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At MAC, our 2024 focus is on becoming the Employer of Choice.  This theme leads directly from the 2023 theme of “Thinking Like a Pilot.”  We’ll expand that airplane analogy to focus on what it takes to develop a crew that is trained, engaged, and motivated.   

The short definition of employee engagement is those ‘who will go the extra mile’.   When your crew is engaged, they will make your customers happy and help support you in turbulent times. 

Several MAC Advisor 2023 Leadership Lessons articles planted the seeds for the Employer of Choice Theme. 

Nov 2022: “Thinking Like a Pilot for Sustainability and Stability - How to Plan for and Fly to Handle Turbulence.” 

“A pilot must have a crew trained, briefed, and available for the flight. 

Dealer leaders are similar.   Is your ‘crew’ ready and in sufficient numbers to help you manage (your co-pilot and engineer = managers) and serve customers (flight attendants = customer-facing revenue producers)?” 

Your ‘crew’ should include those that customers might not see, like admin or financial people. 

March 2023: “Prepare for Turbulent Times by Protecting Your People” 

“The Leadership Lessons here come from 3 overlapping ideas. 

  1. Our theme is building stable and sustainable dealerships that adapt to accelerating change and prepare for turbulent times.  January’s column centered around the “Think like a Pilot’ idea. 

  1. VUCA means Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.  It refers to the rapidly changing and unpredictable nature of the modern business environment.  In other words, turbulence. 

  1. Simon Sinek says, “Protect People.  Because in tough times, the numbers will never rush to save you.” 


May 2023: “Flying Your Dealership to New Heights with a ‘Smile Dial” 

How do we measure employee engagement?   Use MAC Advisor Russ Green’s ‘Smile Dial’ technique of walking around your dealership twice a week and counting the number of employees smiling.  Register the time it took to see ten (10) smiles and report that at your next staff meeting. 


“If you want your dealership to be the dealer of choice for your customers, you first must be the employer of choice.  Such employers have empathy for the needs of their employees.  Happy employees are going to create joyful experiences for your customers.  Your weekly smile dial walk-through, and calculations will help you know your altitude.” 

“It’s all about (engaged) people” - Engaged Employees = 300% Better Financial Results 

Employee engagement is an established concept with bottom-line results.   Farm Equipment published our 2-Part article in on “How to Keep Your Employees Engaged” and “What to Do with Disengaged Employees” (June and July 2016), which quoted a Towers Watson “Global Workforce Study”.   This study showed that organizations with more engaged employees showed 300% better financial results! 

The Global Workforce Study is directly relevant to your dealership.  This line summarizes it well: “It’s essential for organizations and their leaders to have a clear understanding of what matters to employees, and why and how that affects their productivity and behavior on the job. 

Top 5 Drivers of Employee Engagement 

Area of Focus 

Behaviors & Actions That Matter to Employees 

  1. Leadership 

Is effective at growing the business; Shows sincere interest in employee’s well-being; Behaves consistently with company’s core values: Employees’ trust and confidence. 

  1. Stress, Balance & Workload 

Manageable stress at work; A healthy balance between work and personal life; Enough employees in the group to do the job right; Flexible work arrangements 

  1. Goals & Objectives 

Employees understand: The organization’s business goals; The steps they need to take to reach those goals; How their job contributes to achieving goals. 

  1. Supervisors 

Assign tasks suited to employees’ skills; Act in ways consistent with their words; Coach employees to improve performance; Treat employees with respect 

  1. Company Image 

High regarded by the public; Displays honesty and integrity in business activities. 

In 2024, MAC will dig into these relevant Employer of Choice topics: 

  • Recruiting and onboarding 

  • Creating a positive work environment 

  • Proactive problem-solving 

  • Providing opportunities for growth 

  • Recognition and rewards 

  • Feedback, evaluations, training 

  • Involvement in decision-making – Sense of ownership and autonomy. 

Manage What You Measure: Words are Important – Retention vs. Turnover 

To gain traction in “The Year to Become the Employee of Choice,” you must have a way to measure your progress.  

The ‘Smile Dial’ is a good start and gives immediate feedback.  Ultimately, as with customers, the best measure is the number of good employees you retain over time.   

Avoid using Employee Turnover, which is negative.  Use Employee Retention, which is positive and aspirational. 

Start now, and in one year, do the retention calculation.   You’ll be glad you strove to be the Employer of Choice. 

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