Why does it seem that on some days, owners can’t peel themselves away from the counter and the service consultants are nowhere to be found? Worse yet, maybe it’s not some days but some years. Either way, a wise man once said owners need to “work on their business, not in their business.”
This is difficult to do. The drama… the excitement… the drug-like euphoria that comes from making a sale, or making a customer happy by finding and solving their problem. You feel like a hero being behind the counter or pod.
Sometimes you feel as an owner, you are also best suited to take care of upset customers, preventing the problem from going deeper into the store operations. The counter, it seems, is a heckuva drug.
It’s a vicious cycle, really. The owner gets behind the counter too much. That frees up the service consultants to go do side jobs they’ve been putting off, like putting up a POP display or spray painting display tires. It’s exciting for them to leave the sales floor because they have literally been there forever. So they ghost it as soon as the owner starts lingering around the POS screen looking for his or her fix.
Why does this happen? Well, to be blunt, it takes discipline. A long time ago, the owner may have been the only salesperson and feels a mix of pride and fear: pride in that they are likely the best salesperson and fear that if they aren’t selling, the business will decline.
A prime example, but not one to be copied in the store, is the military. Everyone has a job and they stick to that job without fail. Each person has a role, each knows the role inside and out and each depends on others to fulfill their role.
In a store setting, that’s a bit too extreme. Retail needs to be a little more flexible than that; we all need to wear several hats when the need arises. But when we become too loose with what hat to wear, that’s when people are all being “’busy” and not being productive.
One tool you can use to keep everyone focused on what’s important is a job description. This tool lays out a structure for employees and owners alike; it tells you what every employee should be doing most of the time in order to maintain employment and possibly be rewarded with a raise. Let’s go through an exercise describing the structure of a basic service consultant job description.
First we start with the basic elements of the job.
1. Knowledge: What must a service consultant be knowledgeable about? Tire construction, tire performance, competitor tires, service capabilities, math, etc.
2. Skills & abilities: selling skill level, phone skills, light service work, computer skills, etc.
3. Physical: What are the basic required physical job duties of the service consultant, with reasonable accommodations (conforming to state and federal law) by the company for anyone with disabilities?
4. Environmental: What is the required work in the cold, the heat and harsh conditions of a shop?
5. Experience: What level of experience is required to work in your shop?
Then the functionality of the job needs to be defined.
1. Job title: Does the name of the job encompass the total work?
2. Classification: Is the employee essentially exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act? I have detailed this aspect in several columns. Most often, sales employees must be classified as non-exempt (hourly) with potential bonuses.
3. Hierarchy: Clearly define who reports to whom and who works under whom.
4. Pay grade: Clearly define what minimum and maximum pay an employee can earn per job title.
5. Expected work hours: full/part time, typical hours worked in a week, and whether overtime is expected.
6. Expected on-going education and travel.
Although job descriptions need to be well-defined, they often include the “almighty disclaimer” — usually some legal clause that says the company has the right to change, modify, adjust or otherwise nullify the position. It also includes that this is not a comprehensive list of every activity, and the ubiquitous “and any other duty or task required by management.”
Federal or legal clauses like EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity), safety, and if in a proper state, at-will employment should be included in the description.
Signatures from the employee, the direct supervisor and the owner indicating they have all read and agree to the job description should also be required.
Job descriptions don’t have to be fancy. They simply need to be direct and clear about what is expected of any employee who holds the position or title. It should state the common tasks — in our example selling; interacting with employees, management and customers; and responsibilities of cleaning, maintaining and securing the facility — along with any administrative duties like going to the bank or dealing with financial information.
These descriptions are used to keep employees on track for the tasks they get paid to do, and help employees prioritize the work in front of them every day. And that includes you. ■