Store manager Michael is very frustrated because he is always short staffed. Some common thoughts he has: How can I manage my stores if I am always performing other people’s jobs? How can I lead my team if I am in lower bay or under a hood all day? Paul did not show up for work again today, so I am, again, working the hood with little relief in sight. I planned on training Mary, my new service writer, by showing her how I take care of our customers. Now this will need to wait for another day. Does this sound like a common occurrence in your store? Building and retaining your team is the most important and beneficial task you will ever have.
Let’s discuss the different components of building a high-functioning quick lube team.
The first question you should ask yourself is, am I a recruiter? Too often we are sitting back and waiting for someone to walk into the store and ask for a job. The next question is, have you identified the type of person you want? What skill sets and work experience do they need to have to perform well in this position?
To answer these important questions, start with an overall description of the person you wish to hire. Do not focus on the skills necessary for your different positions on your team. I recommend you hire personality and train skills. Too often, we are excited when someone comes in who has worked for a competitor. Often, they are just someone else’s reject, and, most likely, they will soon be yours, too.
Is your recruiting process made up of running ads on the different Internet sites? How is that working for you? Instead of waiting until you are short-staffed, create a recruiting machine.
Your Recruiting Machine
Instead of hiring your competitors’ rejects, hire their rock stars. You and your managers should always have your vehicles serviced at your competitors’ stores. Look for the leaders — the ones who are enjoying their work. If you’re thinking “if I only had this guy or gal, my sales would be going through the roof,” then you have found your rock star. If you have the opportunity, tell them you are impressed with the way they enjoyed their job, you are hiring and would love to hire someone just like them. Ask them to refer others like them who are looking for a great place to work with advancement opportunities to give you a call. Hand them your recruitment card containing the name of your business, address and phone number. Write your first name on the card if you wish. Try this a few times first and get some success. Next, give a card to every team member with a script to learn, practicing the script during every team meeting and sharing recent experiences. Offer a referral program to improve your results.
Don’t leave retail stores out of your recruiting area. Many retailers are in trouble, as they are closing stores and will be closing more. This leaves many qualified individuals without jobs. Current retail employees might be concerned their location could be next to close. These employees realize the future promotion opportunities they were counting on are most likely no longer available. Shop these locations, and look for someone who enjoys giving great customer service. You and your recruiting team should be in these stores every week. Target the big-box stores that normally offer low hourly salaries with limited advancement opportunities. When you hire one new team member, encourage them to suggest others. If they suggest someone, ask them to contact that individual to schedule a meeting for you.
Never stop recruiting, even when you are fully staffed. During your regular daily routine, be on the lookout for your next rock star.
A Team is a Group of People Linked in a Common Purpose
How do you develop a rock star team? Start by identifying your purpose — write it out and post in your employee area. Let’s say you have identified great customer service as your daily purpose. Don’t leave it at that; identify what it looks like. Every team member needs to be able to quote the details of your team purpose. Review it in store meetings, and ask questions. Example: In this past week, give an example of a situation where you helped in filling our common purpose.
You become a coach by teaching and guiding them to accomplish complicated tasks. Many quick lubes do an excellent job of teaching how to perform services but fail in the customer service area. This is the most important area of your daily routine. The customer’s perception of your service is what brings them back again. All the marketing in the world usually won’t bring them back from a bad customer service experience. Your customers’ in-store experience is everything; how they are treated brings them back, not just servicing their vehicles. They expect their vehicles to be serviced correctly — that’s why they are there. Most owners and their management staff know this, but have they taught their entire team?
When asked which professional sports team excels year after year, the first one that comes to mind is the New England Patriots. They have great players — but so do most other teams. But, I believe the most important reason for their success is their coach, Bill Belichick. He leads by example; no team member works harder than he does. He holds every player accountable; no matter how great they are, they still practice like everyone else.
The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
Belichick’s quarterback is considered by many to be the best quarterback of all time. Why does he have this distinction? Because he realizes that perfect practice makes perfect. I have read many stories about how Tom Brady stays after practice to throw more balls. The top professionals are not satisfied with being good — they want to be great.
It’s the same with your team. Don’t just be satisfied with today’s results. Continue to train, practice and motivate your entire team to be better than they were yesterday.
Professional sports teams are always looking to upgrade their players: drafting rookie players each year, signing unrestricted players and trading players with other teams. You should also be finding ways to upgrade your team members. Just one weak link will affect the whole team’s ability to function at a high level.
Turnover is very costly. It adds stress to the remaining team members. One unintended consequence, in many circumstances, is lost sales. When your shop appears full to a potential customer, they do not stop in. They simply drive by.
Employees leave you for all kinds of reasons. Some might leave for a few pennies more or because a different shop is closer to home. Many times, it’s because of conflict with another team member. Well-functioning teams will avoid many of these problems by demonstrating how they care for their team members. Their coach will take the time to get to know them on a personal level, not just as their supervisor.
Everyone has a backstory they carry with them. Try not to judge them until you learn theirs. Learn about their family and any other information they are willing to share with you. When someone seems to be having a bad day, take them aside and ask if there is anything you can help with. If possible, give them some encouragement to help with the problem. Your goal is to show them you care about them as a person, not just an employee.
Often, someone may leave for a better opportunity, but was it actually better? Many times, you offer the same advancement opportunities for them but they weren’t aware of their future potential with you.
I have always been very proud of the quick lube industry for the advancement opportunities available to those who might not have those same opportunities elsewhere. Many employees have started in lower bay or as a hood tech to go on to become a store manager. Some people who did not graduate from high school would not be considered by some other companies for employment — most likely, they would never be considered for management. In this industry, it is job performance, not past credentials, that directs their future. Everyone in management should be proud of the opportunities they give those who might not be able to find them elsewhere.
Your future success will depend on the quality of your team members. Every manager and owner knows this, but do you work on it every day? Do you have a rock star in your store? Do you have a rock star team?
Today’s a great time to start building your rock star team.