After talking with Allie Owens for just a few minutes, it’s clear to see why she hasn’t needed to apply for several of her jobs – instead she was recruited.
Currently Finance Manager at McGrath Automotive Group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (and an inspirational force to her coworkers, customers, and social media followers), Owens is a unique blend of hard work, dedication, and upbeat energy. Her caring nature and positive attitude are infectious. Some of her coworkers call her “Mother Hen,” a name she modestly takes pride in.
“It can be tough work selling cars, and all that’s involved in it. My favorite part of my job is knowing that I can help give people a boost – a little positive inspiration to get them through the day,” Owens says. “I’m a self-proclaimed positivity pusher.”
It’s an attitude that the 30-year-old mother of two has consciously chosen to adopt, time and again; one that has helped her grow from challenges of her past.
A Feel for What Customers Want
“A woman’s touch” might sound cliché, but it can be just what a lot of car dealerships need to succeed with today’s customer. Owens extends the same compassion she shares with coworkers to her customers.
“As women, we have this nurturing vibe that customers pick up on,” Owens says. “We really do care and want to serve their needs. This is certainly a strength. Especially when a lot of customers have had bad experiences in the past.”
Owens attributes part of her nurturing vibe to the fact the she is a mother. But she also says that reading people’s feelings, making them feel comfortable, and, in the case of her job, helping meet their car needs comes naturally to her.
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a big learning curve when she first entered the automotive industry.
“You have to know people and understand their needs, but you also have to know the product, and how to match them up,” she says.
Backed by a strong drive to succeed, a positive attitude, and a real desire to help people, it didn’t take long for Owens to do well in the business.
Choosing to Grow
When customers first meet Owens in the finance office, she says some can be put off by her tattoos and lighthearted energy. (“I think some of them wonder if I really know what I’m doing when I want to make the experience enjoyable and fun.”) But once they see that she’s hardworking, more than capable, and ready to help, they come around pretty quickly.
Owens was offered her first automotive job – selling motorcycles – by a Harley-Davidson dealership GM who was a regular where she tended bar in Houston. He recognized that her impressive emotional intelligence and ability to relate to a wide range of people would serve her well in sales.
She had to prove herself, selling Harley-branded clothing first, before quickly moving on to bikes. Shortly after, a regular shopper of that store (and dealership owner) offered her a job in car sales. Having found success with Harley sales, she jumped at the new opportunity. It didn’t take her long to succeed at the dealership either.
When she became pregnant with her second child, and still a single mom, she knew she needed a change and decided to move back home to West Burlington, Iowa, just west of the Mississippi River. Her car-selling experience in Houston was enough to land her a good job at a dealership.
From there came her most recent promotion, to Finance Manager. Not one to shy from a challenge, Owens says she did have to give the offer some thought.
“It felt like a real job,” she says with a laugh. “But I always want to grow. The selling side [of the job] comes very easy to me, but finance, admin, paperwork, follow-up … I’ve had to work really hard at all of that.”
A wise man once said, “There is praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, fame and disrepute. Did you think this would not happen to you?”
It is something that Owens seems to understand. She says she was lucky to have a “superhero” single mother when she was young. Then, when Owens was 9 years old, her powerful mom was diagnosed with a very rare disease that left her dependent on medications and unable to fully care for herself.
“I seemed to understand that when my mom’s personality and life changed, that it wasn’t her – it was the medication and the illness,” Owens says, recounting a wise observation for a young child. “That helped me get through it.”
But there were repercussions to being treated so differently (even if unintentionally) by the one she loved the most. Owens says it took years for her to come to terms with that part of her childhood and teen years.
“You can sit in a corner and cry, or you can get up and do something. I always wanted to be a winner and make my mom proud. But I had to learn that winning and being positive go hand in hand.”
Today, Owens says her mom is doing much better and remains one of her strongest cheerleaders and positive influences. She also admires Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres for their ability to overcome adversity and share positivity.
“Oprah is just a beast, she’s so awesome. I’ve looked up to her for a long time,” Owens says. “And Ellen is so quirky and caring and fun. She has a way of sharing her opinion without making anyone else feel bad. She’s gold for me.”