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Swansway boosts standing in Sunday Times list of best places to work

Swansway Garages has once more proved its reputation as a employer of choice, improving on its position in the 'Sunday Times Best Companies To Work For' ranking.

The latest results see the North West-based, family owned and run business move up the list to 37th, from 50th in 2012 and 75th in 2011.

Swansway group director John Smyth said: “We are delighted to move up the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For ranking once more. As a family business we try to extend that family feeling to our entire 650 plus workforce and our latest move up the rankings, confirms that we are achieving just what we set out to do.

“Our 10th anniversary year is certainly beginning in a great way, with these awards confirming that our business is firmly on the right track. It’s particularly satisfying that these awards come during tough times and our employees deserve another massive thank you.”

This award comes closely after the group won the 2013 AM Award for Best Retail Group (more than 10 sites) and moved up to 141 in the Sunday Times Top Track 250.

Swansway Group, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, operates 15 sites across seven brands, including Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Honda, Peugeot and Land Rover.

Here is what the assessors said about Swansway:

"When an employee at family-run Swansway Group became ill and was unable to drive, the company recruited a driver to take him from site to site so he could still carry out his job.

Swansway also tackled long, unsociable hours in the sales department with flexible part-time working for sales executives and introduced a Monday to Friday-only corporate sales role.

Supporting staff is one of the principles of Swansway, based in Crewe, Cheshire, with 15 approved dealership franchises selling Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Peugeot and Honda vehicles and a state-of-the-art body shop.

The organisation is run on strong values (84%) and staff have a great deal of faith in Michael Smyth, the chairman (83%), who started out as a door-to-door salesman for Hoover. Smyth picks up litter if he sees it and rolls up his sleeves and mucks in where needed. So do his three sons Peter, David and John, who have followed him into the business, and staff have confidence in the leadership skills of senior management (79%).

The Swansway Academy ensures that the 546 staff, who work at 15 sites across the northwest, the West Midlands and Wales, get all the training they need as well as time off to study. Coaching and job shadowing opportunities, management training programmes and e-learning courses are available.

Employees believe they can make a valuable contribution to the success of the firm (87%) and think they have a positive future ahead of them here (78%). With almost 40% of workers clocking up five years and more with the business, that seems a safe bet.

Swansway sponsors local children's football teams in Cheshire. Each department has a social budget for weekends away, meals out or trips to the local pub. Managers ensure that employees have the resources they need to do a good job (81%) and staff say what is expected of them at work is made completely clear (79%). Boredom is not a problem (78%).

Sales executives earn £30,000 a year and perks include an extra day off for employees on their birthday. Free chauffeur-driven wedding cars help staff to celebrate their special day, as well as cars to take their sons and daughters to their school proms.

Exceptional work is rewarded with treats such as a day at Chester races (including £100 betting money) and a rally race day at Oulton Park. Swansway halso as an executive box at Manchester United football club and runs a payroll lottery for each match, with the lucky winner getting two tickets. Under a new initiative staff can get a £1,000 bonus if business targets are met

Top rankings by individual factors
Leadership: 22nd
Personal growth: 30th
'My company': 37th
Male/female ratio: 77:23
Average age: 40
Staff turnover: 25%
Earning £35,000+: 7%

Category key:

Leadership: How employees feel about the head of the company and its senior managers
Personal growth: To what extent staff feel they are stretched and challenged by their job
My company: Feelings about the company people work for as opposed to the people they work with.

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