Empowering Women in Auto, part 2

January 9, 2024
Some conversations are worth extending.
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Last time on the ASOTU Wheelhouse, we looked at supportive strategies for our current and next generation of leaders in our industry focusing on empowerment, specifically addressing the unique challenges faced by women in the auto industry.



Today we continued that conversation with new faces and topics. Host Daniel Govaer is joined by Michael Wood, General Manager at Checkered Flag Auto Group, Erikka Tiffani Wells, General Manager of Walser Hyundai,

Katie Duncan, Assistant General Manager  of Mohawk Chevrolet and Ashley Cavazos, Marketing Director of DeMontrond Auto Group.



In addition to our panel, we were able interview Tianna Mick, Ashley Kilbarger and Mabel Peralta about their experience in the auto industry and include their responses in today’s show.


Here’s what we covered:

0:00 Intro and Disclaimer

1:59 Around the Horn on how the year is starting

5:39 Why women aren’t drawn to automotive with Tianna Mick

12:05 Why are women held back in automotive with Ashley Kilbarger

25:11 How dealers can better lead women with Mabel Peralta

31:39 Closing thoughts

Daniel Govaer: 0:00

Do you guys have several times mentioned like these these evil buzzwords the things that are that have been thrown your way in various different encounters in the car business?

Katie Duncan: 0:09

emotionals one that really irks me emotional,

Daniel Govaer: 0:12

aggressive, and aggressive is a bad thing in this scenario. Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Wood: 0:17

But that was said about me it wouldn't be right. That's what's wild to me about

Katie Duncan: 0:22

my day would be like, Oh, you got to promote this guy. I mean, he's so aggressive. Like he goes out there and makes it happen. And then you know, it's like, a girl. It's Oh, she's aggressive. Like, yeah, she's it's too much, it's too much from her.

Daniel Govaer: 0:38

Welcome back, everyone to another episode of the wheelhouse and we are absolutely jam packed. Today, we're going to continue on with this massive topic that we've been discussing about empowering women in our workplace. And we've got a whole new panel with us today to go through this and absolutely, you probably couldn't handpick a better panel from what we have, as well as interviews that we've done prior to the show. Want to go ahead and kick us off of course with a quick disclaimer that the opinions expressed here by our speakers are theirs their own do not necessarily represent their companies, those who employ them their affiliates or a sodium. This week we've got with us Michael Wood general manager at checkered flag Auto Group, which is JLR and Volkswagen in Virginia Erica Tiffany wells general manager of Walzer, Hyundai, and Katy Duncan, AGM Mohawk Chevrolet and Ashley Cavazos, marketing director of DeMonte Ron's Auto Group, did I get close? At least on the last one? I feel like I was slipping a little bit, but um, I'm okay. All right. You know who she is. I mean, if I just say Ashley, and like, you guys know who I'm talking about? So it's like, we didn't really need to go through all that. But first thing we're gonna do isn't around the horn. So it's 30 seconds. And if everyone that's here can tell me is January starting off the way you thought it would? Is it a little bit different? And what are how would you characterize the January's you've seen so far with about a week under our belt? And if we want to go ahead and get started with 30 seconds on the clock? And Katie, would you go ahead and kick us off?

Katie Duncan: 1:59

Yeah, I think January is kicking off. Big works. I think we have a ton of inventory on the ground. I think everyone's been through this kind of up down cycle of had inventory didn't have inventory. And now we're getting into a different selling cycle that everyone's starting to navigate. We're super focused on the experience, because you're back into that cycle where everyone has similar vehicles and customers are choosing between who gives them the best experience when they buy a car. You know, we're just training our sales staff on focusing on that overpriced, and we're just really excited to kick off the year.

Daniel Govaer: 2:32

Like it all right, and 30 seconds up on the clock. Next let's, let's continue on with Ashley. And how's this January going for you so far?

Ashley Cavazos: 2:39

Yeah, I'm actually so pumped for January. I'm actually live from my Mazda store. And we are launching a whole new product that's new to the industry from a provider that we all know about. But we're the first in the Houston area to get it's going to totally enhance our customer experience and our showroom process. So I'm pumped up traffic wise to echo Katie inventories on the ground like let's go

Daniel Govaer: 3:07

no spoilers Come on. We're just gonna revolutionize everything. That's basically what we're doing. That's you guys just hanging on you keep doing what you're doing. We're just we're gonna go ahead and revolutionize we've got something no one's ever even dreamed of before. But details later, okay.

