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Spotlight: Lorri Park Thompson

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Lorri Park Thompson
According to the service director at Brian Hoskins Ford in Pennsylvania, the key to being a great leader is showing compassion for your staff.

Lorri Park Thompson’s service department has very infrequent turnover. And that’s a major point of pride for the service director at Brian Hoskins Ford in Coatesville, Pa.

“I’m committed to my employees and they show their loyalty and pride in their job performance,” Thompson says. “I pride myself that I have technicians that have been with me for 25-plus years. Seeing my employees when they achieve a goal, or when they hit an objective, that makes me happy.”

She largely avoids staff turnover by utilizing a thorough interview process when seeking new hires. That in-depth vetting process has helped her facility run smoothly and produce a 96.9 CSI score.

Thompson explains what has allowed her to forge such a unified, successful 20-person staff.

 

1. When Hiring, Contact Vocational Schools.

One element that aids Thompson’s hiring efforts is the fact that she often provides local vocational classes with tours of her facility. Not only does that provide additional tutelage to those future shop workers, but it also occasionally helps Thompson unearth talented job prospects.

“Instructors bring their classes that they’re getting ready to graduate through here, on a tour,” she explains. “I get the group together, and I give them pointers for when they go out for a job and they’re applying.”

When scouring veteran job prospects’ resumes, Thompson takes note of several indicators—such as how long they typically stay at each job, along with whether the questions they ask of her seem to indicate that they’re a dedicated, team-first employee.

Additionally, she always makes sure to get one or two of her experienced employees involved in the interview process when hiring. After all, those veteran staffers are going to be spending plenty of time working side-by-side with a new hire. If a job prospect earns a second interview during the hiring process, Thompson typically has a longtime staffer lead the meeting.

“I bring in a technician or two,” Thompson explains, “to speak about the longevity of their job, the benefits, and the required training.”

 

2.  Encourage Open Communication.

Thompson has always strived to have an open-door policy with regard to her staff. That tends to foster a positive work environment where there’s no secrets, rumors, or backstabbing.

“That’s the main objective,” says Thompson, who has led her department since 2001. “We have weekly meetings, and for the parts and service employees, it’s mandatory that they’re there. That way, if someone comes in and they’re complaining about Joe in parts, or vice versa, we bring it up as a group and we get it out there. We talk about it, work it out, and then we try to move on.”

Thompson, who also helps oversee her employer’s parts department, also occasionally has staffers spend time observing departments other than theirs, in another effort to get all employees to see eye to eye.

 

3. Get to Know Your Customers.

One reason Thompson has been entrusted with overseeing 20 employees: the service director makes time for everyone—especially longtime clients.

“I mean, I know the customers,” Thompson says. It’s important to “get out there and communicate with the customers. It’s okay to take 10 minutes out of the day, and go and sit in our waiting area … and talk to them. ‘How’s Ms. Smith doing?’ ‘How are the kids doing?’ It’s dedication to your employees and your customers.”

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