Dealerships do not succeed because of a single person, even a great leader. They require the hard work and mutual respect of an entire team. Melissa Bradley, the co-owner and general manager of Snell Motors, has learned through experience the importance of the entire dealerships operating under a shared mission with shared values.
This Women’s History Month NADA is highlighting a few auto retail leaders and spoke with Bradley about her career and advice for others in the industry:
How did you get started in the automotive retail industry?
I worked at a local bank all through high school and college. I was the dealer’s banker when his CFO decided to relocate, and I was offered the position. I worked a number of years helping other businesses succeed, and I felt it was a good opportunity and time for me to try a new challenge.
What is your definition of success and to what or who do you contribute to that success?
I define success as achieving one’s goals. At Snell Motors we have many goals, but to simplify it, I go back to our vision: to provide an honest, caring and quality experience. If we do that in every interaction with guests and employees, we are successful. It takes the entire team to achieve this. The success we have had over the years is credited to that team.
Have you experienced any barriers as a woman working in the auto retail industry?
For many years vendors would come to the dealership and want to pitch us something and when they saw me walking out, they’d assume I was not the decision maker. Those people didn’t get the opportunity to work with us.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the industry?
Getting into the auto industry requires hard work, determination and a willingness to learn and adapt. I found it very helpful to work in as many positions as I could so I could learn how each department works together and relies on each other. Looking back this not only helped me get buy in from employees but also helped break down walls between departments and ultimately gave the customers a better experience.
What are your thoughts on how to increase the number of female owners in the automotive retail space?
I didn’t grow up saying, “I want to own a car dealership,” but I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and strong sense of leadership. Business ownership in general is tough, but the automotive industry is even more difficult given the capital required and the complexity of the business.
Creating a culture of diversity and inclusivity encourages women to consider a career in this industry. By providing training and support we can help females build their confidence and equip them with the skills they need to succeed.
What advice would you give to your 10-year-old self?
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Put in the time to learn as much as possible, but more importantly put in the time to learn as much about the team that surrounds you.
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