Women in Retail: Melanie Borden of Celebrity Motor Cars

CARY, N.C. – 

In a key complement to our Women in Remarketing and Women in Auto Finance franchises, Auto Remarketing is proud to celebrate our second annual Women in Retail awards, a program sponsored by CarGurus.

With these awards, we specifically recognize leaders on the retail side of the auto industry, including honorees from dealerships, dealer groups and third-party providers/vendors.

We spotlight these honorees in the Oct. 15 issue of Auto Remarketing, which includes Q&As with each recipient of the award. Next up is Melanie Borden, vice president of marketing at Celebrity Motor Cars, LLC.

Auto Remarketing: What was your path to working in automotive, and what do you enjoy most about the industry?
Melanie Borden: Growing up I did not say, ‘I want to be an executive in a car dealer group,’ but I probably should have!

I started with the auto industry in my early 20s working for ADP Dealer Services, now called CDK Global. During my tenure there, I worked with many Lexus dealerships as part of a certified digital marketing program which included Celebrity Motor Cars’ first location, Lexus of Route 10 in Whippany, N.J.

Having built a relationship with his dealership, Lexus of Route 10, Tom Maoli approached me in 2017 to come work for him to implement some processes, controls, and strategies for his entire group’s marketing. I came on in 2018 as the marketing operations manager (or MOM) and was promoted in 2019 to vice president of marketing.

AR: What’s a typical day like in your job? (if there is such a thing as “typical!)
MB: Each day, I am responsible for the ‘voice’ and ‘heartbeat’ of the Celebrity Motor Cars dealerships to our guests. The dealerships include: Lexus of Route 10, BMW of Springfield, Mercedes-Benz of Goldens Bridge, Alfa Romo of Morris County, and Maserati of Morris County.

I work side by side with all of the management at all of the dealerships to execute on the dealership’s goals and marketing needs. In essence, I am the in-house agency fueling the marketing for the group. In our market, my role is very unique. My daily responsibilities range from managing our digital advertising (paid social, paid search, display advertising), traditional advertising (structure all TV, radio, print buys) creative input, PR, events, marketing co-op, budgeting, advertising planning, website design and maintenance, content creation, organic social media, strategy, vendor management, marketing/advertising compliance, SEO and any T1 or T2 marketing and advertising initiatives in our PMAs.

Since COVID, I have had the flexibility of running my department out of my home part-time, which has increased my productivity substantially. When I am not working out of a home office, I am meeting with our CEO, COO and dealership managers at each of the stores.

AR: Who is a leader, within the auto industry, that you admire and why?
MB: In early 2020, I connected with a woman on LinkedIn, Laurie Halter, who is the owner of Charisma! and Carearing podcast host.

Charisma! is a boutique PR agency specializing in the automotive, HR, hospitality and technology industries. Laurie and I instantly connected, both professionally and personally, as working moms in the car business. I admire her not only for her success, balancing family, and career as a working mom; but for her knowledge, passion, and dedication to the automotive industry. Her energy is infectious!

She has been in business for almost 20 years. Every single time I speak to her I learn something, and always feel great. She is one of those people in our Industry that everyone knows and absolutely loves. If you don’t know Laurie, you need to connect with her!

AR: What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
MB: When I first started working for Celebrity Motor Cars, I was in a brand-new position for the group, and I had never had this type of role before. At the time, this was a huge change for the group who had a traditional advertising agency in the past who was handling all of the marketing and advertising for all the stores.

When our CEO, Tom Maoli, told me that he wanted to bring everything in house, I was so excited for the opportunity, and to take on the challenge of doing so. I am very proud to say that every single control, strategy, and process for every facet of the marketing and advertising at Celebrity Motor Cars since 2018 has been implemented and executed by yours truly.

It was a massive undertaking. I look back and cannot believe I did it myself, but I did! I had the support of my CEO and COO, which drove and empowered me to do things I never thought I would accomplish. I run my department like my own business, and I love what I do every single day!

AR: What aspects of the retail car business would you change?
MB: I am so fortunate to work for an organization that not only promotes women from within, but also allows for flexibility in our schedules when life happens.

Flexibility for working parents should be reconsidered for the industry, specifically mothers. What COVID has showed us, is you can trust people to do their jobs without them being in the office. Now with digital retailing, and other modernized processes such as web-based solutions, it is possible for a sales consultant to work remotely!

Your BDC reps can work from home with solid processes and expectations in place. Having more flexibility and trust for working parents throughout the dealership, specifically in their schedules, will empower your female employees. By changing this, you will attract better talent, create a more positive work environment, and it overflows to your guests. You can create a positive culture from the inside out.

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