"You have to retain the culture of your people," said Rhett Ricart, CEO of Ricart Automotive Group in Columbus, Ohio. "You have to let your people know" that they'll be taken care of "in the middle of all this chaos they went home and saw on television. They saw their neighbor get their car repossessed. They saw homes with foreclosure signs on the front of them."
Ricart said a policy of "take good care of your people" was much of the driving force behind his group's success during the recession, along with the idea to "Never let sales outrun service." Rapidly implementing cost-saving ideas from his 20 Group helped, too.
Today, the group holds Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Kia franchises, employs between 560 and 590 employees and sells 16,000 new and used vehicles a year.