Building relationships for the long haul
Family is a term thrown around quite a bit in business environments, as managers attempt to create a close-knit group that works together. Oftentimes it’s just a well-intentioned descriptor that doesn’t become a reality, though. But Ernie Dean Chevrolet has sidestepped that fate by actually creating a home away from home for its staff.
“It’s a family-run business, and that’s exactly what it’s like here – it’s like an extended family,” explains Jamie Chantler, sales manager. “We try to create a fun environment for everyone. We’re here more with each other than with our families at home, so we make it a positive place.”
That means friendly in-house competitions; ball hockey on Wednesday nights; and ensuring everyone working has each other’s best interest in mind. Creating this type of atmosphere has led to a very low turnover rate among staff, with many people having worked at Ernie Dean for 10 years or more — quite a rarity in this business.
It’s also led to success with customers, as well. Ernie Dean has been a five-time recipient of the Triple Crown award, which General Motors gives out to the top 100 dealerships in Canada.
“We strive for customer service,” Chantler says. “It’s not just about making a sale or getting a repair service. It’s about building a relationship from ownership all the way through to the customer. Our goal is for the long haul – creating life-long customers.
He says they do this by ensuring the dealership has a low-pressure atmosphere. If someone comes in to see Keith and he’s busy, then there’s another person able to step in to help. “It’s a team effort that creates this type of environment,” Chantler says.
It also helps that the quality of vehicles has risen dramatically. “We have cars like the Chevy Cruze that is light years ahead of its equivalent [the Pontiac Sunfire] just 10 years ago,” he explains. “The product is so much better now.”
Ernie Dean also has its roots firmly planted in the community – just another way for the dealership to create family bonds and give back to their town. Their biggest involvement is with the Alliston Hornets, the local hockey team that plays in the Georgian Mid-Ontario Junior C Hockey League. Ernie Dean has been the team’s sponsor since 2004.
“It’s a really important part of what we do,” Chantler says. “We really are a family here. We like to give back as much as possible.”
Written by Travis Persaud