The Cincinnati-based Jeff Wyler Automotive Family comprises 24 franchises in six locations in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Some 560 employees help make this a successful business and, according to them, a very good place to work.
What's the secret?
Francis Kincaid sums it up this way: 'Everything rolls downhill.' Dealer principal Jeff Wyler sets the tone, which is reflected throughout the dealerships, she says.
'Mr. Wyler is a down-to-earth person,' says Kincaid, who has been with the company for 15 years. She manages a staff of 10 cashiers and telephone attendants at the Auto Mall in the diverse and growing Eastgate area. 'He is a caring individual. The company takes care of its employees - my husband has worked here in service for 25 years.'
Kincaid's route to a position with the company was through her parents. They had been Wyler customers.
'My father heard of a job opening,' she says. 'I was finishing an associate's degree in accounting and looking for work. I started in customer relations.'
It was there that Kincaid discovered the dealer's commitment to taking care of customers. Every complaint was dealt with, not passed along or buried in a stack of papers, she says. One result has been excellent customer loyalty and what she calls an immense body of return buyers.
Chuck Adomitis is general manager of the Wyler Cadillac-Oldsmobile-Nissan dealership in Fairfield, Ohio. A Wyler employee for two decades, Adomitis has been at that store seven years. He was a teacher of mentally impaired persons when he decided to follow his heart.
'Cars had always fascinated me,' Adomitis says. 'My father was in the auto industry. I hired in as a salesperson in new cars. Then I went to the used side of the business.'
Adomitis says he appreciated the learning-by-doing approach he found at Wyler. There have been ample opportunities to grow and advance, he says. The business and the way it is run has kind of evolved, he suggests. Wyler has been bold in purchases and expansions. He has operated with plans and sometimes on impulse.
Adomitis recalls a dealership the company purchased in El Paso, Texas. It had problems, but the distance between the Midwest and the Southwest crippled efforts to revitalize the operation, and it subsequently was sold.
'We learned that regional works best,' he says.
Moving among operations in three adjoining states keeps Human Resources Manager Kathy Roberts busy enough. While the dealerships tend to do their own interviewing and hiring, Roberts oversees personnel matters from the corporate office in Cincinnati. 'On occasion I'll do a follow-up or second interview but not with every applicant,' she says.
'When I do get involved, my goal is to get to know the individual,' she says. 'I don't use a standard interview form. We have, however, just started using a Wonderlic Personnel Test and have used predictive index tests, which show how a person thinks other people react to certain situations.'
GEARED FOR THE JOB
Tests, she says, help determine whether an individual is geared for the job he or she is seeking.
Wyler runs ads in major newspapers to help fill positions, and the company relies on referrals from current employees. Job openings are posted weekly. There are opportunities to transfer within the company. Employee benefits include opportunities to purchase long-term disability and additional life insurance. Dental coverage is available.
'We have annual employee reviews,' Roberts says. 'Managers do them for their staff. Managers also oversee training. They use regular staff meetings to handle problems and get people pumped up.'
Two days before Christmas, Ron Waddle didn't need more pumping up. The 18-year Wyler veteran was trying to get vehicles out of his body shop at the Auto Mall and back to their owners in time for the holiday weekend.
Waddle was working at another dealership when a former colleague, then a Wyler shop manager, invited him to consider a move. It wasn't the money, Waddle says, or the equipment or the challenge that helped him decide.
He really liked working with the Wyler staffer who called him. Today, 23 people report to Waddle. 'Most all of them have been here over 10 years,' he says.
'We stay very busy. This is the only (Wyler) body shop on this side of town, and it serves 11 franchises.'
Work may be pressing, but getting it done with the help of good people makes all the difference, he says.
Adomitis in Fairfield knows about day-to-day pressure. Wyler operations there have expanded into three new buildings on 10 acres into which Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Nissan operations plus used cars have been moving since last autumn.
There have been numerous adjustments, inconveniences and accommodations along the way. Throughout the process, he says, managers' doors remained open to staff and customers.
That is the Wyler way of doing business.