Unknown: 3:27

All right. Let's,

Daniel Govaer: 3:28

let's finish going around the ordinary Michael 30 seconds on the clock for you

Michael Wood: 3:33

know, January is kind of starting all the way to 2023 Finished. On the Land Rover jag side, we're seeing you know, constraints when it comes to inventory. But then conversely, on the Volkswagen side, we're flush with inventory. And what's interesting is on both sides, we're seeing some great growth and fixed operations, whether that be just total revenue, net to gross increases, you know, really, really helped the fixed operations that are going on right now. So you're starting to see some consumers that are waiting a little bit just to determine whether these rate decreases are going to occurred or not, so that they can, you know, reach into that affordability. And that's more specifically to the Volkswagen side, which was a major margin compression.

Daniel Govaer: 4:16

Okay, all right. Well, thanks for that. Michael, appreciate that was getting your perspective from there. No, just kidding. I mean, Michael is one of the smartest guys I know I just, it's, it's better. It's more guff you give them the better it is. And then, and then welcome to the show. Eric, if I can go ahead and get you 30 seconds up on the clock.

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 4:32

Let's Yeah, let's go. I'm ready. So we have a great month started I have 10 new cars 41 used out we're facing like 178 with a goal of like 125 So my team is on fire. Forget this thing that it's slow. It's not slow in January. The only thing that might slow us down is the snow outside because we might get six inches but we got the brooms, we got the boots and the snow jackets. We're gonna make this an incredible year. Plus, we're giving away an ionic electric vehicle for a month test drive as long as who's coming to test drive with us? We'll get a chance to win one free from on us.

Daniel Govaer: 5:04

What can I What does it have to be? Can I virtually test drive? Alright, other than that, I mean, that's yeah, that's I'm motivated, I'll shoot I'll come test drive one

Ashley Cavazos: 5:15

new to like the winter area but Erica snow actually means more cardio because people end up getting an accident and all that stuff happens. So let it go.

Daniel Govaer: 5:27

Yes, this is when your your party manager should be visiting every body shop around them with conveniently free donuts and something you know, with a pen with their name on it. All right, so let's go ahead and dive in. If we want to get queued up our first segment, we're going back to a Tiana MC and talking a little bit about why more women aren't drawn to automotive currently,

Tianna Mick: 5:46

because they're focusing on picking up the kids, you know, picking up the dogs, you know, getting everybody ready for the day. So I think that really holds us back to is just you know, these times that are, you know, Bell to bells and not being able to see your family. And that affects guys too. But unfortunately, in society, women take on those more family responsible roles. So they're just automatically held back a more higher level than men.

Daniel Govaer: 6:13

All right, let's, you know, Eric, and we'll pick up where we left off. And, Eric, if you want to kind of take us first through what what your thoughts are on that. Women

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 6:21

are not drawn to automotive because of the experience of automotive, okay, nobody wants to go and work for a place when their experience was crappy. And that's just what it is when you go to an experience where you go to a nice restaurant, or you go and you're gonna have a good flight attendant, you say, You know what, I can see myself in my job, or I can see my daughter in that job when I haven't experienced as bad which is what a lot of people feel automotive experience has been? Why would I ever pursue a career in something that I didn't even like the experience that I had?

Daniel Govaer: 6:47

Yeah, that's it's actually interesting. Erica Bruno who brought up on the previous episode to echo exactly what you're saying, if you want to make your dealership needs to be placed where your team members want to go, if it's a place where you want your clients to go. If people want to think about that, sir, I'm gonna go to get my oil change, do you want them to think about that happily, and wanting to do that, then you need to be doing that with your with your team, also, Katie, Michael Ashley, anybody else?

Katie Duncan: 7:10

I think on last week's session, I was on it as well, that someone mentioned I remember who it was that something really stuck with me was that if people don't see themselves in your dealership, they're not going to want to work there. And that really hit me. And, and we've had, I think two or three people in our sales department that actually bought cars here and then applied here that were women. And that makes me proud, because, you know, they see women in management roles in leadership roles, and they probably see, hey, I might be able to move up here. This might be somewhere that I can start here and work my way through the dream and get promoted and do these things. And, and I've never thought about that way until someone said it on the last wheelhouse we did. But that really hit me in the face like, wow, that that makes sense. You don't go somewhere if you don't see people like you. And that's an all, you know, any type of having diversity in your dealership? You know, it makes a lot of sense. And I think that's important to know.

Michael Wood: 8:02

I think schedules have got I'm sorry.

