Tom Sega has a Zoom conversation with Kelly Stumpe, the creator of The Car Mom, on this week’s episode of Leader of the Pack, a podcast by Duluth Pack. In this podcast episode, Kelly shares how she became the creator of The Car Mom, a brand that reviews and assists moms and families in finding the ideal vehicle for their family, which is often a stressful purchase. Kelly also discusses her experience working in the car sales industry since childhood and how that has benefitted her in becoming The Car Mom.
Background on Kelly Stumpe
Kelly Stumpe grew up around the car industry because her family owns a group of dealerships in the Saint Louis area. Growing up, Kelly was one of five kids and is closest to her sister, Lizz, who is 16 months older than her; and later went on to join Kelly as a business partner for The Car Mom. Tom asks Kelly about growing up in the car industry, and Kelly explains that she did not gain experience in sales until much later in life, and not only did she not know how to sell a car, but she had never bought a car. “I have never purchased a car; (when I was younger), I had never even seen someone buy a car,” Kelly said, explaining that she grew up driving demos and test vehicles, and so did her family because they owned dealerships. For college, Kelly went to a small university named William Woods University and majored in Equestrian Science because she grew up riding and showing horses. However, after graduating, she wasn’t sure what she would do with that, and her father told her to commit to one year of car sales at the family’s BMW dealership in 2016.
Entering The Car Industry
Tom and Kelly discuss her start in the car sales industry working at BMW and how she grew in her ability to sell. Kelly discusses that the clientele was an adjustment as many were older men who did not take her seriously at first. This experience helped Kelly to relate to female buyers because clients often dismiss her in the same way that women looking for a vehicle can be rejected by salespeople. Despite this experience, she pushed through to be the most knowledgeable salesperson. Her knowledge of the makes and models helped her become the first female salesperson of the month at the dealership. Kelly continued to grow in her confidence from there. Kelly’s ability to think of the customer’s needs and wants has helped her as The Car Mom because she understands the stress of purchasing a vehicle and talks through all features, so the buyer can be confident in purchasing the correct vehicle for their family. Kelly got married during her time at the dealership, and in 2019 she had her first child with her husband. Tom and Kelly talk about how the most challenging job is being a mom, and Kelly discusses how the retail world of car sales, which is traditionally held on Saturdays and outside of typical work hours, is not conducive to family life. After her son, George, was born, Kelly stepped back from her sales role and worked in other aspects of the dealership. She expressed that she truly missed the selling aspect and wanted to find a way to get back to it but wasn’t sure how. At the height of COVID in 2020, Kelly was pregnant with her second child and felt uncomfortable going to work, and she took four months off to be at home with her young family. During this time, Kelly realized it didn’t make financial sense to go back to work and put her kids in daycare for her. Despite that, she still wanted to have something outside of being a stay-at-home mom and began to think of her options.
Creating The Car Mom
“How did you think of The Car, Mom?” Tom asks Kelly. She explains that her husband had the first idea around it and mentioned she could be the salesperson for mothers and take appointments for mothers and families looking to buy cars to work around their lives. Kelly started with this idea by helping mothers in the Saint Louis area find the best vehicle, seek customers through Facebook groups, and post on social media – like Instagram. After a short time, Kelly realized this idea was larger than the immediate area and shifted focus towards reaching a larger audience, thus creating The Car Mom. Kelly grew her business by posting on social media, specifically Instagram, and then expanding to do videos on YouTube, which has been extremely successful, and launching a podcast, The Car Pool Podcast. It has been exciting for Kelly as she has not done any paid advertising and has continued to grow on Instagram and Youtube, where The Car Mom now has over 50,000 subscribers. Tom and Kelly talk about how she engages with her audience, and Kelly talks about her car walkthrough videos. In these videos, Kelly attempts to be that BFF you can trust. She talks about the features she enjoys, how family-friendly the vehicle is, and safety features. These walkthroughs allow you to see how advertised features actually work for a family. An example that Kelly gives is the functionality of car seats. Many vehicles will discuss how many can fit in the vehicle, but this may not be the case if you have multiple children in car seats. This is one of the many points that Kelly walks through to help the public make a confident choice in their next purchase. Another interesting point that Kelly discusses are some of the changes she has seen since joining the industry in 2016. Kelly says that it used to be more common for vehicles not to include safety features like a backup camera and other crash prevention technologies – unless you were in a premium model. Tom asks what one piece of advice Kelly would give to families who are looking for a good family car. Kelly says that she would encourage everyone to think about their family plan and how they will grow in the coming years to ensure the car can grow with their family. This piece of advice is why Kelly created her car family planning guide, to help families talk about their future regarding their family and what a car would need to have for features in order to meet those needs long term. In addition, Kelly explains the differences of leasing a vehicle and purchasing a vehicle – both having pros and cons.
Now Kelly has grown The Car Mom to employ herself, her sister, and seeking more women to join the team. She sells merchandise, a car workbook, and has some exciting growth goals for the car mom, including an organic car cleaner, expanding her platform to include more mother’s voices, and employing more hardworking mothers! Finding the best vehicle for your family can feel overwhelming, but Kelly helps to make that experience easier through her honest reviews of cars from brands like Toyota, Ford, Subaru, and other luxury vehicle manufacturers. To learn more about finding the correct vehicle for your family, you can follow Kelly as The Car Mom on her YouTube Channel and other social platforms. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your success as a new entrepreneur and helping to educate others on finding the right vehicle for their family.