Employees’ mental, physical health part of Hoehn Motors’ maintenance program


Hoehn Motors not only maintains vehicles, it maintains employees, too.

The family-owned and -operated company — which has 12 stores in Carlsbad Car Country — provides a wellness program for its approximately 450 staffers. The offerings are designed to benefit employees physically and mentally, whether it’s yoga classes or a making a call to the corporate chaplain for support.

“They’re (Bill and Bob Hoehn) always real cognizant of the fact that when employees feel appreciated and valued, they tend to be the most productive,” said Josh Sherman, Hoehn’s executive manager and marketing director. “When I go to managers meetings, I’m constantly hearing my father-in-law (Bill) ask if employees are flourishing. … He always encourages our managers to do things to make the employees feel more appreciated.”

This often involves trying out new ideas and continuing with the ones that click with workers.

“We try to be progressive in what we do, but we’re not a large corporation,” Sherman noted.

One of the most recent ideas implemented involved Hoehn’s increased representation in the Carlsbad 5000, held March 29. For the third consecutive year, the company was an event sponsor, but 2015 marked the first time that it actively encouraged its employees to train for the race. Two staffers stepped up and agreed to be coaches, and others rallied around the idea of exercising together. Several other employees managed the workouts, developed race T-shirts, coordinated a “gear event” for employees with a local running store, and communicated race-day logistics with their co-workers, Sherman said.

“We knew we had employees who liked to run, but we didn’t know that by empowering them to organize (the training) internally ... it would have a wildfire-spreading effect,” he said.

On any given afternoon leading up to the Carlsbad 5000, he said employees could be seen running around Car Country.

“Training for the Carlsbad 5000, I’ve lost 20 pounds, my blood pressure is down, and mentally, I feel super-fantabulous!” said Brandy Darr of Hoehn Mercedes-Benz. “It has been great training with my co-workers. Just being able to encourage one another to push a little harder and go a little further has forged strong relationships. I feel very blessed to have such amazing people that are so encouraging in my life.”

More than 85 Hoehn workers signed up, which is 15 percent to 20 percent of the employee base, Sherman said.

While the Carlsbad 5000 is an annual event, employees can participate in various other physical activities throughout the year. For example, they can relax and become centered through yoga and Pilates classes that are taught at Hoehn’s various locations. Also, once each month, Hoehn workers are invited to go on a ride with the Swami’s Cycling Club, which the company helps sponsor.

While keeping physically fit is important, Hoehn also places a strong emphasis on mental health. The company has a full-time nondenominational corporate chaplain, Roy Inzunza, who has provided spiritual comfort and counseling services for more than seven years.

On call 24/7, Inzunza’s entire job is to assist employees, whether it’s to take them to Mexico so they can build houses for charity work, or to serve as a marriage or grief counselor.

“Having a chaplain to serve the emotional needs of our employees is awesome,” Sherman said. “It’s a great thing for morale. As employees go through different circumstances, he really helps them get back on their feet.”

Hoehn also boosts people’s attitudes with its Employee of the Month celebrations, which are held at each store. Workers have a chance to nominate their peers for the award;. At the event, comments are read aloud, and everyone also has a chance to hear the latest news about their location.

“We want employees to feel energized about what’s going on at their dealership,” Sherman said.

“Our family believes it is paramount that everyone from the general manager to our newest lot porter is able to provide input on continually improving our business operations and ensure we are providing the best customer experience possible.”

Providing such programs seems to be paying off at Hoehn.

“When employees are actively involved in services that we provide, we find that they are firing on all cylinders,” Sherman said.

“I think it’s great that the Hoehns offer the health (and) fitness classes and all the other fitness activities,” Darr said. “It makes you feel that you aren’t just an employee to them, but more like a family member, because they are saying, ‘We want you to stay healthy.’ Work life can be very stressful, so having an outlet that’s so positive both mentally and physically is wonderful.”

“Every employer cares about their employees,” Sherman added. “You can’t be a profitable business and not care about them. (Businesses) need to be really understanding in how to serve their employees. It takes being conscientious to what their needs are.”

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