How important is a servant heart to a successful business? I was recently reminded of its power on a cloudy September Wednesday.
I had been preparing to visit a particular dealership for months, and had the pleasure of speaking to the Owner’s assistant several times to organize logistics. My first impression was that she was capable, well-spoken and kind, and I was looking forward to meeting her.
On the day of my visit, I tried entering through the front, but it was before 8:00 a.m. and the locked door wouldn’t budge. I started to walk around the building and caught the eye of a woman headed toward the side door. She walked quickly in her 5” inch heels to greet me with a smile, a bear hug and a, “Nice to meet you! I’m the Owner of the dealership.” I instantly knew I was in for a fun day.
Positive first impressions were confirmed throughout my visit. The assistant I’d been communicating with also greeted me with a warm smile and hug, as well as a binder filled with the day’s agenda. When the Owner and I became engaged in a winding conversation that put us behind schedule, she jokingly said she would have to manage the “two of you.”
As we toured the dealership, the Owner smiled and greeted her team everywhere we went. When she asked about her employees’ weekends and introduced me, she was met with smiles, hugs and laughter in return—even at 8:00 in the morning.
We both clearly had a lot of practice in stilettos, and when we dashed over to Service, she bent down to pick up a loose piece of paper on the driveway and throw it into the trash. Her actions consistently reflected that she was all in as a leader and walked the talk. We went into the lobby and she chatted with a customer about his morning and asked if the coffee was hot enough.
As we continued, I learned about the many unusual strategies she employed to make her dealership a standout. For example, her sales team members are called Life Improvement Specialists and they adhere to a no commission / no negotiation model designed to take fear and frustration out of the car-buying process. Their whole motivation is to improve the lives of their customers.
In addition, “The Go Giver” is required reading for her employees, and they live and breathe the Bob Burg and John David Mann ideal that states, “Success is the result of specific habits of action: creating value, touching people’s lives, putting others’ interests first, being real, and having the humility to stay open to receiving.”
That ideal is expressed in an annual holiday event where employees serve hot food, offer gently used clothing to families in need, and give presents to children. Last year, they served over 2,000 underprivileged adults and children in their community.
The Owner even received some of that goodwill in return when her team gifted her with a spin certification to help in her fight against diabetes. She kind of has her hands full running a multi-million-dollar business! Once certified she opted not to take a second job and instead revamped the store’s upstairs, purchased several spin bikes and started teaching spin three times a week to her employees. As a result, one staff member has lost over 100 pounds and improved his health. On occasion, a customer will even join class because word on the street is that she has an amazing playlist.
While I’m trying to illustrate how this Owner’s servant heart affects her employees, community and business, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of this collective group of amazing human beings (a.k.a. angels on earth). This Owner truly embodies the conscious-based leader I write and talk about, and it was amazing to witness firsthand how making conscious decisions results in happier employees as well as happier customers.
For this Owner, leadership is not an option—it is a responsibility. She models the actions she expects from her team with every step she takes—which enables a supportive and profitable place to work. In return, her actions inspire her people to hold space for their customers to enjoy the experience of purchasing or servicing their vehicle. Throughout my day with her, I was in awe. Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more surprised about this team, they would share another jaw-dropping example of how they were changing the automotive industry.
As a professional who lives to espouse consciousness in business, I have dreamt about this kind of dealership environment. This leader has fallen in love with her employees and customers. She has found a way around the fears and frustrations of her people and removed them. Her ability to innovate through conscious-based decision-making positively affects all of her stakeholders and puts her far ahead of the competition.
The lesson here is that innovation is no longer just in the form of high tech, but inhigh touch. Tapping into emotion is a game-changing super power that few leaders know about yet. However, I believe that education will yield more conscious-based automotive brands that change the way employees and customers experience our industry.
Five-inch heels are encouraged, but purely optional.
Jacqueline Jasionowski is the founder of Shift Awake Group. Her sole mission is to help others connect with their purpose through a higher level of consciousness that will both drive results and enable innovation along the way. Please contact 614.403.6540 for info.