’Tis the Season to Show Appreciation

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We’ve been mired in the Covid-19 pandemic for the better part of a year, and while Operation Warp Speed has helped put an end in sight, it’s time to pause, celebrate and recognize the reason your dealership succeeded: your team.

With the holiday season in full swing and the imminent end of a year we’re not likely to forget, it’s paramount that you recognize the thing that matters most to dealership employees: an assurance that they are appreciated. Not only do employees deserve validation that risking Covid-19 exposure to service and deliver for customers has been pivotal to the year’s success, but such recognition will lead to personal pride, job satisfaction and, equally important, worker retention.

Doug Claffey, founder of the Philadelphia-based research firm Energage, surveyed more than 2 million employees at 7,000-plus businesses during 2019. There was no pandemic, of course, but the survey results may now be more telling than expected.

The survey did not define appreciation. Employees weren’t told in what ways to gauge their feelings about their positions; they were told to establish their own definitions. One thing that came through loud and clear was that they valued honest recognition. Moreover, they clearly signaled they can always distinguish whether a show of appreciation was genuine or just lip service.

Of course, there are many ways a dealership can show appreciation. Consider the reward-and-recognition method as an example. It usually focuses on output and is often done through financial rewards. Other forms of appreciation and recognition can be special events, such as holding a luncheon or a presentation or giving a personalized gift.

“The simplest and sometimes most effective form of appreciation,” Claffey says, “is giving positive feedback or praise. ‘Thank you for your effort’ or ‘You’re doing a really good job’ goes a long way.” And Claffey emphasizes praise delivered in person is most meaningful.

Moreover, appreciation can take different forms depending on the organization, and each can boast a unique meaning to a recipient. For example, co-workers thanking each other and showing appreciation for jobs well done.

The impact of a service, sales or other department manager recognizing a team member’s role can be huge. Every employee likes to know when manager values their contribution.

And then there’s the top dog. Easily identified in any marine dealership, the leader must recognize and highlight workers’ efforts and successes. It clearly demonstrates that the value of the individual contributions is seen. After all, it’s not just the various departments, but the individuals that are those departments.

Work conditions have been much different this year than any in recent memory, and I’m sure you have team members who deserve recognition for their contributions to the year’s success. Here are some ideas:

1. handwritten note of thanks

2. gourmet food basket

3. box of name-brand oils and perfumes

4. wireless charging kit for wireless devices

5. a paid day off to spend at a spa

6. overnight at a nearby resort

7. appropriate bracelet or other jewelry

8. embroidered jacket or sweater

9. bottle of wine or spirits

10. tickets to a sports event or other entertainment (when restrictions ease)

And remember: Put some thought into each gift. You don’t want to give a gift card to a restaurant that remains closed.

While we may have had an unexpectedly good sales year during a pandemic, it’s been the dealership’s loyal team that capitalized on the opportunities, despite risking exposure to Covid-19 and the health problems and related difficulties that come with it. There has never been a more appropriate time to make certain they know their value to the organization.

Dealer Outlook returns with the Jan. 5 Trade Only Today newsletter. Best wishes for the holiday season, and Happy New Year.

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