Let Go of Deadweight Employees

Eliminate under-performing staff to improve your business and increase customer satisfaction.

Over the last several months, I have been working with equipment dealers who have employees who just need to be let go. As I have talked to the principals at these dealership, they all agree that the employees have become an issue, but seem to be hesitant to let them go for a variety of reasons.

One of the biggest things holding dealership principals back is their fear that a qualified replacement can’t be found. As I discuss the importance of not being a “hostage” to your business—and more importantly to the employees—the principals all agree, but still have trouble “pulling the trigger” and letting problem employees go.

Put on your “Big Boy or Girl” pants

Think about your own dealership. Are there any people you have working for you who make your life stressful and customers unhappy? These are people who may have been working with you for years. They could be a family member, an A-level tech or an experienced parts person who you are sure you can’t do without—even knowing they have a negative impact on the rest of the employees and customers.   

These employees think they can get away with a bad attitude. They may be contributing, but don’t care about you, the business or their coworkers. As you try to improve the dealership, they cross their arms and put up a fight, knowing that you need them and won’t do anything about it.

As an owner, you have an obligation to yourself, your customers and your other employees to put your “Big Boy or Big Girl” pants on and fix the problem. You need to go head-to-head with this person and make sure they understand that their performance has to change for them to continue working for you. 

Can’t Do – Won’t Do

Before you begin the process of getting rid of an employee that is not meeting your standards or expectations, I encourage you to think of employee performance from a “Can’t Do or Won’t Do” perspective.

If you have an employee in the service department who struggles with showing up on time, taking too long of lunch breaks, or continues to use their cell phone during business hours even though you have asked them repeatedly not to, then you have a “won’t do” problem. The only thing that will influence that attitude is the consequences of no longer having a job.

On the other hand, if you have an employee who tries but fails at a task, then you have a “can’t do” problem that can be corrected with training.  

I understand that it is not easy or comfortable to discipline your employees. But if you allow them to continue to perform below your standards, the rest of your dealership staff will begin to lower their expectations. Before long, you will find yourself working longer hours for less money and with more stress.   

Take action

When you have made the decision to let an employee go, your first action is not to fire them. You must first begin to build the case for why they should leave by documenting with the employee in writing how they are underperforming. You also should begin outlining the ultimate consequences of their lack of performance or bad attitude. After three write-ups with no improvement, it is time for everyone to move on.

Never forget that your first obligation is to your business and your customers. Any employee who is not contributing in a positive way needs to be replaced with someone who will.