The biggest factor in job satisfaction is not money—it’s working in a friendly and positive environment where people feel valued and respected. It doesn’t take much to make most people happy—a simple pat on the back, “good job,” or congratulatory email message can make someone’s day. On the contrary, criticizing staff members in front of peers or customers or calling them into the office for a “talking to” can leave salespeople hurt and angry. Even worse, they can lose their positive mental attitude and self-confidence, making it even harder to sell vehicles.
Even the best salespeople can’t achieve peak performance in a hostile work environment and many will leave at the first opportunity. Below are a few tips for creating a positive work environment that encourages people to do their best, generates increased sales, profits, and customer satisfaction; and reduces the revolving door at most dealerships.
Create a “family-like” atmosphere.
When was the last time you went around to all your sales staff to simply say hello and ask how they were doing? What about others in your dealership, including your top managers, the service department, the body shop, and secretarial staff? That alone will let your employees know you are interested in their well-being. Be creative—use office parties, company picnics, birthday cakes, store mugs and sweatshirts, and other strategies to create a team spirit. Most important, treat your employees as valued individuals who have lives beyond the store.
Encourage cooperation not competition.
Too many sales people are only interested in closing their own deals. Developing a family-style atmosphere will foster greater collaboration and mutual support—creating a win-win-win situation for your dealership, your sales team, and your customers. By sharing “ups,” backing each other up during emergencies, and trouble-shooting when needed, your salespeople will contribute to the common good. You can encourage this type of teamwork by modeling it, setting it as a goal for your dealership, and rewarding it when it occurs.
Allow flexible scheduling.
Sales people have families, community responsibilities, and other outside activities that demand their attention. Overly rigid scheduling sends a negative message: “You’re really not important to us as a person.” It’s also not good for business. How can someone perform at their peak when a parent is dying or a husband is needed in the delivery room? Flexibility tells people that they are respected and valued. It’s a powerful motivator, costs very little, and is likely to keep people on board. Sometimes it can even add to your business—for example, engaging in community activities can bring new customers to your door.
It’s not hard to create a positive work environment. One simple sentence says it all: “Do unto your sales professionals as you would have them do unto you.” Respect, fairness, and positive reinforcement are easy and cost-effective ways to generate loyalty and hard work, which help boost sales and profits.
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