Don't you just love carefree days; the kind of day where everything just seems to be going your way? Don and I started with one of those relaxing days recently, but everything quickly changed when we took a quick trip to the local market.
Someone stole my wallet. That's right, my wallet. Can you believe it? I had my purse in the cart basket ? like many of us do while shopping ? and didn't realize it had been lifted from my purse until later. Well, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me share my experience along with what I learned and now wish to share with every woman I know.
Don and I were enjoying the day with our grandson. It was a fun family day with nothing out of the ordinary. The cart was by me, and Don and our grandson close by. With our shopping completed, we made our way to the cashier. I wrote a check, as I always do, and was asked for identification. No problem. Let me pull out my wallet?my wallet?oh, I must have left it at home by the phone when I ordered pizza the night before. Stolen never crossed my mind.
We arrived home and my wallet was not by the phone or anywhere in the house. Before I could panic the phone rang. It was our Valencia Acura dealership calling the house. They wanted to know if I had my wallet in my possession. No. Why? Do you have it?
Needless to say, it had been stolen. Our staff member had received a call regarding an attempted $23,000 jewelry purchase. Holy smokes! That was certainly not me. Sure enough, a woman with blond shoulder length hair matching my physical description tried to make a large purchase. Had it not been for the jeweler asking this woman about my work with Soroptimist (thank goodness for all the press coverage Soroptimist continues to receive!) and having the woman stumble on her answer, things might have been much worse. The purchase was denied, my office informed and the Sheriff's department notified.
The road to recovery has not been an easy one; the thief was successful in obtaining a large sum cash advance on one of my credit cards. Can you ever truly be prepared for something like this? Unfortunately, you never know when you will become someone's victim. However, you can take necessary steps to protect yourself and speed up your recovery.
Make a copy of EVERYTHING in your wallet and keep it someplace safe and accessible. It may seem like busy work, but it is worth it. Also, keep a list of all important phone numbers. If you become a victim of theft having this information makes it easier to call, cancel, or freeze credit cards, bank accounts, and other important documents. Also, be observant of your surroundings even if it is during the day and loved ones are with you. This can happen anytime and any place.
How honored and truly grateful I feel for the friendships established at Valencia Acura and the support we continue to receive each and every day. I have only the highest praise for our local Sheriff's department who went above and beyond to help. Our community's care and concern for one another is overwhelming in the best possible way. As scary and violating as this experience was, I am reminded of what is important: those you love and care about. The cost? Priceless.
2012-2013 Soroptimist International of the Americas President-elect
When I first became a Soroptimist member years ago, I vividly remember attending my first club awards ceremony, where we honored our Women's Opportunity Award winners and I had the privilege of meeting these amazing women of strength. After hearing their compelling stories, I had my "a-ha" moment, completely sold on the relevance of our mission. From that moment and every moment forward, I knew Soroptimists make a difference.
Little did I know then that I would one day become President-elect for Soroptimist International of the Americas. The announcement came while I was in Scottsbluff, Nebraska attending a regional conference. I could not have been more honored or excited!
I became a member of Soroptimist International of Santa Clarita Valley in 1999, shortly after attending that first meeting, and in recent years joined SI of Greater Santa Clarita Valley. I have been fortunate to hold leadership positions at the local, regional, federation and international levels. My path has been swift starting with local club president and auction chair, then Camino Real Region District Director and Governor. In 2010 I was elected to the Board of Directors for SIA and currently serve as Secretary/Treasurer. In September I continue my journey as President-elect.
In my current role as Secretary/Treasurer, I oversee funds and financial accounts, prepare minutes for board meetings and conventions, and contribute to strategic planning and program development for the organization. Simply put, I help the Finance Committee ensure that we have the necessary resources to continue making a difference in the lives of the women and girls we serve.
SIA's global mission of improving the lives of women and girls is personally important to me. Being President-elect begins a new leadership chapter and personal journey in my life, bursting with opportunity. I can't wait to begin! Time is flying by; I assume office on September 1, and begin the trek to the office of President the following year.
Walt Disney once said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." What a great reminder not to limit ourselves or the possibilities!
Travels, Meetings, and Conventions? Oh My!
There's busy, then there's good, hectic, crazy busy! In fact, so busy that there were times when it seemed I spent more time in the air than feet on the ground. My life has been one long travel itinerary since spring? and it's all good!
