Creating a Strong Benefits Package
When Bill Jobe first entered the auto industry in the 1970s, employees seemed strictly motivated by money. But, today, Jobe notices a difference among the millennials he oversees as collision director at Greenwood Chevrolet in Youngstown, Ohio.
In 2017, young dealership employees are more motivated by benefits, such as paid time off and medical coverage.
“When I was growing up in the industry, we worried about how much we made—‘How much am I making per hour?’” Jobe notes. “Benefits are more on the minds of people today. … That is a No. 1 key.”
In Jobe’s experience, a well-rounded employee benefits package positions your business to both recruit gifted newcomers and retain top employees already on staff. He sees to it that the employees he oversees at Greenwood Chevrolet have solid benefits packages, and his A-techs, estimators and refinish staff have rewarded him with loyalty.
While your dealership’s demographic might be slightly different than those of Jobe’s facility over the years, here’s how he has handled putting together employee benefits packages in the past.
Give Now, Gain Later
Greenwood Chevrolet offers “a very strong incentive package,” Jobe notes (veteran employees in Youngstown get 3–4 weeks of vacation, for example), so that it can lure top talent. While that costs the dealership a bit up front, it pays off down the line.
Some industry colleagues disagree with that theory, Jobe says, because they’re concerned about surrendering too large a percentage of gross profit. However, in Youngstown, Jobe notices very few comebacks or additional rentals, because he has the best staff his dealership’s money could buy.
“There’s a give and take,” Jobe notes. “There’s a give up front to pay a little bit more. … But, in the long run, we benefit.”
Remember: Family Matters
A chief concern you should have when assembling a benefits package is your employee’s family. At Greenwood Chevrolet, employees are given a yearly allotment of personal days of leave, and are allowed to spend them as they wish. That allows them time to be at afternoon Little League baseball games, for instance.
Lo and behold, Jobe says his appreciative employees often end up arriving to work early, to make up for hours missed while attending family events.
“We try to work within their schedules,” he says. “In return, our folks give us great service.”
Crunch All the Numbers
It’s imperative to consider several factors when weighing potential benefits packages, Jobe notes. Such factors include the potential cost of your staff’s total paid time off, and past participation in certain benefits offerings. And, of course, in 2017, dealerships must factor in the rising costs of both healthcare and employee training—two expenditures that appear destined to continue growing for the foreseeable future.
“You need to take into account, ‘What is this employee going to bring to the table for me?’” Jobe explains. “What are they going to generate in revenue? … [And] that profit that we’re going to garner, compared to the expense of that employee.”
Jobe says his facility studies the potential financial impact of benefits packages and makes adjustments annually.
Be Fair and Flexible
Jobe sees value in seeking employee input with regard to benefits packages. Greenwood Chevrolet allows employees to voice concerns with a yearly employee satisfaction survey, for example, and also allows employees to choose between multiple options when an additional health benefit cost is imminent.
“There are several arms to our benefits package,” Jobe says. “Whether you want dental, vision … long-term or short-term disability, whether you want accident disability.
“The vacations, the personal days, people look forward to that; this is a strenuous [industry] compared to what it was years ago.”
Offering flexibility with regard to benefits packages, and affording your crew some human compassion, goes a long way. The loyalty Jobe’s crew has shown him is proof of that; not only does the staff at his facility have a roughly 85 percent employee retention rate, but Jobe also had two employees recently join his staff in Ohio that formerly worked with him in Pittsburgh—and one of those staffers drives nearly 120 miles round trip each day to do so.
A solid benefits package, Jobe notes, makes for a solid foundation of employees.