And the winners are…

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In our discussions with the six winning dealerships and the two honourable mentions we crowned in our first-ever Canadian AutoWorld Dealership Employer of Choice Awards, there was one word that kept popping up: respect.

Sure, we heard about systems, policies and procedures. We were told about open lines of communication and using out-of-the-box incentive programs to help boost morale and staff camaraderie. But when it came to having a happy staff that gave its all for management day in and day out, the top tip we continued to hear again and again is to respect your team.

And it was respect across the board, too. Respect for them as individuals; respect for the work/home balance; respect for their concerns, showing respect in how you listen and, more importantly, how you act.

For a magazine that has been around 25 years and told more stories about Canadian dealers and dealerships than anyone by far, the first-ever Canadian AutoWorld Dealership Employer of Choice Award (CAWDEC) program was certainly an eye opener for us.

We uncovered some amazing best practices from stores big and small. The winners listed here offered some great new insights on how important it is to appreciate your staff. They also prove that, as so often the case, the front line workers often provided the best solutions to tailor a customer-centric environment.

But before we delve too far into the winners, let’s review the journey that got us here.

The Process
This journey started last summer with our partner Corporate Culture + Employer of Choice Recognition (CCEOC).

We launched a dedicated web portal to accept online applications from dealers around the country. The process was simple, and free.

Participating dealerships had to fill out a Company Profile. That document was used to collect detailed information on leadership attributes and human resource policies, practices and procedures. The Company Profile accounted for 50 per cent of the overall evaluation score.

The next step was the completion of the Employee Commitment Survey. Created and managed by CCEOC, the survey section was an anonymous online survey that measured employee opinions – both positive and negative – about their workplace.

Completion of the employee survey section accounted for the remaining 50 per cent used to determine final scores.

“I couldn’t have been more excited with the results,” explained CCEOC president Jeff Doran.

“The CAWDEC Award is the industry’s first and only made-in-Canada recognition for the country’s automobile dealers and the response has been tremendous.”

Doran says the CAWDEC Award creates leading employer brand recognition opportunities and unique competitive advantages for those that take part.

“Not only were we after supporting our applicants build a more engaged workforce, the trickle-down effects of happy staff have been well documented – better customer experiences, better referrals, improved process, efficiencies, stronger customer loyalty and increased revenues.

“By tapping into the detailed reporting and survey data, dealers were also able to benchmark against the industry average and build their own best practices,” Doran adds.

What’s Next
As we said, the response was amazing. As too are our winners, whom you can read all about over the next few pages.

Those stores that did not participate or found out too late are in luck. The feedback from the over 100 franchise dealerships that entered was so positive we are mere months away from starting work on our second year of CAWDEC Awards.

Canada’s car dealers and their teams are some of the hardest-working people in our country today. While this publication has been telling their stories for 25 years, there is always another great idea or original best practice helping shape the future of automotive retail.

CAWDEC is our way of showing how we admire the innovative owners and their visionary leadership.

“Being recognized as an Employer of Choice proves they are great places to work and validates the employee efforts put forth every single day to create great customer experiences,” Doran adds.

“It will also help dealerships attract, retain, and engage the best and brightest talent to grow their businesses.”

And this is just the beginning.