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Create A Community Environment In Your Shop

DA_1[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ecently we talked about being part of the motorcycle community. This month I would like to look at whether your shop is a community.

When you founded or purchased the shop which you now own, what were the circumstances? More than likely, you were an enthusiastic rider who loved being around motorcycles. As the shop grew, more employees had to be hired. Then the various departments got too busy for you to work everywhere. You had to hire department managers who took care of the day-to-day events in the shop. Your joy of working the parts counter, working on motorcycles, or selling the units on the floor was supplanted by the need to fill out paperwork, write checks, or deal with the finance company. You also became an HR manager as well.

Soon, the walls of your office were as familiar to you as your favorite motorcycle ride used to be. Maybe you’ve gotten to the point that you just leave the shop after the day’s paperwork is done, and not to go for a ride.

Recently, I was going on about the new Africa Twin, and the fellow I was talking to, also in the industry, asked, “How do you do it? Here you are, in the industry for so long, yet you still get excited about a new bike.”

Do you still get excited? Does a new model, whether dirt, adventure, cruiser or touring still turn your crank? Are you jaded? Is everything the same? Do you think, “I’ve seen this all before?”

Where I’m going with this is that if you’re not excited, how can you, as the leader, cheerleader, coach and mentor of your shop, get your staff excited? Are they glad to be there? Are they happy to see you? Do you help them to grow, or do you admonish them when they make a genuine mistake?

Your staff should love working for you. This is a motorcycle store! What better place to work? Your customers should also love going to your store. Starbucks talks about the “third place” – the first two are home and work. The third, of course is Starbucks. I believe in four places. Work, home, out riding, and my shop. I really don’t care where they get their coffee. And for my clients to love going to my store, my staff has to love being there as well.

What kind of boss are you? I have two distinct spaces in my shop; my office, where all of the heavy lifting gets done, and everywhere else. Everywhere else should be fun. If there are to-the-point discussions to be had, take them to your office. Get to know your staff. Give out “atta-boys” to staff who deserve them.

“Atta-Boys” are public celebrations of success, i.e. getting a particular task done well, or having a customer compliment a particular staff member. I always take that “atta-boy” to the specific staff member (It could even be for a whole department) in private, maybe give them a little gift (Starbucks cards are great!), then I send out a companywide e-mail outlining the specific accomplishment, and how well it was done.

[pullquote]“Your staff should love working for you. This is a motorcycle store! What better place to work? Your customers should also love going to your store.”[/pullquote]

This sort of reward costs you little, but the outcomes are wonderful to see. Remember, you are a very large part of their lives, and everything you do, believe it or not, has an effect on your staff. If you are grouchy, they will be too. I recently read a quote from Malcolm Forbes: “I try to spread happiness wherever I go.” Every morning I walk the entire store, saying “good morning!” to everyone, making sure all is well. It’s too easy to sit in your chair and criticize. This way, you can also see how the displays, the units and service area looks. Without being obsequious, compliment them. It costs you nothing, and they will feel great. You don’t have to take a lot of time, but it will make all the difference in how they perceive you. It will make a difference in how they perceive their day. The benefits will be greater than you can imagine.

Some people call this “team building.” I have always disliked this term when talking about a business. “Team building” tends to create different “teams” within your company. With whom are these “teams” competing? Your other “teams?” How do you think that will work out when the teams start competing against each other?

I believe that we should be creating aforesaid “communities,” where everyone works together to survive and flourish, and you should be the leader, coach, cheerleader, and mentor. Look around you. Look at your employees. Are they a community? Or are they just a bunch of people working in the same place?

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