Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How To Keep Your “A” Players From Leaving You

“Clients don’t come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients."Richard Branson

Meet The Fockers,” starring Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman, is one of my favorite comedies of all time. The most memorable scene in the movie was when Hoffman’s character “Bernie” bragged about his son Gaylord’s past accomplishments. Bernie was so proud that he created a special trophy case in his honor known as “The Wall of Gaylord.”

This presentation was different from your traditional trophy case. Instead of celebrating his victories, it showcased his 9th place trophies and participation ribbons! Gaylord was made to feel special just for showing up! He grew up “feeling the love,” regardless of how he performed.

NAPA AutoCare | Power in Partnership

The State of Today’s Employees

This reminds me of the mentality of employees entering the workforce today. This “everyone gets a trophy “culture has led to an environment of entitlement. You may disagree with this mindset, but here’s the reality: In 2022, your people are more likely to leave if they don’t feel the love.

According to research findings reported in a recent Fortune Magazine article, 91% of the surveyed millennials expect to stay in their jobs for less than three years. That number can drop to one year or less if they don’t like working for you.

How to Keep Your “A” Players

Allow me to paint the following picture: You’ve applied what you learned from the How to Hire “A” Player’s webinar to hire “Ann,” a top-performing service manager working for your competitor. She’s great at customer service and can sell water to a drowning man! But unfortunately, if you don’t have certain practices in place, you may be looking for Ann’s replacement within the year! So, what can you do to keep your “A” player from leaving you? I’ll explain as you read on.

Offer Unique Perks

The knee-jerk reaction to this employee retention issue is to throw money at the problem. After all, if you increase their pay, they’re guaranteed to stay, right? Wrong! According to Gallup’s research, 78% of the reasons employees leave companies are reasons under the manager’s control that don’t involve pay.

The research concluded that factors such as a flexible work schedule and the general work environment play a key role in the candidate’s decision-making process. In addition, offering unique perks is a good way to increase morale and retention rates.

The following are some real-world examples from some of our Top Shops:

  • The opportunity to work a four ten-hour day schedule.
  • Cooking a weekly team breakfast on the grill. Some shops do a weekly catered breakfast.
  • Offer the surviving spouse of a deceased employee 50% of their pay for five years.
  • Gym membership reimbursements (some are as low as $10 per month).
  • Offer a $30 per month Kindle Allowance to purchase books.

Most shops offer unique perks like free car washes and gift baskets to their paying customers while doing nothing extra for the employees. All things being equal, the happy internal customer will work harder to please the external one.

Customized Recognition Program

I agree with the late philosopher and psychologist Dr. William James when he said, “The deepest hunger in humans is the desire to be appreciated.” This makes having a formal recognition program a critical step to retaining your people. However, since everyone is different, offering the same type of generic recognition to anyone who achieves the desired result, will not satisfy the hunger Dr. James referenced.

Customizing your program based on your employee’s individual interests is the way to go. During your weekly one-on-ones, ask them about their hobbies and interests. This will allow you to provide recognition that’s meaningful to the individual.

For example, I know a shop owner named Mark who recognized his service manager Butch’s five-year employment anniversary by buying dinner and hotel stay for him and his spouse. Mark did this after Butch mentioned how important family time was to him during their weekly one-on-one.

Another shop owner provides tickets to the race for NASCAR enthusiasts, gift cards to hunting supply stores for the hunting fanatics, etc.

Offering unique perks and customizing your recognition programs can motivate your “A” players to stay regardless of pay. Your next hire will want to work for you even if he has a “Wall of Gaylord” at home!

Non-ATI Members: At ATI, we focus on teaching and coaching shop owners on best practices to get the most out of your automotive repair business. Want to learn more? Find an ATI shop owner event near you.

Related Articles:
Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.