Hey employees, it’s your time to speak up. Owners? Sit and listen.


(Ed. Note about change in first paragraph: Ray said, sure, go ahead and add his name.)

A while back, I got a note from Ray Jones, service manager at Shawnee Honda in Shawnee, OK.

The gist of his message is this: Often times, the regular workaday employees of a dealership don’t get a chance to weigh in on what could be done to improve business. And, in many cases, these workers are on the front lines of a store and know exactly what is or isn’t going right (sometimes before the management ever catches on).

So, this begs the question: When the economy goes soft and everyone is scrambling for ideas, how many often does management turn to its seasoned insiders for ideas?

Here’s the text of a short column I asked him to submit. Take a look and please let us know what you think — and maybe offer up examples of when you were asked for ideas, what they were and the results.

Maybe the best ideas are right under our noses and we are failing to even consider them. These are the ideas of the employees. Let’s challenge the people who actually work in the dealerships to bring new innovative ideas to the table and not overlook is how smart these folks just might be.

Let’s face it when people are challenged, the cream rises to the top. Not all great ideas have to come from a business’s management or owners. When the economy cools down it can take management’s creative thinking with it. Great ideas are great regardless of where they come from.

Are your employees being challenged to bring ideas to the table that could reduce costs or increase profits? Or are your employees required to turn a blind eye to your excessive spending and employees not carrying their weight. Is the attitude around your store, “Shut up do your job and be happy you have one?” After all it is your business and you do as you please and treat people anyway you want.

The heart and soul of every dealership is the employees. More than likely how they are treated is exactly how your customers are being treated also.

What could be so wrong with tapping into a free evaluation of your business by the people who may possibly know it better that you do? No matter what you think the agenda of the dealership changes when you are gone. That does not mean it is wrong or bad. Many employees are faithful and possibly work harder when you are gone. Something that might keep things  on track when you are gone is their own ideas being cultivated to success in your business. Everybody wants to see their ideas be successful. They will most likely work on it whether you are there or not. It does not mean you have to turn the keys over or change the name of the place.

And, it’s free! Experts are hired all the time to evaluate what’s right or wrong in a dealership. Sometimes at outrageous prices by people who have never worked a day in a dealership. Owners and managers join groups to share ideas. Does it really matter where great ideas come from? Want to save some money? Offer a spiff to the best money saving idea.

Start a contest every month. Stimulate the people in the dealership to share ideas to save money. Challenge them to come up with ideas to make money and give it time and resources to succeed. I believe management could see some great ideas become really profitable. It could be something as simple as offering take a photo of a customer his new machine for a few bucks. You could also carry some frames to put the picture in.

Have a great idea you would like to share? Maybe one that’s been successful in your store or elsewhere, or one in the back of your mind. Even if your great idea is not being used someone else may want a crack at it. Heck feel free share some really stupid ideas you have had but didn’t work out. I bet I can top you on it.

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