How do I write a code of conduct for my dealership?
The automotive industry, and auto dealers in particular, occupy a unique space in the history of American business and ingenuity. I have been lucky to spend and enormous amount of time in dealerships across the US, and I am always struck by the stories and the histories found in each one.
These histories, and these stories, are perfect place to begin a Code of Conduct.
While Codes of Conduct are generally reserved for public companies, they’re a perfect fit, and more importantly, fit a perfect need for the Auto industry. This is the opportunity for a dealership to sell themselves and their values to their employees (impacting engagement and turnover), and to share those vales with their clients too (impacting public perception and sales).
Where Do I Start?
Codes of Conduct usually contain a number of topics, and most are topics that your dealership has already written down. You’ve already got a good portion inside your dealership’s regulatory material, and also within your employee handbook. They don’t have to be difficult to assemble. Take a look at some examples (a quick web search will get you started) to give you a base. But, most importantly, make sure your dealership’s individual culture of a dealership shines through.
A lot the hard work involved in developing your Code of Conduct comes from figuring out how your company’s unique view of the world can shine through in an environment that is uniquely designed to remove variance. Once you’ve made it through this exercise, though, your Code becomes a great construct that provides guidance, ensuring that through compliance those stories, those histories can continue and prosper.
Taking a Look at a Well-written Code of Conduct
AutoNation’s Code of Conduct is an excellent example of creating a protective layer that feels like the company it represents. Dealership culture shines through in every facet of their Code. Pictures of showrooms, body shops, finance departments, and most importantly the people that inhabit these spaces punctuate the code and demonstrate that this is indeed, AutoNation’s culture.
Kicking it Into High Gear
How could they make it even better? If I was to look at ways to improve their Code, I would recommend some short subject video. And make their video public-facing as well. A perfect example could be an introductory video by their CEO, Mike Jackson, and include it on the main Corporate Governance page. This would add a nice human touch and create a warmer introduction to the Code.
Your company’s Code of Conduct serves as a central guide as well as a reference for your workforce, supporting day-to-day decision making. It’s meant to clarify an organization’s mission, values and principles, tying them directly to standards and expectations of professional conduct. Think of it as a table of contents used to easily find relevant policies, training and other resources related to ethics topics within your organization. They’re easier to assemble than you think, and benefit both your employees and your clients.
Video adds a nice human touch and creates a warm introduction to the Code.