Heather Peterson, 39
Director of human resources, LeadCar Systems
"Fast paced” and “always moving and changing” are among the things Heather Peterson loves most about the retail auto business and her job as director of human resources at LeadCar Systems Inc. in Prairie du Sac, Wis.
The pace was particularly swift for Peterson in the second half of 2021, when the group acquired three dealerships.
Supporting those acquisitions meant she and her team played a key role in negotiating vendor and employee benefits contracts and hiring and onboarding employees, all while adhering to state employment laws.
Making sure the transition went as smoothly as possible for employees who suddenly found themselves as new hires was key, she says.
“Obviously, there’s going to be change with a new company,” Peterson says. “But we tried to make sure their pay was similar or better, their benefits were competitive, their PTO plans were the same. As much as we could match what they were used to, we did.”
Through it all, the acquisitions resulted in minimal employee turnover and a 50 percent increase in profits, she says.
To help keep those and all employees happy and promote a positive culture and workplace, dealership managers are encouraged to regularly chat with their staffs about what’s important to them, Peterson says.
She and her HR team work remotely but make dealership visits too, whenever they can.
Peterson calls that in-person relationship building process “rounding with a purpose.”
“We know about their families and who went fishing last week, who was on vacation and who was at a soccer game,” Peterson says. At the same time “we can look for opportunities to improve and hear it directly from the employees that are living and breathing the process and know how best to improve it.”
Peterson says cultivating employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity are everyday goals but most rewarding about her job is seeing company employees grow and thrive in theirs.
For example, “Krystal started as a detailer, then was a lead detailer, an accounting assistant and now she’s an assistant office manager,” Peterson says. “Lance started as a detailer, moved to quick lube and then to lead detailer.
“We have lots of stories like that; it’s rewarding and fun to see.”
— Arlena Sawyers