As the current Secretary/Treasurer of Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA), I have had many roles and opportunities throughout the year. Primarily, my role is to help ensure Soroptimist can continue running our global federation effectively and efficiently, ensuring programs that truly make a difference in the lives of women and girls. It's an awesome responsibility and one that I embrace wholeheartedly!
I also had the pleasure of traveling to many of the SIA regional conferences. SIA is comprised of more than 36,000 Soroptimist members in 19 different countries and territories. I was able to visit Long Beach, Nebraska, Courtenay, B.C., Tijuana, and Las Vegas to attend their conferences. Everywhere I went I had the opportunity to meet the most wonderful salt-of-the-earth women whose commitment to bettering the lives of women and girls inspire me.
As the wave of regional conferences subsided, Don and I packed our bags for Hawaii to attend the Soroptimist International of the Americas 42nd Biennial Convention in July, where I had the opportunity to share some of my recent experiences. Needless to say, I felt like a rock star on stage, using Teleprompters and addressing thousands of wonderful, inspiring women!
The conference in Hawaii was packed with information and learning opportunities. Our days consisted of presentations and workshops, but we also took time to learn more about the area. Did you know that Hawaii has the longest life expectancy? How about the fact Waikiki Beach attracts 72,000 visitors in any given day, which is as much as 44% of all tourists present in the entire state of Hawaii? I promise Don was one of those visitors on the beach many of the days we were there.
All in all, the thing I enjoyed the most over the past year has to be the many friendships I've made along the way. This just reinforces in my mind that the foundation of friendship goes a long way, whether in an organization or a business like Valencia Acura. Friendships and the relationships that have evolved from them have become the lifeblood of both my personal life and our dealership.
Acura sales and puppy dog tails
Nine months ago we added a new edition to the family: Test Drive, a loving Imperial Shih-Tzu that we call "Tessi". This royal beauty is an essential part of our Greeting Team, excited about her new job and coming to work everyday. While she has clear career goals in mind, Tessi also quickly assimilated into our personal family lives and positively adores her big brother, Bumper. It is clear that the "Friendship Dealership" just got friendlier, as people love to come in just to meet the newest four-legged member of the Valencia Acura team.
Speaking of new editions, we have more exciting news to share of the four-wheel variety. First is the all-new 2013 ILX. There are many options available, including a hybrid version, yet it remains an entry-level car, making it a perfect way to dip your toe into the pool of luxury cars.
The second is the completely redesigned RDX, which is our smaller sport utility vehicle. There are plenty of updates and changes to this all new version. Changing with the times, the vehicle is no longer a turbo, making it more fuel efficient for drivers. Even though it is in the smaller sport utility family, it feels large inside with plenty of headroom.
Combining cost-conscious, consumer-friendly features with the luxury of an Acura is exciting for me to see, because it seems to be just what today's car buyer is looking for.
My suggestion? Come familiarize yourself with all of our new family members at Valencia Acura. Say hello to Tessi, and while you're here why not take a test drive? When you walk through the doors, be ready to be welcomed with warm hearts and wagging tails!
Fleming named Woman of the Year
By Signal Staff
March 15, 2012
Valencia Acura owner Cheri Fleming was honored Monday as Woman of the Year for the Fifth Supervisorial District by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Commission for Women at its 27th Annual Women of the Year Luncheon at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.
She was nominated for the award by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
Antonovich's other nominees included Margaret Neil, Athletic Director at Paraclete High School and Virginia Goss Cushman, community advocate and former educator.
Fleming was nominated because of her years of work with Soroptimist International of the Americas, an organization of business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world. Fleming currently serves the organization as secretary/treasurer for Soroptimist International of the Americas Federation, which encompasses 19 territories, in addition to being a member of the board of directors and the Soroptimist International finance committee.
In 2009 and 2010, she was a Soroptimist delegate to the annual NGO Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York City.
"I am very pleased to receive this award on behalf of all my fellow Soroptimist members," Fleming said. "It's an outstanding group of dedicated women and I consider it an honor just to be part of such a great organization."
Staff Assistant for Supervisor Antonovich
Best for Women
Inspiration comes to us in many ways. It might be the momentary glimpse of a beautiful sunset, the ever-present smile of a loved one, or knowing that you're a small piece in a big puzzle of amazing women committed to improving the lives of women and girls around the world.
