Programmed for Success

April Renfro talks about her Car-Mart career

April Renfro, General Manager at Car-Mart of Edmond, OK

Never underestimate the power of desire and ambition. April Renfro was new to the used car industry but was willing to learn when she was hired on the spot at age 23 as an office worker at America’s Car-Mart of Siloam Springs, Ark. in 2003. Obsessed as a servant leader with a killer work ethic, she’s held about every type of job within Car-Mart.

In fact, she’s held six positions in four stores in three states, including Siloam Springs, Ark.; Stilwell and Owasso, Okla., and Enterprise, Ala. She’s managed customer accounts. She’s sold cars. She’s managed three stores and she helped open four new Car-Mart stores. Each position prepared her for her next role. And, everywhere she made a difference for the business and left a legacy of inspiration, achievement, and teamwork.

April Renfro, General Manager at Car-Mart of Edmond, OK“It depended on the day what I had to do,” smiles April, while adding that she attributes much of her success to her mentors. “They taught me the culture of Car-Mart. The more I learned about the culture, the easier it was for me to grow as a manager and a leader. Car-Mart put me out there to teach the culture to our customers and associates.”

The GM who interviewed April for her first job at Car-Mart also served as her mentor. He inspired her that hard work would take her places at Car-Mart. Indeed, that has played out for April as now, she’s about to open Car-Mart’s flagship store in Edmond, Okla.

Most recently, April enjoyed another success at Car-Mart in being named one of the top ten General Managers in 2019 for her leadership at Car-Mart of Enterprise, Ala.

Here’s what April has to say about her career at Car-Mart.

April on …

Working for Car-Mart for 17 years:

“At Car-Mart, I’m able to help others. I can help someone with his or her first vehicle purchase or how to get by until his or her next paycheck. Being a GM for Car-Mart has given me the opportunity to be a mentor to my staff and maybe even to customers, just like I  have had during my career. To say I played a part in helping a struggling customer or a struggling associate – that’s huge for me. And, that’s why I stick around.”

Realizing those moments when Car-Mart was the right fit:

“I went through a time when I almost lost my mom, and Car-Mart was right there. They called me and gave me time off. I missed about a month of work, and during that time I never worried about my job or where I stood. Car-Mart is definitely family-oriented. [NOTE: Today, April’s mother is healthy and doing well]

April with her mother, daughter, and granddaughter
April with her mother, daughter, and granddaughter

Another moment was after Hurricane Katrina and my Car-Mart [in Siloam Springs] helped some refugees with food. It didn’t matter what was going on with the business that day; what mattered was that there were 100 refugees and Car-Mart was trying to figure out how to help them. When you see stuff like that happen, you know that’s it – this is where I need to be.

Besides, I’m doing something I love to do, and I love the company.”

Her best Car-Mart shining moments and achievements:

“Having been at so many Car-Mart dealerships, I have a lot of memories and proud moments. Any time I can help a customer who is struggling financially, assist a customer in finding a job or help an associate get promoted – those are my achievements.

Being able to go to different stores that haven’t met their full potential and set goals – that they don’t think is realistic at the time – I’m able to see those goals met and even surpassed. Also, watching associates grow – I was able to be a part of that.

During my second year as GM at Car-Mart of Owasso, Okla. where my store finished in the top ten of stores and I was able to stand on stage [at the company’s annual meeting] behind the best GMs in the company. Or when I was GM at Enterprise and received ‘Lot of the Month’ twice, a first for that store.”

Helping Car-Mart customers:

“At Car-Mart, you don’t have to have good credit to buy a car. We will help you build your credit. This is what sets Car-Mart apart from our competition.

We know life happens, so when I sit down with a customer, I want to know their story. Maybe it’s their first vehicle. Maybe they need help finding a job. Maybe they just need a little direction. So, I help them with a budget or how to get through to the next payday. What I instill in them hopefully carries on with them. We take the time to help them when no one else would.”

Her success at Car-Mart:

“It’s hard for me to put into words why I am successful. All I do is go into these stores with an open mind and I carry the Car-Mart tools with me. I don’t do anything special or different from what Car-Mart asks me to do. I work right alongside the associates to do what needs to be done. My customers and my associates are my number one priority. I work hard to build a team; I can’t do it alone.

