“I was very nervous when my father decided to bring me into our BMW shop,” recalls Kelly Suntrup Stumpe, also known as The Car Mom. “I was 22 years old; I’d never sold a car before, and now I’m selling $ 80,000 worth of 5-series cars to people two or three times my age. “
An uphill battle
Stump, a native of St. Louis and founder of The car motherstands at a critical interface between the automotive business and women. Today there is a significant cultural movement that recognizes women in the automotive industry (and many other industries) for their contributions. Likewise, it is now more recognized that women are the top demographics of car buying. On the industrial side, Stumpe is an inspiration for women aiming for a career in the automotive field. On the consumer side, their skills and personality reduce the reluctance people, especially women, have about stepping foot in a dealership.
From an industry perspective, the path for women in the automotive industry is still undeniably (and often wrongly) difficult. After research by Automotive News and Deloitte make women what it is only 27 percent the US automaker. A survey conducted by both organizations in October 2018 received a call Women at the wheelJust one percent said the auto industry is the best industry for women. Only 14 percent said they would encourage their female family members and friends to pursue an automotive career. In addition, 74 percent of the female respondents said that there are different performance standards for them than for men.
“Being a woman, being young and being the owner’s daughter meant having all of these extra expectations of me when I started selling cars,” said Stumpe. “I felt like I was being tested a lot, especially early on.”
The additional expectations and the increased pressure came when Stumpe is now the third generation of the Suntrup Automotive Group family, based in St. Louis, Missouri. “My grandpa and his brother started it in 1957, and then my dad and his brother really grew it into a multi-franchise,” she said. “And when I first got into the auto business in 2016, everyone thought I knew so much about it because I grew up in it. But in reality, I didn’t know much about car purchases because I had never seen the process before. ”
Walking The Walk
After graduating in equestrian sports from William Woods University, she returned to the family business and, in particular, to the BMW franchise. Although it didn’t seem like it to outsiders, the dealership was a completely different world for Stumpe. Her learning curve consisted of two uniquely different but equally important (and challenging) areas. One of them was learning about the daily processes and inner workings of the dealership, from sales and service to parts and accessories. The second was getting used to the BMW product line, a difficult task for any automotive professional, let alone someone new to the business.
Luxury brands like BMW differ in that they have an extensive range, many intricate technical features, and some of the most advanced designs when it comes to vehicle platforms and powertrains. BMW terminology can be overwhelming, especially the first time around. Expressions and descriptors such as “TwinPower turbocharger technology”, “VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control” and “Double VANOS variable camshaft control” are common BMW terminology. Add to the BMW M range, which has numerous options and packages, and add another challenge. In short, BMW is not an easy product range to learn.
“People would come very well researched, some even calculated by hand with their rental contracts. I quickly learned that BMW buyers are experienced buyers, ”recalls Stumpe. “So I tried to learn everything about BMWs and then everything about the car buying process. I took every opportunity, learned everything I could, and I love selling cars today. “
Auto Deals & Chicken Nuggets
When Stumpe found her booth, she began to note the shortcomings in the sales process. One of the most important is how frustrating buying a car can be, especially for women. While Stump was indeed a welcome face to car buyers in St. Louis, she began to think about ways to bring what she was seeing to a wider audience. Stumpe wanted to build the bridge between retailers and consumers while at the same time preserving their identity as a real person with children and a family.
“The more I talked about cars, the more I shared my family life,” said Stumpe. “I am very realistic; My house is messy, my kids sometimes eat chicken nuggets for dinner, but I do my best. And people agreed with it, especially the women. I have had many women who have been associated with being a working mom and being a woman working in a male-dominated industry. I set out with the intention of sharing more about my entrepreneurial journey, but this entrepreneurial journey also affects my family. “
The car mother
The culmination of all of this inspired Stump to launch The Car Mom platform in early 2020, just as the nationwide implementation of COVID-19 lockdowns began. At the time, Stump was pregnant with their daughter, Hattie, while their son, George, was only nine months old.
“I wasn’t even comfortable taking my nine month old baby to the grocery store. How are women supposed to get their toddler to car dealerships? “, Stump continued. “These poor women or these poor families are being forced to take their children to a dealer in a pandemic, license a salesman, meet the manager, be pressured to really figure out their strollers and car seats don’t really fit in this SUV, as they thought. “
This is where Stumpe hit the bottom with The Car Mom platform, which has almost signed up 100,000 followers on Instagram at the moment. “I thought what if I could just get mothers one first look at a new vehicle and what if I could save them four or five hours at the dealership,” she said. “I would like to do that.”
As The Car Mom, Stumpe puts her focus and energy into real reviews and tips on buying a car. your Youtube channel features reviews of popular vehicles like a 2021 Audi Q7, a 2021 Cadillac Escalade, and a sleek new Kia Stinger. These videos complement others on how to choose the best used and best family vehicles. At the same time, we see dull humor and grace in videos like A day in the life of the car motherwhere she reveals her love for coffee, chocolate and Diet Coke (Fountain Diet Coke).
“When I give these first insights into different vehicles, I always want to entertain women and families and only speak their language,” said Stumpe. “I’m very passionate about the family aspect and in many ways I strive to be the average person’s car reviewer.”
Auto Shopping Workbook
In addition to her Instagram page and YouTube channel, Stumpe offers other helpful resources like her Auto Shopping Workbookwhich is available as a PDF download. The book has helpful family prompts to fill out before, during, and after a test drive. The Auto Shopping Workbook Includes budgeting tips and even a general tool traders use when negotiating. “This will help you avoid sticker shock,” Stump said. “It will give you an idea of what the numbers will be ahead of time.”
Lasting effect of the auto-mother
As an automotive platform, The Car Mom is relatively new, but Stump’s rapid growth in fans and followers is evidence that her distinctive style and signature are badly needed. As we discussed at the beginning, the automotive industry has historically been a male-driven business that has not been easily accessible to women. That is changing today, however, as women are now in more leadership positions and manufacturers have a better understanding of how influential women are in the car buying process.
As The Car Mom, Stumpe is uniquely (if not notably) positioned to serve both sides of this critical equation. Those of us in the industry can listen as she speaks to the female car buyers who seek advice from her. Stump is good for both industry and the everyday consumer. More like they are needed. And that’s why I admire your work.
“Mothers resonate with me, they see what I’m doing and I hope I can bring that to the rest of the automotive world,” said Stumpe. “That is a goal that I have now. I want to keep drawing the attention of the automotive world. “
Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, past President of the Detroit Working Writers, and a dedicated Detroit Lions fan.