Ashley Cavazos: 8:05

I was just gonna say also the transparency of that career path. Right to kind of Tiana's point and what we talked about in the preview what y'all talked about in the previous session, but what does that career path? And am I being paid and have the exact opportunity, same opportunity as my male peers? Or my, depending on your diversity, right? Like, if I'm a woman of color, what does that look like for me? Am I going to get seen? Do I have somebody that's going to be in my box? And most of the time there isn't. But what does that experience gonna be like, from the beginning as a customer? What are the conversations being had on the showroom floor? Because you're hearing everything as a woman, right, when you're in there? And is this the place? I'm going to feel comfortable working out? What are what are people talking about? What's that culture like?

Michael Wood: 8:54

Yeah, and I think schedules have a lot to do with it as well. I mean, traditionally speaking, people come in the auto industry, and they're used to having to work 5560 65 hours a week, and we just accept it. It's just that's the status quo. And let's just keep moving forward with it. And it's almost a definition of insanity. We continue to do the same thing over and over again, expecting that 2024 That's going to be the year that the women want to enter the automotive industry, let alone us not just trying to do something different. You know, we have a 44 hour a week work week here at checkered flag, and I'm really, really strong on that. I look at my staff time I make sure that if they're getting to that point, we have a conversation like, Hey, why did you work 55 hours last week? What are we doing to fail you that's requiring you to feel as if you have to stay here? And I think that that's one of the things we've got to focus on. We've got to make sure that that people feel that they have the ability to come into our industry and not be you know, fully married to just the industry. But

Daniel Govaer: 9:48

I mean, this sort of happens with with retail, right? I mean, when I'm used to so you know what the traditional wood veneer is like, well, if I'm sitting there and you're asking why did I work 55 hours I had to come in because I did delivery. You know, so what do you are you telling me You have a system set up where that that everyone is guaranteed their time off, and no one will be penalized for delivery, but the other person also gets compensated. You know what I mean? Like, it's, it's interesting, it's great to talk about about schedules, I think the best thing we can hope for an automotive is to be flexible in our scheduling. Right, but go ahead. And I'll

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 10:17

say to add to what's point along with schedule is pay one thing that Walter did really well as offering compensation plan that is heavily on the salary. And so to give some people an opportunity to say, hey, commission scares people, it scares me like men, women, it doesn't matter. But if you don't know what that income is going to look like consistently, and you're trying to support your lifestyle, it's hard. So flexible schedules, flexible pay.

Ashley Cavazos: 10:42

benefits, and even looking at your days off for your holidays. Like if you're in a state that's open seven days a week, is that necessary? I have some good friends at Hello auto group in California. California has a seven day auto dealership work week, right? But they are shut down on Sundays, because they wanted to give everybody that day of rest? And are they losing out on business on that? No, because the customer is still going to come in and buy on Monday. The same goes for your holidays, it was really excited when I joined them on trying to move or go into the holidays were close on New Year's Day. So you know, you have Sunday and Monday. That's a huge deal for the families in your team to have. So looking at those things and making sure that that's

Daniel Govaer: 11:26

just nice. I always just say that's Nathan running over you with the 10 speed bike, we don't have to it doesn't you finish your thought

Ashley Cavazos: 11:32

it was just being cognizant of those things, right family time. That's what matters, especially as you're trying to get new recruits. If I'm looking at a younger generation of a woman they're living to, they're not wanting to live to work, they want to work to live. So are we accommodating, you know, and not just women, but really the generation but I think women in that sense. That's what they're looking for. They don't want to do the belt Abell

Daniel Govaer: 11:54

deal. Great feedback, though, from everybody, when we're gonna roll on here with Ashley Kielburger, who is if you don't know, just one of the best down to earth, incredibly talented, very kind, very bright person, and she's gonna walk us through kind of the one thing in automotive that holds back women. from her point of view,

Ashley Kilbarger: 12:12

after being in automotive for so long, I feel like after all the things that happened kind of get to a place where you stop asking, you get tired of being told no or not being taken seriously. And it's because the automotive industry resists change at all cost. I feel like when you need to be forward thinking in pushing your brand or your store forward, a lot of times, you're told, Oh, we've tried that, or that's never going to work, because that's not how we do things going into 2024. And everything that's happening in the automotive industry, I feel like a lot of dealerships are going to be left behind who aren't changing in that aspect. And putting new leaders in place that aren't doing things the way it's always been done. They're going to be left behind, I would say if you don't have females in your dealership, pretty dire. So now