April Renfro with fellow General Manager, Jamie Billings
April Renfro with fellow General Manager, Jamie Billings

I totally rely on my team of associates to help do what needs to be done. Without them, I wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be successful.

I build a team by being a team. I am part of that team. Even though my badge says GM, I’m no different from my associates, and I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. I’ll help do whatever I can to help. I keep a positive attitude and work hard with them.”

Her favorite part of her workday:

April presenting Sales Associate Liz McCray with the Sales Achievement Award
April presenting Sales Associate Liz McCray with the Sales Achievement Award

“It’s when two things happen. Number one, associate achievement. Whether it’s an account rep who helps resolve a delinquent account and keeps the customer in the car or a sales associate who sold our 50th car or a customer paying off a car.

Number two, reaching a goal we set out for the day. It could be the last day of the month, and we need to sell four cars.

So, the greatest time during the day is whatever achievements are occurring.”

Being dumped on by a breath-taking cold bucket of water:

April getting water poured on her during an ice bucket challenge“When I was at Enterprise, I made a deal with my team that if we reached 200 Google reviews by month’s end, they could soak me with an ice bucket. Well, we got to the last day and still needed 15 reviews. The team did it and they soaked me in our staff meeting.

Unfortunately for me, the ice bucket – or rather cooler – sat overnight. The day of the soaking was a cool 60 degrees. The person with the most reviews did the soaking. So, I patiently waited as the heavy cooler was lifted. It took my breath away as the water was ice cold and the ice didn’t melt.”

How Car-Mart has made her life better:

“It’s made me humble. It helped me grow into a better person and leader. Car-Mart makes me strive to be better for our associates, customers, and communities. The things Car-Mart does for its customers and associates are like no other company. That’s what makes me want to be better. There’s always something to be thankful for. Working for Car-Mart has helped me grow in that aspect.”

Opening a new Car-Mart store:

“It’s exciting because it’s my first store to open. I’ve done a lot of things with Car-Mart, but I haven’t had the opportunity to open a store from the ground up and from this magnitude.

The Edmond store is going to a Car-Mart superstore with more inventory, the first of its kind. Car-Mart picked me to do this, to help build this, that excites me. I get to plant a footprint and help build the new Car-Mart.

And, I can’t wait to reach out to the community and let them know all about Car-Mart.”

Car-Mart’s culture:

“Car-Mart’s culture is all about the customer experience. One thing about Car-Mart is the benefits available to our customers. You don’t find many companies that are as caring as Car-Mart. It’s why we do what we do from day to day.

Everything is centered around the customer experience.”

An inspirational quote that guides her work and life:

‘At the beginning of my career, I didn’t have confidence in myself, and now I’m the one to encourage confidence in my associates. It’s very gratifying.

A saying that has helped me along the way – and how I operate is: ‘Winning is when your desire to win is greater than your fear of failure.’”

April with her grandbaby, Hayes Nicole
April with her grandbaby, Hayes Nicole

Being a grandmother:

“My hobby is spoiling my grandbaby. I’m ‘Jo Jo’ to my granddaughter. I refuse to be a grandma or nana. My middle name starts with Jo. But for now, Hayes Nicole calls me ‘hey.’’

Growing up a farm girl:

“I grew up on a farm in Colcord, Okla., population of 540 and 19 in my graduating class. Everyone knew everyone by name, and that has helped me to better relate to my customers. It also helped me be a people person as it taught me respect and compassion.

Growing up on the family farm allowed me to be close to my family and to spend quality time with them. Plus, I learned a lot. My grandpa would take me out on the tractor to cut hay when I was a young girl and he would tell me stories about his childhood and being in the Air Force.

Farm work taught me responsibility. No matter what you had planned the night before or what time you went to bed, you still have chores the next morning. My grandparents always told me ‘the world doesn’t’ stop because you want to take a break. The chickens still need to be fed, cows to milk, and hay to bale.

Being on the farm also taught me to work hard. If you wanted something you had to earn it and always give a hundred percent.”

Inspired by family and Car-Mart

And, that’s where the desire and ambition coupled with a killer work ethic began for April and how she climbed the ladder at Car-Mart.

April is excited to meet new people and she invites everyone to come see her and her team at her new home at Car-Mart of Edmond. If you live in or near Edmond, let April and her staff welcome you to the Car-Mart family.

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