Managing partner, Planet Subaru
It didn’t take long for Dale Lathrop to recognize that if you surround yourself with the same type of people, you tend to miss out on quite a lot.
“I believe so strongly in having a team around me that I can learn from and that can learn from me,” said Lathrop, former general manager and now co-owner and managing partner of Planet Subaru in Hanover, Mass.
A majority of Planet Subaru’s work force of 70 employees are women or people typically underrepresented in automotive retail. They have been recruited by Lathrop and his team to make the dealership more representative of its clientele, better performing and a better place to work.
“The automotive retail world has traditionally been kind of a mold of people in it, and if you notice, it’s not a mold of the same people coming through our doors,” Lathrop said. “We have everything coming through our doors, so we need everyone inside our doors.”
His longstanding commitment to building and maintaining a diverse work force has proven especially beneficial as hiring became more difficult for businesses of all sizes over the last several years.
“We’ve been able to attract team members quickly relative to other stores I’ve spoken with,” Lathrop said. “We like to say that’s because we’re recruiting from these talent pools instead of a talent puddle.”
The service operations manager and service manager in Planet Subaru’s fixed operations department are women who started out in other areas and in other roles. They had expressed strong interests in moving into service, where they have excelled.
Planet Subaru’s diverse work force might be evident to those walking in the door who are attuned to looking for such things, but there’s still another piece of the puzzle that, ironically, helps humanize his employees for their customers, Lathrop said — dogs.
“We’re so diverse that we probably have about eight or 10 dogs on our team also, and it sounds weird, but we’re almost like a kennel in here,” Lathrop said. “In addition to the diversity, it just helps us be so much more relatable. A customer can walk through and it’s like, ‘Wow, these are just real people.’ It says that this is a genuine real environment that you see.”
— Larry P. Vellequette