Meet Aja Goldey
Bespoke Auto Marketing Strategist, DealerApps
My journey into the automotive industry began with a part-time job at a dealership during college. At the time, I studied marketing and had an art and math minor. I even apprenticed in a tattoo shop, which is something very few people know about me. By the time I graduated, I already had a solid career in the automotive industry, so it didn't make sense to start over in marketing.
"I worked with some owners who gave me a crash course in running a dealership, covering everything from accounting to inventory management."
Fortunately, I was part of a phenomenal group. I moved up the ranks, working in various roles such as selling cars, handling accounting, and eventually working in finance with a focus on subprime.
Helping people secure a car profoundly impacted their lives, and that was far more rewarding than just moving another unit. I recall instances where customers would break down in tears after getting approved for a loan and others whose lives changed because they could now access better job opportunities. This experience became the foundation for starting my own marketing company.
Growing up, my parents, who are both brilliant in their respective fields, instilled in me the importance of analytical thinking. While I naturally leaned towards creativity, having attended art school from age 14, the skills I learned from my parents proved invaluable in my career.
"I established a way of doing business with subprime customers that took the pressure off the sales team and made the customers feel at ease."
I developed a unique approach to working with subprime customers that benefited them and the sales team at the dealership. By first focusing on understanding the customer's lifestyles and needs, I matched them with suitable vehicles within their budget constraints. This method reduced the time spent by salespeople on these customers, allowing them to focus on other clients.
By working on previously unapproved deals, this approach allowed my team and I to sell 50 cars in one month. I then expanded this strategy into bankruptcy direct mail, showing dealerships how to work these deals and get the most out of their investment in advertising. This approach became my bread and butter for the first year of my marketing company.
Most of my clients came from referrals, accounting for about 80% of my business. However, getting to that point involved knocking on many doors and overcoming personal challenges. As a single mom of two young boys, I took significant risks to grow my business, such as investing my last $10 in gas to meet with a dealership to sign a contract. Despite the fear and uncertainty, I built a successful business that continued to grow.
"The only way to own it is to change that relationship with the customers."
My approach to direct mail was to create content that made customers feel respected, helped, and transparent in the process. It was crucial to address their fears and be sensitive to their experiences, especially for those who had gone through bankruptcy. It's about setting up expectations for collaboration and working together to achieve the desired outcome.
In most dealerships, the car buying process can feel like going into battle. Customers often feel they need to put on their armor and prepare for a fight to get the best price or the vehicle they want. By shifting the mindset and making customers feel that they are working together with someone who has their best interests in mind, the car buying process becomes a more positive experience. As a result, customers are more likely to be satisfied and appreciative of the dealership and the sales team. This collaborative approach can redefine the customer experience and set the stage for long-lasting relationships.
The satisfaction I got from helping people and providing them with exactly what they needed brought me immense happiness.
While starting my business, I faced many challenges juggling my responsibilities, especially as a single mother. My kids were my driving force, and I had to make everything work for their sake. Their resilience and adaptability helped me through the most challenging times. They never complained about the sacrifices they had to make, and they learned valuable lessons from my struggles.
My experience as a business owner not only prepared me for the future but also prepared my kids for their futures. I didn't hide the hardships from them – I let them understand the reality of running a business and how it can be a roller coaster. The benefits of overcoming those challenges outweighed the difficult moments, and together we were able to build a better life for ourselves.
I currently partner with DealerApps, which focuses on technology and response-capturing solutions for direct mail. This partnership excites me. It allows me to help clients navigate new areas and achieve more with their existing strategies. The analytical side of this work appeals to me, and I enjoy the opportunity to contribute creatively.
COVID-19 pushed me to diversify my interests and step outside my comfort zone. Engaging with clients from various fields like defense and avionics has been refreshing, and I've gained insights that I can apply to my work in the automotive industry.
I have learned to be more adaptable and open to new opportunities rather than sticking to a rigid plan. This approach has helped me grow both personally and professionally. I enjoy offering advice and recommendations to dealerships without the pressure of making a sale. Recognizing the human factor differentiating performance and outcomes is essential, as everyone's experiences and results will vary based on their unique perspectives and skills.
To build strong relationships and foster a compassionate work environment, we need to recognize and appreciate the human factor, looking beyond circumstances to see the potential in everyone we encounter.
Embracing this mindset can help us better understand our customers and ultimately create more successful outcomes for our business. I remain committed to the automotive industry, our customers, the creativity and the technology, and ultimately, the people.