Kunes Country Auto Group
Kunes Country Ford of Antioch
Antioch , IL
Overall Rank for 2012: 78
When customers walk into Kunes Country Ford of Antioch, they can identify the employees right away by the staff's identical black (for managers) or blue (for staff members) polo shirts.
"We found out by wearing them that the customers really like them because they know who works here," says Yvette Betke, office manager.
The shirts are part of the team atmosphere that management seeks at the store, north of Chicago and just south of the Wisconsin state line.
Employees often divide into teams to compete for internal prizes, such as the Top Dog trophy in the sales department. Outings to see regional sports teams are another important component of camaraderie building, even though the store is in an area where loyalties are divided among various pro teams. During baseball season, for example, staff and customer loyalties are split among the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
Part of the Kunes culture is making sure employees feel there is always someone they can talk to. On the sales floor, new hires are mentored for 60 days before they can sell alone.
"We have one of the best communications lines I've ever worked with," says Betke. "Communication is the key to everything."
Jerome Witt, general manager, believes in breaking down walls between departments.
Says Betke, who worked at a number of dealerships in the Chicago area before coming to Antioch about 14 months ago: "I've been in a couple of stores where there really is a separation between the sales and service department. We try hard not to have that separation. We empower everybody to make decisions."
So when a customer asks a question of someone in a distinctive polo shirt, he won't be told, "That's not my job. You'll have to ask someone else."
-- Bradford Wernle