Appleton , WI
Bergstrom Automotive took a centralized approach to COVID-19 protocol for its dealerships. As such, the group provided a singular response to Automotive News' survey questions, which focused heavily on the pandemic, for all 16 of its stores that made the Best Dealerships To Work For list this year.
Dealer: John Bergstrom
Dealership group: Bergstrom Automotive
Full-time employees: 27
CEO John Bergstrom on lessons from the pandemic about being a better employer:
"We have to understand our team members’ personal lives much more deeply. We were always focused on our teammates as family and engaged with their significant others, children’s achievements and the occasional loss. With COVID, we have had to take that to a new level and make sure we are in tune with parents, siblings and children who may be sick, need schooling or just care. Understanding is critical."
COO Tim Bergstrom on evolving compensation structure in the COVID era:
"COVID happened while we were in the process of dramatically changing our processes in sales from a traditional structure to a ‘negotiation-free’ and ‘one-point-of-contact’ structure. This was set in motion months prior to COVID, and we accelerated as we moved through the COVID period."
Executive Vice President John Hogerty II on changing hiring and training because of the pandemic:
"The most profound change is doing things in a noncontact way. We are hiring and training as many or more people than ever but have just adjusted to doing so virtually versus in person. Zoom interviews, exchanging employment forms digitally and companywide Zoom training sessions are everyday occurrences today."
Tim Bergstrom on how the accelerated shift to digital retail changed staffing strategy:
"We were poised to enter digital retailing coming into 2020. We were experimenting with transaction and signing software and a digital delivery location in Green Bay. COVID forced us to take these processes through the entire organization quickly. We are retailing so many more vehicles without seeing the guest than I ever expected we would."
Tim Bergstrom on making work schedules more balanced or flexible:
"We have shifted to winter (shorter) hours to help. Our ‘negotiation-free, one-point-of-contact’ process and pay plan encourages people to take time off and rely on their teammates."