While he considers making the list to be a win, he still pays close attention to the rankings.
If he's at the awards gala representing one of Friendship's stores and a colleague is representing another store in the group, "we have a steak dinner riding" on which dealership comes out ahead, he said.
"It's exciting," he added. "I've had years when I just knew one store would be higher than the other, and it wasn't the case."
But ranking closer to No. 100 doesn't diminish the value of the competition, Walters said. For one thing, "Most of the things we've learned" about how to become an even better dealership to work for has come from participating in the competition. From conversations with other dealerships at the gala dinner to the Automotive News conference that precedes that dinner, Walters has had many moments where he realized, "That'd be great to do," he said.
Yark agreed that the value of the Best Dealerships To Work For competition goes well beyond bragging rights over the rankings.
"We've been up and down in the rankings, and I'd like to win it, but big picture-wise, this is really a great thing to be part of to make your organization better," he said. "Being part of this creates focus within our organization that we're really paying attention to what we need to do every day."
It especially has put that focus on valuing his dealerships' employees.
"Our employees have really been our strength — their relationships with our customers over the years. We need to maintain those relationships," Yark said. "Look at the future — autonomous vehicles, etc. If we lose the relationships, that could be the final straw jeopardizing our future."
Of course, competition doesn't scare off those committed to achieving excellence.
Remember Kirani James, whose gold-medal run in 2012 would not have earned him bronze four years later? Well, James didn't match his 2012 time — he improved it, winning the silver medal.
Just like James made the medal podium for two Olympics in a row, ever-improving dealerships can come back to the 100 Best Dealerships To Work For time and time again.