Keep Your Dealership’s Employees Positive

April 17, 2020 John Kehm

It can be hard to figure out how to motivate employees in a business environment with so much uncertainty and so many challenges. As a leader, it’s easy to put all your focus on the practical day-to-day issues or on the bottom-line numbers, making it tough to prioritize something that may seem non-critical, like your dealership’s employee morale. 

“It’s a crisis,” it’s easy to think. “Nobody’s happy. Everyone needs to rally together and get the job done.” But falling prey to that mindset would be incredibly harmful to your dealership’s culture, its ability to deliver for your customers…and ultimately for your bottom line. 

We’ve talked in the past, in simpler times, about the importance of employee happiness to employee motivation, and by extension to your dealership’s ability to deliver a great customer experience. Keeping your dealership’s employees positive and motivated to do great work is a business-critical responsibility for a leader in any set of circumstances, and it becomes even more important in a crisis. 

With employee morale at its most fragile, dealership leaders need to be doing more than ever to ensure their team is motivated and ready to respond to challenges – and take advantage of opportunities. In this post, we share three tips for motivating dealership employees during COVID-19 disruptions, including:

  • Leading by example
  • Creating a positive dealership environment 
  • Instilling a sense of trust in your team amid uncertainty

Lead by Positive Example

Frankly, you may be so stressed out and worried that you don’t know whether you have it in you to be a beacon of positivity for your team. That’s understandable, and you’re certainly not alone. But employee motivation stalls in the face of uncertainty, frustration or pessimism – and there’s no faster way for your employees to pick up those performance-killing conditions than if that’s what you’re broadcasting to them.

Positivity in the workplace starts at the top. So does negativity. It’s critical for you as a dealership leader in this kind of environment to focus on what can be accomplished rather than what can’t; to talk about what’s going right rather than what’s going wrong; to celebrate successes rather than obsess over failures.

To do this effectively, commit to highlighting the things you can be positive or optimistic about. With so much of the news focused on what’s going wrong, it’s easy to miss the opportunities. 

In the spirit of sharing our own positivity about the current environment and the future, here are some positive things to consider about the auto industry:

  • Yes, the auto market is down and will likely be for some time. But people still need cars, they still need dealers to sell them those cars and they’re going to want to interact with dealers who demonstrate a genuine care for them in the current environment. They’re going to buy their car from somebody, so it should be you – not your competitor.

  • There are a lot of customers out there who need your support through tough times. They may need to change their purchase intent from new to used, and they may need to lower their payments or figure out what to do with their lease. You can help people who need it right now by assisting them in making the right decision for their current situation. Doing that well and with empathy is something you should be proud of. You’re making a real difference.

  • Changes to the used car marketplace are creating a huge opportunity for entrepreneurial and agile dealers to identify, engage with and close used car prospects. This is a new and unexpected opportunity that’s grown out of industry upheaval – and whichever dealers get ahead of it first  will be the ones who benefit. Get excited about this opportunity and share that excitement with your team.

Share the Good

There’s an old saying: “Happiness shared is happiness multiplied.” It’s important to remember that employee morale is a combination of both individual happiness and collective interaction. Your leadership should encompass both one-on-one and collective efforts to motivate your team.

From a practical perspective, this means you should intentionally create opportunities for your employees to share their positive stories or good news, whether those bright spots are work-related or otherwise. The more your people can share the happy things in their lives, the happier they will make both themselves and others. 

There’s even science behind this: Researchers have found that while there’s emotional value to spending time considering the positive things in your life, the greatest benefit to your happiness comes from sharing those positive experiences with other people. 

Take the time to find opportunities to be positive together as a team. You’ll be (literally) happy you did.

Trust Your People

Fortunately, as a leader you have one very powerful tool in your control to help your dealership employees maintain positivity in the face of uncertainty and unforeseen challenges: Trust. 

Trust and empower your employees to solve the problems they’re faced with on a day-to-day basis. Also, this is a great opportunity to ask for their input and advice on how to deal with the broader challenges your dealership is facing. This will not only boost employee morale but may also present ideas and opportunities you never would have considered. 

As one Harvard Business Review article put it, “When people are able to participate in making decisions that directly impact their work, their sense of ownership, and therefore engagement, increases.”

Your people want to do their jobs well. Empowering them to do that is one of the most powerful things you can do as a leader and one of the best ways to motivate employees to do great work, regardless of the circumstances.

 

Interested in learning more about how Mastermind’s training or solutions could contribute to your efforts to maintain a positive dealership culture? Contact us today. 

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