Then as a banker, she helped car dealer’s finance their customers – until she met Rock Honda’s General Manager David Latif. Hear how David recognized Veronica’s talent and recruited her to work at Rock Honda in this iDriveSoCal Podcast.
Recording date – November 18, 2017
Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility in the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California. I’m your host, Tom Smith, and today I’m joined by Veronica Orozco. Veronica manages Rock Honda’s first class department and handles a special set of customers that she’s going to explain to us in just a minute. But Veronica, thank you so much for joining me today, and thank you and Rock Honda for being a partner of iDriveSoCal.
Veronica Orozco: Thank you for inviting me, it’s my pleasure.
Tom: Everybody gets into the automotive business a little bit differently and I know your story is a little unique, so how did you get into the automotive business?
Veronica: I used to work at a bank, so I used to be approving the loans, which was opposite of what I’m doing now. I was a branch manager and Rock Honda, I used to approve deals for them. Never met the GM, came in here one day and walked in, they were having a meeting and I just said, “Hi, I’m Veronica and GM just from there. First he said, “I’m having a meeting, can you please excuse me.” And I’m like, “Oh great.” I walked out and next thing you know, he was offering me a job. He’s like, “If somebody has the guts to come in here like that.” No, just kidding. No, that’s kind of the way that it was. He just loved the energy, he’s like, “I want you part of my team,” and I’m here.
Tom: And the rest is history. How long ago was that?
Veronica: That was six years ago.
Tom: You were working for the bank, but before that I know you grew up in Mexico, right?
Veronica: I did. I grew up in Mexico, in Michoacan, that’s where I grew up and came to the U.S. when I was a teenager because I wanted better opportunity and obviously to learn English and to just be independent. That’s really what I wanted to be. I grew up in a family of five of us. My dad was super strict, so I kind of wanted to get away from that too, because you know my dad was just you know, “This is how it is.” And it was just tough, tough growing up with my dad. And I think that’s a little bit too why I wanted to get away and I figured being independent I could do what I want, but it’s not really that way.
Tom: Having come from Mexico, factors roll into that managerial responsibility of taking care of that department. Tell me a little bit about that department and what you do, what you specialize in?
Veronica: Coming from Mexico, coming to the U.S., I definitely do identify myself with my customers, and of course the Hispanic community, when I came to Rock Honda, I was in finance just helping customers that would come in and the customers that wouldn’t get financed, I would work on their deals. I would be, “You know what, give me a minute, let me work on your deal. Let me get an approval and I will call you back.” Somehow…
Tom: Let me interrupt you real quick here. So a customer would be here and they would select the car that they wanted, they fell in love with it, they wanted to… and then going through the process, they couldn’t get financed, but then you jumped in and were able to intervene and help?
Veronica: Yes. I would work on their deal, I would try to get their deal done and then bring them back in. And that’s what I started doing.
Tom: So then this department was kind of something that was created based on the unique help that you were giving customers.
Veronica: This department was already here, but it was more geared toward challenged credit, customers that had previous bankruptcies. And when I came over to the department, we kind of mixed in for the Spanish Department. So we kind of joined forces and created one department. And that’s kind of how I started here because I started helping customers, all the sales people when they didn’t have a deal done if I wasn’t here that day, they would save me the paperwork and they’d be like, “Veronica, this customer came in yesterday, can you help them?” And I would kind of get backed up in my work and the GM saw that and he saw that I genuinely loved to help customers and everybody would come in and talk to me, customers didn’t want to leave, they’d be in my office. Actually to me, it was fun, I knew that I was helping them, so I felt good and the GM approached me one day and said, “Hey, you know you really, really like to help these customers.” And he’s the one that presented it to me and I said yes and this is my niche. It took a while to find it, but I found it.
Tom: Your passion shows through for what you do, and as you point out helping people, where does that passion come from?
Veronica: Well, first of all, I am a firm believer if you’re going to do something you might as well give 100 percent. Can’t do something you know not giving 100 percent. When you really enjoy what you’re doing and you really really want to help people. I think you know it just shows. And one thing is I always think positive. I mean every time I have a customer in front of me, I always think, “How am I going to help this customer?” You know, I never ever think this is not a deal. No. To me it’s, “There is a way I just have to find the way.” And I have a lot of energy, I think that helps too. I am the type of person that, you know, my mind is a thousand miles an hour. I mean I’m thinking about my next thought and I’m not even done doing what I’m doing at the present. So I do have to slow down a lot, but I think that helps me because you know I have one solution for something and then I’m already thinking, “Okay, if this doesn’t work, I’m going to have to have a plan of action.” I think it’s all that in combination.
