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Community Service

Sonic Automotive is dedicated to contributing to the communities where we live and work. Each year, our dealerships and corporate offices serve community organizations by hosting blood drives, food drives, and backpack supply drives for children. Our teammates also participate in numerous events hosted by local non-profits. Our dealerships take part in multiple community service activities in collaboration with our manufacturer partners each year, such as BMW’s Drive to End Hunger initiative.

Community Service Time for Teammates

Community Service Time for Teammates

Our company has a rich heritage of community involvement. Our teammates have a history of taking on leadership roles to support and raise money for many worthy causes. To facilitate and encourage teammates’ participation in community service, we provide paid time away from work for these activities.

All regular full-time teammates have the opportunity to use up to 12 hours of paid time off for community service activities per calendar year. Sonic and EchoPark define community service activities as volunteer efforts associated with a non-profit or civic organization that improves the quality of life and contributes to the greater good of the communities in which we live and work.

Community Service Time for Teammates
  • From 2018 to date, Sonic teammates have contributed over 89,000 hours in volunteer service and donated over $6 million through their community service efforts.
  • Our corporate office makes an annual donation to a charitable organization selected by the region in our company that has the most teammate volunteer hours during the calendar year.
  • In 2020, our Alabama/North Carolina/Florida region contributed the most community service hours, and our corporate office donated $50,000 to the Wounded Warriors Project on behalf of the region
Employee Well-Being

Employee Well-Being

Sonic Automotive Family Emergency (SAFE) Fund

The Sonic Automotive Family Emergency (SAFE) fund is a teammate-funded grant program that enables Sonic Automotive and EchoPark Automotive teammates and their immediate family to secure financial resources when hardship occurs, such as a medical emergency or catastrophic loss due to a natural disaster. Since the launch of the program in 2011, Sonic Automotive teammates have donated over $1.6 million towards SAFE Fund relief, with over $1.2 million in grants distributed to date.

Connections Team

The Sonic Automotive and EchoPark Automotive Connections Team is dedicated to nurturing a culture of community, two-way communication, and serving as champions for teammate growth and development. The Connections Team Ambassador Program consists of one Ambassador from each dealership and corporate office who serve as influencers of culture and communication. The Ambassador program consists of the following activities:

  • Holding quarterly Connections Team-sponsored teammate appreciation and community service events within our company’s dealerships and corporate office campuses
  • Developing suggestions for teammate experience initiatives based on needs from dealerships/offices, and communicating those to the Connections Team Executive Committee
  • Assisting with communicating messages from our corporate leadership teams (e.g., organizing watch parties for executive monthly videos, promoting company-wide or regional contests, promoting associate feedback through completion of teammate surveys, etc.)
  • Developing other teammate growth and development-related events as determined by the Connections Team Executive Committee
Employee Well-Being

Launched in September 2019, the Connections Team has held quarterly events in each dealership/corporate office focusing on how our teammates fulfill our company’s purpose to “deliver an experience for our guests and our teammates that fulfills dreams, enriches lives, and delivers happiness.” The quarterly events have included community initiatives such as:

  • Food collection drives to support Blue Jeans Go Green®, an organization dedicated to upcycling denim for insulation for affordable housing projects
  • Cheer box assembly project with Cheeriodicals® to assemble 800 cheer boxes for children receiving life-saving care at 13 children’s hospitals across the country
Teammates Assemble 800 Cheer Boxes for Local Children's Hospitals During our February Frenzy!

Teammates Assemble 800 Cheer Boxes for Local Children's Hospitals During our February Frenzy!

During our February Frenzy! Connections Team event, Sonic and EchoPark teammates worked together to assemble 800 boxes to donate to local children's hospitals. The cheer boxes were filled with toys to bring smiles to the faces of children undergoing treatment. The following hospitals benefited from our efforts:

  • Sunrise Children's Hospital – Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Children's of Alabama – Birmingham, Alabama
  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford – Palo Alto, California
  • UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital – Los Angeles, California
  • Harbor-UCLA Medical Center – Torrance, California
  • Children's Hospital Colorado – Aurora, Colorado
  • Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida – Fort Myers, Florida
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta – Atlanta, Georgia
  • Children's National Hospital – Washington, D.C.
  • Novant Health Hemby Children's Hospital – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial – Nashville, Tennessee
  • Children’s Hospital at Erlanger – Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Children's Health – Dallas, Texas
Lexus of Birmingham Holds a Blood Drive

Lexus of Birmingham Holds a Blood Drive

Lexus of Birmingham hosted a Blood Drive for American Red Cross. Thirty donors participated, and 22 units were collected. Nineteen of the 30 donors were Sonic Automotive teammates.

