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Implementing Healthy Habits Will Cut Stress Levels On Your Service Team

Follow these seven rules in your work and personal lives, and urge co-workers to do the same. BY DAVID LEWIS

shutterstock_158962604Based on attendance in a training class on stress reduction that my firm delivers, I can tell you unequivocally that stress is a major issue in dealership service departments. You know exactly why stress builds up in service without my having to list the reasons.

In this article, I want to offer a few rules to help reduce stress levels, both at work and in your personal life. These rules may come off as obvious at first glance, but I can tell you that many service managers and advisors are not following them, and problems are resulting. Moreover, service managers are in a position to encourage and coach their advisors and techs on stress management, and improved motivation and productivity will result if they do.

Rule No. 1: Reduce Caffeine Intake

I’m not talking about removing the coffee and soda machines from the service department, or even setting a numerical standard for cups per day. Just drink less caffeine.

Despite the abundance of research warning how overuse of caffeinated drinks contributes to stress, many of us start the day with a bracing cup of coffee and turn to soft drinks throughout the day for a quick energy boost. Or, drinks like Red Bull are popular for a quick jolt. Try adding up the cost of one Red Bull per work day over a year’s time; that alone could create enough stress to trigger a heart attack.

Rule No. 2: Eat Balanced Meals

If you buy into the old saying, “You are what you eat,” what does it say about a service department where meals often are skipped during hectic schedules and replaced with fast food, pizza, donuts and other filler that has little nutritional value.

It’s worth the effort, time and discipline needed for your service team and you to develop good eating habits. Nutritionally balanced meals with more fresh vegetables, salads, soups and fresh fruits can definitely reduce stress and enhance your well being.

Rule No. 3: Don’t Procrastinate

Refusing to put off until tomorrow what you can do today contributes mightily to a lower-stress life. Don’t procrastinate! If you’ve got to tell a customer about a steep repair bill or other bad news, stop dawdling about making the call. Procrastination is a disorder that can consume our productivity and fuel mediocre business results.

Setting clear daily goals and working to achieve them is a terrific way to defeat the terrible procrastination habit. Without goals that rest upon our own shoulders and a consistent process for achieving them, we can easily find ourselves losing confidence and failing to complete even the simplest tasks. Result: More stress, more pessimism about our abilities.

Rule No. 4: Set Aside Quiet Time

Regular and personal quiet time is one of the best ways to reduce stress. A service manager or service advisor constantly deals with other people’s problems and their solutions. That leads to added stress.

Setting aside time during each work day (maybe a couple of times) for personal reflection and rest helps shed problems and achieve a little peace. Maybe you close your office door and listen to some music, or head to a nearby park. I personally am a big fan of a 15-minute walk. Whatever works best for you as an individual, be insistent about setting aside some quiet time every day.

Rule No. 5: Get Plenty Of Rest

Service managers and advisors have jobs that often get intense. If they have not gotten enough sleep or down time at home, they cannot function at their best. It becomes obvious when they cannot effectively function with customers, their staffs or other dealership personnel.

Getting enough sleep and R&R time at home is essentially a matter of insisting on the proper number of hours, no excuses. The busier life gets, the harder it can be to carve out the number of hours of sleep needed to function at our best. However, when days without enough rest start to stack up, one after the other, we become irritable and less able to deal with the intensity that comes along with a dealership service job. Once again, increased stress.

shutterstock_131112557Rule No. 6: Exercise More

According to the American Psychological Association, exercise improves mental health by helping the brain better cope with stress. Having a regular exercise regimen is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce stress. It will not take long to start realizing the benefits of simple exercise like a daily walk, and you’ll also enjoy benefits that extend far beyond stress relief. Taking regular walks improves cardiovascular function and helps prevent heart disease. They help maintain healthy blood pressure and reduce stress levels tremendously.

A regular exercise regimen also is a great way to lose weight and gain strength, energy and endurance. It contributes to increased brain function and makes it easier to fall asleep when you want to. Again, I am a big fan of daily walks, and walking is a good starting point if you are not used to regular physical exercise. A simple 30-minute walk three times a week can make a big difference in your general health and well being. Of course, you want to avoid walking in the extreme heat of the day, but morning and early evening walks can be tremendously beneficial to your health.

Rule No. 7: Don’t Sweat What You Can’t Control

Most of us spend far too much time worrying about things we cannot control. We tend to worry about what others think of us, when in reality we are probably in their minds hardly at all. We worry about the future, the past, a host of things we can affect little if at all.

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt liked to say, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” Those are good words to remember if you want to reduce stress in your life. We all should do what we can about events we can influence, and stop worrying about those we cannot control. Constant worrying is a sure way to increase our stress levels to the danger point. Then, it usually takes a serious health failure to get us to wake up and smell the coffee (just don’t drink it).

Spread The Word

Again, it would be easy to dismiss these seven simple rules as stating the obvious, if I didn’t see such high stress levels in dealership service departments. The fact is, these habits and the warning signs are being ignored.

Follow these rules to reduce your stress level. Keep an eye on your service team and encourage them to make the same changes. Remind them again and again. Cutting stress will contribute substantially to a more productive, smoothly running service department.

Source: Service Drive Magazine, October 2015 Issue

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