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The Business Case for Gratitude

This year, I’m upping my “thank you” game, and I challenge you to the same in your dealership — for the benefit of your employees, your customers and yourself.

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It’s that time of year when we focus on how thankful we are for what we have. We go around the table and verbally express our gratitude for our friends, our family and the food in front of us. This year, I’m as thankful as ever for the people in my home life, but I’ve also come to realize how thankful I am for the people in my work life.

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It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride as we’ve entered the post-peak market cycle. For many in this industry, it has been a year of difficult budget cuts and painful restructuring. And yet, I constantly find myself surrounded by such gracious people on both sides; both my customers and my coworkers have continued to amaze me with their spirit and resiliency.

This year, I’m upping my “thank you” game, and I challenge you to the same in your dealership — for the benefit of your employees, your customers and yourself.

Thank You, Employees

It’s no secret that employee turnover is a huge problem in our industry. According to a recent study by Cox Automotive, annual turnover can be as high as 67 percent among dealership salespeople. There are many reasons this is happening, but one likely culprit is low job satisfaction among dealership employees.

While there are no quick fixes to the problem of low job satisfaction, saying “thank you” to the people you work with can be a great first step. According to Achievers, an employee recognition firm, 93 percent of employees hope to be recognized at least once a quarter, and 75 percent of employees who received at least monthly recognition (even if informal) reported being satisfied with their jobs. In addition, 81 percent of employees said that they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, according to a survey by Glassdoor.

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The improved job satisfaction that comes from being recognized, both by peers and managers, likely also improves your customers’ experience — 41 percent of companies with peer-to-peer recognition programs have seen increases in customer satisfaction.

It’s important to note that saying “thank you” to a couple of employees one time likely won’t help you achieve the results you’d like. But there’s no better time to get in a habit than the season of giving. Start by setting calendar reminders and take advantage of the information available in tools like your CRM to identify top performers to thank.

Thank You, Customers

Just as essential to dealerships as employee retention is customer retention. In fact, according to a study by Xtime, customer retention is the primary overall concern of 64 percent of dealerships.

And, just like with employees, showing appreciation for your customers can go a long way in building loyalty. Studies have found that 77 percent of consumers like it when businesses demonstrate their appreciation.

With this in mind, consider building “thanks” into your dealership’s processes. Write “thank you” into your BDC’s talking points. Using your CRM or other marketing tools, set up an automated email or direct mail “thank you” campaign to go out to customers who come into your dealership for service or to check out a new vehicle. Working gratitude into the day-to-day routine of your dealership can go a long way toward making your customers feel appreciated — and keeping them coming back.

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Thank You, Better You

During this holiday season, we’re often reminded that it is better to give than to receive; science has proven just how true this is for gratitude. Taking the time to explicitly and intentionally express gratitude has bountiful benefits, including increased happiness, self-esteem, empathy and resilience. And if that’s not enough, you’ll also get more done; happier people are 12 percent more productive.

So, go ahead, say “thank you” a few extra times this season.

Mark Vickery

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