Green Grass of Home

The grass isn't always greener on the other side. It's just the sun is shining at a different angle, and it's the same shade once you get over there. So says Jerald Petterson, service manger at Prestige Ford in Garland, TX. He should know. Having upwards of 50 service technicians working for him, he periodically deals with someone leaving for perceived greener pastures. Not to say that every time

“The grass isn't always greener on the other side. It's just the sun is shining at a different angle, and it's the same shade once you get over there.”

So says Jerald Petterson, service manger at Prestige Ford in Garland, TX. He should know. Having upwards of 50 service technicians working for him, he periodically deals with someone leaving for perceived greener pastures.

Not to say that every time an employee leaves, it's worse off for that person. However many times techs can be swayed to a different store for only a buck or so more an hour. Many employees find in the end that it wasn't really worth it.

Many service managers face the unpleasant situation of technicians announcing their intentions to work elsewhere. That can be bad news, indeed, considering today's industry shortage of technicians.

Nowadays, techs know theirs is a profession that's not attracting new recruits in massive numbers. Techs feel they may be in demand, and therefore able to make more money somewhere else.

Everyone is replaceable. If they think they're not, it's time for them to wake up. Prima donna electrical or transmissions techs are replaceable, especially if they're not keen on staying in the first place.

It's the service manager's job to create harmony. If a couple of non-team players are looking to move on, they might need a reality check. Let them go elsewhere. Otherwise good people are worth keeping.

Losing people in the back end is certainly different than losing people in the front. Sales people turn over is one thing. A salesperson might move for a variety of reasons:

  • Real or perceived higher commissions.
  • No real chance for advancement
  • Feeling they were “penciled” too many times
  • Discord with a manager
  • They got their “real” job back; for some sales people, working at a dealership is a transition.
  • They left to follow another employee, usually a manager, to another store.

Technicians, on the other hand, usually leave for jobs that pay a couple of dollars more an hour. That's often it. What they fail to realize is that there are so many other factors, not just money (although that's not an unimportant one).

These are some other things that a service manager must educate the staff on, rather than just commenting on perceived hues of grass:

  • Does the other store have the same volume of business?
  • You may sign on for higher hourly wages, but are you making the same kind of hours? For a tech, this obviously affects the take home pay.
  • Are they spiffed on some products sold? Spiffs for different upsells can equate to an extra $100 or so per month.
  • Are they given an efficiency bonus?
  • Does the other store pay on the same flat rate system (manufacturers'/Chilton's/Mitchell's)? There can be a huge disparity in flat rate times and how much they pay.
  • How does the other store dispatch the work; are they on the same computer system? There is a chance you will not be in good favor with the dispatcher, hence the quality of repair orders you get, might suck!
  • Are there any CSI incentives? Many stores nowadays offer a fixed-right-first-visit bonus if it is above regional or in the top 10% of stores in the country.

If a dealership has a good team and offers a homey feel, people won't usually leave unless it's a darn good reason.

To foster that goodwill, sponsor outside activities for employees. Barbecues, picnics and ballgames are great activities for company togetherness.

They create a bond among the staff. If people feel they belong, they're more likely to stay for the right reasons.

Dave Skrobot ([email protected]/ 1-888-681-7355) is vice president of fixed operations training for the Automotive Sales College.

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