The Investment You Must Make To Survive

“An organization can only become the best version of its self to the extent that the people who drive that organization are striving to become better versions of themselves ” Matthew Kelly.

I sat in the audience of a panel discussion Digital Dealer 24 Conference last week. The panel was full of brilliant gentlemen who have not only survived the ups and downs of Retail Automotive but hold a thought process that will keep them standing. This panel was titled The Future of Automotive Retail: Changing & Evolving Roles. The overarching message that each panelist conveyed was this: if we don’t evolve we will become extinct. Retail Automotive needs to get on board with a new way to lead, a new way to develop culture and ultimately a new way to treat their people and customers.

It is refreshing to hear these point of views. However, when I look at many of the retailers I work with I see teams full of bright ideas, waiting for someone to permit them. They (especially the few female team members) are afraid to make decisions or offer new and innovative solutions due to the lack of leadership that fosters an environment around employee engagement and empowerment.

I have started to ask myself why anyone would want to squash such innovation and further to that, who would want to work in an environment that doesn’t empower and engage their people?  The scary reality, most retailers have no idea they are cultivating a powerless climate. Research shows that only about 25% of business leaders have an employee engagement strategy. (Source: Dale Carnegie) And my educated guess says it is even lower in the automotive industry.

As leaders we must pay attention to the culture we are fostering and start investing in our people, after all, they are the reason your business functions on a daily basis, and they are the reason customers buy from us.

Dare To Be Different And Watch The Top Line GROW

The good news, this can change with you! More and more organizations and their leaders are starting to think differently, becoming increasingly more progressive and starting to ‘chase the people’ before the dollar. They are beginning to realize that without engaged front-line team members, top-line revenue will not sustain. The culture you design reflects the comfort and satisfaction of not only your team but your customers as well.

A study conducted by Workplace Research Foundation shows that increasing employee engagement investments by only 10% can increase your profits by $2,400 per employee, per year and that highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity.

The saying “take care of your people and the money will come” is a new way of thinking and often disregarded because it is a significant investment that doesn’t produce a dollar off the top- right away that is. Deciding to invest in your people is the first step and the easiest. We have to start somewhere. However, the hard work that follows is where most organizations fall off and go right back to the old way of thinking, $$$.

Is Automotive Ready For This Change?

Walking the talk requires time, processes, and patience. If you plan to take a stance and be forward thinking, be prepared to live up to it and own the hard work that lies ahead. Don’t give up when the going gets tough, keep at it. Your people will thank you for it and will return the favour through hard work and increasingly growing results.

Imagine a culture where you empower your people to strive for greatness, where your people are free to think outside of the box and share their innovative ideas. The possibilities of future growth and success become endless.

In an industry that focuses (almost solely) on volume, sales, and profit this transition won’t be natural. However, if you don’t prepare yourself for change, talented employees will make a change, and your customers will follow.

What Are You Waiting For?

Transforming a culture that has been around since the beginning of time will take time! Following these six steps is an excellent start to improving Internal Culture, employee engagement, and top-line revenue.

1. Decide to take on the challenge to make your people top priority- YOU have to believe
2. Gain 100% Executive sponsorship- without this, you won’t get far.
3. Develop the ‘how’- plan it, make an actionable step by step plan on how to make your vision come to life.
4. Make internal culture part of your yearly strategic initiatives- make it a focus, not a fad.
5. Measure success through critical metrics like deceased attrition, increased employee retention, employee engagement survey scores, achievement of yearly strategic plans, and top-line revenue. Remember, what gets measured gets managed.
6. Share the successes! The most successful organizations are fantastic storytellers, positive behaviour breeds positive behaviour- share the positive transformations at every level of your organization and watch how it multiplies before your eyes.

Instant Gratification or Sustained Success? 

Most of us are familiar with the adage “one cookie now or 2 cookies later?” Ask yourself, do you want short-term, unsustainable success, if so chase the dollar. If you’re going to create a legacy, then invest in your people, nurture and empower them. The return will not only come in a monetary form, but in loyalty, hard work, and brand evangelists who will promote your business like it is their own.

If Retail Automotive wants to survive, change must happen. Invest in your people and Internal Culture; you won’t be sorry you did.

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