Team first

Carlos Planas likes to talk
with his employees, and he tries every day to meet individually with one in the morning
and one in the afternoon. The
managing partner and general
manager of Tamiami Automotive
Group/Tamiami Chrysler Jeep
wants to know how employees
are doing, how their families
are doing and if they are happy
in their jobs at the car dealership.

Planas has gotten many good
ideas from these meetings, and
he says that it’s important to
allow employees to express their
ideas so your company can benefit from them. Through listening to his 120 employees,
Planas has developed relationships with them and implemented their ideas to help the company improve its business and
reach 2006 revenue of $70 million.

Smart Business spoke with
Planas about how teaching people everything you know creates
employees you trust to get the
job done.

Don’t be afraid to delegate. Know
when to delegate. People are
smarter than you think. Trust
your delegation, your people
and their feelings.

Give employees a job and
find out exactly what they do.
If not, then go back to teach
them. Some people will learn
quickly, and others will learn
slowly. The slow one, it’s like
the turtle and rabbit story;
they’ll catch up, and if not,
they’ll leave.

Give them a good description
of the task, let them know
you’re there to help and make
sure that everything is done by
teamwork. No individual will
shine; the whole department
will shine. Don’t allow the same
person to do a task over and
over all the time; give other
people the opportunity to do
that, and see who is right.

People are afraid of taking
steps, but you shouldn’t be
afraid, you should be smart.

Delegating usually takes
things away from you so you
can take command of other
things or think of other ways of
doing business. You want a person who you can delegate to
and know it’s going to be done.
Look for integrity, trustworthiness and reliability.

Go to the person who will
keep saying, ‘Yes, let me do it,
find and give me an opportunity.’ I like to see hungry people so
I can give them an opportunity.

Make teamwork a priority. In
order to have teamwork, you
have to show employees how
to communicate with each
other and how to react when
things happen. It’s teamwork,
teamwork, teamwork. Everything has to be teamwork.

If there’s a problem, I will
counsel the person alone, then
with the team manager, and then pull them together. Talk to
them and see if they can work
together. If they cannot, start
over. If the person doesn’t fit,
he doesn’t fit. You cannot make
a person fit.

Find out what others think
about a problem. Find out
what’s happening among others
and give one more try to see if
people can get along.

Be a coach. Let employees
know they can succeed. Be
open, be a teacher and hear
their idea. Everybody wants an
equal opportunity, so be fair.
Let them know that you’re the
coach, and you’re there to
cheer them up.

Support what everybody’s
doing. Teach and then command. Believe in your capabilities and the capabilities of
others.

A leader is not born; a leader
is also taught. A leader makes
changes and takes risks and is
not the person who only goes
by the safe side. A leader is
one who teaches and, no matter what, does not allow for
anybody to get out of the circle of trust.

There are no natural-born
leaders. A leader is made
through the years and is an
example of the family, friends
and teachers they surround
themselves with. Just be natural and be yourself.

Everybody should be recognized. A bad employee, you try
to teach them. If they cannot
do it, you go and help. Give
praise for a job well done.

Don’t be afraid of saying anything, as long as it’s truthful. It’s
the best way for you to shine
through and show them you
care. I try to always pat
employees on the back. That’s
something leaders forget.

Always say ‘yes’ to a customer. Go
over and above. Overwhelm the
customer with great customer
service. It starts from the beginning, the moment you talk to a
customer, the way you say
‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon.’ Customers must be
acknowledged the first time
they walk in and make sure they
are recognized.

Be truthful about everything. If
you need to tell a guy it will take
10 weeks for something, tell him
10 weeks, not five. Find solutions to problems, just don’t give
up and say, ‘It cannot be done.’
Find what can be done because there’s something else out there.
Truthful customer service is to
overwhelm the customer, just
not satisfy them but overwhelm
them.

Teach every employee what
good customer service is. Teach
employees that customers are
the ones who are paying the
bills and their livelihood, and
make sure they understand that.

You have to show them.

Communicate to employees and
have employees communicate
to you. Everybody has a responsibility, and you have to keep
following up with everybody
and keep working. It’s constant
work, and you cannot rely on
someone saying, ‘We already
learned this.’ Make sure you follow up on processes.

HOW TO REACH: Tamiami Automotive Group/Tamiami Chrysler Jeep, (305) 266-5500
or www.tamiami.fivestardealers.com