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Victoria auto dealership boasts all-women staff (w/video)

By Jessica Rodrigo
June 9, 2014 at 1:09 a.m.

Victory Auto Smart manager Jessika Peinkofer, 23, right, and  sales consultant Laurynn Nichols, 21, left, work in their  office at 3702 John Stockbauer Drive on Monday. Peinkofer has worked in sales before, but she recently took over the new location's operations along with collections manager Lorean Clauson, 23. She took over the operation  in January.

Victory Auto Smart

• ADDRESS: 3702 John Stockbauer Drive, Victoria

• HOURS: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

• CALL: 361-573-4500

• FACEBOOK: facebook.com/victoryautosmartshop

Buying a car is hard.

Finding the right person to buy from can be equally daunting.

Maybe not so much at Victory Auto Smart, because the team there uses a slightly softer approach when working with customers.

"People are always surprised when they see it's all women who work here," said Jessika Peinkofer, the 23-year-old sales manager from Port Lavaca. "We get that all the time."

Take a step into the sales office at the used car dealership, and there's instantly something different in the air.

It could be the Hawaiian-scented Scentsy fragrance wafting in the air, but Peinkofer will say they're a different breed of car dealership.

"Men have their approach, and women have their own approach," she said.

The young sales manager took on the big role of Victory Auto Smart in January and built an all-women team from sales to collections.

She said she was nervous about the new responsibility at first, and then she put together her A-team: Laurynn Nichols, 21, is her sales person, and Lorean Clauson, 23, is her collections manager. During tax season, Peinkofer said she hired more women to handle the heavier flow of business.

Together, they make up the used car dealership Peinkofer says is popular not only because they can find what their customers' needs are, but because they can relate to their female customers.

"We chit-chat, we laugh, and we giggle," she said. "We always try to make sure they're having a good time while they're here."

Building a relationship is just as important as making a sale, Peinkofer said. There's a lot of talk about dogs, babies and families, she said, which is what helps their customers relax and also helps the team find out what the customer is looking for. It's a long process to buy a car and can take more than one visit to the dealership, she said.

"We don't want to be pushy," she said.

For Nichols, of Port Lavaca, this is her first time in a car sales position. She said the experience has been great so far, and she's learning a lot from being a part of an all-women team.

"We can help women feel more comfortable, and they can relate to us a little more," she said.

There are times when she'll be working with a customer, and they'll eventually notice there are no salesmen at the dealership, just a mechanic.

"I hear a lot of 'Wow, that's kind of cool,'" Nichols said.

The number cruncher of the team, Clauson, of Victoria, is in charge of finding which car customers need to drive off the lot with.

She said customers appreciate their service and professionalism.

"We're pretty unique," Clauson said. "I'd like to see more all-women dealerships. That would be awesome."

Texas has an estimated 756,700 women-owned firms that employ about 620,300 women, according to the fourth annual American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report released in March. The report analyzed data from the 1997, 2002 and 2007 U.S. Census Bureau's quinquennial business census, the Survey of Business Owners.

Though Peinkofer doesn't own the business, she said she's proud to have an all-women team in Victoria. When she was training for the sales manager position, she worked with a sister company in Longview, where the dealership also was run and operated by women.

"Girls should be able to work in any field they desire," she said.

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