When the economy falters, it's easy for some dealers to avoid coming up with strategies to ensure their business foundation remains sound.

Sometimes, their perspective narrows, and consequently they end up only considering dubious short-term solutions for staying profitable in a very competitive market place.

The foundation of any business is its employees. Keeping in mind their satisfaction, providing them with continual education and presenting them with healthy challenges can lead to a staff that will support the organization and its goals unconditionally.

The success of the employees directly affects profitability in today's environment.

Consider your current workforce. Who stands out and what makes them an asset? In such a competitive landscape, how are you safeguarding your talent pool if and when your key employees leave?

If you haven't already, I urge you to consider developing a mentoring program both to empower veteran employees and better orient new ones.

Developing and nurturing a formal program where your current employees can be responsible for your new hires provides innumerable benefits.

As many technician mentors have told me, it's important to explain to rookies that coming to work at a dealership is not like attending classes.

Making the transition to real-world challenges and adult decisions is difficult. Mentoring makes this shift easier.

Moreover your asset employees in the service department also will feel more capable, challenged and be even more valuable to you and your dealership if you entrust them to instruct junior technicians. This role makes the difference between being just a manager and an invested leader.

The power of a good team cannot be underestimated, right down to your profit margins. Good technicians are hard to find; technicians committed to stay are even harder to uncover.

If you can train a technician guided by your principles and discipline (such as having a clean work station, coming to work 10 minutes early, staying until the last job is finished), you will not need to worry about “re-training” a technician you hire from another dealership or related field.

You can cultivate professionals and in the end spend less time and money on recruiting efforts and newspaper ads to hire another dealer's problems.

From a broader perspective, your role in mentoring can help to enhance the image of automotive technology as a career option for young adults.

A dealer's conscientious approach to elevating an entry-level technician's appreciation for customer service and business operations can inspire others and dispel the stereotype that automotive technicians are simply mechanics with no credible education.

In fact, it's likely that those technicians you mentor could be inspired to continue their learning with a post-secondary manufacturer program, an added value to ensuring the technology and processes you employ day-to-day are of the highest quality.

Mentoring is a commitment to the community you work in, the customers you keep and the workplace you manage. By investing in your employees and the future of your service operations, you will soon reap the benefits in your dealership's profitability.

Larry Cummings is the president and CEO of Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES), a business and education partnership that includes dealers, dealer associations, auto makers and educational institutions. Visit www.ayes.org.