Invested in Others
As Dynamic Automotive has grown from one to four locations in northwest Maryland, Dwayne Myers claims one core investment has been key to that growth.
“If you’re not investing in your people, you’ll never grow,” he says. “You can’t move out of your small, two-bay shop if your employees don’t believe you’ll take them somewhere great.”
That statement essentially sums up Myers, who can’t even describe his day-to-day activities without constantly mentioning his employees. Whether he’s mentoring them, asking for advice, hosting meetings about new digital inspection software, or planning out their training schedule, it seems as though Myers, co-owner and CFO of Dynamic Automotive, practices what he preaches. Nothing seems to come before his employees, and they’ve returned the favor with a low turnover rate, commendable customer service and commitment to his shop.
Myers manages one of the Dynamic Automotive locations, and covers how he makes employee empowerment the main component of his day.
I can try to plan my day out, but really the day plans me out. I’d like to say I’m proactive and not reactive, but most of my day really is me attending to my employees, figuring out what they need to perform their jobs better.
As far as I see it, that’s the key to our business being as successful as it’s been. If I take care of my employees, then they’ll take care of customers. They do an excellent job. They’re important to me, and they know that. And because of that, our customers are always happy with us.
I open up the shop each morning about a half hour before my guys show up. I check the jobs coming in that day and make sure they have everything they need for when they get there.
I make sure to greet each employee every morning. It might not be the first second they step in the door, but within the first hour they’re there, I at least make it a point to walk around and say hello, ask them how their night was, and just make casual conversation. It doesn’t always have to be about work.
If I make that round and stop what I’m doing for a minute, it helps with the flow. If I don’t go around and talk to them, they think, Oh he’s in a bad mood. He’s upset with me. It’s amazing how many people think you’re mad at them and they’re not even on your radar. If you just go and say hi to them and make a connection, it sets the mood for them.
I do the banking for all four of our locations, so I try to get that out of the way as early as possible before we get busy. It is a very active store and things change very quickly. Most of my morning is spent talking to the team. What’s going on that day and what their schedules look like.
I try to keep them as involved in shop decisions as possible. I try to get them to tell us what direction to head, that way I have buy-in from them and they’re committed to whatever our plan is as a company. Right now we’re looking at software for digital inspections, and the guys are making the choices. I’m just guiding them down the road. We have weekly meetings to go over options for the company and what best suits us. That way it’s their program, their product—they chose it, and it’s what they want.
Building a team takes constant work. You can have the most talented team in the world, but if you don’t connect with them in some way, they won’t commit to your shop.
We’re very committed to being one with the community and creating a unique experience for the customer. We don’t want to be the shop you drive by and have no idea who we are. We want to be able to make a connection. It makes it fun when you know the person when they pull up. You know who they are, you know their kids, and you know their kids’ kids because you’ve been in their lives for 20 years. That’s something that’s special. Not every retail or service out there can say that they know their customers.
I encourage all our people to take time and talk to our customers. Our quick lube employees are younger and don’t like to talk a lot. I tell them, It’s a necessity. If you see somebody, it’s courtesy to greet them. And I encourage them to take a couple of minutes. Even if it’s not a problem with the car. If you guys have something in common, take five minutes to talk about it. Some people would call that unproductive—I call that very productive because it builds that relationship you need, which in turn gives the customer the experience they want nowadays and it brings a level of trust.
I encourage everyone to take a break and leave and go eat somewhere else if they can. It makes a huge difference. Automotive service can be very hectic and busy, and an hour break can really reset you. Sometimes we’ll go take a lunch together for an hour, which gives us a chance to chit-chat and talk about stuff that isn’t working.
For day-to-day operations, we have such a strong support team from within because we spend so much time on training, which ends up empowering them to make choices. If a customer is upset about something, my team has everything it needs to help that customer.
The biggest thing I try to do throughout the day is development of our people. And it’s not just technicians and teaching the guys in the shop. I’m teaching the service writers something as simple as phone etiquette—the proper way to greet people and make phone calls. The majority of my time is investing my energy in that.
We map out our training schedules for the entire year, and try to get everyone traveling somewhere at least once. We had four people going to the SEMA Show in 2016. It’s something our team really appreciates because on top of education, they know we believe in them enough to send them. We know they’re worth the effort so we invest in them, and it gives them a reason to stay with us. We even have a couple people in our offices we’re helping to pay for their associate’s degrees.
At the end of the day, I like to create a short list of tasks for the next day that I want to get done. The day gets so busy with four locations, you need that list when you get back to your desk so it grounds you. You know your to-dos and what you have to get done the next day. So I try to prepare my next day for me, and then if I have projects for my team, I’ll remind them ahead of time so it’s fresh on my mind.
Also, I must be doing something right, because most people stop by and say goodbye to me at the end of the day. I wish everyone a good night or a good weekend, and it’s a nice way to end the day.