Many moons ago, as a manager at a dealership, I conducted an exercise that helped me better understand each of my team member’s motivations. What gets them up in the morning, and what gets them coming into work, day in and day out? Sitting each person down, I asked a series of questions, including why they chose the industry, why they chose this particular store, what do they most want as a reward for a job well done, and so on. The answer we all expect was absolutely said, but not as much as one would believe.
As I speak to dealership personnel in droves as part of our training at DealerKnows, I often find myself asking these same questions. Why do I need to? Because my job is to improve the performance of a team, and until I know what personally motivates your team to keep coming into work, I can’t impress upon them the importance of growth.
Walk through your dealership and you can often see on the faces of those around you how excited they are to be there. You can see it in the pep in their step or the dragging of their feet. On the smile on their face or the scowl of their mouth. You can tell by what they watch on their phones versus how much they speak into it. During my time connecting with individual salespeople and BDC agents, how they answer what keeps them coming in every day often determines their longevity with the organization (and within the industry). By no means are they in the majority, but there are three very good reasons people have that keep them coming into work…
While your place of employment isn’t a social club, a playground, or a school, positive interaction with coworkers is a great motivator for someone to come into work every day. Promoting healthy relationships among your team members fosters a feeling of belonging, which is an incredibly strong psychological pull. Happy team members working cohesively achieve goals, so when an employee says “I like the people I work with” or “we’re like family”, support that sentiment. (This also shows how cancerous, overly-competitive, antagonistic employees can have a profoundly negative impact of your employee retention rate if you allow their personality flaws to live freely on your floor.
It feels very good to believe in what you sell and have strong convictions about the quality of product you represent. If someone doesn’t have confidence in the product they offer to the public, or the caliber of vehicle they pitch, it will quickly wear on their motivation to keep coming into work. As it pertains to a car dealership, this means the standard of vehicle you offer (specifically on the pre-owned side), and how you correct mechanical/cosmetic issues in advance of the sale, and after, can play a major role as to whether your employees want to walk through your front door every morning. Cutting corners when it comes to the product causes employees to cut and run.
Many people are personally motivated by pride, and when it comes to where they choose to work for a living, this can take on two shapes. If you have a sterling reputation that the community recognizes as a valuable part of the area, that means something nowadays. Potential hires (the quality ones at least) all look at the reviews of your organization, check out GlassDoor.com, and ask around. Employees want to feel they represent a company that is esteemed, not ashamed. When you hear them say, “I love the company I work for” or “they truly do treat customers the right way”, then you’re doing right.
The other way Pride can be a positive motivator for a worker is when they take pride in the quality of service they personally provide. When you love what you do for work, your excited to get into work to do it. In other words, those who have truly mastered skills of their position are often positive, upbeat, and excited to work with customers and coworkers. (Those that don’t take pride in their career choice, or are middling at best in their performance, find it hard to keep coming into work over and over.) When you hear someone say, “I really enjoy what I do for a living”, that is normally someone you want to hold onto.
This is the one bad reason, I’ve heard from employees, that often leads to mediocre results. When someone is solely motivated by money, it is hard from them to get excited every single day. (Now, I respect when those I train tell me they work as hard as they do to make enough money to create a better life for themselves or their family, but that is different than “money”. People often ask for flexibility of schedule, time off, or even recognition among their peers, but when their sole motivation is the almighty dollar, it leads to a few regular outcomes…
- They can get stolen away by someone offering more money, as no loyalty is built in.
- The first sign of a bad fiscal month or a short check has a serious impact on their happiness and how they treat others.
- With money as their north star, treating coworkers like family, celebrating the company, or learning the product is all a tertiary concern to them.
- You can get them to respond positively to company goals if you’re dangling a carrot out for them (or a spiff/bonus of some sort), but the moment that financial reward goes away, so does their desire to continue. Not unless a new motivation is found.
When I hear dealership employees say “I’m only here for the money” or “I need a paycheck”, it is never a ringing endorsement of a person who sees your organization as anything more than a job, even if it is their career. When this comes up, it is up to you, the manager and ownership, to identify a deeper goal for them.
The more you, as an organization, listen to your people, and learn what personally motivates them, the better you will be at developing systems to achieve everyone’s goals. You need to invest in both your employees and your company culture so that, slowly but surely, everyone’s personal motivational need is met and it contributes to the growth of the company and their position. Every company is only as good as their people. Employee satisfaction, if managed properly, increases company output. You will only ever be as good as your team is motivated to become.