Five years ago, Jim Moshier, general sales and service manager at Ricart Ford, thought the dealership's 200 employees were happy.
He thought wrong.
In an anonymous survey that shocked management at the Groveport, Ohio, dealership, workers lambasted the store's leadership style and employee outreach. Long hours and demanding bosses made employees feel like they weren't cared for.
"When you think you're doing it the right way, and you're doing it the wrong way ... it was just crushing," Moshier said. "You just pretty much have to suck it up and realize you have to start listening."
Moshier used Ford's Consumer Experience Movement to come up with some solutions. The program was designed to engage employees and create world-class experiences for customers.
Ford says more than 700 U.S. dealers have gone through the program, which it started in 2010. It includes a designated coach, paid for in part by the automaker, who helps each site develop practices to boost relations with employees and customers.
Chad Yochens, who started at the dealership as a sales manager in 2011, said he had noticed that upper management wasn't receptive to new ideas. Through the Ford program, he recommended more dialogue with employees, from the newest salesperson to the most veteran executive.
"It was very close-minded," said Yochens, 50. "Management felt that [new hires] aren't going to come in and tell us how to run the business. It was, 'This is how we've done it, and this is how we're going to do it.'"