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Monday, March 9, 2020

TIME Dealer Of the Year

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Susan Moffitt shares spotlight with family and employees

In 1984, about to graduate with two degrees from Louisiana Tech University, Susan Moffitt was busy interviewing for jobs in Ruston, a town with which she had fallen in love.

Then Daddy called her home. “He told me he needed a telephone operator because he had just let one go,” Moffitt said of her father, Fred, who owned Moffitt Volkswagen in Bossier City. “I said, sure, I would come back to work for him. He put me through college. I graduated on Saturday and went to work on Monday.”

Little did Fred know his new telephone operator would – 36 years later – be named the 2020 TIME Dealer of the Year. The award – one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious – is sponsored by TIME, in association with Ally Financial, and in cooperation with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).

“I was shocked,” Moffitt said, recalling how she felt when hearing her name Feb. 15 at the NADA Show in Las Vegas. “I was taken aback by it. It’s a huge honor. It’s like winning the Super Bowl in the car business or winning the Heisman Trophy.”

Moffitt shares ownership of Moffitt Automotive with her two brothers and sister. Together, they oversee dealerships in Shreveport and Bossier City, representing the Audi, Mazda, Porsche and Volkswagen brands. Having already been named Louisiana Dealer of the Year, Moffitt won the national award from a field of 49 dealers who are selected from more than 16,000 dealers across the country.

“I was shaking,” Moffitt said of that moment at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “I was proud and humbled by it. It’s not just me; it’s my siblings; it’s our employees. I’m just the face behind the award. It’s not me – it’s we.”

Making the award even more special for Moffitt is the fact her father, who passed away in 2016, was nominated for the same award in 2006.

“To win the whole thing, it just felt like I was bringing it back home for him,” Moffitt said. “This was a culmination of everything he’s done and everything we are continuing to do.”

From answering the phone to working in the service department, to selling on the showroom floor, Moffitt has done it all. The experience paid off that February night in Las Vegas.

“It made me understand how every part of the dealership operates, having worked in all areas of the business,” Moffitt said. “It helped me know more about the business and the day-to-day operations, having worked in all areas of it. There are a lot of moving parts in any business. It’s also a ‘people’ business. It’s treating people like you want to be treated if you walked into their home.”

However, being a successful dealer was only one requirement to win the 51st annual Dealer of the Year Award. One must also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service.

Moffitt – and her dealerships – check that box as well. Individually, or as a company, Moffitt contributes to many organizations – from LSU Health Foundation and LSU Health Shreveport to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Moffitt Automotive donates a car to the local St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway) to Holy Angels.

“It’s important to give back to the community that’s taken care of us for more than 55 years,” Moffitt explained.

After helping her dad when he was in a bind, Moffitt could have left the business to pursue her career somewhere else – her degrees were in business administration and finance. But the longer Moffitt stayed, the more she realized her career was right where she was.

“I sell cars, but I’m in the people business,” Moffitt said. “It’s taking care of customers, whether you’re in the service department or the sales department. I love selling cars. That’s a big purchase in somebody’s life. I still love doing that to this day. I love helping somebody find the car they just absolutely love. There’s nothing more special than to turn back around and have somebody text me or call me and tell me how much they loved their car – or they send their friends and family. We’ve sold generations. I’m in the people business, and I just happen to sell cars.”

And Susan Moffitt just happens to be the 2020 TIME Dealer of the Year.


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