2014 Best in Class: Best Training and Benefits

2014 Best Training and Benefits:

The Sail & Ski Center

Austin, Texas


The Sail & Ski Center believes the best way to invest in the equity of the company is to invest in its employees through training, raising the staff’s efficiency and skills to the highest possible level. This belief is put into practice through the dealership’s training policies, dedication to employee growth, staff recognition and benefits program.

Sail & Ski attends all training opportunities provided by its manufacturers and consistently attends any webinars or e-training available. Sail & Ski institutes mandatory participation in all webinars to help employees stay on top of recent trends and certifications.


One of the key e-trainings attended by Sail & Ski in 2013 was the Service Advisor training offered by ADP/Performance Inc., who administers Sail & Ski’s Sea Ray Performance Group. This program was designed to improve communication and organization skills to provide a better customer experience.

SailSki-IMG_0013“In many service departments the Service Advisors are key touch points for the dealership, often dealing with customers who might be having a problem or desiring service in a time frame that is difficult to achieve,” said Rod Malone, president of The Sail & Ski Center. “The Service Advisor position can be a fast-paced and stressful job.”

The program was worth the investment as Sail & Ski saw substantial results for the customers and for the employees.

“We are dedicated to providing the parts and service personnel in our organization more than just technical training.  We believe that they need training in people skills as much as our sales staff and we are committed to invest in such training,” said Malone.

Sail & Ski is always looking for innovative ways to help its employees grow. This year the dealership formed the Sail & Ski Book Club. Every three months the group selects a nonfiction book and meets on a biweekly basis to discuss a few assigned chapters, review what each member learned and discuss how that information can be applied to daily work and personal lives. Sail & Ski covers the cost of the book and provides it in any format – print, e-book or audio – each member desires.

“We wanted to nurture a positive culture of learning and self-improvement within our new and long-term employees,” said Malone.

This culture is taken to heart by Sail & Ski’s management, which is self-evident in how the dealership takes care of its employees. It budgets extensively for employee training and offers a number of incentives. One such incentive is the Sail & Ski Employee Appreciation Annual Awards program.

Sail and Ski hands out three “perpetual” awards: an Award of Excellence for an employee who made an outstanding contribution or achievement above and beyond the norm, as well as a specific Technical Achievement Award for technical achievements and improvements. Nominations for these awards are taken from peers and the corporate management committee approves the winners.

SailSki-BrassPlugAward_02_Sail&Ski_2014Sail & Ski also gives out the “Brass Plug” Award for the employee who has committed the biggest “blooper” of the year, which is meant to add a little fun to the ceremony. Nominations are taken from peers throughout the year and the management team chooses five finalists to be voted on by the audience.

Winners of all three awards get the company-wide recognition and are also awarded $500 cash.

Other non-perpetual awards are also handed out as a part of the program to recognize employees for their hard work, such as Most Valuable Player, Most Dependable and Best Attitude. The dealership also acknowledges employees for years of service.

“A great time is always had by all and the appreciation awards are highly anticipated,” said Malone. “We think that it illustrates good practices and it also represents the sincere appreciation that we have for the employees and members of the Sail & Ski organization.”

Sail & Ski’s appreciation is also apparent in its employee benefits package, in which all full-time employees can participate. Sail & Ski offers group insurance for employees and their families, which includes medical, dental, long-term disability, life and accidental death/dismemberment insurance.

The dealership also provides worker’s compensation, a 401(k) retirement plan with pre-tax dollars through payroll reduction and six paid holidays. Regular full-time employees are eligible for one to three weeks of vacation, based on years of service. Full-time employees are also given three consecutive working days of leave in the event of the death of an immediate family member.

Building upon its dedication to the training of their employees, Sail & Ski offers a tuition reimbursement plan. It provides eligible employees with the opportunity to obtain, maintain or improve professional capabilities through courses of study at an accredited college or university, or at an accredited organization specializing in job and career related training.

“We encourage our employees to seek and take self-improvement courses,” said Malone. “Starting at the top of the organization, there is an energy and work ethic that far exceeds our competition.”


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