“Millennials are taking over my business!”

Okay, that’s not true, but that’s exactly what one dealer, Joe, thought a year ago.

Joe has been in the car business over 22 years, and he’s been an owner for 14 of them. Throughout his time running a dealership, he’s seen the industry through market retractions, selling booms and everything in between.

And through it all, he’s always had the help of his hard-working and dedicated staff behind him.

But about a year ago Joe started noticing some of his staff were becoming dissatisfied with their roles. This discontent led to a lack of company pride in his dealership and ultimately started affecting sales. Soon he even found himself losing talented and previously loyal employees. What’s worse is that recruiting new superstars has become harder than ever before. His employee morale was crumbling…FAST.

At first he reacted similarly to most organizations—blame the millennials.

But as Joe soon found out, the problem wasn’t who was working for him. It was where they were working. Joe was facing a company culture crisis. And this culture problem wasn’t going to fix itself. It was time to take action!

The truth is, in order to retain talented employees and recruit new high performers, you need to foster an engaging and fulfilling work environment. That’s what today’s workforce is looking for from an employer.

The benefits of having a strong company culture more than make up for the effort it takes to build and maintain one. Culture begins and ends with your employees. So when they feel satisfied with their roles and your culture as a whole, they’ll perform better, which will ultimately lead to more profit for your dealership.

Beyond that, no two company cultures look or act alike, so once you have a defined company culture you’re able to hire people who fit into your organization better. Doing so will lead to higher employee retention and reduce the amount of time, effort and resources you dedicate to recruiting and training.

Making a strong and defined company culture essential to running a profitable dealership with dedicated employees.

So how do you do it?

Your first step towards developing a strong, positive culture in your dealership is to get your employees to accept and understand the changes you’re making.

This is called Employee Buy-In, and it’s important because your employees are the driving force behind your culture evolving. When you have employee buy-in, the changes you’ll implement will happen with more ease because people know and fully understand the reason the changes are being made.

The best way to develop employee buy-in is through these four steps.

STEP 1: Develop A Story

Developing your story as a dealer is the first step in helping employees understand your dealership’s overall purpose.

Why do you sell cars? Where did you begin? Why and how are you passionate about it? How does the work you do help the community at large?

Once you’re able to answer these questions you’ll have a strong foundation you can use to develop the next step.

STEP 2: What’s Your Why?

Here, you build a mission statement that uses your story as a guiding point.

A mission statement should be short, concise and people-oriented. A great format to follow when writing it is, “We believe _______ because _________ and we’ll make it happen by ______.” But your mission statement can be whatever you want it to be.

STEP 3: Determine Your Values

Often building off of what you’ve previously established with your story and reason why, values are guiding principles for what you will and won’t do at your dealership.

For example, if one of your values is “respect to all people,” you need to show respect to not only your customers but your employees too. And you’ll set the expectation that all employees do the same.

Additionally, every employee should know not only your story and mission but should be able to identify your company’s values because knowing and understanding these elements is vital to earning employee buy-in and will help guide the decision-making process at every level of your dealership.

Once you have these building blocks in place, you’re able to execute the final step of building your company’s culture.

STEP 4: Create An Empowering Vision

This is your idea of where the company is currently and where it’s headed in the future. Explaining how every individual employee plays an important role in this vision will give everyone a strong purpose.  When people have a purpose, they work harder and are happier.

The vision you set will help you develop systems and processes that encourage employees to embrace the work you do and work hard to improve daily.

Once you’ve established these four steps, you’ll be well on your way to improving your overall culture, but the work doesn’t stop there.

That’s because a big piece of the culture puzzle that a lot of businesses overlook: you’re never done developing your culture.

You must continually remind your employees about the vision of your company and their role in making your mission a reality, while every action should contribute to reinforcing your culture.

Actions such as hosting an employee recognition program, which highlights employees’ who go above and beyond to help your customers and make the dealership a great place to work. In recognizing these employees, their peers are encouraged to follow suit and go above and beyond in their actions too, which will foster an overall better environment in your dealership.

You could even host community-centered activities like staff birthday recognition or community food drives. Because these activities highlight your people-first mission, they help build up the idea that you and everything you do is done with a people-first mentality, which reinforces your role in the community for both your employees and the customers.

And these are just a few of the many ideas you could implement into your routine to show your appreciation for and dedication to your mission.

When every action you take conveys your overall message to both employees and customers, your mission is reinforced and helps develop a sense of camaraderie within your dealership.

If you act one way toward customers and another way to employees, everyone will feel the disconnect in your culture, and you’ll ultimately end up isolating your employees and making customers distrust your dealership.

Joe realized the only mission statement that truly aligned with himself, his employees and the community at large centered around one core idea: “Stop selling cars and start selling solutions.”

This new vision allowed him to develop a culture everyone would feel confident supporting because everyone can feel confident doing work that they believe will ultimately help the community at large.

The results Joe experienced with his staff after implementing this new ideology into his routine was almost night and day. For the first time in over a year, he was beginning to see employee moral improve.

People were performing their roles with more motivation and enthusiasm due to the reinforced overall work purpose. Communication between various departments had improved due in part to company-wide events.

These changes lead to his dealership functioning better, and his sales went up due to the positivity and efficiency gained through his strong company culture.

We get it, starting to rebuild weak or wavering employee morale can be frustrating. But with a little time and effort, a positive company culture could lead your dealership to greater success and higher sales.

We help dealerships build positive cultures and achieve success every day. If you’re ready to take your dealership to the next level, click here to see if your market is available.