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Sometimes I hear people say things that get me pretty riled up. One of the phrases that bothers me most is “That’s not my job.” Whenever I hear this, I immediately know that person is not a team player, bad for morale and a poor representative of their company.

I was boarding a plane not too long ago, and saw an older fellow who was having trouble closing the overhead compartment bin. There was no flight attendant nearby, but a gate agent happened to be on the plane. When the man asked the gate agent for help, the gate agent said that wasn’t his gig, or something like that.

Really? How hard is to go out of your way for five seconds and help an airline customer who is, by the way, the reason that you have a job in the first place?

Recently I was at a dealership and a customer wanted to return a part, but he had lost the receipt. The parts guy basically told the customer that he didn’t know how to find the receipt and didn’t know how to return a part without a receipt, so he couldn’t help him.

Really? Here’s a tip. If you don’t whether something is allowed, if you don’t know how to do something or if you don’t know the answer to a customer’s questions, go find someone that does know. Your ignorance should never be the customer’s problem, and it won’t kill you to learn something new.

Here’s another tip. If you work at a dealership, your job is always, always to take care of the customer. It doesn’t matter how mean that customer is being to you; chances are they’re only being nasty because they didn’t get the proper customer care in the first place.

Just because a particular task isn’t written in your job description doesn’t mean that it’s not your job. Your job is to always chip in and help your teammates if they need it. This doesn’t mean you’re being taken advantage of or that you’re a doormat, or that you’re overworking because you’re doing other peoples’ jobs.

Another version of this phrase is “That’s above my pay grade.” If you’re not authorized to make a decision, find someone who is. You might not be an expert in everything, but you probably know who is, so go ask them.

The definition of teamwork is to work together as a team in order to achieve a goal. At a dealership, you have many tasks and responsibilities, but your only real goal is to keep the customer happy. Your second most important goal is to help your teammates.

It might not be in your job description to pick up trash, but if there’s trash lying around in in your dealership, pick it up. It might not be in your job description to help solve a problem in your department, but it’s your job to help the dealership you work for to be successful. That’s why you were hired. It’s also good for job security.

I recently had a dealer ask me to help him solve a problem. He was losing about 10 sets of car keys every month. Apparently, his employees couldn’t keep track of them. Now, I worked in dealerships for 25 years and I never once lost a car key. How does this happen? Pure laziness and lack of a process.

Coming up with a process to fix the problem is easy. Create a sign-out sheet for employees to sign the keys out and sign them back in. Hold the employees accountable for following the process. Sometimes you have to create negative consequences in order for a process to stick. If you find out there’s a particular employee who flaunts the process, it’s probably time to part ways with that employee.

All this advice comes with a caveat: it’s not always the employees’ fault. As dealers and managers, you have to continually mentor people. We can’t expect employees to give us the results we want if we don’t properly train them. Sometimes employees genuinely don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing, because nobody bothered to tell them.

You might think it’s just common sense to know how to take care of a customer. But sadly, not all people were taught or were born with common sense, so they genuinely don’t know. Never assume that an employee should know how to do something.

The lesson here is that when you hear an employee utter that most annoying of phrases, “That’s not my job,” don’t automatically place all the blame on the employee. Ask yourself, have you done a good enough job of training this person to understand what their job really is? If not, you have some work to do. If the employee knows better but just has a bad attitude, it might be time to look for a new employee.

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