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‘BUY INTO OUR CULTURE … WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER’

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PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER HOLLAND
Frederick W. Rentschler at his Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership in Slatington. ‘Training is something that great people are happy to receive every day,’ he says.
PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER HOLLAND Frederick W. Rentschler at his Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership in Slatington. ‘Training is something that great people are happy to receive every day,’ he says.

Communication, training and an employee investment in corporate culture define how area automotive dealerships steer their companies through flush as well as lean times.

“The car business is very cyclical, and bad times eventually come in some form or another. So I encourage everybody to maintain a positive attitude and ‘wait out the storm,’ ” said Robert Bennett, owner and president of Bennett Automotive Group in Allentown.

Having an understanding of a family owned and operated business also means ensuring employees are invested in the corporate culture, which defines the way customers are served and business is conducted.

“The most important part with any new employee is sharing with them our history and processes that make us a Ciocca dealership. We want them to buy into our culture…,” said Gregg Ciocca, Jr., manager at Ciocca Subaru in Lower Macungie Township and son of Gregg Ciocca, CEO of Ciocca Dealerships in Quakertown.

Investing goes both ways for successful, long-term relationships, something Frederick W. Rentschler acknowledged is as important to maintain loyalty – for customers and employees.

“Family owned businesses need these terrific people who have helped us to now have our third generation of Rentschlers working every day to please the residents of our tri-county area,” said Rentschler, co-owner of Rentschler Chevrolet and Rentschler Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealerships, Slatington.

 

RENTSCHLER CHEVROLET AND RENTSCHLER CHRYSLER JEEP DODGE RAM

Frederick W. Rentschler, Co-owner

Slatington

< What are the keys to being a great captain?

Hire and retain great employees who enjoy their job and career and have a genuine interest in satisfying our customers. Family owned businesses need these terrific people who have helped us to now have our third generation of Rentschlers working every day to please the residents of our tri-county area.

< Besides you, what else steers the ship for your company?

My brother Rick and I have been partners for over 40 years together. My son Greg has worked for us all through junior high school and high school and then during his four years at Kutztown University. He became a partner in the company four years ago.

We also have two general managers, John H. Kleintop at our Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram store (40 years of employment) and Charles Walsh at Chevrolet (20 years of employment).

< What’s the most important part of onboarding a new member of your crew?

Communicate and train them every day to make sure that their efforts are pleasing the customers that are buying products we sell and the services we offer. Training is something that great people are happy to receive every day.

Lastly, thank these employees every opportunity that you can.

< How do you encourage the crew when navigating in choppy waters?

We always remind our employees of the signs that are on Pennsylvania highways that are often under construction: “Temporary Inconvenience – Permanent Improvement.” Together, we can do it.

We just celebrated our 44th anniversary in business. We are hoping for another 44.

< How do you define a successful voyage for your company?

Selling and satisfying thousands of customers since we started in 1973. Also, retaining many long-term employees who through their hard work and ours are able to retire comfortably and happily.

And, finally, being able to continue the vision of our father who started with a wish and a prayer and only six carry-over employees. If he was here today, he would be so pleased to see how big and successful the Rentschler family has grown.

 

CIOCCA DEALERSHIPS

Gregg Ciocca Jr., Manager

Ciocca Subaru, Lower Macungie Township

< What are the keys to being a great captain?

I think the biggest key to being a great captain is cascading the things that separate our dealership from others and establishing a consistent culture that fosters positivity. We believe that happy employees lead to happy customers, which ultimately translates to more sales.

We want to be able to put our employees in positions to make quick and efficient decisions in order to help and serve our customers the best. You must be able to delegate and have faith in your employees to make the right decisions when you are not around.

I also believe in praising publicly and coaching privately. If one of our employees is having tremendous success, we want to praise them in front of everyone else and commend them on what they have accomplished.

Vice versa, if there is an employee who is doing something incorrectly or wrong, we will pull them to the side and have a private meeting.

Last but not least, you must also be effective in your communication with your employees to be a great leader. If a message is not being carried out in the correct manner, it is usually because it was not communicated properly.

