With a dealership organization as large as Pfaff Automotive, one might expect a company that operates with a heavy, top down approach to things.
While this multi-dealership organization is certainly large – with over 1,300 associates across 17 different automotive brands and 23 dealership locations – it still follows the example set by its founder in looking for and creating a environment that keeps good people.
“The quality of our employee base is a product of our culture, the tone of which was set from the top,” said Laurance Yap, creative director with Pfaff Automotive. “Chris Pfaff and our senior executives have always been heavily involved in hiring, and consider it an important part of their job to help attract and retain the right talent, at every level of the organization. Attracting candidates to Pfaff that share our vision of an amazing customer experience, entrepreneurial spirit, competitive drive and a desire to always improve simply makes every interaction between every employee faster, easier, more transparent and more friendly – which then translates into an equally seamless customer experience.’
That tradition of hiring good people and working to keep them continues to this day. Pfaff Automotive has recently put in plans to help increase the number of women in the automotive dealership industry in Canada.
Marilyn Mazzocchitti, director of human resources with Pfaff Automotive said that Pfaff Automotive has a high percentage of female employees, twenty-five per cent in fact, “but we really want to increase that and bring even more women into the automotive industry.”
“We are involved with many local colleges and universities, going out and speaking with students; and we attend many events to talk about the importance of the automotive industry for women and to emphasize the importance of getting more women into our industry,” Mazzocchitti added.
Internally, Pfaff Automotive has held several events for its female employees, including guest speakers and creating focus groups to discuss and find ways to attract more women to Pfaff Automotive.
Mazzocchitti said that this corporate goal of “Support, Inspire and Motivate” for women is very much in keeping with the core philosophy of Pfaff Automotive. “An automotive dealership is more than just selling vehicles,” she said. “It is very much about creating a culture that supports employee growth and giving them a career path.”
Mazzocchitti said that Pfaff Automotive has now created a succession plan program for employees where those who are looking to advance their careers within Pfaff Automotive can work with management to create a training plan that will help them achieve their goal. “We are very big on promoting from within the company,” she added. “We want to give everyone who is interested in taking on a new role or moving up in their current role a means for doing so.”
Another unique feature of Pfaff Automotive that helped secure its winning spot in the Employer of Choice Award open and collaborative management structure across the organization. Pfaff Automotive’s management sees its role as one that is there to support its individual dealerships, centralizing common work processes – HR, payroll, accounting, etc. – so that the staff at the dealerships can focus on their customers and find ways to better serve their needs.
And what they learn is then shared across the whole organization, something that Chris Pfaff has instilled in everyone, as he believes good ideas need to be shared.
“Open and honest dialogue between members of our team and all levels of our organization is crucial to our culture,” said Yap. “Great ideas and process improvements can come from everywhere, and often some of the best come from places and people that we can’t predict. Chris himself makes sure to engage with team members from all levels of the organization. And more formally, we hold forums with groups of staff – technicians, detailers, parts consultants, for example – from across the [dealership] network to share best practices.”