Dealer Kenny Schwartz likes to wear shorts. So about 15 years ago, he decided that employees at his World Subaru in Tinton Falls, N.J., should be allowed to wear shorts when the weather allows.
"I wanted people to wear shorts in the warm months because it's more comfortable," says Schwartz.
But a more comfortable staff wasn't the only benefit of the casual dress code. His efforts have translated into larger sales. World Subaru has been its district's largest Subaru dealership in volume for the last 13 years.
The casual dress code also applies to his World Jeep-Chrysler-Dodge-Ram in Shrewsbury, N.J., and World Volkswagen in Neptune, N.J. World Jeep sales are up about 25 to 30 percent since 2014. World Volkswagen has been doing pretty well, too.
Schwartz admits the vehicles themselves are a big reason for his success, but he adds that a shorts-clad staff and appealing work environment "all adds up" to a prosperous business.
Schwartz figures that salespeople might need to show a potential buyer up to six vehicles on the lot. If it's 90 degrees outside and they're getting sweaty and uncomfortable in pants, they might be inclined to show just two vehicles.
"It's better to have them show as many cars as possible until they have a sale," says Schwartz.
His employees' warm-weather look calls for a company polo shirt, khaki shorts and sneakers. They're allowed to look casual, but they must also look neat. The company spends about $1,000 a year for the shirts.
Schwartz believes that when his employees are comfortable, they radiate those feelings to their customers. World Subaru sells about 2,300 new and used vehicles combined a year and is on track for its third-straight Stellar Care dealer award from Subaru, says General Manager Joe Wajda.
And what goes best with khaki shorts and sneakers? High-end art, of course.
Schwartz has several thousand pieces of art that he has been collecting from all over the world for nearly 50 years. About 30 to 40 of those pieces adorn the walls of the Subaru dealership, as well as his main office inside the dealership.