Herman Klein’s car showroom
Having fun at work ensures high customer satisfaction
providers on the subject
The lack of qualified employees is one of the greatest challenges of the automotive industry. The way in which the car dealer Hermann Klein manages to find and retain his employees is exemplary for the industry – and makes the Fuldatal-based company the winner of the Automotive Business Award 2022.
Many car dealerships place job advertisements and it is surprising that fewer and fewer people apply. At the Hermann Klein car showroom in Fuldatal, the opposite is true. Applicants come here of their own free will and ask for a job – because they have heard that the atmosphere at work is supposed to be so good.
During a visit to Fuldatal, the jury of the Automotive Business Awards asked Jürgen Klein, one of the four family members in dealership management, where this is coming from. “Our motto is: employee first, then customer!” the entrepreneur is responsible. High level of employee satisfaction is the strategy of the Hessian company, which in the Kassel region, alongside the large Glinicke group, provides itself with all the services that customers of Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda with more than 160 employees at one location need.
And the high level of employee satisfaction – this is what the operators are sure of – increases customer satisfaction. Ratings of car dealerships on the largest internet portals prove that the Klein family is right. No other applicant company in the Services category achieved an average rating of more than 4.5 on Google, Facebook and Mobile.de.
“Employees spend almost 50 percent of their time at work,” emphasizes Jürgen Klein. “They should have fun and be happy to be there,” Klein sums up his “secret of success” in the following points:
- 1. The entire management level must go hand in hand and build friendly relations with employees.
- 2. The structure of the company is characterized by a flat hierarchy, initiative and a high degree of personal responsibility for employees.
- 3. Staff ratio is higher so there is no stress and more time for customer service. For example, there are 30 percent more service advisers than would normally be based on the size of the car dealership.
Klein-Net connects all employees
While many companies would also sign points 1 and 2, point 3 is certainly different. Accept higher personnel costs for greater employee satisfaction? It sounds hard. But it shows how consistently the Klein family implements its strategy. At the same time, better customer advice ultimately results in more orders or better use of sales potential, so that higher personnel costs are compensated.
The company is also pleased with four to five new customers each day, mainly attracted by word of mouth. With a high recommendation rate, it’s no wonder that many random customers come to the company without an appointment. On average, that’s around 40 a day! To serve them, the company developed an interesting idea for digitization: Klein-Net. It is an intranet solution that connects the entire workforce. All employees have access to all relevant information and processes here. Chat and messaging can be used for real-time communication.
In this way, Klein-Net helps to handle occasional customers: if a customer reports an emergency with his vehicle via telephone, e-mail or messaging, the responsible employee records the conversation on the intranet. The process is therefore visible to the entire service team. This digital form of communication is necessary. Because small is not small at all, but rather large so that the principle of “accusation” reaches its limits. When the customer comes to the showroom, the order is ready and the customer can be served immediately. Integration into the workshop process has already taken place and a replacement vehicle has been made available. According to Klein, this reduces the waiting time for the customer “to zero”.
Changing wheels is a business for Team A
The express service here is not a job for a dedicated employee, but a teamwork – like almost everything in the family business in Fuldatal. Another example of the independent work of Hermann Klein car dealership employees is A-Team. This does not mean a powerful group of mercenaries from TV, but interns to whom Klein has handed over full responsibility for the seasonal wheel changes. Young women and men take care of all the work, from making an appointment, picking up the vehicle and changing the tires, to returning it. Of course, experienced fitters take care of the supervision – but the work is done by Team A. In this way, the management of the company quickly recognizes which junior staff is suitable for the higher tasks and can be trained, for example, as a service consultant. This system has proven itself over the past few years, reports Jürgen Klein. Customers are very satisfied with the apprentices’ performance due to the short waiting time (usually 20 to 30 minutes).
With full attention to the employee: A car dealership is by no means a pony farm. You also have to work hard at the Hermann Klein dealership. And not every employee can cope with the working atmosphere, and above all, with a high level of personal responsibility. For this reason, Klein has been employing interns for many years on the basis of the concept of assessment center: in this way, he wants to get to know the nature of the candidates as well as possible and be able to assess whether they fit the “Klein family”.
The philanthropy of an entrepreneurial family is by no means at the expense of business success. All relevant key figures in workshop activity were increased in 2021 compared to 2020 – from hours sold to orders and sales. The number of employees has increased, as has the use of the workshop – so everything is going well at the Hermann Klein car showroom. Thus, success at the Automotive Business Award was almost inevitable.