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Posse Power

Down on Repo Ranch, Employees Get Into the Team Spirit

May 20, 1997

Jim Schneider, 31, started working on cars in high school and after graduation he took a job repairing fleet vehicles for a telephone company. Soon, he was buying repossessed vehicles, repairing and refurbishing them and selling them to dealers. Last year, he started a company that obtains repossessed vehicles from financial institutions, then repairs and details them and sells them directly to the public. His company has been successful, but his first year was not without its growing pains: He went from nine employees to 36 and found that he desperately needed to get all his employees trained and working as a team.


We started selling cars right away and banks and credit unions with repossessions wanted to work with us. I had to hire more and more employees. Most of them were automobile salespeople who had worked for commissions and bonuses and they all did things their own ways.

I decided I needed a more professional sales force made up of people who were all on the same page, so to speak, and understood what we wanted them to do so they could stay with us for the long term. So I came up with the concept of having the employees work in teams. To go along with the ranch concept, we call each team a "posse." The team leader is called the "sheriff" and the three members of the team are called "deputies."

Each posse works together to get training and then to earn bonuses that are given out twice a month. The idea worked so well with the sales force that we implemented the team concept for the lot crew, detail crew, service crew and marketing team also. They compete on how many cars they can get ready for the weekend, which is when we do 80% of our sales, and what kind of quality and customer satisfaction they deliver.

Especially in the service aspect of the business, a customer-oriented facility will build our business. We do surveys to find out how happy the customers are with the way we fix their cars and how we treat them while we're doing it. The posses with the highest customer-satisfaction ratings get the bonuses.

We try hard to keep employee interactions upbeat. We go out for breakfast on the company once a week and we award bonuses, give out free tickets for sporting events or trips and other prizes, and talk about how we can improve sales. It gives everybody a chance to put in their thoughts and it creates a good team atmosphere.

When we feel like somebody does something wrong or they are not going about the job correctly, we try to turn that into a positive learning experience and we all talk about how it can improve. There is no browbeating going on. For a lot of the employees it has been a pleasant surprise not to get whipped at meetings because they had come from other jobs where the managers are kings and the salespeople are hammered regularly.

We started out selling 56 cars our first month and we are just now hitting the 100 mark. Our goal is to sell 200 cars a month, but we know it takes time to build our customer base and our reputation, and that is something we will achieve by working together as a team. That's something you just can't buy.



Company: Repo Ranch

President and CEO: Jim Schneider

Nature of Business: Automobile liquidator

Location: 15836 Valley Blvd., Fontana

Founded: June 1996

Employees: 36

Annual revenue: $3.5 million


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