Kenexa Best Workplaces 2013: Teamwork takes first place

By Val Leveso

Communication brings rewards all round for Giltrap Audi of Auckland, writes Val Leveso

Everybody on staff can cover for everyone else on the winning team at Giltrap Audi, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
Everybody on staff can cover for everyone else on the winning team at Giltrap Audi, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Teamwork is the key to Giltrap Audi's win in the small-medium business category in the Best Workplaces Award sponsored by Kenexa, an IBM company.

General manager Gary Perium says: "We're all about teamwork - everybody on staff can cover for everyone else.

"Delivery of customer service is consistent in this way - we need to ensure that it's always of the highest standard, and that means it's not reliant on one person but on the whole team.

"Customer service is not spasmodic - it can always be relied upon."

Perium says his office is the centre of the dealership where he can see and be seen because "I communicate with my staff. It's not about emails, it's face to face and sorting things out immediately."

The most important thing is for Giltrap Audi to "live up to what's on the door - to what we say our values are.

We seamlessly deliver customer service."

Audi is at the high end of cars so "it's particularly important to get things right. Our competitors are BMW and Mercedes-Benz - being a luxury brand we need to deliver strong customer service."

A mystery shopper ensures the customer service is of a high standard - and it is.

As far as staff are concerned, Perium says "engagement" is the key word. "A salesman with his hands in his pocket won't last long in our organisation.

"We want people who are passionate about our product and our customers. This is led from the top. I walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

"I'm in the middle of things. I have had two jobs - and have been with the Audi brand for 30 years. It's something I am passionate about, and I expect that from my employees."

Perium says his staff love to come to work. "I can see why - it's a friendly and positive place to be."

If a staff member has family or other issues to deal with they are given time off. "I give them a week if they're moving home."

Perium says: "The thing is, if someone is not completely present and is worried about something, that attitude spreads quickly. If a staff member's focus is on other things, it's probably better that they take time off. When they're here, they must be engaged.

"We don't get second chances. We need to have fantastic interactions with our customers from one day to the next. I tell my staff that if there's something that's preventing their engagement, as long as they text by 8am, they don't need to come in. It's all about communication."

It's important everyone who's there on the day is smiling.

Perium has an "open policy" where if someone feels something is not right, they need to talk about it.

Giltrap Audi also has a reward system, which is judged through customer satisfaction. "We have an employee of the month," he says.

"At the dealership, we celebrate success - and this goes right down to staff who clean cars."

The sales team have a Friday night celebration after a good week and birthdays are celebrated in the team. Families of staff workers are also considered: "We celebrate milestones of the dealership as a whole."

Perium points out that Giltrap Audi is a competitive workplace where individuals have targets. The risk of this, of course, is that people will be vying against one another - but here's where the teamwork comes in.

All work on a sale is logged, so it can be seen who did the most work for a particular sale, even if a customer has gone away and come back when the person who served them is not there and someone else takes over.

"We have a scoreboard that looks at the amount of time someone has spent on a job. It's accounted for," Perium says. "Credit goes to the person who has done the work."

He says staff retention has been very good and teamwork is excellent.

"If someone comes in and tries to undercut other staff members, that's a short-term approach. Such people don't last long."

Work at Giltrap Audi is for extroverts. Perium encourages his staff to spend 10 minutes in the morning reading the newspaper so they have a topic of conversation when meeting customers. "It's a way of building rapport."

Among other enticements, Giltrap Audi has a free car valet service on Saturdays and Sundays for customers. "This actively creates activity, and creates a vibrancy in the environment.

"People are there having cups of coffee, even networking. It works for us, because the showroom is active and more inviting.

"Also, new customers are often introduced to us because they come with current customers."

Perium says it's important Giltrap Audi has a "great" relationship with Audi.

"Audi is a great brand and the Giltrap group is a strong organisation to work within. Both marry up really well."

- NZ Herald

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