First, Welch improved communication with his staff.
He shared with employees every update on the crisis. That meant the regular weekly team meetings with service advisers, parts consultants and sales staff grew more frequent "to get to everyone the minute we had information," he said.
"We explained to them the situation and that they're all ambassadors for Volkswagen," said Welch. "When Volkswagen was in the news last September every day for a month and their friends and neighbors were asking questions, having them armed with information was vital."
Next, Welch increased his incentive pot by about $1,000 to a total of $3,500 a month. He urged his managers to devise more competitions among salespeople to win cash prizes.
"Our intention is to make sure we keep it fun," Welch said.
Welch had done the competitions once a quarter before the scandal but upped them to once a month. Some of the competitions include who makes the most appointments, who does the best walk-around presentation of a vehicle and who most accurately enters customers' information in the database. The prizes range from $50 to $300 plus a gift certificate.
"They started paying us for stuff we should be doing anyway, like setting appointments," said Matt Reynolds, a salesman at Auburn Volkswagen.
Reynolds worked at other dealerships before joining Auburn Volkswagen six years ago. But the thought of leaving never occurred to him because almost immediately after the scandal broke, Welch increased his used-car inventory by about 20 percent to help offset a slowdown in new-car sales. It's helped push his used-to-new sales ratio to 1.5-to-1 from 1-to-1.
Welch lets salespeople sell both new and used cars, so Reynolds said his pay has not decreased given Welch's boost in used-car inventory.
"That demonstrates Matt's commitment to us," Reynolds said. "Nobody's really seen a big drop in their pay, and nobody's had to leave and worry about starting anew somewhere else, which can be incredibly stressful and devastating."