Passionate owners, competitive pay plans, clear career paths and cross-department collaboration are core reasons employees stick around, according to some of those workers and the LaFontaine family.
“We don’t turn over people. We have people that grow, that make a very good living and get compensated for the job that they’re doing. It’s an investment in them,” said Ryan LaFontaine, COO of the group that his parents founded in 1980. His sister, Kelley LaFontaine, is vice president.
Their mission: to lead by example. “I can’t just say my biggest asset is my employees if I don’t treat them that way by my actions,” LaFontaine said.
LaFontaine’s turnover performance shines against industrywide metrics. The average turnover rate at U.S. new-vehicle dealerships was 45 percent in 2018, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association’s 2019 Dealership Workforce Study. While that still pales in comparison with the LaFontaine number, the industry number improved by 1 percentage point from 2017 after years of steadily worsening.
Turnover matters because poor retention leads to slimmer profits, said Ted Kraybill, president of ESI Trends, the Clearwater, Fla., consulting firm that conducts NADA’s study.
“We know that there is a direct connection between employee retention and gross profit production,” Kraybill said.