Better boots on the ground and other attire advantages

Technicians at Audi Bedford in Ohio show off work boots the dealership helped buy.

Audi Bedford is helping its employees put their best foot forward. The Ohio dealership gives each of its 15 technicians $50 per year to purchase new work boots.

"Safety is the main reason," said Greg Mason, former general manager. "But it also boosts morale."

According to Mason, Audi Bedford has offered this perk since he started working at Penske Automotive Group eight and a half years ago. Mason is now general manager at Honda of Mentor, another Penske store.

"The reason [we chose] technicians and all service department support staff is because we want to make sure they have the proper safety gear and are as safe as possible while performing their duties in the service department," Mason said.

Providing for a new pair of shoes also lets workers know they are valued.

Penske Automotive gives its regions and stores latitude to do what they feel works best in their markets. The work-boot perk is offered by all Penske stores in the Cleveland area.

Encouraging employees to dress well for work, and helping them to do so, is a frequent though hardly common trait among the Best Dealerships To Work For. A handful of companies aside from Audi Bedford offer some kind of wardrobe allowance.

For example, in Texas, Fiat-Alfa Romeo of Austin provides dry cleaning pickup and delivery, while Greg May Honda in Waco favors a business-casual dress code for summer that includes khaki and navy shorts provided by the company.

Mason believes building a great work atmosphere requires more than the right footwear. At Audi Bedford, he strived for cohesiveness through organized events that included all employees.

"Most of the time, the technicians are in the back with the parts guys, so it's nice to bring everyone together," Mason said.

The dealership hosts cookouts on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Ice cream trucks come through to offer cold treats on hot days.

Mason spent four and half years as general manager of Audi Bedford. He believes his experience has allowed him to better connect with employees.

"I've been in the auto industry for 16 years," said Mason. "I started as a salesman and worked my way up through the system, so I understand how people feel at each level."

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