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 13:12

well, one I can relate to is finding where you are and being told no, I remember when I was a sales manager and I wanted to I said I want to be a GM I want to be a GSM and my GM at the time was like well you to be you're gonna finance school first. Like there was a path that he said I had to do. So I said, Okay, well, I'm gonna go to Finance school. And I kept begging, when are you going to send me? Well, it's expensive. And it's in Deerfield. And you know, all these things kept putting these obstacles in place. And then finally, the someone was fired. And then I got promoted, right? And I call it a fire motion, because you really didn't get promoted, someone got let go. And they're like, Hey, you can feel this space in. And guess what, when I got put in the box, all of a sudden, I didn't need to go to Finance school. Now I'm like, I actually want to go to training. And you're telling me no one needs finding a school anyway. And and it's just mind blowing, that there's not this career path where it's the same for everybody. Because I said, Well, if I'm not ready, how is he ready? What did he do to get to that next level? And what do I need to do to make sure that I'm, I'm ready. So what ends up happening is you end up having to be an advocate for yourself all the time, and that you have to continuously put out there to everyone involved, who I am, what I'm looking for and where I plan to be and then push them to the edge and if I don't have it in this timeframe, I'm not staying and that's okay. Because there's plenty of people looking for talented people in this industry.

Daniel Govaer: 14:27

Yeah, absolutely. And it's right and let's let's take the time first and to point out that that being like you said, self advocacy, that's not showing off that's not boasting, that's not that's not bragging. It's not gloating. Self Advocacy is a skill that needs to be learned in business, and certainly in the dealership world. And there's nothing and there's, you know, so I think sometimes people look at that in the Guyana one that's not me. I don't want to be talking. I'm not trying to be boastful. I don't know. That's not No, no, no, that's what you're talking about is advocating for yourself and what you can do in the organization that you're in. I think one of the things that Ashley brought up too is like if you're For, you know, you get to the point where you just don't ask anymore. I mean, that's a that's a scary place to be.

Ashley Cavazos: 15:07

One, unfortunately too, though, is, as women most of the time and I've been in the room when these conversations have been had, the self advocates are seen as boasting and praising, whereas the men are seen as go getters and hustlers. And it's like, why is it different? When the woman and the man are both doing the same thing, but for them, it's like, oh, like, she's annoying, or she just doesn't stop. And it's like, why? Like, she's just trying to make sure you see her and you hear her.

Daniel Govaer: 15:43

Watching Katie's face, I'm

Katie Duncan: 15:45

wondering, it's because I've seen it all. I've heard it all, like I all the, you know, women can relate to it. It's, I don't even it's so hard for me to even like in a minute to even respond to this. Because, you know, I've come up in the business, I work through every department in the sales department, and I'm blessed to work where I do with who I do, you know, for who I do, because he's you know, helped me since I've been super young, my owner, I give a lot of credit. But um, I It's really hard. I think it is really hard for women. And I think it takes a certain personality type to, to make it and, you know, climb up the ranks and automotive because it's not easy. And I think that one of the things that I always really struggled with, I mean, I was a college athlete played basketball my whole life, I definitely want aggressive personality. And one of the things that I've always struggled with, as I said this on our last call to is, I think that women get called aggressive and like emotional and like, you hear the, the charge words that I've heard career use towards me, that never get it when it's a man, just like you just said, it's like, Oh, they're so passionate, and there's so this and there's so that, and then when it's women, it's like, oh, you know, they're emotional. And oh, you know, you're, you know, you're aggressive, and you know, you're bitchy, and it's like, sorry, if I'm not swearing here, and it's like, oh, you know, it's like, what? Like, no, but they're driven and passionate, and this and that. And it's like, ambitious, like, it drives me crazy, you know, like, those are the things but for women like that, you have to deal with that. And you have to know, like, Hey, I'm in this situation, and you kind of have to be able to overcome that and tailor the way that you operate. And hey, I still deal with it, you know, I mean, and you never won't, but I think you just have to kind of be aware of it and know that that's, that's the environment you're in. But when you do overcome those things, I think, like we just talked about to be able to be in a position that I'm in now to be able to be a leader in an organization and be able to set that, you know, example for other women. And then, you know, we I have a female that's been promoted multiple times. She's a sales manager. Now I've been a finance manager, salesperson says be able to see her and help her is like the best thing in the world, you know, who see you guys, I'm sure you do the same thing. Like to be able to give that advice other women I feel like is all the reward you need. But I would just say it ain't easy. And I feel like all the things we're saying is so true. And it's just, it's an ongoing battle, you know, you're not going to change it overnight. It's so funny

Michael Wood: 18:08

to think that there's more people, like, you know, like myself out there that want to prop up females and see how much they can add to their teams. But unfortunately, it almost seems like in 2024, the automotive industry thinks that this is an episode of Mad Men and every GM is Don Draper. And that we get to just talk to women the way that we want to and treat them how we want to. And that's just not the reality, like it's 2024. Like, there's just no place for this anymore.

