Every day, we at DCA Virtual Business Support are blessed to work with some of the most interesting, inspiring and motivated entrepreneurs. Our clients are truly one-of-a-kind! That’s why we’re so excited to begin a new interview series that features them and the amazing work they do.
Our first interview is with LeeAnn Shattuck, also known as The Car Chick™. LeeAnn is a globally-recognized automotive expert, entrepreneur, public speaker, author, radio and television host, and race car driver. She’s been featured on NPR, The Cooper Lawrence Show, Daily Balance with Kim Jacobs, and the Speed Channel’s Are You Faster Than a Redneck? She also hosts the national syndicated radio show, America’s Garage™ and the internet channel Car Chick TV™.
LeeAnn is deeply passionate about empowering women to make informed decisions when purchasing, selling and servicing cars. She’s the co-owner of the Chief Car Chick, a unique car buying service that helps women get a great deal on a car without the usual hassle or frustration. She’s been hailed as a top influencer of women by Michelin, and she serves on the panel of Expert Women and the Professional Speakers Bureau for AskPatty.com.
If that wasn’t enough, she’s now developing a TV show called Rust Rescue™ about how to restore classic cars on a budget. Read on to learn more about LeeAnn, and the advice she has for other entrepreneurs.
Can you please tell us a bit about your business:
What kinds of products or services do you offer?
My primary business is a car buying service for women and smart men. Most car buying services in the market today are either offered by “brokers” (small car dealers who find used cars for customers at auctions and/or purchase new cars from franchised dealers and re-sell them to customers at a markup) or websites offering a pre-negotiated discount with select dealers who pay to be in their “network”. My service is unique in that I work for the client, not the dealers, much like a “buyer’s agent” in real estate. I am also unique in that I help my clients with the ENTIRE car buying process, from beginning the end. I help them pick the Perfect Car™, whether that’s new or used, based on their unique lifestyle, budget and personality. I schedule test drives for them, giving them a “Test Drive Checklist” to help them evaluate the vehicles thoroughly and objectively. I then handle all of the legwork and negotiating for them. If we are shopping for a used car, I evaluate those vehicles against 10 quality criteria and look at 30 different pieces of critical data on a Carfax report. Unlike other car buying services, I also negotiate the selling price of their trade vehicle, including selling it to an entirely different dealer if it yields more money for my client. I also negotiate financing (including leases), and any “extras” such as extended warranties, gap insurance and pre-paid maintenance packages. Every car deal has 6-8 areas where the client can lose money, and I look at all of those areas to make sure my clients get the best, overall deal. Finally, I either have the car delivered to the client’s home or office, or I go with them to the dealership to take delivery (for local clients). I do work nationwide and have helped car buyers from New York to California.
I am passionate about educating women and men about cars, so they feel empowered to make good financial decisions when buying, selling and maintaining their vehicles. I also want them to be safe on the road. So, the “Car Chick Empire”, as I jokingly call it, also includes CarChickTV (my YouTube Channel featuring education videos and a bi-weekly web series about safe driving called “Shut Up & Drive”) and CarChickRadio (previously included the internationally syndicated Americas Garage Radio Show which closed down last year due to the executive producer retiring, and my new podcast, “The Straight Shift with The Car Chick”). I also am a semi-regular guest on various radio talk shows (NPR) and TV news shows (like Good Morning Charlotte) for car-related segments for consumers.
I am also a professional speaker with a keynote address called “Lessons From the Race Track” and various workshops such as “Car Buying for Busy Women” and “My Car Needs a New WHAT?#$%!?”, a car care clinic for women. I offer a similar clinic to the Girl Scouts of America to help senior scouts earn their car care merit badge.
What tip would you advise to a new or prospective business owner?
REALLY understand your target market and what problem you are solving for them. So many people go into business to give themselves a job and then try to figure out how to market their services to the masses. A true entrepreneur looks for “problems” in the market and finds a way to solve them. They identify a group of people (=target market) who they are passionate about servicing and that has a problem that is causing them pain. Such as women who HATE car shopping and would rather have a root canal than haggle with a car dealer. Narrowing down that target market and their specific pain points can give you a niche and a brand upon which to build a successful business that will grow via word of mouth.
How has your business evolved relative to technology over the years?
My business is not particularly dependent on technology beyond the telephone, email and a good internet browser. Internally, I have leveraged some online tools, such as Podio.com and Dropbox, to track prospect, customer and deal information and share that information with my wonderful virtual assistants at DCA Virtual Business Support! The biggest technology impact to my business has been social media. The wonders of YouTube allow me to leverage video, which as a TV host is my favorite form of communication, and to market grow my brand as The Car Chick. I use the extensive Adobe Creative Suite to produce my own content. I also use the Zencastr.com platform to record my podcasts, both on my own and with remote guests, and then host it on Libsyn. Those tools are fantastic and dirt cheap (Zencastr is free, and Libsyn is $15/mo). I am able to record, produce and distribute my podcast myself with these easy tools.
Social media gives me a platform (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) to share those educational materials (videos, podcasts, etc.) and allows me to keep in contact with my “tribe”. Nearly 90% of my business comes from repeat clients and referrals. Many of my referrals come from Facebook groups like Pink Social Girl and the former Charlotte Tweet Tarts.
What is your favorite quote or book? Why?
I have a few favorite quotes…
“That which does not kill you makes you stronger” – Nietzsche
“Do, or do not. There is no Try.” – Yoda
“In order to learn to do something well, you must first be willing to do it badly.” – Pamela Bruner (my business coach)
All of these quotes, to me, boil down to perseverance in business (and in life). Everything you do is a test, and every test yields a result. Some results just happen to be more optimal than others, and we usually learn more from our failures than from our successes. So, make a decision and DO something. If it doesn’t work, learn from it and do something else. If it does work, whoo hoo! Do it again – only better.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your business?
I am also a professional actor, spokesperson and race car driver. My mission is to leverage my brand as The Car Chick to empower women when it comes to all things CARS. I plan to start a charity that provides refurbished used cars to women who have survived domestic violence situations and are trying to get back on their feet. Studies show that women who have a reliable car are able to get and keep better jobs, which allows them to get back on their feet faster and stay there. That’s my next Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
Learn more about LeeAnn Shattuck, the Chief Car Chick at http://whoisthecarchick.com.
We at DCA Virtual Business Support provide virtual assistance, event management, website design, blogging, and social media management to hardworking, self-made entrepreneurs just like LeeAnn. If you’re interested in taking your business to the next level, contact us today!