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Creating a Positive Work Environment

Larry Sutton of RNR Tire Express shares seven different practices that have helped him create a positive work environment.

The primary goal of creating a positive work environment is to impact both the customer and employee experience in a positive way. For example, at RNR Tire Express (RNR), we emphasize “serve, not service,” meaning we want to serve our customers rather than just provide them service. When tire dealers have that mentality, the work environment is naturally going to be positive. 

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In sharing the seven different practices that work for our company, the hope is that they can be utilized for creating a positive work environment within your tire dealership, as well.

Reverse Hierarchy

If you took a hierarchy pyramid and turned it upside down, you would see me at the bottom rather than the top. What happens with that mentality is instead of the regional managers coming to me for answers, it’s the other way around because I’ve found a lot of the time the answers come from the folks who are doing the work. In turn, the key members of the team who are in the trenches know that their role is crucial to the store’s success, which contributes to a positive work environment. 

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Be There for Associates During Hectic Times 

It’s important to not treat your work colleagues as assets or investments, but rather as human beings. This includes being interested in their lives outside of work and offering to help them out in whatever way you can if they are experiencing a hardship. Offering helping hands during times of hardship fosters a culture built on trust, and that’s a crucial aspect of employee collaboration tire stores must have.

Follow a ‘Yes CEO Mentality’

This is something I follow with the purpose of saying yes more often than I say no. If a fellow colleague has an idea they want to incorporate, I almost always say yes and encourage them to give it a try as long as it won’t be detrimental to the store—especially if my internal thoughts are that it won’t work. The way I see it, when allowing the person free reign to take the lead with an idea, it will either turn out to be a success that benefits everyone in the store, or provide a teachable moment for that person that inevitably improves their work and life skills.

Help Employees Develop Life Skills

Speaking of skills, the importance of grooming employees to be excellent tire store associates speaks for itself, but what about life skills outside of work? You bet that translates to a positive company culture. Watching them become better spouses, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, and so on is equally as rewarding and those changes create a ripple effect where everyone at the store is more motivated to serve customers. When employees are enjoying their lives outside of work, they’ll be more excited and enthusiastic to come into work and tackle the day. 

Store Leaders Should Be Approachable 

It’s important for employees to have easy access to the store’s leaders and provide the opportunity to get to know them. At work, that means the leaders should be around the store and be willing to chat with employees who may have a question. Additionally, it’s critical for the store’s leaders to be visible in social environments. 

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Work parties are a beneficial way to achieve that because they build camaraderie, and it’s an opportunity to offer employees a good time—both of which create a positive work environment.

Be a Stickler for Great Customer Service

I realized that we need to serve our employees the same way that we need to serve our customers. Otherwise, we won’t get to the point where customers are served the way they need to be served. As a result of that realization,  the concept “serve, not service” was born within our tire store, and it translated to positive morale among the staff. Tire store owners must deliver top-notch service when interacting with customers, and, in turn, that will generate habits of employees treating everyone with respect as well.  Which leads us to our last tip.

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Treat Everyone With Respect

It’s a simple concept, but it goes a long way toward creating a positive work environment. When people at the store are being respectful to everyone, the staff doesn’t dread subjecting themselves to constant negativity. 

I’ve seen firsthand that when people are polite and helpful—to customers and each other—and treat others how they want to be treated, the positive energy in the store is palpable. This tip isn’t a huge secret, but it lays the foundation for every other leadership method to be effective.  

Operating a high-performing shop hinges on its culture and work environment. If you want your shop’s reputation to be known for positive and proactive business-management, start with these tips.

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