Can Money Buy Employee Loyalty?


You ultimately must answer that question for your dealership.  But I’m asking you to read this article before you do.

Let’s begin with examining the following figure showing that money can actually create more dissatisfaction than satisfaction. 

It is paramount that salary must be competitive for the market and that is represented by the zero (0) point.  The graph illustrates that being underpaid by $1 per hour produces more dissatisfaction (-3) than the satisfaction level produced (+1) upon receiving a $1 per hour pay increase above the competitive salary schedule.

At one time, research showed that the positive impact upon receiving a pay increase lasted about seven days and quickly returned to zero.  I don’t have current data on this subject, but – keep reading.

It’s a given that everyone needs money and employees want and expect to be paid a competitive salary in their respective marketplace to maintain their style of living.  It’s also important to note that acquiring money is very motivational for some people.  Yours truly was one of those motivated people as I emerged from a financially impoverished family.  Eventually I learned that a career serving others is most important and money will find you.

The good news is that the majority of employees, particularly the younger generation, want something more than money.  First, employees want to be respected for the “brain” that you employed and showed they are valued.  Asking for the employees’ input, listening to understand it, and using it whenever possible is the critical triage to improve company loyalty.

Second, employees want to be a part of a dealership with a clearly defined path forward. This fact speaks directly to why I urge dealerships to establish and implement a company vision and mission.  It is human nature to “want” to be part of “something” that is larger than the individual.  There is a degree of psychological security offered when this occurs.  Yes, there are individuals who prefer to strike out on their own as I did when I started my company.  These hearty souls are in the minority and the last research I’ve read shows that only 10% of such businesses succeed.  Yes, that is a sad statistic.

Third, employees want both to be challenged by their job responsibilities and develop a career plan for their employment.  Achieving this end means supervisors must be attuned to working with their employees to develop such a plan.  Such effort requires having career development conversations with each employee.  The fact is many supervisors find such conversations uncomfortable and default to the attitude that the employee will figure that on their own “as I did!”  Yes, many of the people I’ve asked, what do you want to be when you grow up tell me, I don’t know!  But that should not deter a supervisor from working with these employees anyway, because people want a meaningful life and having a career, as opposed to a “job”, is part of that lifestyle.    

Now review the three points and answer this question – what does it cost to integrate these three characteristics into your dealership?   My guess is — not much when you consider the ROI for having an engaged, productive employee.  You might be interested to read On Fire At Work by Eric Chester.  He is just one of many leadership gurus who write about high performing companies that integrate these into their workplace culture.

Article Written By Larry Cole, Ph.D.

LARRY COLE, PH.D., is a lead trainer for and consultant to the North American Equipment Dealers Association’s Dealer Institute. He provides onsite training and public courses to improve business leadership effectiveness and internal and external customer service. Please send questions and / or comments to Larry at


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