Modern Dealership’s Interview with Kristina Acord, Business Development & Marketing Manager of Berge Auto Group, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Starting as a part-time receptionist in high school, Kristina Acord had no intention of staying in the car dealership business. Find out why she later left a career with Budweiser for a dealership opportunity, and what drives her to succeed.
1. Berge Auto Group has a couple of Lexus stores, a couple of Toyota stores, as well as Ford, Lincoln, Mazda, Volkswagen. With all of those choices, what do you drive?
I drive a Lexus – I’ve owned a couple of them now after having worked here for five years. But I own a Ford as well. Different parts of my life require different vehicles.
2. How long have you been in the industry?
About 15 years now. I actually started out as a part-time receptionist. But my first job was at a tanning salon making minimum wage, which was nothing. My dad was working at a dealership – he’s been in the business as a parts manager ever since I was a kid. A part-time receptionist position became available at his dealership, where I could make $3 or $4 more an hour, and work part-time, and not be at a tanning salon [laughs], so that’s how I got my start.
3. You told me once that you met your husband at the dealership?
Yeah. I actually left the dealership to go to college, but then I came back after I graduated. My now-husband was a service advisor there at the time.
4. What does your current job as Business Development and Marketing Manager entail?
It’s one of those things that’s always evolving. When I was hired on, it was as a Business Development Manager, running a BDC. And because of my digital background prior to coming to work for this specific group, I noticed areas of deficiency in our digital strategy, on our website, things like that – so without stepping on anybody else’s toes I started branching out a little and doing more here and there. They took notice and started branching me out into the other stores and doing other things. I still run all the BDCs for our group as well as all the digital marketing for our group.
5. It sounds like you’re someone who makes things happen.
In general I’d say I’m assertive. However, when I first got into automotive, I had no intention of staying in the business. I went to school for marketing and then got a job with Budweiser. I thought, “Hey, what better brand, what better place can I work than this?” And then the owner of the dealership where I had worked part-time as a receptionist in high school reached out to me because he was starting a new thing called a BDC. I was the youngest person he knew, and he figured I’d be more digitally savvy, so he asked me to come on board. After a little soul searching I went back to work for him and started the BDC. I really became his right hand and had the opportunity to learn everything digital. Since then I’ve pushed for different positions to grow myself, to grow my career, but it kind of found me.
6. I’d like to ask you about something outside automotive, but still business related. What’s Air Affaire Blow Dry Bar?
So yeah, I’m a pretty ambitious person – I’m never happy just doing one thing. I really love my automotive career and everything it entails; I’m just one of those people who always wants more! At a friend’s wedding a few years ago, I had the opportunity to go to a blow-dry bar. It’s kind of like a nail salon, but for your hair. They wash your hair, dry it, style it. It was a big chain and I thought it was a cool concept and would be a money-maker … it was super busy, it was in-and-out, it was just a really good experience. So I did some research and realized, you know what? I don’t need to buy into somebody else’s franchise. I build brands for a living! I took on a business partner whom I’ve known for a long time and is in the hair industry. She knows all the hair stuff, and I will be running the marketing and building the brand. Ironically, we’ll be getting the keys for our first location today. We’ll be opening in the next 30 days.
7. That’s great! Congratulations. One last question, just for fun: It sounds like you work really hard. If you could have a week off and vacation anywhere, all expenses paid – in fact you don’t even have to fly there – just snap your fingers and you’re there! Where would you go?
For me, it’s the beach. I’m not a big snow or cold weather fan. Somewhere really cool, with warm water and white sand. Exotic, maybe a Fiji or a Tahiti. Drink in your hand, toes in the sand. Somewhere just to totally unplug for the week.