Simple Steps to Employee Retention
With the kids back in school, the summer is officially over. The only thing I can say about the summer of 2018 is that it was a struggle and I am glad to see it go. This summer, I have had to try to find ways to deal with two very different problems. In our Leavenworth store, I am dealing with more business than I have the staff to handle and in the Oklahoma store, I have more staff than for which we currently have business.
With both issues, I have to worry about retention of our employees, especially our technicians. In Leavenworth, we have created our own monster. For the past several years, we have had more work available every day than we can get done. Most people would think that this is a great problem to have. However, when it comes to the techs, it is very easy to burn them out and have them start looking elsewhere. We have tried to hire several technicians from other dealerships, but they usually do not last. It seems that they cannot handle the pressure of there always being another job.
In Oklahoma, the problem is different. When we took the store over, the technicians were only working during the morning. There just was not enough work to keep them busy all day. The previous owner had given them all guarantees, which forced them to sit around with nothing to do the rest of the day. That gets boring quick.
So, how have my manager and I been able to retain our technicians through the summer? Believe it or not, the answer is the same for both locations. The first thing we had to do was make sure we were paying a competitive wage to our people. Money is normally not the main reason people move on, but if you are trying to pay your people a significantly lower wage, it won’t take them long to find a new place. Once we were sure that we were paying the going rate or more, we had to find a way to connect them with our dealerships.
In Oklahoma, this was kind of easy when we took over we purchased some new equipment and started marketing the service department. We had several meetings explaining to everyone who we were and our vision for the store. We kept them involved and included them when business started to pick up. This allowed them to take some ownership of the growth and want it to continue. They started selling the store to their friends and family, which help our continued growth.
Leavenworth is a little tougher. It seems that every time we got backed up with work, we would take more and more of the technician’s gravy work away and funnel it into one of our other departments. Currently all of our master technicians really only work on heavy-line jobs, warranty and recall repairs. That started to make it harder for them to continue to make the money they were. We again started compensating them with different pay plans. We pay more for warranty repairs and they are all on production step plans, which, as they produce more, their hour rate increases. But this is not enough they need to be valued.
I make it a point to walk through every one of my departments each morning and speak with several employees. By the time I start my walk, I have already run my morning reports so I am aware of what everyone did the day before and I like to work it into my conversations with them so they know that I am paying attention to what they do. If they had a bad day, I’ll ask what happened and when they have a good day, I thank them for their hard work and tell them how they fit into the growth of our company. They all know that I oversee Oklahoma, as well, and several of them will ask how thing are going there, which helps me believe that they are involved in our company and where we are going.
In Leavenworth, almost every month, we hold all dealership meetings in the service department. We have over 200 employees and so it is easy for a BDC person to have never met or seen the service technicians. During the meeting, I will always pick out several of my employees and recognize them in front of the entire dealership and the owners. We like to take pictures and put them on Facebook so all of our customers can see just how proud we are of each employee.