Culture eats strategy for breakfast


What percentage of your time is focused on finding ways to make your dealership an incredible place to work?

Be honest — if your answer is under 10 percent then you need to read this article.

I've worked with hundreds of dealers, and what do you think the one thing is that almost every one had in common? They found it difficult to attract and retain quality employees.

Why is it that nearly all dealerships across North America share this same problem? The answer is actually quite simple — most dealer principals and general managers fail to ask themselves this one simple yet crucial question:

"Why should anyone work for me?"

We all know that it's the employees that ultimately drive the success of any organization. As the face, hands and feet of any business — our people define how our customers perceive our business. Would it not then make sense that developing a culture that attracts high-quality employees be a core responsibility of senior management?

The reality is that even when I've worked with incredibly successful and progressive dealers, very little thought has been put into this concept.

So many operators suffer from tunnel vision, often failing to see the forest for the trees. It's so easy to be focused on sales numbers and profitability, that it can be easy to overlook the steps necessary to sustaining it.

The culture at any business ultimately flows from the top down. Sadly, most dealer principals and general managers are still operating under antiquated beliefs and outdated strategies.

The automotive industry is changing, and for the better, but the pace is slow. We're seeing a 'changing of the guard' as the previous generations hand over the reins of the business to younger blood. The challenge is that the new generation was schooled by the previous one. A hereditary hindrance that has passed down a wide selection of outdated habits and processes that don’t suit today's market.

So how do you create workplace capable of attracting and retaining the top talent in your market?

It starts by creating a clearly defined Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Every business should have an EVP, and the more competitive your market is the stronger it needs to be.

When Convertus came to life over two years ago, we knew we had an uphill battle in front of us. We had a ton of experience in making dealerships successful, but launching a digital marketing company was uncharted territory.

 We were entering into a market with some giant companies that were well-established, boasting big sales teams and marketing budgets. We knew we couldn't compete head-to-head, but we would instead have to find a way to offer something that the ‘big guys’ couldn't.

The Convertus office is located in downtown Vancouver, minutes away from dozens of Fortune 500 companies. With neighbors like Facebook, Microsoft, EA Games and Hootsuite, we knew we needed to find tangible and attractive ways to differentiate Convertus from all of the other great employers in our local market.

So what does the Convertus EVP look like? Here are just a few of the ways we attract high-quality people:

  • Monthly team-building activities
  • Fully stocked drinks and snacks
  • Monthly fitness subsidy
  • Employee run incentive programs
  • Flexible vacation structure
  • Weekly workshops
  • Employee stock option plan
  • Clear path to advancement
  • Full corporate transparency
  • Education matching

Yes, all of these things take money and/or time to offer to your employees. But, when done right, the quality of talent you will be able to attract will increase your efficiency enough to offset this initial investment.

When you create an incredible workplace culture the right employees will be more loyal, and be happy to make the potential trade off in monetary compensation.

In conclusion

The worst reason to do something is because you've always done it.

The quality of your team today will decide how successful your dealership will be tomorrow.

Stop asking what your employees can do for you, but rather, what you can do for your employees.

Kevin Gordon is a co-founder of Convertus, a fast growing automotive digital marketing agency based out of Vancouver. Contact Kevin at or call 888-354-6441 to see how Convertus can help you craft a winning digital marketing presence for your store.

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