Management by Walking Around– It Encourages High Performance!

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    I have been out of town this past week in the Midwest visiting with clients.  I elected to drive because I like to drive— and I wanted the time to really think about the remaining part of 2011.   Interestingly, my car needed some attention.  I took the car to the dealer in the Midwestern Town that I was in.  This is a large Midwestern city, the dealer, a large dealer with many service technicians and specialized equipment.
    Once the appointment was made for service, I  arrived and the service writer took down the pertinent information.  The car was delivered to the technician.  In a couple of hours, the car was returned with the problem repaired.  I paid the bill and drove away to my next appointment.  Interestingly, I got to the appointment, however, the exact problem for which I paid for returned.  UMMMMMMMMM– either the repair “broke” or we have other challenges!  I cancelled my appointment and returned back to the dealership with the car.  Needless to say, the service adviser was surprised to see me so soon, after all, I had just left 10 minutes ago and only drove 10 miles.
     Here is what becomes interesting— the service advisor was surprised that I returned so soon.  He was surprised that the repair either did not work, or the problem was more extensive.  OK, whatever the challenge is, we need to get it repaired!
      The service advisor took the car back to the technician and said, “We’ll see what is wrong!”  OK, fair enough– sometimes fixing one thing causes another part to fail.  Again, another couple of hours transpired and I went to check to see where we are this time.  The service advisor took me to see the car with the technician working on it.  The technician  told me what he did the first time, what the problem was and how he repaired it.  Now, the car back again for a second time, a “repeat”, the technician retraced his troubleshooting steps and found additional problems not identified the first time.  The car was repaired, the technician drove it and returned it saying that no additional problems surfaced.
       Now, I have to say that I left satisfied– although I lost the better part of a day getting the car repaired!  The technician told me that he was professionally certified and he felt bad that the car was a “repeat”.  The technician told me that with electrical problems, sometimes it takes more than one time to fix the problem.
       What was impressive with this particular dealership was the fact that the owner of the dealership was walking around the whole time that I was there.  He was constantly walking, talking and watching how the operation was functioning.  The operation ran smoothly– obviously, people were empowered to make decisions and customers left satisfied.
       The service advisor told me that he had just come to this particular dealership about 6 months ago and at his previous dealership, the staff rarely, if ever, saw the owner.  The service advisor pointed out that this dealership was well run and very efficient.  That was my observation as well.
       Are you out among your staff walking around, seeing how things are going?  Do you know what is going on “down on the floor?”  Do your staff feel a sense of pride and professionalism with their job?  That is what I sensed at this particular car dealer–and I think one reason was is the owner was visible, approachable and interested in everything that was going on.  Management by walking around works.  If you have not tried it, check it out– get out and walk “the floor”.  You may be amazed at what you learn.
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