How a dealership turned employee satisfaction around

on Aug14

Ricart Ford employees bond inside and outside the dealership, including at an Alzheimer’s walk in Columbus, Ohio, above, and healthy cooking classes, below.

Group bonding

After an employee survey revealed widespread discontent, Ricart Ford in Ohio got help from the factory to reduce turnover and improve customer satisfaction.

Five years ago, Jim Moshier, general sales and service manager at Ricart Ford, thought the dealership’s 200 employees were happy.

He thought wrong.

In an anonymous survey that shocked management at the Groveport, Ohio, dealership, workers lambasted the store’s leadership style and employee outreach. Long hours and demanding bosses made employees feel like they weren’t cared for.

“When you think you’re doing it the right way, and you’re doing it the wrong way … it was just crushing,” Moshier said. “You just pretty much have to suck it up and realize you have to start listening.”

Moshier used Ford’s Consumer Experience Movement to come up with some solutions. The program was designed to engage employees and create world-class experiences for customers.

Ford says more than 700 U.S. dealers have gone through the program, which it started in 2010. It includes a designated coach, paid for in part by the automaker, who helps each site develop practices to boost relations with employees and customers.

Chad Yochens, who started at the dealership as a sales manager in 2011, said he had noticed that upper management wasn’t receptive to new ideas. Through the Ford program, he recommended more dialogue with employees, from the newest salesperson to the most veteran executive.

“It was very close-minded,” said Yochens, 50. “Management felt that [new hires] aren’t going to come in and tell us how to run the business. It was, ‘This is how we’ve done it, and this is how we’re going to do it.'”

Ricart Ford, which sells about 3,600 new and 8,000 used vehicles per year, began hosting monthly meetings so workers could discuss concerns. It also installed a Subway franchise on its 67-acre campus, added a fitness center and healthy cooking classes, established a charity for down-on-their-luck employees and instituted a flexible scheduling format. The result: less turnover, better sales and numerous awards from Ford.

“We thought providing them with a great paycheck and a great showroom was all it took,” Moshier said. “What we found was people really want to be part of something.”

Racing events

In addition to the on-site facilities, management at Ricart Ford started organizing group bonding events. The store now hosts a track night each September at a local drag strip so employees can (legally) race each other. It also provides two Mustangs for workers who don’t have their own track-ready cars.

Employees have formed their own stock clubs and go racing together on weekends.

About three years ago, the dealership set up a charity called One of R Own, designed to help employees with everything from utility bills to health issues. Since then, Moshier said, the company has handed out a number of checks from $300 to $15,000.

It also installed a flexible work schedule, allowing some employees to work three or four days a week, depending on their other commitments.

All together, the efforts created a much more engaged work force. “It started from top-down, to everyone making decisions and everyone wanting to get together,” Moshier said.

Building relationships

Yochens said he has noticed a drastic change in the work environment.

“I think we’re at the point now where there’s a different level of respect,” he said. “The lines of communication are open. Before, it was always really about today. Everything we do now is about building longer-term relationships internally and with the customers.”

Ford has noticed significant improvement, too. The dealership won the 2016 President’s Award, which Ford gives to dealerships that exhibit excellent customer service, satisfaction and overall experience.

“Buying a car is probably one of the most stressful things you can do,” Moshier said. “The biggest thing is the environment, and it’s changed entirely.”

Group bonding

After an employee survey revealed widespread discontent, Ricart Ford in Ohio got help from the factory to reduce turnover and improve customer satisfaction.

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