Rodney Antepenko, owner of Westmont Body Werks in Westmont, IL, says, “I’m different, maybe I’m weird, but my approach has worked well for me. First of all, I love our employees, I really do. Sometimes I feel like I’m their daddy. I look out for them, give them advice and do things for them that I don’t think a lot of shop owners do.
“For example, for months I drove an employee to and from work because he didn’t have a driver’s license. I figure that if my employees know how much I care, they’ll go the extra mile for our shop. This makes us all feel like we’re part of a team. If I believe in somebody and look past their problems, it shows them that I do believe in them and they usually respond in kind. It doesn’t always work, but for the most part it does and has paid off for us.”
Antepenko hosts annual Christmas parties where he rents a bus to take employees and their families to an indoor water park in Wisconsin. They’ve gone to White Sox games, staged paintballing tournaments and held golf outings, too.
They’ve paid moving bonuses for new, entry-level employees who are graduates of WyoTech (Antepenko is an alum). Also, they provide new hires with money for starter sets of tools.
The result? Low, nearly non-existent turnover. Westmont Body Werks has employees who have stayed for 12, 15, 16 and 22 years.
Ron and Bev Stamm are fourth generation owners of Fort Mitchell Garage in Park Hills, KY, who say they treat their employees like family. As Ron puts it, “The overarching attitude in the shop is that we’re stewards of the employees and their families. Lots of goodwill comes from that. We pay our employees as high a wage as the market will allow and give them good benefits, time off and a clean environment to work in.
“We got rid of flat rate a long time ago because we wanted to be through with the ‘thiefdom’ attitude and provide employees with financial security, income they could count on regardless of the amount of work in the shop. We include our employees in decision making, seeking their input wherever possible.”
“We simply live by the golden rule,” adds Bev Stamm. “We treat our employees with respect and never ask them to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves.”
The Stamms also offer a profit sharing program, a “simple” investment plan with matching funds. They provide safety training and pay for ASE testing and OEM training. They also host an annual Christmas party and give out gifts. Every Friday, they cook up waffles made from scratch with assorted syrups, something their employees look forward to each week.
Every technician in the shop has been hired straight out of the local vocational/technical school, dating back over 30 years, and these technicians were apprenticed into the organization.
What does all of this do for employee retention? You be the judge. Four technicians and one front-office person have been with the Stamms for over 30 years, one for more than 20 and two for more than 10 years.
Courtesy of BODYSHOP BUSINESS.