Every Day is Veteran's Day at Ron Craft Chevrolet!

Every Day is Veteran's Day at Ron Craft Chevrolet!

At Ron Craft Chevrolet in Baytown, Texas, they honor veterans every day. When veterans visit the dealership, they are gifted a hat from the parts store. They have a variety to choose from including Marines, Army, Navy, and more. It is a little something for the dealership to give back. Veterans also get their own parking space while spending time at the dealership.

Pensacola Honda and Audi Pensacola Distribute Hurricane Sally Relief Supplies

Pensacola Honda and Audi Pensacola Distribute Hurricane Sally Relief Supplies

Individual teammates at Sonic Automotive dealerships in Montgomery, AL, Birmingham, AL, and Fort Myers, FL donated supplies to Pensacola Honda and Audi Pensacola to support those affected by Hurricane Sally. Food, bottled water, and clothes were among some of the critical items collected.

Diversity and Inclusion

Sonic hosted an inaugural Women in Leadership symposium in Houston, Texas in 2019. This was an opportunity for female teammates at all levels of the company to come together to hear from our senior leaders, network, and express ideas as to how we can improve and expand our vision for women at our company. This event generated the creation of a Women in Leadership program at Sonic, which, after an unforeseen delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is planned to restart in 2021.

Equal Employment Opportunity

We are committed to providing equal opportunity in all of our employment practices – including selection, hiring, promotion, transfer, and compensation – to all qualified applicants and teammates without regard to race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, veteran status, uniformed service member status, pregnancy, age, disability, genetic information, gender identity, ancestry, citizenship status, marital status, or any other protected status in accordance with the requirements of all federal, state, and local laws.

Benefits & Compensation

Our teammates are our greatest assets and key to our continued success, and we are dedicated to rewarding our talented teammates with the most competitive and fair compensation packages in the industry.

We are fully invested in the development of our teammates and are proud to offer a range of benefits that allow them to have a healthy work/life balance, enhance their wellness and health, and take advantage of long-term savings to maximize their earnings.

Compensation

  • Sonic values all of our team members, and is committed to compensating employees at or above market rates.
  • Sonic participates in salary surveys conducted by industry organization The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which ranks our compensation rates as typically above average.
  • Since September 1, 2021, all hourly teammates who were not on a commission-based variable pay plan received an hourly wage increase to a minimum of $15 per hour. Teammates earning between $14 and $20 per hour also received a $1 per hour raise.

Benefits

Technicians with one year of service get 100 percent company paid employee-only medical premiums. We offer medical insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, short-term disability, long-term disability, company paid basic life insurance, supplemental life insurance, accident insurance, and legal services plans. We offer an employee assistance program that includes help with stress, depression, and substance abuse.

Other Compensation Benefits

While the cost of providing medical insurance coverage to our teammates increased in 2021, the Company absorbed 100% of this increase with no change to the employee cost of medical insurance benefits in 2021. EchoPark offers company-paid short-term disability to all teammates, in addition to adoption assistance, tuition reimbursement, and maternity and paternity leave.

Education & Training

Sonic Automotive is dedicated to providing world-class, impactful, and relevant training for all teammates. Training is tied directly to our yearly strategic goals. We created a strategic training organization (Sonic University) that is fully aligned with our core values and beliefs and have been able to implement revolutionary, customer-centric processes in automotive retailing. Training drives our culture, our passion, and our results. We use analytic data to determine which training programs and processes allow us to achieve our company's most strategic goals. We offer blended learning programs using interactive web-based learning, gamification, instructor led events, on-site “shoulder to shoulder” mentoring, and self-paced criterion-referenced instruction. In an automotive retail industry that has traditionally limited its investment in training and development, Sonic Automotive demonstrates its commitment to training and developing our teammates, and to our shareholders by investing in a large-scale, specialized, and innovative training force. Sonic University provides predictable, repeatable, and sustainable training for all our teammates.

