what can car dealerships teach us about corporate culture?

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Think of a few industries that probably have tough workplace cultures. Construction, oil and gas, maybe the auto industry. Most of us as customers are skeptical of places like car dealerships – are they telling the truth, or ripping me off?

I recently had an amazing experience buying a new car from my local dealership. I had a sales consultant who listened to my needs. Let me test drive as many cars as I wanted in a no-pressure environment. Met me in the middle of the day at my office when I wanted to ask questions. Checked in often but not too much. And met the price I asked for after I asked every other dealer in the city – a price that other dealers said no to.

Was I happy about getting the lowest price for my car? Of course. But what made this purchase memorable was the positive, incredible experience I had with my car dealership.

How is this type of experience possible? By having a great workplace culture.

A recent study looked at the impact of workplace culture and sales at 95 auto dealerships over 6 years. The study found that those auto companies that had a great workplace culture (based on employee surveys on specific culture aspects) had higher profits and higher customer satisfaction.  And for those of you think you can get profits without having a great culture –  those companies that did well financially but had poor culture ended up becoming less profitable over time.

Researchers found great workplace cultures can increase performance – but high performance alone doesn’t create a great culture.

So what does this mean?

First, it means that no industry or company is incapable of creating a great company culture. For those of you who may hear – or even say – things like “we work with hard hearted, big burly guys (or commission driven sales people), they are never going to care about soft stuff like culture and purpose”, this study proves even the toughest companies can become a great place to work.

It also means creating great employee experiences that build a positive culture is crucial for a company’s success. Culture isn’t about how much you pay or the perks you give out. It’s about instilling a purpose in your people. Creating opportunities for them to grow and be successful. Fostering their wellbeing and appreciating their hard work. Things that don’t have to cost a lot, but can give you much in return.

Maybe car dealerships can teach us a lot about good corporate cultures.

By christina chau
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