Keeping Your Employees Engaged in the Business


Keeping Your Employees Engaged in the Business

by Kathryn van der Pol


This Article was published in ASA Houston Shop Talk February 2018 Newsletter.


As a business leader, are you happy with your current staff? Do you have any trouble finding qualified technicians or service advisors to work for you? Do you think as an industry we are having an easy or tough time attracting future talent? Are you able “to grow” your own techs or service advisors to your satisfaction?

How did you answer these questions? What answers have you developed as business leader to retain your best workers? There are a lot of people in our industry who would like to know your success secrets.

Studies show that the number one reason that people leave a job is not because of their pay plan.  It is because they do not feel appreciated by their employer.  Anyone who has taken Bill Haas’s classes at Vision or ASA CARS can show you all of Bill’s data on that.

On top of this, consider when we hire young technicians out of tech school, these folks often borrow $3Adolf’s Garage,000 or more to pay for their poor-quality education; borrow another $3Adolf’s Garage,000 for their tools; then we hire and pay them $3Adolf’s Garage,000 a year. Why do we even wonder why we don’t have great talent? Who would go into $6Adolf’s Garage,000 or more debt for a $3Adolf’s Garage,000 job where they are going to be either too hot or too cold and dirty every single day they work? Especially, when we live in a Babylon-like culture where the buzz words are cell phones, convenience, and comfort?

That is our challenge. We must show the value of our business to our employees every single day. We must keep our best workers engaged in OUR company so that no matter what else is out there in the world, they keep choosing us, just like our customers! Our employees are our customers, too. They are our internal customers. They will work harder to please our external customers, you know the ones that pay our bills and our race cars, our boats, our building projects, and our chickens. (We have chickens at our company), when they know we care about them.

So, once a month, I would like to publish your BEST suggestion for employee engagement and retention. Why?  First, it is important for you to become engaged with Shop Talk and your ASA Association. The best value we have in life is the relationships we form. It’s not the money; it’s the people.  We can learn from each other far better than from a magazine. Yes, I know I am writing in a magazine, but hopefully I will see you in person in about a week and we can talk face to face. Second, how would you feel if you knew that your idea helped another person keep a good worker? Third, what if an idea in here helped you retain your best tech?  Would that matter?

For this month, I offer one idea that Sybren and I do.  I am sure you will have much better ones, but here is ours.

We have a daily tool box meeting at 8:30 a.m. It lasts about 10 to 15 minutes in the shop.  Our Service Advisors bring a cordless phone to the meeting and continue to answer if it rings.  We start the meeting on the dot (almost always).  The meeting has a certain format.


·         I discuss upcoming training opportunities or announcements. I always have something to say even if it is “Thank you.”

·         Our Senior Service Advisor reviews billed hours for the previous day.

·         Our other Service Advisor reviews Sales, Car Count and Tech Rotation.

·         The Shop Foreman reviews cars in the shop and parts issues.

·         Our Office Manager reviews any policies or customer reviews.

·         Sybren discusses any technical issues or training questions on cars.

·         We ask the Technicians, Service Advisors, or our Building and Grounds Manager if they have anything to discuss.

That’s it.

Then once a month, we have a big meeting after work. It’s catered, nice and we go into a whole long agenda that is passed out in advance. That meeting usually runs an hour and a half.

We also have done weekly lunches.  We still do those on Saturdays and occasionally during the week.

Why do we do this?  Because without customers, you do not have a business. We need our internal customers to be engaged and know what is going on.  We want them to be like camels, loyal and able to carry a load.  Let’s face it, our industry is not like Babylon, and it’s never going to be glamorous, easy, convenient or comfortable. So, we have to sell it like it is. But there are a lot of good people out there who understand the value of demanding work and derive a lot of satisfaction from solving difficult problems and helping people. We must find them and keep them.

You have to believe at the end of the day that everything you do matters.  When you believe that, you will treat people better than you ever have. When you do that, you will have better employees than you have ever had.

Please submit your best idea for employee retention and employee engagement to

Kathryn van der Pol at