Manager at Rocky Mountain RV & Marine, is directly involved in each major department at his dealership, including Sales, Service, Parts and Finance, where helps each team “set guidelines, processes and procedures to make employees’ jobs more efficient and easy.”

“That way, when the customer comes in,” he said, “they can have an experience that’s above and beyond what’s expected.”

3. Manage, don’t micro-manage

Many dealership owners are guilty of micro-managing their managers. It’s absolutely normal – after all, if you’ve built the business from ground up, you should be entitled to running it the way you want it to be run. However, micro-management is also known to hamper productivity, so it’s not always a good idea.

Though it may be tough to let go at times, in most cases, it’s best to let your managers do their jobs without your interference – unless, of course, their team or someone on their team is underperforming. If that’s the case, then you need to work with them to correct the issue.

To make it easier for your managers to report what’s going on in their departments, you may want to implement some sort of business management system. For instance, the managers at Scott Motor Coach RV Center rely on the IDS software, which allows them to track every activity and ensure no question is ever unanswered.

“Whenever anybody logs in, their activity is monitored,” said Dianne Donato. “That way, the owner or manager, can see who made each entry, who closed the deal and so on. This makes all our employees accountable.”

bonus tipTip: Can’t tell if you’re micro-managing? Rees says that if you order employees to do something without talking to their manager first, then you’re micro-managing that manager.

 

last wordFinal Word: Drive Accountability

At the end of the day, you need to ensure your employees are accountable for the work they do. If there’s no communication, then there can be no real accountability. To learn more about accountability, be sure to consult Michael Rees’ guide here.

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