At Strong’s Marine, training is not an annual occurrence – it is an ongoing necessity for the operation of the business. Strong’s invests heavily in its employees with a hugely competitive training budget for its relatively large full-time staff.
“The cost associated with all training is 100 percent paid for by Strong’s Marine, including all travel and meal expenses while away,” said Bridget Rymer, marketing director at Strong’s Marine.
All team members at Strong’s Marine are required to achieve one week of ongoing training per year. The training must consist of CSI, a specific area of expertise or both. Strong’s also holds one company-wide meeting a year with a motivational speaker or an industry expert.
“This daylong gathering is met with great enthusiasm and the take away by the employees is adopted into everyday dealings with customers and fellow employees,” said Rymer.
However, the most significant aspect of the Strong’s training program is its review process. Formal performance reviews are done yearly and an action plan is created for the next 12 months of what the employee and management feel are beneficial training to achieve the desired growth in that individual over the next 12 months.
“The company invests heavily in training/education to give staff tools needed to be peak performers – not only technical training but also training on ‘service from the heart,’” said Rymer. “The management team recognizes the benefits of motivated staff who love the boating lifestyle and convey that enthusiasm to clients.”
For Strong’s, a key component to the satisfaction of employees is constant communication. Different teams within the dealership host weekly meetings, with key cross-functional team members sitting in when necessary. The dealership also instituted monthly managers’ meetings company-wide as well as monthly team get-togethers to discuss updates to the business, provide team-building opportunities and have fun.
Employees are kept up-to-date with a weekly “Strong’s Scoop” email from the marketing director, which highlights results of recent promotions or events at the dealership as well as upcoming activities, boat deliveries and more. The company president also sends out regular emails to the team, a welcome for new employees, praising team members for a job well done and more.
“This helps everyone be more aware and connected to the goals and successes of the company, and keeps information top-of-mind to share with our clients,” said Rymer. “Employees are valued at Strong’s Marine and we do our best to acknowledge our team for a job well done, encourage them when they need it, and reward them for going the extra mile to improve our company.”
The company offers several attractive bonuses, commission-structured programs, incentives and more. Top performers are awarded a monthly Strong’s Spirit award for top performers and those who go above and beyond for the customer.
But Strong’s knows rewarding employees goes beyond a pat on the back and an extra couple bucks.
“The key to attracting and retaining top- notch employees is to offer an attractive benefits package,” said Rymer. “Strong’s Marine strongly believes that the health and well-being of our employees and their families are an important factor to our success.”
Strong’s offers a comprehensive HMO medical and dental plan, with full prescription coverage, for employees and their families, and Strong’s pays 50 percent of the premiums. A 401k plan is offered to employees who have been employed with the company for a year and works and minimum of 1000 hours per year. A certified financial planner administers the plan and the company matches contributions by half up to the first 6 percent for a maximum of 3 percent.
“Every year during the spring team meeting, the financial planner will speak about ways to optimize our investments. He is also available by appointment any other time during the year for individual review at no charge to employees,” said Rymer.
Strong’s also practices profit sharing in a practical way that invests in the employees’ futures. When the company posts a year-end profit a percentage of the profit is shared among the employees based on salary of the individual employee. The money is deposited into the employees existing 401k plans and held until retirement. In order to be eligible an employee must be employed for at least one full year and maintain that employment at year-end.
“Our profit sharing program enables the company to share in our success,” said Rymer.