WinA Member of the Month
In her current position as Assistant New Car Manager at Frankston Toyota, you could be forgiven for assuming that leading is in Linzi Eccles’ nature. What you won’t see however, is the struggle that Linzi went through in order to succeed beyond the limitations of something that is all too frequently projected onto women working in automotive leadership positions – the burden of imposter syndrome. Through the support of mentors and a dealership where women currently make up 35% of the workforce, Linzi’s journey from full time salesperson to full-time assistant manager is certainly one to inspire many.
Know of someone who should be featured as our member of the month, or interested in being featured yourself? Let us know!
Tell us a bit about your current role or involvement in the automotive industry.
Linzi: Currently, my role is Assistant New Car Manager. Day to day my role involves being on the sales floor, helping the staff meet their targets and assisting them with sales, managing the diary for daily operations, closing deals with guests, as well as ensuring I complete my own sales targets and help guests directly myself. I’ve been in the role now for roughly 18 months and I’m really enjoying it. It’s certainly something I’ve grown within.
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
Linzi: My introduction to the automotive industry was actually similar to your recent member of the month, Priyani’s start. I walked into Frankston Mitsubishi looking for an admin role, I just wanted work really, but they asked if I had ever worked in car sales before. I said no but I was willing to try, so they gave me a chance to try my skill at a Caravan and Camping Show. I had no idea what I was doing but somehow managed to sell three cars at that one event which was amazing, and I just continued from there! Outside of the Camping and Caravan show, there was an available salesperson role in the showroom. It was a role that was split between myself and an older man who had zero interest in the internet sales side of the job. So, I handled the online sales role while he did the in-person sales which suited us both well. I was able to travel a lot in that role which I enjoyed, I loved being able to provide that level of care and customer service.
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts haven’t?
Linzi: Absolutely. When I first started selling cars it was very rare to find another woman in the role, which does make you feel isolated. I’d get a number of non-subtle comments along the lines of “she doesn’t know what she’s doing”. I’d also get customers assuming I don’t know what I’m talking about or instantly asking for a man to help them instead. Because of this, I always teach the women I work with to become over educated in their roles. Knowledge certainly becomes a power in that kind of a situation. That kind of reception has definitely changed since I started but still to this day, I hear occasional guests saying rude things to me based entirely on the fact that I’m a woman trying to sell them a vehicle and when my team introduce me as their manager I still get that look of surprise from their faces ….However I get immense pleasure in entering into a good negotiation with them, and coming out the winner…it is great fun and very satisfying.
What is your biggest achievement within the automotive industry, personal or professional?
One of my proudest moments was when I sold 28 cars in May and another 28 cars in June – 56 vehicles in total – during the end of financial year sales in 2016. That’s a lot of sales for that kind of timeline.
Another achievement I’m really proud of is my current role with Frankston Toyota. It was something I struggled with initially because I wanted to be a great leader for my team, but over the 18 months my confidence within my role and what is expected of me as a leader and mentor has grown 10 fold. It’s something I have worked very hard for and earned, it wasn’t something that was just given to me and I am very proud of that.
Do you have a favourite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe a book, event, organization, mentor, or online platform?
Linzi: I haven’t got the time to find many resources to be honest, I have two teenagers at home and a full-time job. One resource I do recommend is mentors. Sharon Pask (Chair of WinA and previous CFO of Frankston Toyota) is a mentor to me, which is fantastic. She’s been very helpful. I earned my current role myself, but Sharon certainly motivated me to pull myself out of my mindset and to learn to believe in myself.
(Left): Linzi with some of the women she works with at Frankston Toyota.
Who is your inspiration as a woman working in automotive?
Linzi: I’ve got a few. For me to develop as a good manager, I need to have my own style, so I look up to a few people who have different styles of leadership and pull bits of inspiration from each of them as well as my own thoughts on leadership. Some of those people include Sharon Pask, as well as Howard Bould who is my General Manager, and the ladies who I work closely with on a daily basis. We feed off each other when we need support and guidance. I’d also list my previous colleagues as inspirations. I had the pleasure to work along-side them for a while, gaining wonderful life-long friendships outside of work. I have a great army!
What is the best piece of advice that you have received or that you could give to another woman working in the automotive industry?
Linzi: If you don’t go for it, you’ll never know. If I didn’t believe in myself and give it a go, I would have never gotten my first job in automotive, or advanced into my current role. If something doesn’t work out, you can always start again.