Ray Ciccolo - A Good Corporate Citizen
Success can be measured many ways. For Ray Ciccolo the owner of the country's oldest and best selling Saab dealership, success is not just about sales and numbers.
Instead, it's about culture and family and corporate responsibility.
Ciccolo started selling cars in 1963 when he bought Gene Brown Rambler Volvo at age 25. At the time, he didn't know much about the car business. He put himself through college breaking bottles at the local Ritz. After that, he bought and sold a few laundrymats.
That Rambler Volvo dealership grew into Boston's Village Automotive Group comprised of 11 dealerships (including that Saab store whose future is in doubt due to the automaker's troubles) with nine franchises and is one of the most powerful and best selling groups in the New England market.
The secret according to Ciccolo, is no secret at all and can be summed up in one word -- family. He was convinced of one truth -- employees who were treated like family would respond in the same way treating customers like family.
It means creating and maintaining a workplace environment whose culture is characterized by respect and camaraderie. As a result, turnover is low at the Village where tenure is talked about in terms of decades, not years. That culture has grown into a reputation for the group as being a company that takes care of its customers -- a fact that Ciccolo admits leads to the group doing some "dumb" things once in awhile.
He's also known as a being a philanthropic giant around New England -- all part of being a good corporate citizen, he believes. Through the years, Ciccolo has developed a finely honed philosophy of five areas in which companies should exercise corporate responsibility.
He outlined those five areas during a speech at the National Automobile Dealers Association last February.
Customers: We strive to create an environment for our customers of comfort, trust and respect. We seek to provide them quality service, to treat them like we would like to be treated, and to constantly provide value for them so that they continue to choose to do business with us. By acting via an overriding culture of corporate responsibility - within a framework of social and environmental values – we hope that our customers will see that our values correlate with their own.
Employees: Our success flows from the belief that a successful retail business starts with satisfied employees. By creating a family environment where people enjoy going to work, our employees feel emboldened to provide quality service that often goes above and beyond.
The Village currently employs more than 400 people. We strive to make The Village a good place to work, we appreciate the talent and experience of our people, we embrace cultural diversity and inclusion in our workforce, and we continue to promote primarily from within.
We provide competitive wages and benefits, medical and dental insurance, training and tuition reimbursement for career improvement, a 401k Plan with company match, discounts for automotive purchases, wellness programs, and more. We take pride in the safety of our workplaces, and we repeatedly train to ensure continued compliance.
Environment: going green has two major benefits – we reduce our impact upon the environment, and we save on the cost of energy. Each of our locations has taken basic steps such as switching to energy efficient bulbs, and we recycle tires and motor oil and scrap metal from our shops. Some stores have also reduced their energy consumption by installing high-speed garage doors, adding reflective elements to exterior windows, replacing light switches with auto on/off sensors, adding hands-free faucets and hand-dryers, and more. As we grow and renovate and build new facilities, going green is always at the forefront of our design decisions.
Community: our businesses are an integral part of the communities in which we operate. Not only do we provide important automotive services to the community, but we also seek to be a responsible and concerned corporate citizen. You see The Village is active in myriad causes, including the Arts, Education, Health, Humanitarian causes and more. Many of these efforts are brought to us by our Employees, who are encouraged to bring their ideas and concerns forward.
Suppliers: we try to seek out suppliers and vendors who mirror our concept of Corporate Social Responsibility.
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