Flora Lopez is a rarity in the already rarefied world of luxury automobile sales in the Coachella Valley. Not only was she born and raised in Palm Springs but she is the first woman to join the elite sales force at Porsche Palm Springs.
Being a Sales Representative/Brand Ambassador for Porsche is not something Lopez ever imagined while growing up in Palm Springs, but as a veteran of just about every other aspect of the high-end auto retail business, she seems right at home in the male-dominated world of luxury sportscars.
“I did not ever see myself joining a sales department long-term. I started as a receptionist at another luxury car dealership and tried sales for a month or so and did not like the pressure of selling, meeting quotas and so on and so forth. So I dove into the service department, which I enjoyed. I learned all of the ins and outs of cars and engaged with clients on a different level due to the fact that they already owned their car.”
Lopez joined indiGO Auto Group, the Houston-based company that owns Porsche Palm Springs, in 2017 as a Customer Service/Reception Director. A year later she joined the marketing team as the Marketing & Events Coordinator. As the pandemic unfolded the marketing team was reduced and an outside marketing firm took over much of the workload. “That helped pave the way for me to join the sales force at Porsche Palm Springs. And though it’s an unexpected twist in my rise up the ladder I’m delighted. Porsche has always been a different caliber within all of the brands.”
As a native of the Coachella Valley, she’s able to offer a different perspective on the local experience when it comes to Porsche and all things Palm Springs.
What’s it like to be the first woman salesperson/brand ambassador at Porsche Palm Springs?
I’ve never put much thought into it to be honest. I am honored, however, thanks to my team. They believed in me and were encouraging of me getting into sales, especially in light of me being very new to the brand. Porsche certainly puts you through extensive training. It’s important to understand the heritage and culture of the brand. Due to my history of already working with other car brands/dealerships, things happened quite quickly when I started officially and solely at Porsche in recent years. I was hired first as the Customer Service Director/Supervisor and oversaw all receptionists and service receptionist. I also built a training manual and trained them for all of our brands that fall under the indiGO auto group umbrella. A little after a year, I transitioned into marketing as the Marketing & Events Coordinator before COVID took place and caused a lot of change within our company/auto group. By the end of 2020, I returned to work and joined the Porsche team.
The luxury car industry has traditionally been very male dominated. Has it been challenging to break through that boundary?
It is very male dominated. Coming up on 10 years in the automotive business I’ve worked with very few women. But the ones I have worked with are amazing, powerful and intelligent women. It’s a rush to keep up with these men and the cars: Whether it’s the knowledge of specific car brands – specs, power, features – or how to create interest when it comes to sales and/or benefit our car brand.
Are there any particular Porsche models you love to sell or are particularly excited about for the coming year?
My favorite models to sell are the gems: the 911 Turbo/S, GT3 RS and I would love to sell a 918 Spyder or a classic 964 series 911 Turbo. The Taycan, our first all-electric sedan, has been the newest and most fun Porsche model to experience and sell. It has been a learning curve for many of us to adjust from a gasoline engine to an all-electric 800-volt battery car that you charge like you charge an iPhone. The next and second Porsche model that will be released as all electric is the crossover between the Panamera and the Taycan. I’m definitely excited for that upcoming model later in the year. I can confidently say that sales will do well. I’m currently in the midst of learning all about financing.
What’s special about working at Porsche Palm Springs?
Porsche is a different caliber of car brand and customers. Porsche owners are passionate about their automobiles in a way no other automotive marque can match. It is amazing the knowledge most Porsche owners have about a specific car, especially if they really are a Porsche enthusiast. Porsche has a very long history, so it is fascinating to hear stories of customers and the classics they have owned, say, perhaps, a 1972 911 Targa. Every day I learn something new about Porsche, whether it be something about a specific car model or the history of the Porsche family and the brand itself. There’s a lot of pride in representing the Porsche brand. However, at this particular dealership the team is what makes it great. From my General Manager, Bram, all the way to the carwash/detail men, Anthony and Sergio. Both sales manager, Justin and Hanns, are exceptional leaders. They are all motivators and team players. I have about 10 years in the car business and I have never worked with managers that were so hands on and encouraging – and overall helpful when it comes to executing a one-of-a-kind Porsche buying experience. If I need to schedule service on behalf of my clients, Bryce, the Service Advisor, or Jennifer, the Service Receptionist, are always accommodating. I know that when my clients are in the waiting lounge they are attended to and in great hands with Lesley, the Customer Experience Coordinator. Brenda, the sweetest, most attentive and best front desk receptionist greets all of my clients. All of our Brand Ambassadors – Adam, Chad, Nate, Polo, and myself, are a dynamic team if I may say so. We handle a lot within our store and I am proud to say every single person owns and works their title to their best abilities. At Porsche Palm Springs, our customers come by just to say hi, drop off a thoughtful gift, or bring laptop and work in our office area. Sometimes they just have morning coffee and enjoy the environment. We want customers and prospective customers to feel welcome and comfortable even if they are just bringing their car in for service and wanting to catch up on life.
How did the pandemic and quarantine impact your career?
I was placed on furlough once the pandemic took hold. To be honest, I enjoyed the time off. It was the uncertainty of what your next step should be career-wise that was unnerving. But personally, I was able to be with my little one. She was at the perfect age where her personality was really starting to unfold. I’m glad I was home for that the time and had a chance to spend quality time with my family while also reconnecting with myself. I began hiking our beautiful mountains again and now enjoy taking my daughter with me. It was a good ‘’pause’’ from the daily work routine most of us go through. For a moment, I was able to sleep in, not worry about getting ready other than taking showers and putting on comfy clothes. I got to follow my little one’s lead on whatever she wanted to do.
What’s a typical day off like for you and do you have any favorite local hot spots?
It’s unpredictable. Primarily, it is spent with my 4-year-daughter and my little family. We do family road trips out of the desert. That’s the beauty about living two hours from just about any kind of destination/attraction – from beaches to snow in Big Bear, to camping in Idyllwild and wineries in Temecula. Then there’s city life in Los Angeles or San Diego. Of course, prior to COVID it was easier to travel but I’m thankful things are starting to open up. I hike a lot for my own sanity. Living in Palm Springs, we’re surrounded by many mountains. We have hundreds of hiking trails, even ones with waterfalls. The season determines the best times to hike in different places. I enjoy hiking in every imaginable direction, from the Indian Canyons and up to the Palm Springs Arial Tramway. It’s also fun to ride bikes through downtown and check out many of the surrounding neighborhoods. The view of the mountains that surrounds us is breathtaking and beautiful. I also picked up golfing as a sport during Covid and I’m so proud of how far my game has come. I have such a love and respect for the sport. After eight years with my fiancé, I have finally given in to his favorite hobby and he has been wanting me to try the sport for quite some time. I’m happy to say we can golf together now, although he is a nine handicap and I am still trying to break 100 yards. Patience. I’m very athletic so I’m proud to have this under my belt along with many other sports I have played. I also love spending time with friends who keep me feeling young and alive. As for hot spots, I’m privileged to say that as a Palm Springs native I’ve enjoyed many of our unsung heroes of local cuisine and some of my favorite dishes are the Chile Verde at Marisol’s, the potato pancakes at Elmer’s, Chicken Giuliani at Sammy G’s Tuscan Grill and fresh fish tacos at Ruben & Ozzy’s.