Bennett: Empowering Your Team: Why Letting Employees Own Their Silo Drives Success 

April 19, 2024
In this month's column, Mike Bennett talks about the benefit of allowing your team members to take ownership of their work.

Could you imagine two shops, side by side, offering the same services at similar prices, with equally skilled technicians? Yet, one consistently outperforms the other, boasting a loyal customer base, a consistently high car count, and a stellar reputation. What sets them apart? The answer likely lies in value and experience. Of course, the value and experience I'm speaking of is customer experience, not employee tenure. By carefully selecting team members and giving them the freedom to manage their areas of expertise, from diagnostics to customer service, any leader can create a fantastic product-differentiator- a team of highly motivated and innovative employees who truly "own" their results. 


Prepare to Transform Your Customer Experience  

In today's competitive auto repair marketplace, forward-thinking shop owners always seek ways to enhance performance, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. One powerful but often overlooked strategy is empowering employees to take ownership of their roles—giving them genuine autonomy and responsibility in their areas of expertise and the results their efforts produce. When you have a team of workers who approach their jobs with an owner's mindset, taking pride and accountability in their work, it can completely transform the customer experience, the employee experience, and the business's success. 


Why Letting Employees Own Their Silo Drives Success 

1. Fosters a Sense of Ownership 

The benefits of empowered employees are immense. When workers feel a sense of ownership over their areas, whether diagnostics, repairs, customer service, or shop operations, they become deeply invested in the business's success. No longer just punching the clock, they proactively look for ways to innovate, optimize their workflows, and deliver the highest quality. They collaborate more effectively, bringing their full creativity and problem-solving abilities to the table. For the shop owner, this translates into significant improvements across the board - faster and more reliable service, the ability to handle higher volumes, an improved bottom line, and ultimately, delighted customers who keep coming back. 


2. Roles Are Clearly Defined 

Empowering employees is a strategic process that requires active leadership. As a leader, you must prepare your team and yourself for a successful transition. This starts with carefully selecting the right person for each role based on their strengths, skills, and interests. Have an open conversation to align on the scope of responsibilities and objectives. Provide comprehensive training and resources to prepare them for success. 


3. Establishes Metrics & Deliverables  

To ensure the best outcomes for all involved: the customer, the vehicle, the company, and the employee, it's crucial to establish clear metrics and deliverables that define what success looks like. Doing so allows both the leader and the employee to understand the impact of their efforts and track progress toward goals. For example, in diagnostics, success might be measured by the accuracy of diagnoses, the speed of troubleshooting, and the percentage of first-time fixes. In customer service, metrics could include customer satisfaction scores, average wait times, and an improved sales conversion rate. Setting these benchmarks together and regularly reviewing performance creates a shared understanding of expectations and a roadmap for continuous improvement. 


4. Grants Autonomy While Remaining Engaged  

As you hand over the reins, the key is to strike a balance between granting autonomy and remaining actively engaged. Make it clear that you trust their judgment and abilities, but also ensure they know you are there to provide ongoing support and guidance. This doesn't mean micromanaging or undermining their decisions—it's about being a resource and a sounding board, helping them work through challenges and celebrating their successes. Schedule regular one-on-one check-ins to discuss progress, challenges, and growth opportunities. Use these meetings to coach and mentor, not to criticize or control. Promote open and constructive two-way feedback, encouraging employees to share their ideas and concerns. And remember to celebrate wins and milestones along the way - recognition is a powerful motivator. 


5. Fosters a Culture of Collaboration 

It's also critical to foster a culture of collaboration and interdependence across the shop. Establish shared goals and encourage employees to pool their knowledge and partner on complex issues. For instance, a technician who notices a recurring problem with a particular vehicle model can work with the parts specialist to find a better replacement part and with the customer service team to communicate proactively with affected customers. By promoting this kind of cross-functional cooperation, you build a more resilient, adaptable organization that can quickly solve problems and seize opportunities. 

Remember, empowerment is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. As your employees grow into "ownership" of their roles, keep re-evaluating what's working and where you may need to adjust. Remain attentive to their evolving needs for training, resources, and support. Regularly discuss how their individual goals fit into the shop's broader strategy and be open to their ideas for improvement. By maintaining open dialogue and a spirit of continuous improvement, you can keep your team engaged for the long run. 


It’s Time to Shift Your Mindset  

Unleashing the power of employee ownership is one of the most effective ways to take your business to the next level. You can boost productivity, quality, and innovation across your shop with a team of motivated, empowered employees who genuinely own their areas. You'll build stronger customer relationships and build a rock-solid market reputation. Best of all, you'll cultivate a loyal workforce that is in it for the long haul and just as invested as you in driving the business forward. So, start shifting your mindset—your employees are your greatest asset, and when you empower them to own their work, everyone wins. 

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