Tom: When you’re not helping customers here at Rock Honda. What is Veronica up to?
Veronica: Well, I love to eat, as a true Latina, I definitely love to eat.
Tom: Spanish food or all types of food?
Veronica: You know, I like to eat all types of food. You know I eat Mexican food at home so I like to eat other foods when I’m out, like that. I mean I have a son, 13 years old, and I can’t wait to spend every day off with him. And I’m very protective of our time. So to me, any time I have, I mean I want to spend it with my son.
Tom: I know you’ve helped a heck of a lot more people than typical automotive professionals that have been in the business for six years. Out of all those situations, is there any one particular situation that really sticks out in your mind?
Veronica: Well, I do have a lot of those stories where you know customers absolutely need the car and I do go above and beyond. I can tell you being here six years, I do have a lot of loyal customers. And one thing about working with the Hispanic community, they’re very loyal to you. If you help them, they will always come back, bring their friends, bring their families and call you. I met a lot of great people, I can tell you that I met a lot of great friends. I have a lot of customers that I call them my moms because they’re calling me all the time, “How are you doing?” Checking up on me, bringing me food. So I mean I developed such great relationships and a lot of caring people that do really care about me. But a story that sticks out. You know, I think being in the position that I’m at I’m able to make a difference. Sometimes people just want to come in and they want to talk or there’s something that there’s something that’s going on and they feel that they can approach me and I always think if I’m in a position where if I can make a difference in someone’s life, I am going to do that. But really really quick I can tell you just a quick story. There was a couple that I helped, credit was a little bit challenged, but nothing that I couldn’t do because I dealt with harder deals. But the couple came in, I noticed that the wife was very quiet. The husband was kind of talking making all the decisions and we did the deal. The very next day, the wife came back in and I could tell she wanted to talk. I was working and I had a lot of work that day, but never too busy for my customers so I said you know have a seat. She sat down in front of me and she just started talking and then all of a sudden she starts crying. And I said wow. So I my instinct was to get up and obviously hug her and console her and her story was you know she had a son and, long story short, her son passed away and she just felt that she needed to talk to somebody and having met me have met me the day before, she said she just felt that she could tell me and I just sat there and honestly I just cried with her. You know I cried with her and now she is a very special customer of mine. She sends me messages, she checks up on me, she stops at the dealership and you know that story always sticks to me, because I’m like wow you know someone you know I helped someone feel better or maybe my positivity or I don’t know. I don’t know what it is, but she was drawn to me and that makes me happy.
Tom: How are you maybe in your department, innovating the way that people maybe communicate with the dealership or how are you using technology to connect with your customers and help them?
Veronica: I think you have to constantly innovate yourself in order to stay with the times because if not you know you become obsolete, and you know people forget about you. Social media, I believe is huge in reaching out to customers.
Tom: You have your own social media channels. What are those?
Veronica: I have Instagram I have [email protected], and the same thing with Facebook. [email protected]kHonda and I try to communicate with my community on a daily basis. You buy a car and I post it and I’m letting people know that I will help. I will go above and beyond to help you and I can’t always help everybody. I’m not going to sit here and say, “Oh everybody.” But if I cannot help a customer right now, we come up with a plan where in two to three months, they are coming back and they are buying their car. So to me, it’s a long term relationship, that’s really what it is. It’s a relationship with the customer. So and I treat it that way.
Tom: Did I miss anything.
Veronica: Just want to say that I enjoy what I do. And Spanish is my first language. And when I find out that somebody does speak Spanish, I want to speak Spanish right away.
Tom: Do you want to go back and cover anything that we already did in Spanish?
Veronica: No, just mi nombre es Veronica y trabajo en Rock Honda y me especialicé en ayudar a la comunidad latina para que puedan comprar su auto. Nos ayuda a calificar para su auto y todas sus necesidades automotrices. Es lo que les puedo decir.
Tom: That wraps up this installment of iDriveSoCal. Thanks again to my guest, Veronica Orozco of Rock Honda, for joining me today and for being an iDriveSoCal sponsor, very much appreciate that. Rock Honda is out on South Highland Avenue in Fontana. Also at RockHonda.com. You can follow Rock Honda on Facebook, and you can also follow Veronica on her Facebook and Instagram. What are those again?
Veronica: It’s [email protected] on both.
Tom: On both. That wraps up iDriveSoCal. I’m Tom Smith. Until next time.