Women in Retail: Kerri Watkins of Watkins Auto Sales

Automatic remarketing recognizes the 2022 Women in Retail winners in the current issue of the magazine and to Used Car Week this fall in San Diego.

With these awards, we specifically recognize top leaders on the retail side of the automotive industry, including winners from dealerships, dealership groups, and third-party suppliers/vendors.

Over the next few weeks, AR will post Q&As with each of the winners on this website.

The first is Kerri Watkins, CFO of Watkins Auto Sales.

Auto Remarketing: What do you enjoy most about working in automotive retail and what would you change?

Kerry Watkins: As everyone knows, the automotive industry changes daily, with the wind as many would say. What I appreciate the most is that every day I work with the best business partner: my husband. We face every challenge together and celebrate every success together. Our daughter (Chloe, 12) has been raised in the business since birth and watching her learn and take an interest in the business has been very rewarding.

Many nights she fell asleep on the floor at my feet as we worked late at night at the dealership. We know we teach her that hard work pays off, and if you dream about it, be prepared to work for it. We also taught him to always aim for the moon and in the worst case you land among the stars. Our goal has always been to create a family environment for our employees. I often say that we have no employees; we have a family team.

Seeing our employees excel and learn new skills is so rewarding and such an important part of our success, but also of our joy as business owners. Last, but equally important, seeing our customers who are not customers, but part of the #ridewithWATKINS family. I don’t want a customer to feel like a customer, but more like part of our WATKINS family. The thing I would like to change is the negative reputation that is associated with dealerships buying here and paying here.

AR: What’s the biggest trend you’re seeing in automotive retail this year?

Watkins: Stock availability and cost, hands down. As we all know, what goes up must come down. We have seen inflated prices and values ​​since the start of the pandemic. In May, we saw this trend begin to reverse as values ​​took a major hit, and it will continue.

A low inventory turnover rate will help dealers mitigate the loss of this trend that we all knew was coming, but it will affect us all for a few months in the near future.

AR: What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Watkins: One of my favorite quotes is “sometimes you have to fall before you learn to fly”.

I wish I had learned that sooner. It’s ok to fall, it’s ok to fail as long as you learn to fly. Sometimes it is not a question of “learning” but of WILL. As the mother of a strong-willed daughter and the wife of a dedicated business partner, what I hope we teach and what I wish I had learned is that the sky is NOT the limit. Learn to soar above the sky of our dreams. But dreams don’t come easily. I want to pass on to our daughter what I wish I had known: you can fall, you can fail, but success comes from learning to soar!

The other piece of advice I respect is that I’m never too old to stop learning. I am so grateful and blessed to be part of such a wonderful peer community that I learn from every day. When you think you know everything, it’s when you learn that you really don’t!

AR: What has been the biggest key to your success in automotive retail?

Watkins: This is a very difficult question for me to answer.

There have been so many keys to our success. I was raised to never think ‘if’ but ‘when’ so I always believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to. It hasn’t changed at all, and sometimes it makes me take more than I should. Family, friends, a wonderful team of employees, lenders, industry connections: they are all part of our success, and without each, we would be nothing. So there is no “top” key. We have a wonderful group of partners who are an integral part of our business every day.

About Timothy Cheatham

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