Ashley Cavazos: 18:32

Right. Well, have you all seen the Barbie movie? Like, I don't know about it. But there is one moment in their work America, Ferrara just goes into this rant. And I'm like, Yes, like, and it's talking about how exhausting it is to be a woman. And it's like so many women related to that, that one segment of what she said, but it's like, you can never be rude. You can never show off, you can't fail, but you have to stay in line. And it's just like, it's so hard to be a woman. And it's, it's so true. Because we have to constantly think about what is our what is our perception? And let me tell you, it's even harder as a woman of color to do that as well. Because you're constantly aware of like, Is my accent too strong? Should I say that word with American eyes? Or can I use my Mexican accent because somebody makes a comment, or it wasn't even at one point where I was like, so cautious to like, bring my culture and I used to, like wear the red lipstick and have the big earrings and all that stuff. And I was like, nope, let me scale it back. Because these people around me aren't really used to that at the dealership. And after a while, I was like, You know what, this is me. And thanks to and people like Erica and woke Han and what they started I was like, I have this community of women who support me and bring in my culture and I am surrounded by leaders who want me to bring all of me to work because they know bringing all of me means they get 100% of me, right and when I have to think about all that other stuff, then I can't bring all of me.

Daniel Govaer: 19:54

So some two follow up questions from that then Alright, So who here has an Who here has they ought to work out Through ego, what does that look like? And is that a necessary skill to have that kind of chameleon? You know, in a professional setting? You're all nodding your head. Yes. Okay. Tell me about it.

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 20:09

Well, it's called code switching, which basically is, you know, there's a perception of what people feel like it's professional, you know, how you talk, or how you dress or these things are professional. And so when you have those low self esteem issues where you contemplate, am I still professional, if I'm not like everybody else, there was a time when you couldn't have tattoos. Now, everybody has tattoos and nose rings and a tongue ring, and it's in right even the military's letting you have tattoos, you know, you don't let they're considering people to have long hair. But there was a time when the barrier of entry to get in that meant you had to cover those things up. So the car clinch means that for a time and period, you didn't see other people like you. So you said, Hey, I will wear my hair straight instead of the afro, because that will make me more fun. And it will make people more comfortable with me, I won't wear big earrings, because I don't see anyone else wearing big earrings. And then you get to this place where you're like, forget that. I'm going to be the representation of the next person who says she did it so I can do it.

Daniel Govaer: 21:02

You guys have several times mentioned, like these these evil buzzwords. And the things that are that have been thrown your way in various different encounters in the car business. So but I want to Can we can we put together the word bank? What's What are the most commonly used phrases or words that you guys have heard that that are definitely in this segment?

Katie Duncan: 21:24

emotionals one that really irks me emotional, aggressive, or two.

Ashley Cavazos: 21:32

Yeah, I mean, those are definitely probably the like, the top two that I hear the most

Daniel Govaer: 21:39

emotional and aggressive and aggressive is a bad thing in this scenario. Yeah.

Michael Wood: 21:43

Yeah. It was said about me, it wouldn't be right. That's what's that's what's wild to me. Well, that's right.

Katie Duncan: 21:51

About Mike, they would be like, Oh, I gotta promote this guy. And he's so aggressive, like, he goes out there and makes it happen. And then, you know, it's like, a girl. It's Oh, she's aggressive. Like, yeah, she's, it's too much. It's too much from her. You know, it's like, it's funny, like, I always get my dad to a college football coach. And it's so funny. He has two daughters. And people always used to ask him like about having daughters, a Jewish who had sons and stuff. And it's just so funny, like, hearing like his perspective, raising two daughters, like he always picks like I tell him about work. Like, he, I think he wishes he could work in the car, and she loves the car. And she thinks it's like this amazing thing, like hearing, like what I say and so, but like when I tell him about stuff that happens, or through my travels, and he'll pick those words out, you know, because he deals with men all the time. He's a football coach. And he's one of the people that brought my attention to it, because I never used to think anything of it. Like it was just the usual to me. And he, Throughout my travels in years in the industry has been like, geez, like, can you imagine like, they said that to you, but didn't say to a guy like, and I never even used to realize it. And it's so funny. Now I'm super attentive to it. And I try to pay a lot of attention to my management team and work because we have a lot of women that work here. Be very careful about what we say to them, just so that I don't ever do that to another group, you know, because I know you can hear me, I'm charged right now. Like, I hate that it drives me crazy. But it's just funny that it took my dad to actually be the one to point that out to me, you know, it's

Daniel Govaer: 23:17

to think it was okay. Like, you know, because if the other person in the meeting, were to be honest, and they were say like she intimidates me, and I don't really know what to do with my feelings. So yes, is how I'm going to label that.

