Pay Attention
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Pay Attention: How to Reduce Turnover Rate

Retail Automotive suffers from insanely high turnover. According to a recent (NADA) Dealership Workforce Study (2016), the annual turnover rate for all dealership employees is 43%, that is a three percent increase from the previous year, and for women; the automotive industry loses 96% off their female employees each year. Turnover is a big problem that costs dealerships a ton of money.  A recent articled called Employee Turnover Costs Dealers Billions states that a 10-percentage-point increase in turnover would cost the average dealership $7,500 in gross profit per employee per year. 

There are a few things retailers can do to reduce this number and keep their people happy.

1. Attract and hire the right candidate

Attracting and hiring the right candidate is very important and requires a recruiting and hiring strategy. Getting the right person on the right seat on the bus is the a great first step to ensure the success of the employee and the dealership. 

2. Now that you’ve got them; retain them!

Having an employee engagement strategy should be top priority! Give your team members a reason to come to work every day. Curate a people first culture and be the best part of their day; after all, they spend more time with you than their own families. Check out last week’s blog post The Investment You Must Make to Survive for some great information in creating an employee engagement strategy. 

3. Get good at leading and seeing the warning signs

Develop your leaders, and ensure they are paying attention to the warning signs their team members are giving them! I am going to expand on this point. 

As important as attracting the right candidate is, and curating a world-class internal culture will aid in retention of your team members; it is the leader that impacts employee engagement. The leaders in your dealership should be able to tell if an employee is falling out of engagement with you.   

Time is no excuse

As leaders, we are always ‘busy’, to busy sometimes to see the warning signs that our team members give us- telling us they are falling out of engagement with us. We often don’t notice this until it’s too late and our team members are disgruntled, unmotivated, and their work is slipping in quality and accountability.

If you are reading this and you are a leader (pssst…we all lead in some way, form, or fashion) remember it is your job to PAY ATTENTION to your team and the warning signs they give you. “People work for people, not companies”, we MUST lead with a servant’s heart and take notice of the little things our people are telling us.

Be Present- a best practice.  

As I mentioned earlier, we all get busy! It is easy to miss those warning signs. As you climb the ‘corporate’ ladder, it is important to remember what you needed from your leader and learn from the mistakes of past leaders; these can be the best lessons! In my experiences, a common mistake made by most leaders is not being present in the moments they spend with their people. Because we are so busy, there are always meetings to run to and ‘to dos’ to check off that list, we forget to make time for the people making everything tick. 

As I have stumbled along the path towards becoming a leader those want to follow, I have learned that you can’t do it all, but we must make time to be there for our people to be successful. In the many leadership positions, I held I always did this; I arrived at the office at least two hours before my team arrived. Why do you ask? This allowed me to get all my nitty gritty ‘to dos’ done, organize my day, and set my daily priorities. The beauty of this is that once my team arrived, I was present for them, my day had been planned, and now my door was open; I was available to support my team in any way they needed. 

This did two things for my team’s engagement:

  • The team felt supported and guided leaving me open time to coach on the fly and, 
  • I was open to seeing the warning signs of slipping engagement, so I could ask probing questions to uncover ‘why’ before it’s too late; I was Present.

Did you know?

A study conducted by Gallup showed that although organizations with a high level of engagement do report 22% higher productivity, it yields so many more rewards. In the article, Employee Engagement Does More than Boost Productivity written by John Baldoni for the Harvard Business Review shows that “Strong employee engagement promotes a variety of outcomes that are good for employees and customers. For instance, highly engaged organizations have double the rate of success of lower engaged organizations.”

What to pay attention to

I can hear the little voice in your head as you read this… “What are the warning signs I should be looking for..” Great Question! 

If you are present and are paying attention, you will have a pulse on your team engagement at all times. However, there are a few telltale signs that a team member is falling out of engagement with you.

Warning signs to keep an eye on:

1. Team members disengage

Is a team member unusually quiet in meetings? When people are excited they want to talk about it; if you notice that a team member is less talkative or open to getting involved in a project or initiative, there is a good chance that something is going on. Team member disengagement can also show up as lateness or calling in sick more than usual. If you catch this early on you can pull the team member aside and ask him/her if there is anything you can help them with, probe and find out what is bothering them and then readjust their scope to reinvigorate them!

2. They start missing deadlines

Often if a team member starts missing deadlines, he or she is usually having trouble finding the purpose of being at work every day. They are not motivated to push through tasks or initiatives, and they lose interest which is often a sign that they are not excited about what they are working on. If we can pick up on this as leaders, we can often redirect team members focus towards something that excites them.

3. There is a lack of initiative

Those team members that stop taking the initiative on new assignments or stop sharing ideas and opinions are often burnt out or disinterested. Communication is essential here, find out how they are feeling, and ask questions. The solution could be as simple as ensuring they have some downtime or reallocation of tasks to lessen the workload.

4. They stop smiling

This is by far the most visible sign of a disgruntled employee. We are only human- if we are not happy we stop smiling. If you see this, act on it. Be present and lead with a servant’s heart, ask your team how they are and care enough to do something about it.

Internal culture is a direct reflection of its leaders.

If the engagement or moral is on a downward spiral on your team or in your dealership (which it is in the majority of dealerships across North America), the first place you should look is at yourself and the way you are leading your team. A mentor of mine once told me “You are a direct reflection of yourself, what you put out is what you get back”. That lesson struck me at the core. It is the leader’s fault if moral drops. As leaders, it is our responsibility to pay attention to the warning signs; take the time to listen and be present actively. You’ll be thankful in the long run when your team works with you towards success, and your turnover rate reduces, and there is more money in the bank to invest back into your team.


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