EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of six stories celebrating our latest group of 25 Best Dealerships To Work For in Canada.
When it comes to career development, many of Automotive News Canada’s Best Dealerships to Work For do just talk the talk.
“If [staff] have any interest in any development course, I’ll pay for it,” said Michael Norris, dealer principal of Volvo of Edmonton. “Every dealership says ... ‘we support our staff,’ but then [an employee says] you want to take a self-improvement course and you’re told to pay for it yourself.
“It comes down to the way that we internally treat each other. Talk is cheap.”
Lally Ford in Tilbury, Ont., 60 kilometres east of Windsor, stood out as the only one of the 25 winning dealerships to tell Automotive News Canada that it offered paid sabbaticals.
About “two or three” employees per year take advantage of the dealership’s education and sabbatical opportunities, said Vince Lally, president. “It’s something we celebrate. We make sure everyone is aware of it,” Lally said, adding that the goal is to make sure every employee is performing as best as they can.
“That means more education in a lot of cases.”
DEVELOPMENT EQUATED WITH CARING
While sabbaticals “could help recruit a candidate, I think it’s more of a factor that ‘the employer cares and he wants me to be more comfortable with my job and what I’m doing,’” Lally said.
Many dealerships also reported going above and beyond the training that is provided or mandated by automakers.
Trent Hargrave, partner at Riverside DodgeChrysler-Jeep-Ram in Prince Albert, Sask., 350 kilometres north of Regina, said the dealership regularly brings in speakers from outside of the industry to get employees to think differently about their jobs and their approaches. “The car business is large and powerful, but it’s so myopic that you need to go outside of the industry to get the proper perspective.”
FRESH EYES, FRESH VIEWPOINT
For employees, hearing from someone outside the auto industry can provide a new perspective.
“Sometimes we’ll plant seeds and they’ll fall on real fertile soil and those employees respond,” he said. “But some have a modest response, but maybe down the road it clicks because another thing from another source comes in.”
Managers at Audi Brampton, 40 kilometres west of downtown Toronto, identify career opportunities upon recruitment, said Roberto Fazio, vice-president of finance and administration at the dealership.
“After hire, we engage in regular evaluations to ensure that the emplo ee is on track both within the department and the dealership group overall,” said Fazio. “We recently implemented a high-performance leadership training program to accelerate staff development, which is modelled on similar training from the NADA [National Automobile Dealers Association]. Participation in this training is highly coveted by our staff.”
Development is a priority at Riverside Dodge, said Hargrave.
“If you’re a young person and you want to gain some skills that will serve you well later in life like accountability, show ing up on time, working hard, we ca work with you on those,” he said.
“Sometimes we’re a career and sometimes we’re a job. Both are goo in our view.”