By Rick Weinberg, California Business Journal
Email: Rick@CalBizJournal.com / Mobile: 949-648-3815
NO MATTER HOW UNPRETENTIOUS ANGIE LANIK IS, no matter how much she wants to stay out of the spotlight, she cannot hide from the fact that she is considered a goddess at Jaguar Land Rover Anaheim Hills.
The confident, hard-working and highly-professional Finance Manager of the dealership might as well be wearing a tiara and a diamond-studded robe because anyone you talk to at the store about Angie bows down to her like royalty.
“Angie is the reason I am able to sleep well at night. There are so many pitfalls in finance that not having the right person in charge of that dealership department can result in a General Manager’s worst nightmare,” says Sven Larson, the General Manager at Jaguar Land Rover Anaheim Hills.
“Angie can recite the book on finance and is able to help our customers get the loans and leases they are looking for while making the entire process look simple – which many times it is not,” he adds. “Every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted correctly. Our customers, our lenders, and her co-workers all appreciate and respect her professionalism. She handles many millions of dollars monthly and just doesn’t miss a beat.
Larson pauses for a moment, gathering his thoughts and continues. “I’ve never worked with a Finance Manager as buttoned-up as Angie,” he says. “Her paperwork is impeccable – always. Her knowledge of the complexities of the laws and the requirements we have to abide by to be compliant is second to none. She makes the job look easy … and it is not an easy job.”
When Angie was approached to be interviewed for this article, she immediately recoiled and blushed.
What, you want to write an article on me? Ha, I don’t think so.
Angie simply prefers to do her job without any fanfare or accolades. She doesn’t need – or want — trumpets blaring. She knows she is appreciated. That’s because she is told so virtually every other day by Larson, General Sales Manager Khalid Omar or someone else on the sales staff or in the service department.
“Angie is amazing,” says Dietrich Seney, one of the top producers on the sales team. “I’d bet there isn’t a better Finance Manager in the country – she’s that good.”
Because she has the answer for every question and the solution for every problem – and potential problem.
And she approaches it professionally, rationally and creatively.
Excel With Numbers
As a young girl, Lanik excelled with numbers and math. Her aptitude, knowledge, interest and experience evolved into a deeper understanding of finance – and in particular, how it applies to the automotive industry.
She is not exactly sure where her interest and adept finance ability came from, but “I’m glad I developed a strong foundation in those areas,” she says.
When she was younger, she worked with family and friends on their finances, accounting and helping them with their books. She had dreams of becoming a CPA after she received her degree in Business and Accounting, becoming the first person in her family to earn a college degree — something she and her parents are extremely proud of.
Angie hit the pinnacle of her profession when she landed a finance position at the world-renowned Rusnak Auto Group. With 50 years of automotive experience and 15 luxury franchises in Southern California, Rusnak is nationally considered to be one of the most marquee and iconic names in the industry. Rusnak, after all, offers the best of the best: Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Maserati, Porsche, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Volvo and BMW.
The average young Finance Manager’s career typically starts with a Honda dealership or maybe Ford or Toyota. Not Angie. She went to the most exclusive major league franchises right out of the gate. Her first position with Rusnak was at its Bentley, Rolls Royce and Audi dealership in Pasadena. Then she moved on to Rusnak’s Mercedes Benz store in Arcadia.
Later, when Rusnak expanded to Orange County with the acquisition of its Jaguar Land Rover Anaheim Hills dealership, a sharp and astute Finance Manager was needed so it was only natural that Angie was hand-picked by the company’s top executives to fill the spot.
How flattered was she? She blushes. “Sure, I was flattered,” she says, shyly.
What does it take to be a good, great or exceptional Finance Manager?
“Being organized, consistent and ethical,” she says.
From an early age, she was organized. That was her mindset. This goes there, that goes here.
She’s no different today as well as being thorough, methodical and highly prepared.
“I learned early on to understand not just my job but the back end part of the business – why you do this, why you do that,” she says.
First-Hand Knowledge of Excellence
If anyone at the Anaheim Hills dealership knows first-hand how effective Angie is at her job (besides Larson, of course,) it is Khalid Omar, the General Sales Manager.
That’s because he personally spent more than 10 years as a Finance Manager at various stores. One of the dealerships he worked at was selling nearly 700 vehicles a month, so you can imagine the amount of paper work Omar was staring at daily.
As for Angie, he says this: “She’s the best I’ve seen — and she makes it look so easy.”
“I’ve seen and worked with a lot of people in this industry, and Angie is truly remarkable in every single respect,” he says. “She is a great asset for us. She’s very dependable. And she does everything with a smile. We’re very lucky to have her.”
Some Finance Managers push deals to squeeze them into the critical end-of-the-month report. Not Angie.
“She is so organized and thorough,” Omar says. “And she is really on top of it when the month closes. There is nothing missing. Many Finance Directors push transactions because it takes two or three days to clean and close the deals.
“But Angie closes the month when it closes, no matter what. That’s the way it should be done.”
From the customer’s viewpoint, a Finance Manager may simply seem like the individual who writes up the sale, fills in the blanks on the contract and gives you a receipt – well, a bunch of them.
That’s not exactly true.
At an automobile dealership, the Finance Manager handles millions of dollars.
“Everything in the car business is about selling,” Omar says.
Even in the Finance Department.
There are so many important issues for customers to be aware of, especially when you’re buying a Land Rover or Jaguar: extended service contracts, vehicle theft recovery systems, paint sealants and interior stain repellants, window tint, plus tire and wheel protection, to name a few.
“When you’re in finance, you need to be able to explain these things clearly and concisely,” Omar says. “And Angie is great at it because she utilizes her knowledge to work with customers and mutually determine what is best for them and their new car.”
A customer may purchase a car in anticipation of keeping it for 10 years but the warranty is over in four years. So it takes an effective and patient Finance Manager to explain to the customer the peace of mind afforded by extended coverage and encourage them to protect their investment.
“Angie is great at laying this out because she communicates very well with people and is very sincere and honest,” Omar says. “People see that – and they appreciate that.”
5425 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim Hills, CA 92807
325 W. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105