For Marlborough Ford in Calgary, building an inclusive workplace began with firing half the staff.
Managing Partner Brent Walker isn’t shy about describing the dealership as “a store that was pretty rough” when his group, McManes Automotive, took over in April 2021.
“Unfortunately, we terminated half of the employees,” he told Automotive News Canada. “It was very poorly run and we replaced them with people with the same goals we have as a group.”
Walker and his team built a dealership that in a short time landed on Automotive News Canada’s 2022 list of Best Dealerships To Work For. Part of that resulted from recruiting from communities of varying ethnicities, and attracting young-er workers and women.
Of the 25 Best Dealerships, 10 had programs aimed at ensuring their workforces reflected Canada’s racial diversity.
When hiring, Walker said, his team places ads on government websites aimed at various ethnicities, and it works to overcome the male-domination of the automotive industry.
“We recognize the automotive industry is demographically made up of more men,” he said in the 2022 Best Dealerships survey. “We actively search for female candidates . . .
“Since there are typically fewer female resumes for certain positions such as technicians or sales positions, we make an extra effort to pay closer attention to those candidates.”
That includes working with trade schools to recruit women while they are still in school. “This is a work in progress,” Walker said, “but one we are proud to be working on.”
THE VALUE OF YOUTH
When a dealership has a staff of diverse ethnicities, ages and genders, it pays dividends when customers deal with staff with whom they identify, he said.
Specifically, hiring and retaining younger staff is important to future revenue.
“We are always trying to grow a younger customer base and loyalty to our store,” Walker said. “It makes it much easier when you have someone who is similar in age and can relate to the customer.”