Invest in your employees to invest in your shop

May 10, 2023
The best way to keep your shop successful is to keep your team happy.

As the backbone of your company, your employees can make or break your business. They are the first people your customers see when they come in and the last people they talk to before they leave. When your team loves working for you, they make your business better. But how do you keep a great team? It can be as simple as investing in them. One way Kelsey and Brandan Lancaster, owners of Performance Automotive Repair in Bayfield, Colorado, do this is through transparency.

“We are very transparent with our team. Everyone knows our expectations and where they stand with us/in the shop,” Kelsey Lancaster says.

With almost a decade of experience, this duo has learned how to create an environment where people want to succeed, not only for themselves but for the company as well. Keep seeing how they invest in their employees to invest in their shop.

The first thing the Lancasters do is set their shop apart from their competitors. They do this by committing themselves to creating a qualified and talented staff. With a team of eight, they have ensured each crew member has been thoroughly and properly trained from the beginning. They currently have two apprentices working for them, and they are always open to adding more.

“If someone has a desire to become a technician, we will take them on as an intern or apprentice to see if they have the drive and aptitude needed,” Lancaster says. “Not everyone does, but you don’t know until you give it a try.”

The shop is also continually updating and implementing the latest technology, accompanied with proper training. This allows them to give their employees the tools needed to complete their job to the best of their abilities. And it shows! When customers walk into the shop, they know based on reputation that they are going to be given great service. Performance Automotive Repair is known for treating their customers right. 

One of the first steps in creating a cohesive team is prioritizing training, Lancaster says, noting that Performance Automotive Repair offers and pays for training and also ASE certifications. They have also sent their service advisors to DRIVE’s Service Advisor School. Employees feel confident that they are fully capable of completing the tasks they are assigned, and theyl also feel like you value them. When people feel valued, they are more likely to care about the quality of their work and the overall well-being of the shop. This mentality bleeds into every sector of Performance Automotive Repair.

“We consider ourselves a training shop,” Lancaster says. “In the past eight months alone, we have had two different training companies come to our shop to conduct technical training.”

Not only does fully training your staff make them feel valued, but you also get the guarantee they have all of the necessary skills to make sure the work your shop is putting out is top notch. Customers want to go to the shop where they know they’re going to be serviced by experienced technicians who have the knowledge to solve whatever problem they’re encountering.

The Lancasters also invited other shops from their area to join both of these training sessions. Nine different shops were represented at the most recent training. This allows them to help other shops in their community while strengthening their network connections at the same time.

“It helps to recoup some of our expenses associated with bringing the in-person training to our shop while also helping to improve the automotive repair industry as a whole,” Lancaster says. “We have met some great technicians and shop owners at these trainings and are building solid relationships with all of them.”

In addition to training, the Lancasters also offer their employees top-of-the-line perks, including being open for business only Monday through Friday.

They also provide health insurance, retirement options, paid vacation and sick days, employee discounts on parts, and holiday pay. Another way they make their team feel valued is through the bonus system they have in place of weekly team production bonuses, and monthly individual ones.

“We set training goals for each staff member at the beginning of the year. We go over what they would like to learn in the coming year and set due dates for the training,” Lancaster says.

All of these benefits let their team know that they value them both professionally and personally. They make sure that their staff has everything they need to succeed. When people feel truly cared for, they are more likely not only to gravitate toward your company but to remain long-term.

The next incentive to work for their shop is the fact they make sure their employees feel heard and appreciated. Currently, they have a weekly staff meeting at which they serve lunch and play lots of games, both related to and not related to production. It’s a great way to have your team bond. Playing games is an easy way to build trust between peers and allow your employees to unwind. Not only do they have fun at these meetings, but they also discuss areas of improvement. Team members can bring up any issues they’ve been having so they can be resolved swiftly. This is also a great time for the team to check in on their training goals. Being able to take inventory of what everyone has done, what needs to be approved upon, and giving your employees space to relax is crucial to keeping your business moving forward. When everyone feels like they have a goal to work toward there is a reason for your employees to continue working for you. Once they feel stagnate in their career they could start looking for employment from other businesses. 

The Lancasters also make sure their employees know they appreciate them outside of work. They have multiple events throughout the year that the employees and their families can participate in.

They have hosted many Christmas parties at their home and during the summers they take everyone to the local chuckwagon supper. At Easter, they gave everyone a dozen eggs along with a color kit then hosted an egg scavenger hunt and BBQ at their home. Almost 30 people attended this year. In October, they buy everyone a pumpkin and have a decorating contest. In December, they do the same thing but with gingerbread houses. They even get their customers involved! “We post pictures of all of the entries on Facebook and ask our followers to vote on their favorites,” Lancaster says.

By going above and beyond both in and out of work, the duo is truly building a community of outpouring support. 

So, take it from the Lancasters: Having a great team can truly make your shop great. When your employees feel supported, valued, and appreciated they will want to do whatever they can to keep your shop successful. They do this in a multitude of ways, offering continual training, including various perks, and getting the team and their families together outside of work. To keep it simple, invest in your employees to invest in your shop. 

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