Dealerships promoting culture that's healthy, motivating and fun
Automotive News -- October 18, 2012 - 12:01 am ET
Want a job where you can win a Rolex watch, earn a diamond ring, work with a nutritionist, go on an all-expenses-paid shopping spree, enjoy a paid vacation at a beach house or set your own work hours?
Those are some of the perks that the Best Dealerships To Work For give to their employees.
Many of the top dealerships have gone beyond relying on financial incentives to drive productivity and loyalty. They are creating a work culture that is healthy, motivating and fun.
They are providing flexible work hours to provide a better work-life balance, paying for health experts to speak about nutrition, fitness and inspirational topics and offering luxury amenities for a job well done.
Sometimes the perks can make a difference in employees' health or financial well-being. If you have worked full-time for any Larry H. Miller Group dealership for two years, for example, your kids can go to college for free. A scholarship -- not a loan -- covers tuition and an allowance for textbooks for any student carrying 14 credit hours and a C average.
Pam Noti, the compensation and benefits manager for Carbone Management Co. in Utica, N.Y., says her goal is clear: to change the culture.
"We want to have a healthier population. This year we're going full force with it."
Starting this month, Carbone will host wellness screenings for employees of its 14 dealerships across New York and Vermont. It has hired a nutritionist to travel to the stores to run nutrition and fitness seminars every two weeks.
Carbone Subaru in Troy, N.Y., is one of Automotive News' Best Dealerships To Work For. Noti expects at least one-third of that store's 30 full-time employees to participate. There are strong incentives to do so. The participants will save $23 to $56 off their weekly health insurance contributions, Noti says.
It's not the first time Carbone has promoted health. It has offered Weight Watchers programs at its stores for four years. In the first year alone, 80 participants lost a total of more than 2,000 pounds. But, she adds, "Weight Watchers, after four years, kind of got old. We needed to look at something to re-engage the employees and make it different and exciting. We thought this would be a good fit."
Jersey shore and more
Most employees at Audi Wynnewood in Wynnewood, Pa., and Princeton Porsche in Lawrenceville, N.J., can choose to spend a weekend or entire week at one of several shore houses in Ocean City, N.J., that the company rents each summer. The houses sleep eight to 10 people and are paid for by the dealer. The company has been offering this perk since the mid-1990s.
"It's extremely popular," says Scott Kaminski, marketing communications director of MMCO in Conshohocken, Pa., which owns the dealerships. "If somebody were renting the house for a week, a house that size is probably $1,000 to $1,500."
Employees and their immediate family can also partake in a weekend at the Hersheypark amusement park in Hershey, Pa., Kaminski says. It includes a night in a hotel, dinner, breakfast and an all-day ticket to the park -- all paid for by the company.
At Continental Audi of Naperville, Ill., employees are rewarded with jewels for their loyalty, says owner Joel Weinberger.
After five years of service, an employee gets a gold university-style ring with a black onyx in the center. Female employees can choose a pendant or a different ring style.
For each year after that, the employee gets a red garnet put in the ring. At year 10, a diamond goes in the center of the onyx. At year 15, a bigger diamond is put in its place.
"It's not cheap, but people do appreciate it," Weinberger says. "People who are there less than five years, when they see the five-year people getting their rings, it's something they strive for."
At Dimmitt Chevrolet in Clearwater, Fla., the employee who sells the most cars in one year will receive a Rolex watch.
Owner Lawrence Dimmitt started the program last year. Two salesmen tied, so Dimmitt bought each a Swiss TAG Heuer watch because the budget did not support buying two Rolexes.
At McCurley Integrity Honda in Richland, Wash., a cold Saturday night in January is a hot ticket.
Each January for the last five years, the dealership's employees have gathered one Saturday night for a party in the aisles of a local warehouse retailer after it closes.
During the two-hour party, employees are given gift cards worth hundreds of dollars toward anything the retailer sells.
Employees and their families play games in the store's aisles. The dealer also hands out awards to recognize milestones and accomplishments.
Provide freedom and an ear
Mike Good believes in "autonomy, mastery and purpose."
So he allows his top salespeople and department heads to make their own work schedule.
"Autonomy is helping someone build themselves, mastery is helping them be the greatest they can be, and purpose is linking them to something greater than themselves," says Good, general manager of Street Toyota-Scion in Amarillo, Texas.
Good gives his top performers the option to come in late, leave early or work out a schedule that gives them balance in their life. His average salesperson sells 15 vehicles a month, and more than half of them earn more than $100,000 a year, with the lowest earning $50,000, Good says.
The store's annual total vehicle sales have risen from fewer than 2,000 five years ago, before this perk was in place, to about 5,000 now, he says.
A similar mentality of an open, autonomous culture exists at Wolfchase Toyota-Scion in Cordova, Tenn.
Managers hold regular meetings and conduct an annual survey to get employee feedback.
Then they act on it. The dealership recently spent thousands of dollars on better lighting after service staff complained that they struggled to see well enough to detail the cars properly, says General Manager Tyler Heard.
He adds: "The whole point is to get feedback from our employees on ways to improve business practices and increase employee satisfaction."
Arlena Sawyers contributed to this report
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