Employees determine the customer's experience

I recently began shopping for my next car. I did the research and price comparisons. I wanted to test drive several comparable cars from different automakers. So I started my dealership tour.

It was clear to me who liked and did not like their jobs at the various stores. I was actually told at one dealership to come back later in the week. They did not ask for my name or any contact information. I really wanted the car I was considering at one dealership, but the person there was not friendly, not happy and just did not care. I encountered the same attitude at three of five dealerships.

Peter B. Burke is president and co-founder of Best Companies Group.

The dealership where I finally bought my car delivered the most pleasant experience. I spent more than I wanted and I bought a car off the lot that was not exactly what I wanted. But you could tell that my consultant loved what he did. He had been doing it for 25 years. Everyone at that dealership had the same zest for the work.

Today, potential buyers know a lot of information about you before they meet even one person at your store. Your people may be your last competitive advantage. That was the case when I was shopping.

This year's Best Dealerships To Work For are successful in creating and sustaining environments where employees love to come to work and to engage with the customers.

My firm, Best Companies Group, measures employee engagement and satisfaction. In determining this year's Best Dealerships To Work For list, we surveyed more than 62,000 employees to find out what they thought about their employers.

To determine how emotionally connected or "engaged" the employees are, we needed to know if the employees would give extra effort to see their company succeed. Does their job provide a sense of meaning and purpose? Do the employees like going to work most days? Would they recommend the organization as a place of employment to a friend? For the winners, the answers are yes, yes, yes and yes.

Most research firms have found that only about 41 percent of U.S. employees can say "yes" to those types of questions. The 2015 Best Dealerships blew that number out of the water, with 98 percent of their employees "engaged." It's pretty amazing. In fact, it is the strongest group of winners that we have ever had, from any of our more than 50 programs we manage around the world.

This process also allows participants to review their own results, including benchmark reports and employee comments. The BCG Employee Feedback Report gives all participants the tools to become better places to work. Consider participating in 2016. Whether you make the list or not, you can use the information from the surveys to improve your workplace. Check out the program website at BestDealershipsToWorkFor.com.

Congratulations to this year's honorees.

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