During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Carlock needed a career change. So, he applied at Car-Mart and landed the job.
He joined Car-Mart in June 2020 at Car-Mart of Benton, Ark. He participated in the company’s Future Manager training program, a 12-week program that prepares associates for General Manager roles. Upon completion, he was promoted to Assistant Manager of Sales in Benton, Ark., and then the opportunity for Manager in Bryant, Ark., popped up. And yet another opportunity presented itself as General Manager at Car-Mart of Pine Bluff, Ark. (and where he graduated from high school!).
“They saw something in me. They trusted me with this lot – and here I am,” says Mark. “I’m excited about what I have accomplished at Car-Mart in such a short time, and I’m excited about the potential I have at this company.”
Recently Mark answered a few questions about his Car-Mart journey so far.
What’s your most proud Car-Mart moment?
“I’m proud every time I hand the keys to a customer. I make it a habit where I hold onto the keys and hand the customer the keys and walk them out to their new vehicle. They are excited about their new vehicle, and I have helped them fulfill their goal.
I, also, help people who have never financed before, who are buying their first vehicles and who have overcome financial difficulties.
Another cool moment was one Saturday before Christmas, I sold eight cars. I was on cloud nine that day – just greeting everybody and pulling the best out of every customer that came to our store and taking time to determine their needs. We were hot that day.”
How did the Future Manager training program prepare you for your role as General Manager?
“For me, the car business was all new. During the training, I had several ‘aha’ moments where everything made sense. I’m going through it – doing all the quizzes and exams – and when I got to customer service, I experienced that ‘aha’ moment. My eyes opened as to why Car-Mart is in business – why we are here and do what we do.
There’s no training like ‘on the job’ training. You establish a platform by going through the training. You learn a lot and you have a good idea of expectations and how to handle various situations.
I had three learnings. One, customer service and making customers feel appreciated. Two, we’re family here. For example, a vice president called to find out more about me. Third, you’re not going to have it all at once. I wanted to be contributing and not on the computer, so I just got up and helped customers so I could feel like I was part of a team.
The training demonstrates that Car-Mart is investing in its associates. I’m a sports guy. Most football coaches have one or the other – offense or defense. You have to have a defensive coach to help your weaknesses, so you need a good support staff.”
In what way are you a different person because of working at Car-Mart?
“Compassion. I’m a little bit more compassionate to people’s needs. And to be humble. Our customers are trusting us. People share things with you when you’re sitting in your office with them.”
What jobs have you held that have prepared you for Car-Mart?
“All the jobs I have had have one thing in common – customer service. They have helped me to have the success that I’ve had. Early on, I learned to be personal and transparent and to smile.
My first job was babysitting at age 14 for $5.00 in our apartment complex. My first real job, after high school, was working at Athlete’s Foot where I opened and closed the store.”
How do you keep your customers on the road?
“I try to drive every vehicle we get on the lot and make sure it’s ready and worthy of being sold to a customer. I want that vehicle to be ready to roll.”
What advice do you have for those who may want to start a career at Car-Mart?
“Go for it. Come in with an open mind and be ready to work. You may have to do things you may not be comfortable with – such as planting flowers. That’s part of the presentation and for me, it’s a sense of pride in what I do at Car-Mart.”
Car-Mart, Family, Cooking and Football
After his interview with Car-Mart, he received a call from the Car-Mart Vice President of Recruiting, and he was impressed by that gesture. “That stood out for me. A day or so after my first day on the job, I received a call from another Car-Mart vice president who welcomed me. They want good people and they made me feel wanted,” says Mark, who is looking to be fulfilled and challenged at Car-Mart.
When not working, he spends time with his wife, Velvet.
They have three children and two grandchildren. Mark likes to grill. “I like to cook period. I like to experiment and be creative in the kitchen. I cook whatever comes to mind. I’m a big seafood guy. I like to shop for groceries and walk down every aisle. The grocery store is my quiet place,” he smiles.
He grew up in Dermott, Ark. before moving to Louisville, Ky., and finishing high school in Pine Bluff, Ark.
Mark is a football guy and loves fantasy football. His favorite NFL and college teams are the Washington Football Team and the Miami Hurricanes.
If you’re looking for a new ride, check out America’s Car-Mart of Pine Bluff. Mark and the Pine Bluff team are ready to help get you into a quality, used vehicle.