Howard Cooper might just be the best boss ever.

The owner of a car dealership in Ann Arbor, Mich., Cooper wanted to give his employees a special thank you when he sold the business after 47 years. So he gave them each a check with $1,000 for every year they'd been with him.

In one example, a mechanic named Bob Jenkins received a $26,000 check for his 26 years of service.

"I wanted to thank my employees and that was a way I could do it," the 83-year-old Cooper told AnnArbor.com. "I hope it makes a difference in their lives like they have made in mine."

Cooper also stipulated that the new buyer, Germain Motor Company, retain all of his 89 employees.

"My employees are very important to me and the reason for my success," he said. "I know of a couple of buyers who would have paid more [to buy my business,] but taking care of my employees was important to me."

It's always been my belief that the most successful capitalists use enlightened self-interest. They romance their employees so the employees will romance their customers.

That attitude makes all the difference in the world. My late dad always said about business, "It's never the horse, it's the jockey." The idea is that it isn't the product or service you're selling, but how you execute your business and treat people who work for you.

Here's an example. Many years ago, Builder's Square was a home-improvement warehouse designed by K-Mart to be a direct competitor of Home Depot. They looked like Home Depots, had similar products, but the service wasn't up to par, and they eventually went down.

Home Depot itself, after years of growth, started lagging in the service department after new leadership fired the full-time employees. They hired cheaper part-timers who didn't have nearly the level of experience or knowledge to offer customers. And as a result, their sales suffered mightily, and they've spent the last few years trying to undo the damage.

The thing is in business, you've got to execute. And that always starts and ends with the employees.

Think about where you work. Are they just telling you platitudes about how you're valued, or do they really show you the love? The companies where they really show the love, they're the ones who grow over time and prosper over time.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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