Carol Kitts, 33
Corporate service training manager, Schomp Automotive
Carol Kitts is falling to Earth at around 120 mph.
She looks down at the green grass alongside the snow-covered mountains, and she thinks about how small the world really is. “The perspective of how you look at things when you can see everything makes you so grateful for what you are surrounded by. It’s an amazing feeling,” she says.
Then the parachute opens, slowing her descent, and she lands.
The way Kitts views the world after jumping from an airplane is not unlike the vision she uses on the job in some respects. Kitts looks at the whole picture and keeps things in perspective. It’s one secret to an improbable success story.
Your working life is going to be full of challenges when you’re a woman from another country, when English isn’t your native language, and when you work in a supervisory role in a dealership’s service department. But Kitts has overcome all of that and now holds a critical position at her company, Schomp Automotive, a dealership group headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colo., which she joined in 2018.
To get there, she had to win the trust of the technicians, no easy thing for a female service adviser with an accent. Growing up in Bogota, Colombia, Kitts became attracted to automobiles while helping an older brother work on his cars.
Then, after moving to Colorado, she learned English in just two years, became a naturalized U.S. citizen and got a job at an auto parts store. From there, she moved to a Kia dealership to work in sales. But Kitts saw an opportunity to improve the way female customers were treated on the service drive, and she moved to fixed operations as a service adviser.
To earn the trust of the technicians, Kitts took ASE courses, becoming the first female Toyota certified master assistant service manager in Colorado. Then she moved to a Nissan store and began rebuilding that store’s customer satisfaction index, retention and profits. There have been some potholes along the way, but Kitts navigates through them by stepping back a bit and looking at problems without making them personal.
To get her team on the same page, Kitts takes what you might call a very down-to-earth approach: “I don’t make any decisions on my service drive or training team without getting their perspective on what will get us to the next level,” she says. “I get everybody to input their ideas and we’ll come up with the process of how we are going to do things. They are the ones who will ultimately do it in the service drive.”
— Richard Truett