With these awards, we specifically recognize top leaders on the retail side of the auto industry, including honorees from dealerships, dealer groups and third-party providers/vendors
Over the next few weeks, AR will be posting Q&As with each of the honorees on this website.
Next up is Michelle Petrenko, general manager, Penske Automotive Group/Mercedes-Benz of North Scottsdale.
Auto Remarketing: What do you enjoy most about working in retail automotive, and what would you change?
Michelle Petrenko: Working in retail automotive allows to me to connect and build relationships with so many amazing people. I have been blessed to have so many great team members, peers, clients, and mentors in my life. Retail automotive encompasses everyone — not just a select group — and I learn every day from all the great connections I make.
I really enjoy impacting my team members lives by helping them achieve their career dreams in a dealership I manage, and it’s very fulfilling when they enjoy achieving their personal goals while achieving the financial metrics of the store as well. In today’s world I think it’s really important to provide a fun, high-energy and positive environment for both the team and the client.
Life is tough enough for everyone without making buying and servicing a car stressful. One of the things that I would change is the impression that some women have that they still need to bring a man into a dealership to get help in sales or service. I still hear it all the time and I think it’s really important that women feel empowered to come in and buy, sell or service their car without any hesitation on their part. It’s a personal mission of mine that ALL people who walk into any dealership I manage feel like they are welcomed, respected and appreciated.
AR: What is the top trend you’re watching in retail automotive this year?
Petrenko: Used-car acquisition! With the volatile inventory levels we are all experiencing, I spend hours weekly looking at auction trends, market trends, lending trends and vehicle sourcing. I am constantly reading articles, listening to podcasts, and studying to make sure that I am fully aware of anything that might impact my dealership, my team and my client. I am always trying the best source to acquire a good pre-owned automobile for the right price so that I may provide my customers with the best pre-owned inventory in the market.
I have also spent a lot of time learning about the most current trends for on-line marketing to expand my client base and to ensure their ease of being able to purchase without having to spend hours in the dealership.
AR: What piece of career advice would you give your younger self?
Petrenko: The career advice I would give my younger self is the same I would give anyone in any career path: and that is to be vulnerable and be your genuine self. By being vulnerable, I mean being open to admitting the things you don’t know or you might be weak in instead of constantly trying to prove yourself and your worth. When I first got out of college, there weren’t a lot of women in the car business. I always felt like I had to work so hard and make sure I didn’t admit to any weaknesses or everyone would think I wasn’t worthy of that next promotion and I often adapted my personality to suit what I thought the expectation was of how I should behave, dress, and manage people. It wasn’t what people were doing to me that caused this; it was my own insecurities.
Once I learned that the absolute best way to navigate my career was to be my goofy, happy genuine self and just work super hard and ask a lot of questions about anything and everything that I didn’t know, everything became so much easier and my career really benefited. I have been a general manager for 10 years and to this day, I am constantly asking my sales and service teams, my techs, and my parts teams questions all the time and learning from them.
AR: What has been the top key to your success in retail automotive?
Petrenko: The top key to my success in retail automotive has been the ability to build great teams. As I said earlier, being vulnerable and being genuine has been a personal key I have learned but the ability to build these powerful teams by finding team members from diverse backgrounds who bring their own skill sets and mindsets with them has been huge for my success.
When you build a team and you come together for the purpose of making each individuals life better by making the entire team better, by providing a world class experience for your clients and by achieving the financial metrics that the store needs; that’s powerful. It’s all about using your energy and your intention for good; it’s absolutely the truth and it works. It is a powerful, unstoppable force when you get a diverse team together with one common focus and with that good intention and energy. I have been very blessed in my life to be the “head coach” of some of these amazing types of teams and THAT has been the key to my success in this industry.