Ashley Cavazos: 23:29

Yeah. I mean, there's also been times where, like, I have been challenged on, when will it be enough? When I asked like, what are the next steps in my career path? Right, like, Isn't it enough? Aren't you happy where you're at? Oh, and it's interesting, because, like, why is it different for me versus you, like, you wanted to get where you want to be? And so how do I know what's next for me? And what do I need to do to get there? Or why is it okay for a man to want to know and grow into that career path? But for me, it's like, well be happy where you're at be content.

Daniel Govaer: 24:09

Okay, and that's yeah, and we're all allergic to that right? Like, I'm not trying to be in that's not me to be in one place, right? Why am I getting the state? You know, stay stasis, stay just balanced where you're at. And don't worry about anything else? Like where's that? That doesn't fact that doesn't even factor into like, what your personality is or what I mean? It's just like a blanket that we just throw on you and be like, just you're good. They're just stay there.

Ashley Cavazos: 24:32

I can get to you by just wanting to be happy where I was. I was like, still be receptionist and board in Corpus Christi, Texas, right. I'd still be there if that were the case. But that's, you know, so and I've heard that not just for myself, but I've heard that from other women in automotive, when I've shared that with them. And they're like, like, it's interesting how there's a different dynamic because we want to know what's next. And we're kind of told to just be happy. Stay input.

Daniel Govaer: 25:00

We're gonna go to our final segment here, Mabel Peralta we were super happy to be able to fit in, she got a very busy schedule. Ben and Delia grew up in in dealerships. And she's with rock Ed currently. And we asked her and Michael will go straight to you in the segment ends, but we asked her what are dealers missing when leading women,

Mabel Peralta: 25:16

and I'm not asking for you to, you know, give a bouquet of roses and give me a hug every day. But a little bit of compassion and empathy goes a long way. And you know, there are some really good dealers out there that lead with compassion and lead with empathy, but they're Stern, right? Because just because you lead with one of those two things, doesn't mean you're weak. No. But when you lead with compassion, you lead with empathy, it goes a long way, because your people want to work for you. And your people want to do the most they can for you. And that's what you want. At the end of the day, you want to be at a dealership where the culture is so good, that people want to work for you, and go above and beyond.

Michael Wood: 25:56

I love everything that she just said. I mean, that aligns with exactly how I look at running my two dealerships is that I look at my client, or my customer base being my employees. And I'm constantly looking at the barometer and saying, Are they happy? Are they you know, are they doing the discretionary effort, things that I want from them, and that's only going to happen when they feel that they have my full support. So what she just said, completely resonates with how I like to run my store. And I think that the culture is the most important thing, you know, my turnover is lower than the rest of my colleagues within the organization. And sure I get, you know, some flack every now and then because I like to buy lunches here. And then or I'll grab a pack of steaks and go in the middle of the shop and cook for the techs, but that's part of that culture conversation. You know, it's just a small part of it, the bigger part of it is, you know, I have 50%, we thought it was for 50% of my sales management staff. And at one point 50% of all of my management staff was female. And that was intentional. Because I know that I needed to create an environment where the the females of the future could see themselves there to the points that as well as made earlier. If I have managers on the variable side on the fix ops side that look like the people that I want to hire, then I'm much more inclined to get that person. But you know what, maybe I'll just I was just on point. I just want

Daniel Govaer: 27:07

to clarify that. In your case, when you're saying females in the future, you're talking about our female leaders?

Michael Wood: 27:12

Absolutely. I mean, I've got a female that's on my variable staff right now who she was promoted about 15 months ago, she's been identified to go into our leadership development program, she'll be one on one mentoring with me through skip level meetings every single month. And I'm going to pour every bit of knowledge and information I have into her to make her you know, amazing, because I see the sky's the limit for her. She could be my boss one day for all that matters. And I would love that.

Daniel Govaer: 27:39

So when an interesting question be to ask her, like, who she sees as like the next or another female leader in your organization? Like if you asked an up and coming female leader, and you're like, what is I mean, I being honest, like, that's not something that I did regularly right to ask a specific question. So some, you know, and I have plenty of female leaders, but I don't think I ever said like, who in your eyes? Who do you see from your perspective that you would bring up? Like, wouldn't that be a good? Is that not a good barometer? I'm asking when that might be a good barometer in the organization.

