Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie Cooper
AGE: 38
POSITION: Finance manager, Timbrook Chevrolet, Keyser, W.Va.
ACHIEVEMENT: Maintaining finance and insurance revenue of more than $1,200 per vehicle while sales volume tripled

At age 16, Stephanie Cooper could change her oil, brakes and tires. Her grandfather taught her about cars from a young age so that she'd never have to depend on a man for car care, she says.

Today, Cooper often uses car care to bond with male customers when she pitches finance and insurance products.

"A lot of male customers don't want to listen to a woman talk about cars. But when you start talking about the flywheel and the catalytic converter, they realize, 'Oh, she does know what she's talking about,'" Cooper says.

Cooper started with Timbrook Automotive Group in 2002 as an administrative assistant at the Timbrook Collision Center in Cumberland, Md. She wanted to sell cars, but there were no sales positions open, so she left the auto industry for six years.

In 2009, she heard that dealer Fred Timbrook had acquired more franchises and called him. He hired her as a finance manager at a Buick-Cadillac-GMC-Pontiac store in Cumberland and a Kia store across the street.

"When I started, I didn't really have a belief in or grasp of the products, so my average per vehicle revenue was $400 to $500," Cooper says. The following year, with a better process and "because of my change in belief" in the products, that average jumped to about $900, she says. Cooper got better at handling customer objections. By 2012, her average PVR was more than $1,200.

Her success led the dealership group to ask her to improve the F&I revenues at the newly remodeled Chevrolet store in Keyser, W.Va., where the average PVR was $700 to $800. Cooper transferred to that store last October.

"When I left Kia, some of my numbers were $1,400 or $1,800, but I was only doing 20 to 25 cars a month," Cooper says. "The general manager here challenged me and said, 'Don't expect to maintain those numbers here when you're doing so many more cars.' I looked at him and thought, 'He's already doubting me.'"

Her GM said he would be pleased if she posted a consistent $1,000 per vehicle in revenue. But Cooper stuck to her proven process, which includes building a rapport with the customer in the showroom before that customer enters the F&I office.

"It was kind of a little dig" in April "when I looked at him and said, 'I'm still at $1,200,'" she says. "It's an ongoing joke between him and I now because I'm still maintaining the $1,200, but my volume has tripled."

She credits it ultimately to "my competitive nature and, of course, the commission."

-- Jamie LaReau