|A while back, I looked through the dealership Web sites being reviewed for Auto Dealer Monthly’s 2008 Internet Achievement Awards. Being a human resource professional, I was drawn to the employment sections particularly. Often, what I found was that the employment sections were difficult to find. On many of the Web sites, it was difficult to find any useful information. Fundamentally, it came down to a signal-to-noise problem.|
“Signal-to-noise” is a term that originally came out of electrical engineering that references the power of a signal to the power of noise corrupting it. It has since been broadened to cover pretty much any measurement or transmission system. Think about tuning your radio into a station. As you turn the dial, you zero in on the music (signal) and avoid the static (noise).
In the case of Web sites, it means that the information (signal) I was looking for, the employment section, was difficult to find because of all the other information, financing section, prices, car images, etc. (noise). Of course, on a dealership Web site, all of this “noise” is necessary, but in the context of finding the employment section, it was a problem.
This example illustrates what I think is a fundamental problem with employee relations practices at many automotive dealerships. We lose employees and have trouble finding new ones because we let the signal potential employees are searching for get lost among the noise of everything else. Now, I'll admit I'm probably biased because I work in HR, but to me, getting the signal out about working for you is highly important. Simply put, good employees make for a good business, so to find and keep good employees, you’ll need a better signal-to-noise ratio.
So how can you make sure that your employment signal doesn't get lost among the noise? It can be achieved by applying a few principles.
1. Be Aware of the Environment
Problems like audits, big sales, upset customers, increasing gas prices, lack of customers, etc., can all impact your employment practices. Can you control all of those things? Obviously not, but being aware of them can help you minimize their influence. Once you're aware of the environment, you can move on to number two
2. Filter the Noise
By filtering out the noise and focusing on the employee’s issue, you show where your priorities are. Employees notice these kinds of actions and respond to them. When your employees know that you will give them the attention they need, you will see your retention rates improve. After filtering the noise you can start on number three.
3. Increase Signal Power
Make sure your employees know that you recognize their importance, especially new hires. This could take the form of formal recognition programs, bonuses, or even just the standard “good job.” If they see you taking the time to focus on them, they’ll be much more willing to give back to you as their manager and to the dealership as a whole.
Retaining good employees and attracting new ones are complex tasks, but these three principles, applicable in almost any field where signal-to-noise is an issue, are not. We need to remember that the number-one reason an employee leaves a company is because they are having problems with their manager.
No manager tries to actively ignore his or her employees, but because the noise of everyday dealership operations can overwhelm us at times, managers can lose the employees’ signals. If you find yourself in the position of listening to more static than you do music, establishing a better signal-to-noise ratio needs be a priority.
Remarketing by Element has joined the NIADA’s network of National Member Benefit partners and will offer prime lane placement, among other benefits, to the dealer association’s members.