Running a Shop Human Resources

How One Quick Lube Chain Developed an Employee Recognition Program

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Take 5


Managers often correct mistakes in the shop. Just as often, they should promote the behaviors that employees do to avoid problems in the first place.

In “HR Mistakes Hurting Employee Retention” from the July issue of NOLN, HR expert Claudia St. John said that employees who are doing all the right things often miss out on detailed feedback from operators and managers. She said that taking time to review good performance is just as effective as correcting the bad.

It’s not only a system of recognition for jobs well done, but it’s also an incentive for techs and staff members to reach higher and do even better. Detailed feedback for good work might be one of the more overlooked duties of a shop manager or operator.

It’s important for retention, too. A 2016 Gallup analysis found that employees who don’t feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to consider quitting in the next year.

The creation of a recognition program is a great way to fill this role, but it might be tough to get the ball rolling on a new process, particularly for an operator splitting time between several shops.

That was the challenge for Take 5 Oil Change, which set out to create a recognition and award program for its entire network. Here’s how they did it.



It started casually. Before it was a program, the company had a name for it.

“Whatever we do, let’s just call it the Take 5 High 5,” says Jazmin Brown, Take 5’s director of curriculum and communications. “As long as it’s a genuine way to show recognition for staff.”

They worked up a logo—a palm print with “TAKE 5” written on it. It was incorporated into an existing award within the company, but it grew into its own thing.

“We wanted to give a formal tool to our leadership,” Brown says. “We also wanted to give them some monetary incentive to give out.”

Brown and her team worked up a system that could be spread among the company’s 40 district managers. They aligned the award categories with Take 5’s strategic goal areas: customer service, fleet growth, marketing execution, operations excellence and product knowledge. A sixth category was added as a wild card.

Take 5 sent the certificates out to the districts, and Take 5 High 5 was born.


How it Works

The company started by sending out about a year’s worth of High 5s.

“We launched this in January, and we shipped out 20 awards for each of the district managers,” Brown says. “Along with the awards, there is a letter and an envelope.”

The certificates themselves give a little insight into what it takes to earn one. The award for operations excellence, for example, read:

You’ve shown an above-and-beyond dedication to operations excellence. You’ve had a noticeable impact on one or more of the following: ticket average, repeat customers, driving in new customers, labor hours, inventory management, reducing claims, safety, discount %, commitment to new hires, or facilities cleanliness.

Employees get $20 as part of the awards. They text a special code back to headquarters, and the funds are added to their paychecks. Brown says they landed on $20 to manage the number of awards that would make if effective.

“We had to balance our budget with approximately 50 people that we were sending awards to, so $20 allowed us to print about 1,000 awards for Q1,” she says.

Making more awards available might give the impression that they’re too easy to attain. And the $20 figure made it work with the budget. Brown says the company sets aside at least $15,000 each quarter for the awards.

Brown says they expected district managers to give out four or five awards per quarter, though the entire thing is voluntary. But they really took to it, and Brown says they reached 500 awards given out by springtime.

“Some of the district managers that took this and really ran with it,” Brown says. “We shipped them extra.”


The Impact

Brown says that when Take 5 conducted an employee engagement survey roughly eight months ago and found that employees wanted to be heard. Take 5 High 5 is part of that effort.

In comments collected by Take 5, employees say they appreciated the recognition after a hard day’s work or a big effort.

“Feels good to be acknowledged,” certified tech Terrance Stewart says. “Want it to happen more often. I got it for working hard on a 100-car day.”

That’s a central goal of employee recognition programs, Brown says. Like any quick lube, Take 5 is looking for ways to get employees to stick around. Retention is huge. 

One district training manager says that employees want to know that the company sees when they improve a shop’s KPIs. 

“On a side note, it has created a healthy competition between team members and district shops to work harder and together to achieve a Take 5 High 5,” says Tyler Cagle in comments collected by Take 5.

It’s also a way for Take 5 corporate headquarters to stay involved with the shop network. Centralized services like marketing or human resources have awards to dole out.

Will they change up the program? Brown says that the company surveyed district managers and found that it seemed to be working as is, right down to the $20 award.

“It kinda just proves that it’s not all about the money side of it,” she says. “It’s about the feeling, the understanding that you’re recognized in your role.”

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