Newton Nissan of Gallatin
Gallatin , TN
Overall Rank for 2012: 70
When Georgia dealer Bill Newton opened Newton Nissan of Gallatin, Tenn., in the cloudy days of 2010, he decided that running the business well also meant providing an upbeat work environment. His general manager and partner Mike Abbondanza has seen to that.
The sales, service and back-office staff of 62 are treated to group nights out, restaurant dinners, catered lunches, movie nights, bowling nights and random bonuses for hitting a multitude of changing targets. In the service department, technicians might compete to have the cleanest work area or the fastest work-order completions.
"I just got an e-mail from Mike this morning that says, 'We haven't had a bowling night in a few weeks. Let's take everybody bowling,'" says Kenny Medert, the store's parts and service manager.
"Somebody might ask why you would do that," he says. "Well, why wouldn't you do it? It's better when you run like a family. Our owner lives out of state, but he walks through this shop and knows the name of every one of our technicians and he knows the name of every one of their spouses."
Abbondanza recently expressed gratitude for selling 300 new cars in a month by taking four dozen of the staffers to dinner at Morton's steakhouse. "I had never been to Morton's before," Marketing Manager Kelsey Morgan says of the bonus. "We've been going to Maggiano's a lot lately, which everybody likes. Morton's was a pretty big deal."
A wall of the dealership is also covered with envelopes, or "pulls." Each envelope contains an unknown bonus prize. Do something positive or hit a target, get a pull. An envelope might contain a $100 bill. It might contain $1,000.
"One of my favorite traditions here are the inspiration talks," Morgan adds. "Mike gives us an inspirational talk on Monday mornings, and we joke around and laugh and tease him about it. But they actually end up being pretty inspirational."
-- Lindsay Chappell