Think about the last time you bought a car. How many women were part of the sales team?
What about the time before that — and all the others? If you’re like me, the answer is “zero.”
(A 2012 survey ranked “car salespeople” as the least honest professionals — just below “members of Congress.)
Kristen Ledenko is happy to sell you a car. But you don’t have to walk into a male-dominated dealership to find her.
The Westport mom is a “car concierge.” She does all the time-consuming work: sourcing the right vehicle, financing, even delivering it right to your driveway.
And she doesn’t try to upsell rust-proofing, VIN etching for windows, or nitrogen fill for tires.
Growing up in Glen Head on Long Island’s North Shore, Kristen was fascinated by cars. Their luxurious lines, their variety, the way they impacted our lives — to her, a car was and still is “more than a great set of rims, the technology package and ventilated seats.” It’s part of your life, and the world you live in.
So at CW Post College, she majored in … elementary education. Then she added a master’s in literacy.
Her career as a teacher taught Kristen how to interact with many different personalities: students, colleagues, parents.
Of course, that’s part of a car salesman’s talents too. But in addition to listening to assess what a potential client really needs (and wants) in a vehicle, Kristen is adept at explaining complex information and terms — not obfuscating it.
Her road to becoming a car concierge began 15 years ago. She was introduced to an auto broker. For the first time, instead of visiting multiple dealerships to narrow the search and pricing, she and her husband let Icon Auto Leasing do all the grunt work.
After referring friends, relatives and colleagues to the company, she contacted the CEO. She offered to expand into Connecticut, where she and her husband lived. Kristen Icon Auto was born.
Like every industry, automobile sales have been impacted by COVID. Before the pandemic, she could deliver the car of your choice the next day. Now, the 1,400 microchips that control everything from airbags and tire pressure to digital displays are in short supply.
Kristen is up to the challenge.
“I love researching cars. I love negotiating and searching for the ‘impossible’ one,” she says.
“I take the stress away. I modernize the whole process.”
After determining what a client is looking for — buy or lease, mileage, options, how it will be used — Kristen searches her dealer network. She provides options for payments and terms.
Once a decision is made, she takes care of the credit and delivery — even the lease return. An employee drives the new car to the client’s home or office, where the final paperwork is completed.
Most car sales are completely transactional: You grit your teeth, haggle, get the keys and wonder how badly you’ve been had by some guy you’ll never see again.
Kristen Ledenko wants to drive repeat traffic to her online dealership.
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