POSITION: Internet manager, Jenkins & Wynne (Ford-Lincoln-Honda), Clarksville, Tenn.
ACHIEVEMENT: Created the dealership's Internet department, which has helped boost sales about 18% each month since its start in 2004
Casey Jenkins will be a third-generation car dealer one day. But she rejects the notion of entitlement. So until she's boss, Jenkins is "earning the right to be heard," she says, one accomplishment at a time.
Jenkins started working in her father's store -- Jenkins & Wynne (Ford-Lincoln-Honda) -- at age 12. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Murray State University in 2003, but teaching was not her calling. Her father invited her to work at the dealership for a year before re-evaluating her plans. Jenkins signed on as a finance manager and got hooked.
"I realized I had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing mentors who were people I've known all my life," Jenkins says. "One is my dad and the other is our general manager, Murray Keeter. He's worked here 52 years."
In 2004, Jenkins created the dealership's Internet department. "I was handed a blank sheet of paper and told, 'This is our need. Create something. And by the way, you're expected to thrive.'" Jenkins says. "That was challenging" -- for Jenkins and the company.
"Here I was a 20-something coming in and saying, 'Hey, this is how people want to start communicating, through the computer and through this thing called the Internet.' It was a cultural shift for Jenkins & Wynne, but people grew with it."
Initially, she was the department. Today she is the manager and the department has five people.
"I have grown immensely into the technology world," Jenkins says. "I wouldn't say it was my original desire to do it. But I love the idea of creating a department and building something from scratch."
The department has helped boost new- and used-car sales 18 percent on average each month since its inception, she says. Among dealerships in the region, Jenkins & Wynne's Web presence prompts the second-highest number of prospects asking to be contacted by the store, Ford says.
In January 2011, Jenkins created womenatthe wheel.net, an informational Web site that aims to spark conversations about cars among female car owners and shoppers. Participants may make appointments for the dealership to pick up their vehicles for service work and ask general automotive questions.
The dealership also uses the site to reach out to military personnel. "When they deploy and have so many other stresses to deal with, we want them to know that their family will be well taken care of in regards to automotive needs, especially when the men deploy," leaving the wives in charge of car-care issues, Jenkins says.
Over the past two years, Jenkins also formed and led several teams that aim to improve employee growth and business development at the dealership.
The store's leadership team includes one nonmanagement employee from the 17 dealership departments. Jenkins and the team meet monthly to discuss topics such as building relationships, leadership practices and improving store traffic. For her, it's a way to hear ideas from nonmanagement employees.
She also leads monthly meetings with a team of 36 managers to set and measure department goals, plus a weekly service scoreboard meeting with seven fixed-operations managers to set and track service and parts improvement goals.
"Those three teams have had a huge impact at Jenkins & Wynne," Jenkins says, "because we're nothing without our people."
-- Jamie LaReau