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Lessons from the Best: Highlights from Leading Workplaces 



Dealers often refer to their dealership employees as a “family.” These teams are close-knit groups of hard workers who care about their customers, each other, and their community. A strong dealership culture is not only good for employees, but also good for business. So, how is that “family” culture created?

To answer that question, we compiled some of the key trends from dealerships highlighted in Automotive News’ 2023 list of the best dealerships to work for. 

Benefits Encouraging Health
Dealerships are finding ways to encourage their employees to stay healthy. Beyond standard healthcare packages, some companies offer support or full funding for diabetes and cardiovascular programs, gym memberships, registration fees for races and marathons, Lasik surgery, hearing aids, vitamins and supplements, mental health resources, and incentives to stop smoking. 

Thinking About Life Outside the Store 
Employee benefits are not limited to physical health and wellbeing. Some dealerships have programs to help ease personal burdens outside the store – like legal and financial services, retail partnerships with cell phone providers, vehicle purchasing programs, pet insurance, and even monthly haircuts at the dealership. 

In recognition of their commitment to the local communities in which they live and work, some dealerships offer additional time off or financial incentives for team members to engage in philanthropy and civic activities. 

Lifelong Learning
The auto retail industry is constantly changing. The most successful dealers stay ahead of the curve, as do the most successful employers. 

Comprehensive onboarding and training (often including interdepartmental shadowing) at the start of each employee’s career is only the beginning. Dealerships are implementing ongoing education through internal and external apprenticeship programs, internally developed training curriculums to develop managers, training school partnerships with local technical colleges, subsidized education developing new languages or skills, and offsite leadership training through manufacturers and NADA. 

Celebrating Employee Milestones
Sharing moments in employees’ personal lives, as well as in their professional lives, help foster closeness among a dealership’s larger staff. Dealerships will often buy season tickets for their local sports teams and disperse them among employees throughout the year or encourage employees to attend together. Celebrations for birthdays, professional achievements, work anniversaries, and holidays – especially when they involve food – offer a fun break in the workday. 

Opening the Door 
An “open-door policy” is much less a policy than a carefully created culture. Dealerships create a welcoming and positive culture through public recognition of their employees as well as intentional efforts to solicit feedback, including town hall meetings, employee councils, employee surveys, two-way reviews with managers, and exit interviews. 

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