At Bobby Rahal Motorcar Co., a Mercedes-Benz dealership just north of Pittsburgh, mornings begin with what they call "the lineup." Before the doors open, the employees on duty meet to talk about what's important for that day and what's important for the dealership. It is part pep talk and part inspirational message, and employees share what they call "wow stories" -- anecdotes of how fellow employees provided outstanding customer service, and how a store customer appreciated it.
Each week an employee receives a $50 gift card "Wow" award for one of those customer service efforts. And each month the dealership also awards sales, tech and backroom employees with a bonus for customer service performance.
The morning exercise also is a daily training tool for new hires. All employees are encouraged to participate by speaking up, articulating the company's attitudes about customer service and suggesting ideas to improve dealership processes.
Training is a big focus for Rahal. In addition to shadow-training new employees and cross-training team members in different departments, the store identifies employees who may be on a path to dealership management and offers them yearlong NADA training. Store employees also are selected to get training from outside vendors, including those who supply the dealership and those whose goods the dealership sells.
Rahal runs a college internship program to identify candidates to work in sales, service, IT and finance.
To make sure its efforts are satisfying to the employees, the store conducts an annual survey to ask them for ideas on how to improve the store's culture or to make things run smoother.
-- Lindsay Chappell