Team Appreciation Taken To The Next Level

Team Appreciation Taken To The Next Level

"Help set and meet the shop's goals and we'll all go to Hawaii," says owner. Team responds, packs bags for vacation.

It’s always inspiring to hear about business owners and how they show appreciation for a terrific crew. But some owners take it a step further. Dennis Goodhue, owner of Diamond G Auto Repair in Montrose, CO, goes above and beyond to make sure his employees feel valued and appreciated.

Dennis knows the success of his shop is due to his team. He sets high expectations. And his crew meets – and exceeds – those goals. And what happens when the team does meet those goals? Well, they get on a plane and fly to Hawaii! That’s right. Dennis puts goals in place and tells everyone that if they are met by the end of the year, they will all go on an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii – THE WHOLE TEAM.

Goodhue admits that shutting down the shop for 10 days while taking everyone on a paid vacation is certainly a budgetary expense doesn’t go unnoticed. But the results – big profits and team members who are invested in the success of the business – speak for themselves.

As incentives go, this is not too shabby.

Dennis, your team hit their goals for 2022 and you took them to Hawaii. Are you transparent with them week to week, month to month, so they know how close they are to the shop’s goals?

Our team hit their goals for 2021 and 2022. We plateaued from 2016 to 2020 and I wanted a way to continue to grow. I post weekly billed hours for individuals and the team, weekly sales, monthly sales and year to date sales for all to see along with the goals, so yes I think I am transparent.

As the shop got closer to its goal, did your crew get more and more excited?

Of course, we all got excited about going, as soon as it looked possible. I believe that is why we had 10 of 12 months as record gross sales in 2022.

This is the second time you’ve done this. From a business perspective, what do you see as the advantages? And also personally – you’ve got a great team and it must be really terrific to see them have fun and know they are appreciated.

Diamond G team on the beach in Hawaii.

Well, a 27% increase in 2021 and a 33% increase in 2022 of gross sales certainly is an advantage to me! An accompanying small increase in gross profit every year as well is a bonus. This shows me that it is not just the back of the shop putting out more work, but the front selling more and better.

Personally I get to make more money, I get to go to Hawaii and my business is worth more every year. What’s not to like?

Yes, it is very gratifying to see them all have a great time, become better friends, be able to share the experience and, as an added bonus, I got to pay them more earned bonus every year. Yes, I appreciate them. We spend more waking time at work with them than with anyone else, so they become family.

Have you already set your goal for 2023? And is a trip to Hawaii in the cards again?

Absolutely I have set this year’s goal. In 2021, I set a 10% increase goal and they did 27%. In 2022, I set a 14% increase goal and they did 33%. This year I have set a 12% increase in gross sales and expect them to make it, despite being short one technician and having lots of interruptions due to our expansion. We are in the middle of adding on and increasing by 2 bays, with one of those a large bay for medium duty and buses.

Yes, Hawaii is in the cards again, however they want to take families along this year (at their expense). There are a lot of places to choose from so we will be discussing that.

Do you tell perspective employees about this incentive when you interview them?

No, I don’t tell prospective employees about this. I don’t want to simply entice them with a trip. I want to hire good people and retain them through rewards and offering a good place to work. Still, many of them already know about it – word travels fast through the community. In fact, we have been complimented by many of our customers for doing this.

You visited John Starkey of Starkey’s Auto Repair in Honolulu. Was that a good experience for your employees to visit another well-run shop?

Diamond G team out on the town with John Starkey middle front. Sherry Goodhue front left. Dennis Goodhue front right.

We loved visiting John’s shop. It was informative and enjoyable. We are in the rust belt with snow, salt, mag-chloride and mountains. John’s shop is in the tropics. Cars are different, procedures are different, weather is different and some of their operations are different. And the best part is that I didn’t lose any employees to Hawaii!

What were some of the highlights of your recent trip?

This year we went to Oahu so we could see John’s shop, as well as to tour Pearl Harbor. Last year my team all commented that they wanted to see the history “stuff,” so we did. We then went back to Hawaii, and two highlights for me were going snorkeling and visiting the volcanoes.

On our first trip we were winging it – the team had never been there. They did not know what to do. This year I played tour guide on Oahu, but they all got together and planned out all of our days on Hawaii. I was happy to let them plan what they wanted to do instead of me running the show!

Why do you motivate your team with a trip as opposed to something else?

This is a long story, so I will try to be brief. Since our son John was born, my wife Sherry, my parents and John have traveled as a party of five every year on vacation.

Sherry and Dennis Goodhue

We have gone to various locations, but to Hawaii a lot. On one of our trips, while driving around the island, I thought, what would it be like to take our crew to Hawaii instead of telling them stories about our trips while they were at home working?

After plateauing for a few years, I was looking for a carrot to dangle. I said in a meeting that if we could reach our goal, we will all go to Hawaii. They all looked at me in disbelief, so when it looked like we might actually make it, they confronted me and asked if I was serious. As I swallowed deeply, my response could be nothing but “YES!”

How do you think an incentive like this motivates your team?

Look at the numbers and the pictures and you tell me! When we returned from the first trip, I was asked the first day we got back to work, “What’s next year’s goal?” Is this a perpetual thing? Whatever they want (within reason) is what we will shoot for.

Is this type of thing for everyone? I doubt it, but so far it is working. This does make a great team building event!

As a DRIVE client, how did that factor into being in a position to bring your team to Hawaii?

Being a DRIVE client has given me the business knowledge to make things better for myself, my employees and our community. Business is business and the automotive business is no different. It’s affected by many more factors than other businesses, but the basic principles are the same.

Had I not been with DRIVE, I would still be running my business from a “technician’s perspective,” which is vastly different than an owner’s. The biggest hurdle to learning is yourself.

Drive offers Dennis congratulations on a very successful and profitable business and a team that not only meets and exceeds goals, but also knows how much they are appreciated!

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