< Besides you, what else steers the ship for your company?

Our general manager, Kyle Egge, is an integral part of our operation and day-to-day business.

Kyle has been with our dealership group for over 10 years and knows how to instill the culture and atmosphere that makes a Ciocca dealership different. He understands the importance of communication between our service department, parts department, and sales department to ensure the customer receives a truly exceptional experience.

We have around 150 talented and hard-working employees at our Subaru store, including 28 salespeople, 35 technicians, five internet coordinators and eight finance managers.

The managers of these departments that help guide the ship include Sean Jenkins, Edwin Salazar and Dan Maida as our sales managers, Tom O’Donnell as our finance director, Joe Adams as our service manager and Rene Breslin as our internet director, as well as many more.

At the end of the day, it’s our people who separate us from our competitors and give us that competitive advantage.  Everyone from our detailers to our custodians to our accountants is the reason why we are different and have the success that we do.

< What’s the most important part of onboarding a new member of your crew?

The most important part with any new employee is sharing with them our history and processes that make us a Ciocca dealership. We want them to buy into our culture and have every resource available in order for them to have the most success possible.

New employees will sit down with the manager of their department to learn everything there is to know and to get familiar with our processes.

One of the things that separates us from other dealership groups is our career path. Every salesperson has the capability of becoming a general manager if they work hard and succeed.

All of our general managers at all nine of our stores started off as a salesperson and have promoted the processes that create a positive atmosphere in our Ciocca dealerships.

< How do you encourage the crew when navigating in choppy waters?

The employees need to know that we are all in this together. Everyone shares in the successes and failures of the dealership. If one department is having a down month, the entire dealership will rise up to get through it.

We also preach living below your means in case there is a rougher time. Everyone knows the auto industry is a cyclical business that will have its ups and downs.

We try to instill a [lifestyle] that will get them through the rougher times and make the better times that much more enjoyable.

< How do you define a successful voyage for your company?

A successful voyage for our company is one in which the employees are happy to come to work every day and proud to work for our dealership group. We are a family owned dealership group and we take great pride in that.

As I had mentioned, happy employees lead to happy customers, which translates to more sales. We are consistently in the top three in the entire country for Subaru sales and believe our people are the direct reason for that.

We try to make the customer experience the best possible. Not just from the day they purchase a car, but for the rest of their ownership experience. We have our Ciocca promise with every car purchased … and we have the largest loaner car fleet in the entire country with about 160 free, brand-new Subarus.

We enjoy what we do and enjoy coming to work every day. When you walk through our showroom on any given day, you can see the excitement and enjoyment on everyone’s faces that just seems to be contagious. It is just a great place to work and do business.

 

BENNETT AUTOMOTIVE GROUP

Robert Bennett, Owner and President

Allentown

< What are the keys to being a great captain?

I think a great captain recognizes the combined experience of his crew. It’s possible it may be 10, 20 or 30 times that of himself, so he or she needs to leave their ego at the door and know how to listen and take direction.

< Besides you, what else steers the ship for your company?

We have several committees such as our safety committee that make decisions in the best interest of the company.

< What’s the most important part of onboarding a new member of your crew?

It is important that they understand the culture here at the Bennett Automotive Group. Our goal is to make sure all new “crew members” understand the importance of being a good corporate citizen and conduct themselves accordingly.

< How do you encourage the crew when navigating in choppy waters?

The car business is very cyclical and bad times eventually come in some form or another.

So I encourage everybody to maintain a positive attitude and “wait out the storm,” because the good times are on their way back around, as well.

< How do you define a successful voyage for your company?

Customer feedback. Whether it’s from surveys, online reviews, people on the street or from the manufacturers.

We’ve been very lucky to have much of our positive feedback translate into some very prestigious accolades and awards: Five-time winner of the Toyota Presidents Award, the Pride of Jaguar Award, Land Rover Pinnacle Award, Infiniti Award of Excellence.

I believe it is this type of success that factored in heavily while Maserati was considering us, and eventually awarding us, the Maserati franchise in the Lehigh Valley market.

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