Whether it’s ensuring a positive and productive workplace or enabling employees to feel empowered, State Line Auto Auction knows that power comes from its people.
“When a work environment is fun and inviting, people do their best work,” the Barber family, which has run the New York state auction since 1981, said in its responses to Auto Remarketing’s questions. “They are excited to do their job and put forth excellent effort. Happy people in a workplace make things run smoothly and this, in part, creates a good relationship between them and our customers. We want our employees to want to come to work each day!
“We like to quote Henry Ford’s statement, ‘It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.’”
Also contributing to employee contentedness, the Barbers surmised, is the fact that SLAA holds auctions on Fridays. “It often feels like a four-day week because auction day is so stimulating. This also makes the time go by quickly!”
Positive reinforcement and praise play into the management philosophy at the auction.
“Many people just want to get affirmation that they are doing a good job,” the Barbers said. “A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way in showing them that their work and productivity is valuable to SLAA. In addition, we certainly try to treat everyone with respect. We hope that it rubs off on our employees as to how to treat our customers.”
When it comes to managing the team, the Barbers said they believe that employees need to feel empowered.
“Responsibility is 90 percent taken and 10 percent given. Employees need to know that we trust them with their decision-making and they should feel empowered to do the right thing and make smart decisions. If something happens and things fall through the cracks, it’s noted and a lesson is learned for the future.
“We really try to not micromanage,” they continued. “Overseeing things and checking in is paramount and much of this can be done by ‘managing while walking around.’ You can get ahead of dilemmas by checking in with each department on a daily basis and getting a pulse on their productivity.
“We try to not be ‘drama coaches.’ If an employee cannot live without workplace drama, they usually end up working for someone else. Most of our employees seem to thrive from this type of workplace setting, free of unnecessary drama.”
When asked what makes SLAA stand out as a great place to work, the Barbers cited teamwork.
“Managers and those that they supervise need to be able to work together to solve problems to keep our customers satisfied. Many of them are seasoned professionals who have long tenures at SLAA covering a vast range of jobs. Superior customer service is at the forefront of what we do. Everyone here takes a hands-on approach. We also take great pride in the amount of cross training our employees possess.”
They explained that some employees cover numerous jobs throughout the week. “This might include cleaning cars in our recon shop, clerking on the auction block during the sale, and then working in the office at the ‘if bid’ window. When a situation arises and we need appropriate coverage for certain tasks, it is very helpful when other employees can easily fill that role. Employees also seem to like this change in their regular routine as it breaks up the monotony of doing the same job day in and day out.”
View the complete list of honorees here.