How one dealership socks away cash to help employees in times of crisis

Many employees at Planet Ford-Lincoln in Spring, Texas, believe they are their co-workers’ keepers.

So much so that it led them to bankroll a stash of cash they call the Superfund. Employees can voluntarily contribute $10 per month, and those participants can withdraw funds during a personal financial crisis — think sickness, death or a significant other losing a job.

The money doesn’t have to be repaid, but the need must withstand the scrutiny of a panel of co-workers empowered to approve or deny a request.

Since its creation in 2003, the fund has returned more than $100,000 to participating employees facing troubles such as mortgage foreclosures, hurricane-damaged homes and medical emergencies. The largest single payout was $8,000 for funeral expenses, said Shawn Burns, Planet Ford-Lincoln’s general manager and operating partner.

Burns says the fund is welcome relief for participating workers who need it and satisfies employees’ desire to help others.

And though he can’t quantify it, Burns said he also believes the fund enhances dealership operations by boosting employee satisfaction and helping keep turnover low, which in turn keeps customer satisfaction high.

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