Pic: John Smyth (director), Megan Watkins (trainee service advisor), Peter Smyth (director), David Smyth (director), Jodie Sutherland (sales executive), David Ince (sales executive).
Crewe-based the Swansway Group is celebrating entering the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list for the first time, placed at number 70.
Although the 10-site group has been trading for just seven years, the Smyth family, who own and run it, have a 45 year history in the motor trade.
The Best Companies To Work For citation reads:
"The company prides itself on offering customers the kind of personal touch only a family firm can bring.
"By giving employees an enjoyable working environment Swansway can count on their loyalty — the average length of service is a steadfast seven years — so returning customers are likely to see a familiar face.
"Just like in most families, there is an all-hands-on-deck approach, as Peter Smyth explains: 'If I see litter, I pick it up and quick. I don't call for someone else to clear up, I roll up my sleeves and get involved as do all the family.'
"The rest of the staff feel their input counts, too, awarding Swansway a positive score of 82%, bettered by just 15 companies, for believing they can make a valuable contribution to the success of the company.
"Employees also feel they can make a difference (80%, ranking this point 17th) and believe they have a positive future ahead of them (77% — only 12 organisations did better).
"Employees might work in the competitive car sales business but they have not had stress-related symptoms in the past year due to their jobs and neither has their health suffered.
"There is not too much pressure to perform well and deadlines are realistic. There must be something to be said for working in a family atmosphere, especially as in the Swansway clan it is possible, at least some of the time, to choose your relatives."
Michael, now chairman, and Margaret Smyth began the business in 1967. Sons David, Peter and John all work with their father in the business.
Peter, a company director, said: “We’d always realised that people were the most important part of the business and had been heavily involved in the YTS scheme; because you can have the greatest product in the world, on the busiest site, but without the right people, it won’t sell, or if it does, you won’t retain those customers.”
In 2010 Swansway invested in a purpose built Academy, which runs a successful graduate scheme and has now begun an apprentice scheme designed to bring school leavers into the business world and give them a structured career path.
John Smyth said: “We believe training, career progression and a sense of belonging to the Swansway family are key to our aim of delivering customer delight; to achieve that, you have to achieve employee happiness.
"As a family run company, we are all very hands-on and we make it our business to let our staff know that their contribution is valued and that they can, and do, make a difference.”
The group runs three Audi centres, three Honda sites, two Volkswagen dealerships, one Seat, one Peugeot and four Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle centres, as well as a bodyshop and parts depot and an Ebay auto parts re-seller.
The group has grown by acquisition starting with three sites seven years ago.
Other franchised groups in the best companies guide are: Peter Vardy, Sytner, Heritage Automotive and Benfield.