Everyone has expectations of whatever it is they do. This column considers the ideas of customer expectations and customer profiles and, in the future, will discuss customer service issues and what our customers’ expectations are in that area.
Believe it or not, great customer service begins with happy and satisfied employees. For the past year, I have continued to research and develop a training schedule for this interesting concept. I have called it, “the new normal.”
The new normal embraces changes that have occurred as a result of the worst economic decline since The Great Depression. This great downturn was referred to as The Great Recession, which may be a matter of perception instead of an accurate description of what has really happened.
It’s said a recession is when your neighbor is out of a job, and a depression is when you are out of a job. It has also been noted from 2008 through 2013, every American adult was either directly affected or indirectly affected through a family member or close friend by the Great Recession. As America crawls out of its recession, a new normal is emerging, and it’s affected our workforce.
Have you ever considered that great customer service begins with great employees? We all want great employees, but to attract and retain great employees, we need to consider what our employees want from us. One of the biggest surprises is of the top expectations from employees, pay was not the No. 1 desire or reason an employee performs at a higher rate. Today’s employees, who are largely represented by the Generation Y (also called Millennials) group born after 1980, want more than just a paycheck. In many ways, Gen Y is more like their grandparents, the Silent Generation, than they are like their parents, the baby boomers. One interesting trait millennials share is they will be the first generation since the American Revolution to have fewer possessions than their parents.
This is interesting because these future leaders will own less and, unfortunately, owe more than any generation since the mid-1700s. The biggest inheritance they can expect to receive is the largest debt ever passed from one generation to the next. So maybe it makes more sense money is not the No. 1 factor they are seeking when looking for employment. Don’t misunderstand — the pay rate is important, and an employee will consider the pay. However, there are other factors or expectations that are also high on the employee expectation list.
Work environment is important. In fact, several polls show work environment is the No. 1 reason an employee will accept a job and the No. 1 reason an employee will quit their job.
Does the workplace have toxic waste oozing from under the shop doors? Is the shop clean? Are workspaces organized? A potential new employee will realize this.
Is “shop drama” kept to a minimum? Shop drama is a leading reason why an employee will resign from their job. Shop drama, a function of the shop culture, is an environmental issue that must be addressed so an employee can perform his or her duty to the fullest. Keeping the work environment at its healthiest is a manager’s job. An easy way to detect an unhealthy work environment is whenever a recurring issue arises. Every shop manager can recall a time when it seemed every time they turned around one particular employee was always in the middle of a controversy. The problem is with that individual. The sooner they are dealt with, the sooner the shop’s environment will return to a healthy state. If the work environment is a leading reason why someone would quit his or her job, then it stands to reason that work environment would be a leading expectation of an employee.
Training seems like a no-brainer. As I travel around our great industry, it always shocks me when a manager complains to me that their crew performs at low levels. When I ask what the training regimen is for new hires, as well as what the ongoing training requirements are, the managers or owners will say something along the lines that it is up to the employees to ask if they do not know what to do. I have also witnessed a shop manager who said, “Our work is simple. We are changing oil. How hard could it be?” Well, it’s not simple, and continued training is important if you want to attract and keep good technicians.
Today’s workforce wants to be educated, so be sure to keep education interesting with a combination of hands-on, classroom and even web-based training tools to keep your technicians current on today’s vehicles.
The Right Tools for the Job
There are few frustrations quite like knowing how to do a job but not having the tools to do it right. Your technicians need to be given the tools they need to do their jobs correctly.
Most industry trainers will agree: if you want to teach a technician how to cut corners, ask them to complete a job and then give them instructions on how to manipulate tools or equipment to do the job. It is no wonder technicians are confused when a manager confronts them for cutting corners. The techs think they were taught to cut corners by not getting the tools or equipment they needed and instead were given advice on how to cut corners using the wrong tools. Once cutting corners is acceptable, then deciding when to cut corners and when not to can get confusing.
Recognition for a Job Well Done
Once during an owner/manager training session, I heard an owner claim, “I don’t have to tell my techs ‘good job’ or ‘thank you’ because I pay them every week for doing what I hired them to do.” He went on to say, “You just can’t find people who want to work anymore. All they want is a paycheck. They don’t care about their work.”
After I picked up my jaw off the ground and tried to find something to say that would not get me fired from my job, I suggested his attitude, not his staff’s, is what made his techs only work for the pay. What I wanted to tell him was once he came out of his cave, he might realize that today’s workforce has a unique need for job satisfaction and most of these millennials have deep-seeded desires to work for something besides money.
Remember the prior statement in this article about Gen Y being more like their grandparents and less like their parents? It applies in this area also. The attitude that our technicians want to be recognized for a job well done is contagious and spreads within the shop. Recognizing an employee in a positive way is a guaranteed method for attracting and retaining good technicians.
Employee expectations in the new normal are very unique, but the shops that recognize and adjust to these expectations will thrive and grow as our industry adapts.
RAGAN HOLT is the quick lube advisor for National Oil & Lube News. He is available for consulting and training in the quick oil and lube industry. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org