Define each position

When McMachen Marine was a Sea Ray dealer several years ago, it developed an employee handbook as part of the manufacturer certification process.

The dealership has undergone numerous, often painful changes over the past three years, shrinking from three locations to one and 75 employees to 18 as the Harrison Township, Mich.-based dealership’s fortunes rise and fall with those of the U.S. automotive industry in this Detroit suburb.

Despite the drastic downsizing, McMachen Marine believes in the power of the employee handbook to bring clarity to workers, says Mark McMachen, general manager. “It puts everything in black and white so there’s no grey area,” McMachen says. “Job descriptions are clear, and employees know what’s expected of them.”

The dealership used a template developed by Sea Ray to write its handbook, adapting the manual to meet its needs. Managers go through the document in the off season, making adjustments as necessary to keep the handbook current.

McMachen Marine also created a quality control form for use in the service department for customer follow-up about a week after the service is completed. The form, which has been in use for many years, “helps get to the bottom line of things and gauge customer feelings,” McMachen says. “Calling them goes a long way.”

The form isn’t a script that’s followed to the letter but rather an informal survey of how the repair went and whether there were any complaints that require follow-up questions. “We try to keep it simple and respect our customers’ time,” McMachen says.

The general manager skims through the completed forms weekly, taking remedial action as required. “It’s hard to be perfect, but we try,” McMachen says.

Another seemingly simple practice McMachen Marine follows is keeping extra shirts on hand for everyone who interacts with the boats. Clean and shiny boats don’t mix well with the grease and grime that often accompany boat repairs.

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