The staff members at Patriot Subaru in Saco, Maine, have it pretty good. Their dogs don't have it so bad, either. Every day is bring-your-dog-to-work day, and customers are welcome to bring their dogs, too. It's a practice put in place for one simple reason: to help employees enjoy their work more.
"We've tried to do everything we can to build a culture here that makes people enjoy coming to work," says owner Adam Arens, a Floridian who previously worked at South Florida retail giant J.M. Family Enterprises Inc. "I believe that your bottom-line results are the result of doing the right thing, not of chasing the bottom line. We don't try to beat year-over-year results -- and yet we do better every year."
The store also has an employee gym. During the dealership's construction, architects gave Arens an option between a parts mezzanine or a basement. He decided that the basement gym would be more valuable in the long run.
Patriot also maintains an on-site organic vegetable garden, which has been turning out tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, peppers and other vegetables this summer. Employees plant what they want, cultivate what they grow and occasionally serve the results inside for lunch. There has been an ongoing contest to grow the season's hottest peppers and see who can actually eat them.
The dealership pays 100 percent of employee's medical, dental and visual coverage. That coverage will become more expensive next year, Arens says, and his cost will increase $50,000 to $60,000.
"It does cost a lot, but I'm still making a lot of money," he says. "It's just something we've decided we want to do. I think we can cover it next year, just by being a little more productive."
-- Lindsay Chappell