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Northwood University Dealer Education Award NADA 2017 - Eve Knudtsen Knudtsen Chevrolet Interview

Published Jan 26th 2017, 5:00am by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles Articles Blog

Congratulations to Eve Knudtsen recipient of the 2017 Northwood University Dealer Education Award during the Northwood University Dealer Education Awards Breakfast Saturday, January 28, 2017 during NADA.

We interviewed Eve Knudtsen who is the president of Knudtsen Chevrolet Co. in Post Falls, Idaho, to learn more about her path to success  She is the third generation to own and operate the dealership her grandfather started in 1939.

Eve grew up in Coeur d’Alene, graduating from Coeur d’Alene High School.  She attended North Idaho College and Northwood University.  She has an Associate of Arts degree in Automotive Marketing and a Bachelors of Business Administration with majors in Economics and Management that she received from Northwood University.  She completed that National Dealers Association Dealer Candidate Academy and is currently pursuing a Master Degree of Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

Eve has a long-standing passion for serving the community.  She has served on numerous board and committees including past president of Concerned Businesses of North Idaho, and past chairman of the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce.  She is currently the vice chairman of Jobs Plus Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corporation and is the current Guardian of Bethel #7 Jobs Daughters International of Coeur d’Alene.  

Eve is a past recipient of Soroptomist Woman of Distinction for Business and Professional and 2006 recipient of Time Magazine’s Quality Dealer of the Year for Idaho.  She is committed to educational initiatives throughout North Idaho including having been one of the individuals that purchased the land for KTEC, a career technical high school serving three school districts.

Eve lives in Coeur d’Alene with her husband, Wayne Cofield, and daughters, Lauren Benedict and Kendra Cofield.

Kundtsen Chevrolet is an Certified Female Friendly® Dealership.

The Interview:

Since 1972, Northwood has recognized individuals in the automotive marketing field who have made noteworthy contributions to public or private education inside or outside of the industry. Can you share with our readers more about the success and growth of Knudtsen Chevrolet?

1.What do you attribute the tremendous success and growth of Knudtsen Chevrolet in your sales, service and body shop departments in 2016?

The overall dealership sales rose 30% with an overall gross profit increase of 19%, but our operating profit rose 324%, which we attribute to a values-driven culture, recruiting the right people, and holding them accountable while empowering them to do the right thing.

a. Sales-  We grew 31.5% in new vehicle unit sales, 20.5% in used vehicle sales and 112.4% in New and Used Operating Department Profit.  

b. Service-  We grew our service department customer labor sales by 20% and our overall gross profit by 18.5% while maintaining a 77% service retention rate (customers who purchased from us and have owned their vehicles between 13 and 72 months) throughout 2016.  This increased our net operating profit 120%.  

c. Body Shop- Our body shop labor sales increased 32.3% and gross profit increased 30.8%.  Our increase in parts on body shop repairs coupled with increased labor sales and gross profit netted us a 67% increase in net operating profit in the body shop.

2. Can you describe the culture at Knudtsen Chevrolet and how you implemented and accomplished a culture shift and change over the past twelve months.

We have worked hard to define our vision, mission and values over the past few years. In 2016, we began selectively hiring employees who are willing to and capable of embodying our core values: relationship, passion, excellence, legacy and transparency. This has allowed us to create a values-driven culture and shift from a traditional hierarchy into a flatter organization where employees feel more empowered. Perhaps the most important aspect of our culture is the emphasis we place on relationships; not just with our customers, but with our team members and the community.

Our values-driven culture shift has placed focus on creating a workforce that reflects the diversity in our community, especially in the recruitment of women in our organization.

3. What is the General Motors Women's Retail Network and how are the programs they provide helping you succeed?

The GM Women’s Retail Network (WRN) is comprised of all GM dealers and executive managers who are women.  Since making the decision to take an active part in the WRN, our business has grown and our processes have become more efficient and effective.  Members of the WRN have access to people, training, processes and information aimed at helping women in the automobile industry achieve success.  I’ve been a dealer for over 21 years and the partnership between GM and Knudtsen Chevrolet Co is stronger than it has ever been.  I have formed relationships with other women dealers who face the same business challenges that I face, and who openly share ideas and solutions to overcome those challenges. I wish I would have become active in the WRN years ago!

4. How would you describe your leadership style?

I describe my leadership style as transformative.  I love to see the change people experience when they feel they are a part of a much bigger plan.  I love their enthusiasm and engagement when they are invested in the vision and mission.  My biggest source of personal satisfaction is watching employees emerge as new leaders resulting from their engagement in our organization.

5. What does receiving the Northwood University Dealer Education Award mean to you?

This award means acknowledgement for the Knudtsen family’s nearly 80 years of making education in our community a priority. I’m thrilled to receive this award from my alma mater in recognition of our efforts to promote career opportunities by ensuring access to academic and career technical education from kindergarten through post-graduate achievement, especially opportunities for women in the automotive industry.

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