Land Rover of Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Automotive News -- October 18, 2012 - 12:01 am ET
Retaining staff can be difficult in the sometimes-transient world of automotive retailing. But at Land Rover of Fort Lauderdale, General Manager John Evanicki has figured out how to keep people on board.
In a typical year, the dealership, part of AutoNation Inc., has to replace just one or two employees. Some years, the store has had no turnover at all, said Evanicki. In 2011, the store lost just one of its 44 employees, for a company-low turnover rate of 2 percent. Through August of this year, two employees had left, both because of relocations.
Preventing turnover takes a lot of work, but it's one of Evanicki's top priorities.
"We want our customers to know us, and we want to know our customers," said Evanicki, who has been the dealership's general manager since 1998. "The only way to do that is to keep the same people in the game."
Evanicki starts every day by walking through the dealership and greeting all staff members with questions about their families or interests. The dealership hosts birthday parties for employees. One man from Jamaica who worked as a detailer told Evanicki it was the first time he'd had a birthday cake in his 40 years.
Maintaining the feel of a family operation with the benefits of a publicly traded company helps retention, Evanicki said. He also ties the dealership's low-pressure sales atmosphere to employee satisfaction. Even before AutoNation turned to market-based pricing throughout the company, Land Rover of Fort Lauderdale was limiting negotiations by pricing vehicles close to actual transaction prices.
"Customers don't want to fight with you, and you don't want to fight with them," Evanicki said. "By taking that bitterness out of the equation, it becomes a lot more friendly for everybody."
-- Amy Wilson