- The Driver's Village Auto Mall in Cicero, New York, is so huge it has an athletic club, an art studio and a driving school, among other businesses in the enclosed mall space.
- There are also 12 dealerships selling 21 brands.
- Under the leadership of owner Roger Burdick, the company pays a network of chaplains to provide spiritual counselors for employees on a part-time basis at the auto mall.
It's so comprehensive that customers can dine, buy insurance, visit the chamber of commerce and take martial arts classes, without leaving the auto mall. To make the circle complete, owner Roger Burdick pays for several chaplains to come in to the auto mall and offer spiritual services to the hundreds of people who work there.
Lou Bregou, Driver's Village director of operations, told Edmunds: "When we were a smaller company, if an employee had a wedding, funeral, or wake, we'd help with it. We felt bad we couldn't do that as we grew. So now we have chaplains who come in and walk around and help people who need them."
The dealership pays a flat fee per employee to the national Marketplace Chaplains service, which sends chaplains to the auto mall, Bregou said.
"The chaplains are there if you need them," he said. "It's up to the employee."
Bregou told Edmunds that the chaplains are nondenominational and follow the military chaplain model of serving everyone in a non-preaching manner.
"They've let us know what life issues employees are concerned about" — without mentioning names or personal information, Bregou emphasized — "and we can address those."
For example, the dealer learned that the chaplains were being asked a lot about parenting and teenage issues, so Driver's Village got together a lunch meeting about raising children, and 40-50 employees attended. The chaplains also refer employees to outside helping organizations when there's a need, Bregou said.
Having a chaplain service means that Driver's Village can provide chaplains for important milestones in employees' lives, like weddings and funerals. Bregou found that out for himself when his sister passed away in England after an extended illness, and he traveled to her funeral.
"I walked in to visiting hours, and a woman walked up and introduced herself: 'I'm a chaplain for Marketplace Ministries.' They have chaplains everywhere and sent one for me all the way in England," he said.
Edmunds says: Dealership employees who have their physical and spiritual needs met undoubtedly make for a better car-buying experience.