Michael Wood: 28:06

I think it would be but unfortunately, you know, I'm trying to be the person that's creating that environment. So she doesn't really have anybody outside to look at to be that person. So it would take some sort of mentoring from a third party group for like one of the ladies here on the conversation today. I think and you know, to your point, I've never asked that. And that's a fail on me.

Daniel Govaer: 28:25

Right now, I mean, to Eric, I can't tell if you're, I know you're intense. But like, I can't tell if you're just staring daggers at me or not. But

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 28:31

this is a perfect segue. I mean, this is why we started with Ken right? We started this nonprofit for bringing other women in organizations like that, when they say, I don't know where else to connect you. I mean, I'd have an erg or put it have a group because my dealership isn't big enough yet to have multiple women coming together. But to that point, dealers are missing the women's voices, they're already there. And they don't have to be managers. One thing that we did a few years back was grab a steering committee, and it didn't have to be a manager, I took the front desk receptionist, I took different people within the organization and said, Hey, we're going to really change the CRM, we're going to really change the dress code, or whatever policy or procedure or training we were put together, and get voices from different departments to come in and be a part of this committee of change. So that you can look at someone a little bit differently and say, She's not just the front desk receptionist, or the tag and title clerk, or the warranty admin, or the parts supervisor, like you find people in the organization, hear about the culture of the store, and then contribute to its growth. And you're going to find this more leaders in your store than you ever thought possible. This was for a smaller organization that didn't have an erg and just needed to bring a group of women together along with the men. And together we talked about issues in the dealership, and then everybody's voice mattered. And when a guy like wood comes in and says, Hey, what do you think about this, or I really liked that idea that you presented, and then amplifies the voice that she already has. It means kudos to to her to him and to the organization because then she speaks up and says, You know what, I'm going to speak up to your your

Daniel Govaer: 29:51

conversations with your future female leaders or is it any different when you're talking about getting people to the to the point of where they're on the bench for development are those conversations that you're Having, are they different? Would you? Would you tell us a little bit about how they're different? Or? Or is it pretty uniform?

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 30:04

Now, it's different, because there's experiences that I have that would doesn't have, right, he just can't tell it from that perspective. And she's gonna have challenges that was not going to happen, I want to have to be able to tell her how to navigate that in real life, and turn my alter ego off and on to show her both sides of those things. Because it's real life, it is what it is. And so when she can relate to me and say, I understand because I've been there, and I hear you, and what you're saying, I can validate her concerns, so she's not being emotional, or bitchy or aggressive, that everything that you're feeling is real. Then she says, this makes sense to me now. And now you have someone you can talk to you on the phone. So my coaching style is different, no different than you would you would coach a guy a little bit differently. You'd coach a woman a little bit differently. So when she has someone she can relate to it makes sense. Yeah.

Daniel Govaer: 30:48

I mean, that's, that's awesome. And I think most I think most of the at least from my experience, the bitchiest people in dealerships haven't ever been women. I'm just throwing that out there from just my experience could just be my experience. I don't know. Yeah,

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 30:58

one thing real quick. One thing I do tell my women leaders is about having their receipts is something we got from OBC from Hyundai is having your receipts. So you'd be surprised you can ask someone, let's say Dunkin and say hey, what have you done for your dealership? And she'll talk about all the accolades that the dealership did. We're number one in this. And we did that by knowing how did you specifically dunk and help that, and a lot of times they can't process it, because they go, I don't know how to verbalize that. But if you actually dig deep with her, and she shows her receipt, she's gonna be like, well, you know what, I did come up with this program. And hey, I did help, you know, invest in this. And this was my idea. And she starts to get those receipts and says, Actually, I am a valuable part of this dealership succession. And that these numbers actually represent things that I can attribute it to

Daniel Govaer: 31:39

you if somebody's watching and listening to this. And they say like, how do I get to be a Katy? Or how do I get to be a nationally? Or how do I get to be in America? Right? And it's like, what are the I'm sure you get asked that every once in a while to somebody to say now who's starting their journey now, whereas you started years previously, somebody who's starting now, saying, I want to get to at least where you are, what are the most what's the most important thing that I can keep in my tools to help me get there?