In March 2021, Sonic Automotive was inducted into Training magazine’s Hall of Fame, after ranking in the Top 10 of its Annual Top 100 list of companies recognized for excellence in employer-sponsored training and development programs for four consecutive years.

Training Magazine’s Hall of Fame ranks best-in-class organizations for their excellence in employer-sponsored training and development programs, and has been the premier learning industry awards program for over two decades. The Training Top 100 ranking is determined by assessing a myriad of benchmarking statistics measuring qualitative and quantitative factors such as financial investment in employee training and development; scope and number of training programs; Kirkpatrick Level 3 and 4 evaluations; and satisfaction of goals, business objectives and outcomes.

Sonic faced new and unprecedented challenges in 2020 stemming from the global pandemic, including travel restrictions and health risks that required the team to pivot and redesign training programs to be delivered virtually without sacrificing impact and effectiveness. This sudden push for innovation in talent development processes yielded positive advancements in the use of technology for individualized training and performance support. The development of new online learning resources allowed for increased independent study, and effective use of virtual communication tools provided opportunities for customized sales coaching, improved teammate engagement, and increased manager involvement.

As one of the nation’s largest automotive retailers, currently employing more than 8,500 teammates in 16 states, Sonic has actively invested in the development of industry-leading innovative training and development solutions for each of its franchised dealerships and EchoPark locations.

In our General Manager Leadership Academy, attendees in cohorts complete seven one-week workshops across the nation during the course of one year. During this program, they are exposed to superior customer service practices both within and outside the Sonic Automotive family of dealerships. The academy teaches all aspects of store operations, and being a Sonic Leader through case study methodology and action learning. Each section is taught by a senior leader or subject matter expert at Sonic. The Sonic General Manager Leadership Academy culminates in a final presentation from each attendee to a group of Senior Executives before graduation. The goal of this program is to identify and develop the future leaders in our business, both benefiting the Company and providing a clear path for career development to our teammates.

At Sonic Automotive, key components of our purpose are teammate satisfaction and making a difference in our teammates’ lives. Of particular importance to our Company is the development and retention of our service department leaders. In general, the retention of teammates in these roles in the automotive industry is challenging. Service department leaders in our industry are often promoted from within the ranks of technicians and service advisors, and they have not yet had an opportunity to develop the leadership and management skills required in their new roles. In response, the organization designed and developed a Fixed Operations Academy, the goal of which is to create a predictable, repeatable, and sustainable training process for our service department leaders.

The learning strategy for the academy is based on the idea that leadership and management skills are the foundation of a successful Fixed Operations Manager. By exploring the impact of leadership skills on their direct team members, guests, and the Sonic organization, learners come to understand the importance of these leadership behaviors.

Using a variety of delivery methods, our learning solution reinforces the importance of leadership, and demonstrates to learners how to apply leadership skills in their jobs. Sonic provides repeated practice through role playing and on-the-job contextual experiences, which allow team members to experience the subtleties of engaging in leadership behaviors.

The Variable Operations Academy is an industry-leading training process that teaches a variety of leadership skills to Sonic’s high potential, variable sales managers. The Variable Operations Academy is committed to developing a world class leadership team, building a culture of teamwork and leadership at all levels, and making Sonic Automotive among the best places to work and shop in America.

The Variable Operations Academy is an eight-week course, beginning with two weeks of in-dealership field studies that prepare participants for a one-week application lab. The class objectives include leadership strategies, teaching and coaching skills, time management, positive and balanced feedback, and more. Ultimately, Variable Operations Academy graduates develop the skills and experience necessary to become the next generation of sales leaders in our dealerships.

Sonic University’s New Manager Leadership Academy is an eight-week program that provides all new managers with the skills and information they need to become an effective and confident leader. Participation is mandatory for all newly hired and promoted managers. New manager training is conducted virtually using a three-pronged approach:


In addition to our live and virtual training and development programs, Sonic also maintains a vast online eLearning library. All Sonic teammates have access to our online learning resources that include:

  • Job-specific training
  • Customer service skills training
  • Leadership development
  • New teammate programs
  • Career pathing and advancement
  • HR courses

All Sonic teammates and their immediate family are eligible for tuition assistance through Bellevue University.