Below is a Q&A with Linda Paton, office manager at Greater Rockford Auto Auction and a 2017 Women in Remarketing honoree.
AuSM: What was your path to the automotive industry, and what do you enjoy most about working in the car business?
Linda Paton: My path to the automotive industry began in 1963, while in high school. I accepted a job as title clerk working for my uncle's car dealership. In 1987, after being promoted to office manager of the Greater Rockford Auto Auction — a sister business of the car lot — I fell in love with the excitement of the Wednesday auction. That thrill, anchored by the great relationships that I've formed with the dealers and the rest of the team, remains 30 years later.
AR: How is the remarketing/used-car segment of the business most different from when you first started out?
LP: The remarketing industry has changed so much in the past three decades. Long gone are the days of handwritten lane sheets, block tickets and typewriters. I remember our first computer system that we implemented in 1993 — that was a very overwhelming day for all of us. We are now operating in a paperless environment, and our dealers love the ease and efficiency.
AR: How would you describe your leadership style and approach to problem-solving?
Linda Paton, Greater Rockford Auto Auction
LP: The key to leadership for me is to listen to my team. I've found that allowing them to share openly and honestly has created a productive environment in which we all succeed.
AR: What have been some of the top keys to your success in the car business?
LP: The auction business is controlled chaos and can be very overwhelming. The key to my success is simple: smile, never let them see you sweat and provide the best customer service in the business. My team and I share the same customer service convictions, and we are proud to see our dealer base come back each week.
AR: Who are some folks, whether in the auto industry or not, that you admire professionally, and why?
LP: I most admire my late Uncle "Swede" who was one of the most forward-thinking operators in the business, and his charisma was contagious. Every Sunday, during the afternoon movie, he would buy all of the commercial time and broadcast infomercials of his used-car offering.
Later, when his focus turned to the auction business, he treated every dealer as if they were his closest friend and invited them to breakfast, lunch or just for a chat in his office. The key to my success is simple: smile, never let them see you sweat and provide the best customer service in the business.
He made everyone feel special and made certain that they didn't feel like "just a number."
AR: When you are able to get away from the office or work, what do you enjoy? What are your hobbies, interests, etc.?
LP: I'm lucky enough to have my 95-year-old mother in my life, and I thoroughly enjoy our Saturday morning coffee dates. I'm also an avid reader and love to escape into a mystery novel. Mostly, I enjoy spending time with my family, whether in Florida or on Lake Michigan during the summer months.
Read about all of this year's Women in Remarketing honorees in the April 1 issue of AuSM.