Raquel Case, 29
General manager, Rick Case Fiat
Raquel Case grew up hearing her parents, Rick and Rita Case, give "dealer daily recaps" at the dinner table.
Her parents own Rick Case Automotive Group, ranked No. 21 on the Automotive News list of top 125 dealership groups in the United States with retail sales of 21,154 new vehicles last year.
"I learned at a very young age that it is OK to be first and, to be quite frank, anything other than No. 1 is not an option," Case says.
Case runs Rick Case Fiat, which last year was the top-selling Fiat store in its region and No. 4 in the nation, Chrysler Group says. The store sells about 65 new and 20 used vehicles a month. But Case expects to sell more than 176 new Fiats a month before year end, with the arrival of the four-door Fiat 500L.
Besides selling Fiats, Case sells herself as a leader. At 27, Case approached Fiat executives and helped her father negotiate and secure a franchise agreement.
Case graduated in 2006 with a degree in automotive marketing and management from Northwood University's Florida campus. She finds inspiration in working with young people on her staff because it challenges her creativity as a manager.
"The Gen Y group is very different. A lot of them are not driven by money," Case says. "You have to figure out what drives them and it's having fun in the workplace."
So Case devises competitions and incentives. She recently had two managers each draft a team of five salespeople. The two teams competed to see who sold the most cars and earned the highest gross profits. The winning team earned dinner at a restaurant of the team's choice paid for by Case.
Case also finds creative ways to make car-buying fun for customers.
"We get a salesperson inside the trunk to show how big the trunk is to a customer," Case says. "We're thinking of creative ways to show how big the car is. If the customer is having fun and the salespeople are having fun, the experience is positive."
While Case pushes competition, she keeps it friendly. The result is a close-knit team in which the top salesperson often will split a deal with a struggling salesperson, she says.
"We all work to keep each other lifted," Case says.
Case plans to be president of Rick Case Automotive Group one day, and ultimately the CEO. In those roles, she will work more with the factory, which she enjoys.
And she will encourage a fun working environment in all the dealerships, while keeping an eye on the goal that was so often discussed at the dinner table when she was a kid: being No. 1.
-- Jamie LaReau