Improving your internal communication

Lucas Deal May 2, 2013

You know strong communication channels are necessary for dealing with your customers.

But if you’ve ever had to chase down an employee at closing time for info about a customer parts order or service repair, you know strong communication is necessary within your business, too.

Your dealership will never reach maximum efficiency unless all of your employees are on the same page.

“Communication is one of the most misunderstood aspects of business,” says Kyle Treadway, president at Kenworth Sales Company. “I think we all grossly underestimate how important it is.”

To get everyone at your location working together, it’s important to encourage employees to be vocal and create and sustain strong communication platforms in your business.

Build personal relationships

A vital step to improving communication within your dealership is assembling a staff that’s comfortable working together and willing to communicate.

Most individuals are shy or reserved when interacting with new people — and this is just as true in your business as it is anywhere. A new employee who wasn’t properly introduced to everyone in your organization may not feel confident when interacting with associates in other departments, which can stifle or reduce effective communication.

If they don’t feel like they know whom to contact with a question, they may not contact anyone at all. You don’t want that.

And this isn’t just a risk associated with new employees.

Your sales and counter staff communicate with your customers more than anyone else in your business. Your service technicians know those customers’ vehicles. But unless both sides interact freely with each other, information about your customers and their needs can slip through the cracks.

You don’t want that, either.

“Staff members that are comfortable working together will get more work done,” says Dick Witcher, CEO at Minuteman Trucks and current ATD chairman.

Team-building events, staff outings and out-of-office activities are all good ways to improve rapport. The more time your employees have to interact with each other in stress-free situations, the more at ease they will be to communicate when it counts.

Department meetings

Active and regularly scheduled department meetings are another excellent way to improve in-house communication.

“I still think the best form [of communication] is the good old department meeting,” says Treadway.

Bringing members of a specific area of your business together for a meeting can eliminate some of the reticence commonly seen at a full-staff meeting. People are more willing to interact in a smaller, conversational setting, especially when discussing their responsibilities with associates.

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