Hilton Head Buick-Cadillac-GMC, Bluffton, S.C.
Automotive News -- October 18, 2012 - 12:01 am ET
Employees are cool with the store's air-conditioned service area.
Call it a cool selling point.
Working on cars can be a challenge in a town where summer temperatures often top 100 degrees. But the service bays at Hilton Head Buick-Cadillac-GMC in Bluffton, S.C., are air-conditioned.
Attention to worker comfort has become a recruitment and retention tool for the store, says CFO Martha Hartley.
She says people who have left the dealership to work elsewhere soon discover that not all auto shops go to the same lengths. In some shops, she says, sweltering summer temperatures make it impossible to work beyond midday. "We're getting more productivity by keeping them more comfortable," she says.
During the cooler months, the dealership takes oil recovered from oil changes and uses it to heat the store.
Among team-building efforts are company-provided Saturday lunches and monthly cake-and-ice cream birthday celebrations. "It's more like a family atmosphere," Hartley says. "We feel we should always take care of our own, and we do."
The dealership puts a premium on staff training. New employees get an average of 16 hours of orientation. Workers then receive about 48 hours of annual training and development.
That still leaves time for charity. The dealership encourages involvement in community activities by adjusting schedules as needed, Hartley says. "We try and be a little lenient with time when they have to come and go to do certain things"
-- Leslie J. Allen