Chicago is Brent Scobie’s kind of town.
Scobie, Hallmark Toyota’s General Manager along with Chris Lee, Sales Manager, Jamie Houghton, Service Manager and Mark Fisher Chief Operating Officer of Pfaff Automotive Partners accepted the Automotive News: Best Dealerships to Work For 2013 award on behalf of the entire team this past month in the Windy City.
Hallmark Toyota is now certainly in elite company. 5, 000 dealerships were surveyed in Canada and the United States and Hallmark Toyota was the only Canadian company included in the Top 100 North American dealers by receiving Automotive News: Best Dealerships to Work For—2013.
In many ways, it’s the Oscars for the dealership community, but to Brent Scobie, General Manager of Orangeville’s Hallmark Toyota it’s a culmination of working with the greater team to make the at work experience the best it can be.
But, it was sitting in the room in Chicago’s Crowne Plaza Hotel with automotive industry leaders and the other Top 100 dealerships from across North America listening for Hallmark Toyota’s name to be called when he experienced his “real light bulb moment.“
Listening to his employees was the reason he and his team from Orangeville, Ontario’s Hallmark Toyota received this award.
Nine years ago Pfaff Automotive Partners initiated a confidential independent third party internal employee survey to take the pulse of the dealership, give honest feedback, understand the concerns of all the employees and asked where they could make improvements.
“It takes time and you have to be prepared to take the good with the bad. You need really thick skin. You are not going to hear what you really want to hear if they are going to be really honest with you,” said Scobie. “Sometimes they say things that are so telling, [what] they don’t like about the work environment and sometimes you can take it personally.”
From an employee retention, workplace environment and relating to each individual at Hallmark Toyota the results of this internal temperature taker has been the foundation for continuous improvements and upgrading best practices throughout the dealership.
“When we get those results we meet as a management team and we pick key things that we thought we could fix, 2 or 3 or 4 things with each survey, we’ve got to listen to them to see what we can do to improve the workplace”, continued Scobie. “Then it is really important to communicate it. We asked them to do the survey now we are saying that this is what you said in the survey, now this is what we are going to do, to hopefully make it better.”
To Scobie, the ability to constantly improve is part of Hallmark Toyota’s commitment to its employees. It is also part of the Pfaff Automotive Partners story being awarded Top 50 Best Managed Companies in Canada for the past three years.
He continued to include his employees when he was invited to be a key note speaker at the Automotive News event.
“For my staff and myself, it was very, very exciting and really proud to win that award”, he said. “I sat down with my staff a week before attending the Gala and asked them, “what does being named ‘Best Dealership To Work For’ mean to them?”
What he heard from his entire team that makes up the four departments –New, Used, Service and Parts — was the driving message he delivered to the room full of industry peers in Chicago.
“The connection between having happy staff, translates into having happy customers and having happy customers, translates into having successful businesses,” explained Scobie.
And the listening continues to be a part of the Hallmark Toyota culture.
“Each year you do this the list gets smaller and the bottom line is you knock off these things one at a time the things that people don’t like what you are doing at work or what they are doing at work, or what we are doing as managers and leaders,” he added. “At the end of the day, 9 years later, presto, we won an award, and the reason why we won this award was 9 years ago we started asking our employees what they liked and didn’t like about coming to work each day.”
While the need to listen is paramount, the need to act is as important based on what you hear.
“We’ve been listening and asking our employees for 9 years what they liked and didn’t like and we did something about it, if you didn’t do anything about it, they are still not going to like it,” continued Scobie. “So how do you do it? Some of it is in our DNA, but those surveys were the key.”
For next year and many years to come, having Hallmark Toyota receive another Top 100 North American Dealership award would be nice. However, to Scobie it truly is about having a work place environment that is considered special and not just from a car dealership point of view.
As Hallmark Toyota continues on the right track, Scobie believes that listening to his employees, “… means that we are doing things the right way. Makes me feel proud and privileged to work for such an amazing dealership and company,” he added. “The recognition reinforces that we have the environment that employs people that want to work here.”
He plans on further recognition and celebration sharing with the entire Hallmark Toyota family the news of being a Best 100 Dealerships To Work For in North America.
The one question remaining is will people be listening to Frank Sinatra’s My Kind of Town (Chicago is) when they walk into Hallmark Toyota.
Written by Wallace Pidgeon