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Striking a Balance

Moved by what he heard from this year’s F&I Pacesetters, the editor offers his thoughts on a topic he believes the industry needs to seriously address.

September 1, 2016

So my life just got a little more difficult. My son started kindergarten and had his first soccer practice the same week I was prepping for Industry Summit 2016. I know, big deal, right? Thousands of parents endure similar life changes every year, but my pain got me thinking about life as a car guy or gal.

No, I’m not going to compare life in the car business to magazine publishing, although, like you, we editors don’t work banker’s hours. In fact, we work until the magazine, enewsletter or whatever project we’re working on is delivered. That means I’ve missed a few milestones in my son’s young life.

In fact, I almost missed his birth, as he decided to wait until the first day of our 2010 conference to make his debut. Luckily, I had a boss who understood what was important. And that’s what I wanted to talk about this month.

See, one of the topics I couldn’t delve into too deeply in this month’s F&I Pacesetter profiles (Page 16) is work-life balance. Virtually every F&I Pacesetter representative I interviewed praised their bosses for putting employees and their families first. And it wasn’t just lip service, either. They gave me real examples of how their dealers really care.

F&I Pacesetter Carlsbad Buick GMC Cadillac is one such example. The dealership is part of Hoehn Motors Co., which employs a corporate chaplain. His job is to walk around a few stores each day to connect with employees, offer counseling, and just find out how they’re doing. He has even presided over a few marriages in the nine years he’s been with the group.

“While we understand the magazine’s main focus for the article is articulating our Buick GMC Cadillac store’s profit and process story in the F&I department, we cannot emphasize how important our chaplain is to the holistic health of the store and the rest of our dealer group,” wrote Josh Sherman, the group’s marketing director, in an email. “It has been our experience that when employees know their employer is committed to caring for both their emotional and physical well-being, they are able to flourish to their full potential.”

Then there was Dan Mason, F&I director for Gerald Hyundai, another one of our F&I Pacesetters. He talked about his dealer’s generosity during the holidays and the company outings to professional sporting events. Mason also mentioned how his son is a high-level competitive swimmer, and how the dealer makes sure the F&I director never misses a major swim meet, even when they take place on weekends.

“He truly does believe family comes first,” Mason said.

Tom Andrews had a similar compliment for Sam Pack and his management team at Five Star Ford. The group’s store in Lewisville, Texas, where Andrews serves as F&I director, was named a 2016 F&I Pacesetter. Andrews shared a story about an employee who became seriously ill eight years ago. The dealership organized a clever fundraiser: Employees paid $5 to wear jeans to work, and the money went directly toward the employee’s medical bills.

“People are proud to work here,” he said. “I just feel blessed to work for an owner that, first of all, stands behind us, and then allows us to be involved in the community.”

Jeremy Olson, F&I director at David Hobbs Honda, another one of our F&I Pacesetters, also had nice things to say about the owners. The dealership, which is rarely open on holidays, closes at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, at 7 p.m. on Fridays, and at 5 p.m. on Saturdays. And there are no exceptions, which means the dealership will turn away customers if a deal can’t be reached at closing time.

What inspired me to depart from my usual messaging about compliance and F&I production was something else Olson said. He shared with me the reason he left a solid gig at a large dealer group to join David Hobbs Honda 10 years ago. “I have a couple of little ones. And when I made the decision to make the move, I had just had one of those come-to-Jesus moments,” he said. “My wife had called me. It was midnight, and she said, ‘Guess what Leah said?’ That’s when I decided I’m not going to miss my kids growing up.”

I know working long hours is how car people earn their stripes, but maybe that needs to change. Or maybe you all need to seek out employers like this year’s F&I Pacesetters. Some bosses just get it. I’m blessed to be working for one.

Comments

  1. 1. Mad Marv [ September 07, 2016 @ 06:35AM ]

    I'll never forget when Isaac was born and recalling how you missed the conference at the last minute. Everyone was scrambling to handle things in your absence. I remember thinking how great it would be if most dealers cared for their employees that well and if the staff would pick up the slack.

    Great tribute editorial to these fine dealers making life great both at work and at home for their people.

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