Ashley Cavazos: 32:03

I think it does start with having those connections with your community. And we talked about this, like the ASOTU CON collaboration critical, and the guys love it, cuz I'm like, you know, I always put out there, but it is so critical to have collaboration with people in the industry. Eric and I connected before, you know, she even came to Walzer, and we collaborated on things, you know, now we're on, you know, we serve both hands together, by the way, how to become part of okay, and if you want to learn more, W O C, auto network.com, we'll take you to our homepage, there's a membership page there that you can learn also allies, you know, we do connect with our allies, and there's a lot of opportunity there for for them to just join, join the conversations with us, for men and women. But it's really having those those people that you can call for me that is really what's what's been, you know, 14 years in this industry, I couldn't do it without the community that I now call family. In the industry,

Katie Duncan: 33:03

when she was talking about like leading with compassion and empathy and things like that. One thing I just wanted to add to that was, I said, like, when I was a young, you know, entry level exchange specialist for everyone in sales, like if I ever wanted to be a manager, or wanted to be a finance major want to be a sales manager. And I always said, like, if I ever became a manager, like, I just wanted to be the manager that I never had, like, you know, you can always backseat drive people like, Oh, if I was a manager, I wouldn't do this. If I was a manager, I wouldn't do that. You know, I've worked for managers in my past that I feel like, you know, just ask people to do stuff that you people look at you sideways, or like, Okay, can you do that? Or like, would you go, you know, make that phone call? Are you going to go to a customer like that? Just things like that. And I think that when you you are cognizant of like, we were talking about time off and schedules and stuff, like I just think if you're reasonable with people, and you treat them the way that you know, it's so simple to say this out loud, but you treat them like, reasonably like that you would want to be treated, I think it goes such a long way. And it goes like what that woman was saying, like, be compassionate and have empathy. And and I think that that just radiates through culture and you know, fear at the top that just trickles down and then once it trickles to the next layer, it keeps going and then you start to see it in your salespeople to salespeople. And, you know, throughout everything, I think that that's super important for

Michael Wood: 34:16

me, it just continuing to charge forward with with being the change that I want to see within my own dealer group, you know, I need to recruit more people that look like me to be to be involved in these conversations to make it move forward. You know, it's just not going to happen. If it was going to happen, it already would have. So I think it's going to require a little bit of more proactiveness out of me, within the group within the community to have these conversations that hey, listen, let's address the elephant in the room. We are the problem. We've created the problem. So why don't we fix the problem?

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 34:51

I wanted to grab something real quick because it means nothing to me. But um, when I got in the car business, I was a daycare teacher right? I got in the car business I was making $6 An hour and I got an opportunity to write service at a small Napa repair shop and make $8 an hour. So I would tell the women out there that GM doesn't have to be your final destination, you may not see that far ahead yet, you may not know what the future holds, you may not be able to see much farther than the position you're in right now. And that's okay. Because I got I got in for $2 more an hour, and I keep this $2 bill on my wall. So I can remember that it was gonna go from $6 to $8, because I was a single mom trying to take care of my kid, I didn't think I was going to be, you know, running WorldCat or running GM somewhere, even a sales manager, I just wanted to sell cars and make money so I can take care of my family. And so a to the people out there thinking about people in their organization who could be a future GM, you may not see it yet. And that's okay. Right. But if they're coachable, and they're trainable, and they have a good attitude, just set them up in a direction to support them, so they can be the best person they can be. And you may be surprised you're later when you look back and say, Hey, I'm glad to say that I was a part of that person's future, I was glad to say that I helped them see it, even if they couldn't see it, but themselves.

Daniel Govaer: 35:57

Absolutely. And that's, you guys are just blown me away. And this is one of those things where like, honestly, just genuinely, this is why I do this. Because otherwise I don't think I'd have an opportunity to hear this, you know, from from, especially from this group of people. And it's been fantastic. And I want to thank you guys. And I want to thank everyone for sticking with us just as we covered this topic. And we probably haven't done injustice. And we've probably just scraped the surface. But I figured that there's a there's a great quote that my mom raised me with and she said it's a it's a quote by a fella named Edmund Burke and said that no one ever did less than he did nothing, because he could only do a little. And I figured if this is the little that we can start with. Let's do that. And I want to give a quick shout out. Michael Smith on Instagram. He's Smitty sells cars, Fort Wayne. He's a Toyota Lexus dealership in Fort Wayne. And he's an ally. I think somebody thinks a lot of like to what we're talking about here and definitely very much an ally to the initiatives that we're talking about. And and he reached out on Instagram to give us some well wishes and send some pointers and really appreciate that. And of course, you can all feel free to do that and give us a feedback and let us know what direction we need to be going and who else we need to be talking to and whose voices are the ones that we need to be hearing. And we will make sure that we continue to be at least the medium sized megaphone for voices that need to be heard and in the automotive industry. I'll go ahead and thank everybody for that and we'll see everybody another two weeks here on the wheelhouse. Thanks much

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