How to Keep You Staff on Task
In any quick lube business, speed is of the essence. It’s why many of your customers visit your operation. However, that differentiator can be all but abandoned if your staff doesn’t remain efficient and productive.
Dave Rogers would go so far as to say it’s the cornerstone of the quick lube business.
Rogers is now the president of the training outfit Auto Profit Masters and continues to help run Keller Bros in Littleton, Colo., which has a quick lube segment of the business.
All that to say? He’s confident the following six tips will help keep your staff consistently and sustainably on task.
As told to Anna Zeck
1) Understand the difference between being “on task” and genuinely productive.
If you’re on task, you are performing your normal job duties without caring about efficiency. If you’re only on task, you’re going through the motions and hoping you don’t get fired. If you're being genuinely productive, you’re completing your tasks thoroughly, efficiently and with care. Everybody on the team benefits, and so does the customer. It means you’re doing thorough inspections, which increases sales, but also protects our brand. We’re setting our brand apart from all the places someone could take their car to get an oil change.
You’re finding ways to go above and beyond to go above normal job duties because it helps the whole operation.
2) Learn to motivate.
From a management perspective, it really comes down to us business owners learning how to properly incentivize the behaviors we want to see. Lube tech pay plans, along with the rest of pay plans, including the manager’s, should reward productivity and accuracy. There should also be some sort of commission pool they can earn through recommendations, authorized and completed work, hitting goals and targets.
But also from which they can “pay” from mistakes they make, so there’s real accountability. Of course, legally you can’t bill your employee for a mistake made, but if it’s a discretionary bonus, you have the ability to go back and help him or her understand that we shouldn't’ just slap the wrong oil filter on that car, for example.
3) Build a commission pay plan that works.
The purpose of an incentive pay plan is to keep them motivated, accountable and truly engaged with the work they're performing. Money’s a critical part of that and the right pay plan can create a team of winning employees, but you need a balance between productivity and creating a feeling of greed. It requires a great deal of understanding, and you need to look at measurements. How does the person perform? How does the team interact? What happens if the business stumbles? Test those numbers against future possibilities.
But you’ve also got to find a way to plug them into their passions. If all I was doing all day was turning wrenches, I’m not sure that would thrill me much. It’s about protecting and taking care of my neighbors, helping young people grow and have opportunities in their careers. Where are the employees’ passions? Are there opps for them to grow?
4) Look for the telltale signs.
The easiest way to see if they’re off task is standing around doing nothing, but it’s not always that obvious. The best way to know for certain is to measure. When your team isn’t staying on task, they’re not completing thorough inspections, so your lube lanes’ ARO is a very clear indicator. If you’ve chosen the right software, you will see daily metrics for profitability, sales, growth, shortcomings. Do this daily and take time in the morning to address any shortcomings or training that needs to take place as a result.
5) Set clear expectations.
Does your team understand what they should do when their tasks are complete? Some people take great initiative, but that’s a small percentage. In a quick lube, a good portion of the team is fairly new. We hire someone and we think they seem great and know what they’re doing so we don’t take that time to teach them the “why.” It’s our responsibility to define what they’re supposed to do when tasks are completed and to put procedures in place so when the work is finished, the additional responsibilities (such as stocking parts, cleaning, painting, etc.) are very obvious.
6) Create accountability on the team.
If the team’s great potential to maximize that pay can be reduced by sloppiness, they usually help each other make sure it’s right. Rather than being in fear, it’s a more collaborative or cooperative environment. Accountability begins with a clear chain of command in your biz, both up and down. That’s where your culture comes in. Culture means we’re going to live the way we want them to exhibit. If everyone is growing, they will not only hold themselves accountable, they’ll look out for the best interest of your customers and your brand.