When it comes to having happy employees, car dealerships don’t usually come first to mind, being typically perceived as high-stress environments with high employee turnover.
But according to the annual Aon Hewitt Best Employers survey that polled nearly 250,000 Canadian employees at around 200 companies, four dealer groups soundly countered that stereotype, placing in the Platinum level in 2016 by scoring in the top 25 per cent of all employers surveyed.
The surveys look for motivated employees who are rewarded for success, treated well by executives and have a positive attitude towards their employers, which are the ones who Aon says perform the best.
The four companies are multiple winners in the annual survey, meaning their work environments, philosophies and employee satisfaction strategies are proving effective.
Birchwood Automotive Group in Winnipeg, Man., is a six-time winner, with more than 1,000 employees in 12 dealerships, covering 16 auto manufacturers.
Birchwood “highly covets” personal leadership, respect, teamwork and continuing improvement, and of its team said: “They are individuals of character, competence and commitment. They are trustworthy, they work together and they are committed to enhancing the work environment and the experience of our guests.”
Davis Auto Group has 10 new-car stores across southern Alberta with 500-plus employees. They are mostly GM dealerships, but include a Subaru dealership in Lethbridge. Davis is a five-time best employer.
“It is hard to express the pride I have [in the group]”, said John Davis Jr., company founder. “Much of our style evolved from our small-town roots.
“Employees trust our leadership and that trust translates to a productive culture. It is routine for our Key employees to travel to other stores to mentor, learn and share ideas,” Davis said.
Four-time Platinum winners, the Dilawri Crown Auto Group is also based in Winnipeg. Founded in 1984, it has six new-car dealerships and a pre-owned store, with 420 employees.
Vice-President Kabeir Dilawri said consistent feedback, including performance reviews with a collaborative approach are some of his company’s keys to success. The dealership also has employee wellness programs, including a group gym discount, in-house sessions on nutrition and the importance of sleep, and even a contest encouraging employees to walk more, called the Step Challenge.
OpenRoad Auto Group in Richmond, B.C. is another six-time winner, with nearly 1,000 employees spread through 18 dealerships covering 15 car brands.
“We have dedicated many resources to developing a strong corporate culture and ensuring employee satisfaction,” said Christian Chia, OpenRoad president and CEO. “It’s validating to know that our efforts continue to pay off with consistently high results in the survey.”
One of the B.C.-based company’s unique efforts is called OpenRoad Hearts, a “peer-to-peer recognition app” that allows employees to use their smart phones to send and receive hearts for employees who go above and beyond the call of duty.