It was just a regular day for Annie Bochno. At first.
At 20 years old, she was working at a country club’s golf pro shop. She was used to seeing the same people every day: avid golfers looking to perfect their putt or do business on the green. She was a friendly face. She liked the job. Life was good.
It was a regular day for Annie Bochno…until it wasn’t. The normal work day turned into a life-changing day.
“A man came to the golf pro shop often, so I would end up talking to him a lot,” she said. “One day, he said to me, ‘Would you be interested in selling cars?’”
Annie had never done sales in her life.
“In my mind, I’m like, ‘OK, wow. I don’t know. I don’t even know,’” Annie said. “My sister and I both worked at the pro shop and we both were like, ‘OK sure, why not? If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.’”
Annie decided to see what was on the other side of that simple question about selling cars. And so, a new life chapter started for Annie: the beginnings of what has transformed (now 15 years later) into a rewarding career as a sales consultant at Garber Automotive in Rochester, New York.
Day by Day
Turns out the man Annie talked to at the pro shop was friends with John Holtz of John Holtz Honda. Thanks to that connection, Annie and her sister both started working at the dealership as receptionists.
The experience gave Annie a chance to observe her new colleagues in their element.
“Because I was a receptionist, I got to see how everything worked on the floor,” she said. “I got to see how the sales people greeted customers, went over the sale, etc. Six months into my employment, I started selling cars.”
A new experience can bring uncertainty. As Annie started in her sales role, she heard her own whispers of self-doubt.
“Being on the floor was intimidating at first,” she said. “I was surrounded by all of these men. I was thinking, ‘Am I going to be good enough?’ But I took it day by day. You watch what others do and you learn.”
A Change of Pace
With more time under her belt and a “day by day” mantra in her mind, Annie became more comfortable in her new sales position.
She was about six years into her role with John Holtz Honda when she heard Garber was going to acquire the dealership. Similar to her early days in her first sales position, Annie felt those familiar pangs of uncertainty.
She quickly realized she didn’t need to be worried.
“I don’t like change much — there are a lot of people that don’t — so the change did worry me a bit,” she said. “I wondered, ‘How is Garber going to be?’ But they were there every step of the way. Things happened at the right time. When the change happened, customers would say to me, ‘Annie, how’s Garber? Can you trust them?’ And I could honestly say to them ‘Yes, absolutely. You can trust Garber.’”
Annie said she has grown as a person thanks to working for Garber.
“In the beginning of my career, I wanted to do everything myself,” she said. “But when Garber took over, things changed. They wanted us to focus specifically on what we were hired to do instead of doing it all, every step, by ourselves. I had to learn to trust people, and it helped…it took a load off of me. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned since working for Garber: nobody is against you, and don’t let people feel like they are against you or you are against them. We work together. I’ve learned to trust. We’re a family.”
Since that day in the golf shop, both Annie and her sister have remained in the automotive industry. They have several similarities: who they work for, how long they’ve been at the same location…oh, and the fact that they look, erm, pretty similar.
Annie and her sister aren’t just sisters. They’re twins.
“It’s cool to have a partner,” Annie laughed. “I knew she was right there to help me. We get comments all the time. When she was with a customer, I’d peek over and say, ‘Hi!’ and people would say, ‘Oh my gosh, you are twins!’ Her desk is right by me. It’s a nice icebreaker.”
Though she gets to see her sister at work, she is appreciative of the fact that Garber values family time in general.
“I appreciate that we don’t open the doors here at the dealership on Sundays because those are reserved as days to spend time with our families,” she said. “That’s really important to me, and I’m so happy to be able to have the freedom to spend that time with my family. There are dealerships that don’t do that. We also get holidays off, which is amazing. I am grateful that Garber knows we have family and wants us to have quality time with family.”
She said a culture of camaraderie and shared success is evident every day at Garber.
“I look forward to our meetings as a team because it’s a time where we help each other grow,” she said. “It’s not a typical meeting. They are helping teach us how to help each other and give each other confidence. I feel like we’re all valued, just the way that the managers are stepping up. I’m always learning.”
What was your first job? I came from a big family — six kids — and growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money. My parents worked very hard. My mom worked during the night, and my dad worked during the day, so I didn’t see them a lot during the week. I very quickly learned that I needed to take care of myself. I babysat because I wanted to make money and didn’t want to rely on my parents for money. I realized if I wanted things, I needed to get a job. So I got a job at a daycare center. I was 14 or so. I would go to school, work at the daycare, then walk home.
What are three things you can’t live without (aside from food, water, air…)? For me, I have a religious background, so God is my first thing in my life, then family and friends. Without that, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. I know God has a plan for my life and he brought me here and that is most important.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? That I’m a twin. It’s a lot of fun. We used to prank our teachers, we’d switch classes, the whole thing.
Are you identical? We are fraternal, but we looked more alike when we were younger. Our teacher would say to me, “Are you REALLY Annie?” My twin’s name is Elizabeth.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and who gave it to you? When I started working here, one of the sales consultants sold a lot of cars, and I said, “I want to be like him.” He would sit at his desk all day and make phone calls, and people would ask specifically for him. He said to me, “You know what? If you treat people the way you want to be treated, you’re going to go far.”
Treat people the way you want to be treated. Even with Garber’s mission statement — “We are only doing our job properly when we create an experience for which the customer returns to do business with us again”— I want people to walk in and enjoy their experience. I want to treat people well and live by that. Everyone has a situation when they come in. They often will think they’re going to be taken advantage of. But I do not push people. It’s all about how you treat people. You have to be committed. I want to be that someone that treats them differently.