Bonus programs are typically a reward from an owner or manager to an employee. However, Big Red’s Equipment Sales uses a simple and cost-effective online solution called Bonusly that allows employees to recognize fellow co-workers with gift cards. The program boosts employee morale and camaraderie and, ultimately, helps the dealership grow.

Tim Berman, dealership owner, feels strongly enough about growth that he includes “Growth Evangelist” as one of his titles. “This program shows that there are multiple ways to reward performance besides outright cash. The key to any incentive is being intentional with what you’re incentivizing people to do. People don’t get a bonus for showing up to work. They get a bonus for going above and beyond the call of duty, giving 110%. The beauty of this system is that the team sees things that owners and managers don’t get to see, and team players become more apparent with this system,” Berman says.

He learned about the program at a marketing conference and has now been using it for about 6 months. The program costs $3 per user for companies with 1-100 employees and $5 per user for larger companies, plus the bonus fund that the company establishes. The micro-bonus approach means rewards can accumulate and be applied toward gift cards.

Berman explains how the program works, “Bonusly uses points, not cash. Points can be redeemed for gift cards at all types of retailers and restaurants, like Amazon, Starbucks and Chili’s. It doesn’t cost the company anything out of pocket other than the software subscription until points are redeemed for gift cards.

Big Red’s Equipment Sales

Founded: 2004

Employees: 33 full-time, 2 part-time

Lines Carried: Branson, Massey Ferguson, Bad Boy, Hustler Turf, American LandMaster, Cub Cadet, ECHO, Big Tex and Woods Equipment

Dealership Management System: Infinity, by C-Systems

Website Vendor: Dealer Spike

“Each employee is given a monthly allowance of points (say, 100 points), and they are unable to use these points on themselves. If they do not use them, they expire, so the points do not accumulate beyond their monthly allowance. Gifted points can accumulate infinitely. One hundred points can be redeemed for $10 on any gift card, so we’re not talking about a lot of money. You would think that with it being such small amounts, people wouldn’t take it seriously, but they really do. We also give our managers a higher point allowance, so they can find more opportunities to bonus.”

Berman has set up hashtags that employees must use as part of their bonus description and each hashtag reinforces a company value, such as teamwork, leadership, problem solving, innovation, customer service, communication, safety, efficiency and vision.

The program is mobile-friendly, so it’s easy for all employees to use, regardless of whether they use a computer as part of their job. The administrative interface includes a dashboard that highlights the bonuses and positive comments that employees leave for one another. Berman funds the budget as though everybody is going to cash in their bonuses for the month to ensure the account is adequate.

“I knew people would like it, but I am really pleased with how the team has adopted it. The adoption rate is super high, and it has created an outlet for positive employee interaction, even as we are spread out across a large facility,” he says.

What do you think? Would an approach like this work at your dealership? Or, share your ideas for bonus or other recognition programs that are bringing success at your dealership.