I’d like to extend my heart-felt congratulations to all of the dealers who earned the 2013 Automotive News “Best Dealerships To Work For” award.
It was an honor to mix and mingle with these dealers yesterday at the awards event in Chicago—a gathering of entrepreneurs who understand their success owes in large part to the people they hire and inspire in their dealerships.
I’d also like to offer special congratulations to dealer Mitch Walters of the Friendship Family of Dealerships in Tennessee and North Carolina. Walters’ Friendship Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge store in Bristol, Tenn., won this year’s top honor as the “Best Dealership to Work For.”
At the awards event, I was struck by three recurring themes:
People matter more than product. To be sure, a quality product matters to customers. But we’re in an era where OEMs consistently produce reliable, quality products. Hence, the experience a dealership’s employees provide customers is a primary driver for increased sales and long-term loyalty.
“Green peas” are good. Several speakers highlighted their preferences to look outside automotive retail to fill positions across the dealership. The reason? They’re more adaptable to new-school performance objectives and processes than industry veterans who move from dealership to dealership.
Don’t believe the negative Gen Y hype. Yes, Gen Y employees are a different breed that requires a more nurturing style of management—“softer and nicer,” as one event speaker put it. Beyond that, though, the Best Dealerships award winners repeatedly relayed that Gen Y employees, when treated right, are engaged, productive partners who make valuable contributions to their dealerships’ success.
I’d encourage everyone to visit Automotive News’ coverage of the event and profiles of award winners. I suspect you’ll find an idea or two to help your dealership advance a culture that results in satisfied customers and employees, and feeds their long-term loyalties.