I am inspired everyday. It doesn't matter whether I'm working behind the desk at the dealership or out in the community or just spending time with my family - inspiration finds me.
This summer brought inspiration to a new level. First stop was Montreal for a Soroptimist International (SI) Board Meeting and Convention. This is a time when all four of our federations throughout the world meet and share global projects. It was during this time when I also had the privilege, honor and good fortune to participate in a run-off election for President-elect of Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA). SIA represents around 1,300 clubs encompassing 36,000 members. I extend best wishes to fellow Soroptimist and incoming President-elect Raquel Arreola Ruiz of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, and I'm excited to support her in my role as the newly-elected Secretary/Treasurer for our federation.
Next stop was Hawaii where I once again joined Soroptimist friends and colleagues for a Leadership Institute in Honolulu. The name, Soroptimist, means "best for women," and that's exactly what the organization is all about. Our programs effect fundamental change for women through economic and social empowerment. Soroptimists are women at their best, working to help other women to be their best.
Valencia Acura is proud to sponsor the "Drive for Dreams" campaign, a fundraiser and opportunity drawing to win a one-year lease for an Acura TSX or $10,000 cash. The campaign launched at the Leadership Institute and runs until next year's 42nd Biennial Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii in July 2012. I encourage everyone to support the work of Soroptimist by visiting http://www.soroptimist.org/Drive4Dreams.html.
On a local level I also invite you to join Valencia Acura and my Soroptimist club SI of Greater Santa Clarita Valley for their 4th Annual "The Wine Affair?Sip, Stroll and Savor the Sounds". On October 16th we will walk the streets on and around Valencia's Town Center Drive and at The Patios - tasting, eating and socializing in support of women's health issues. Restaurants, wine bars and retailers will once again join together and host a delicious selection of wines, appetizers and great live entertainment. For more information please visit http://www.thewineaffair.org/topics/news/.
So how did I become involved in Soroptimist in a way that truly changed my life? It all started in 1999 when someone asked me to come to a local club meeting. And the rest of the story is pure inspiration!
I love when I'm driving and happen to catch Michael Josephson's "Character Counts" segment on news radio. His rhythmic tone and motivational words combine to truly inspire and give me pause to reflect on the character building moments in my own life.
When Don and I opened the doors of Valencia Acura in April 1997, we knew we wanted to build our brand based on reputation. We also knew that typical dealerships spent a great amount of time and money on advertising to develop their brand.
But we're not typical. From the very beginning, we chose to focus on relationships allowing "Friendship" and reputation to become our brand. Fifteen years later we're still living our dream each and every day.
We're proud of the fact that our dealership has the highest customer loyalty rate in the nation! Some customers have been with us seven, eight, nine, ten years or longer. Others walk in the door for the first time. Whether a customer is new or established, we strive to treat everyone with respect and appreciation.
The same can be said for our amazing staff, many who have been with us for what seems like since the beginning of time. We know you can't have great customer service without a high level of employee satisfaction. The two go hand in hand.
I'm reminded of a customer who recently stopped me in the grocery store to thank me and shake my hand. They were purchasing their tenth Acura and wanted to express their gratitude for the relationship and friendship they felt with Valencia Acura throughout the years. You can bet I was thanking them for their loyalty and support but, more importantly, for letting us know we were on the right path. This simple gesture let us know that we had made a positive impact in our customers' lives and indeed we were more than a dealership and brand name to them. We had built a friendship. Yes, character does count.
Don and I are honored to be recognized by the Boy Scouts of America as one of this year's "Leaders of Character" on September 17th. With this honor, we reaffirm our commitment to community, customers and country.
Coming Home Again; A Perfect Fit
We're thrilled! We're ecstatic! We're dancing on air! Our family is home again and working under the same roof!
Our son, Brian Fleming, worked for Valencia Acura eight years before venturing off with his family to explore life in Colorado. Separated by distance for the past seven years, Don and I enjoyed traveling to the beautiful state of Colorado as time allowed spending time with our son and his growing family.
But now they're back! Living, working and playing in Santa Clarita!
Brian rejoined our team the first week in June as Valencia Acura's Sales Manager. Working so well with General Sales Manager Daniel Choe, it feels like he never left.
What's more, customers are thrilled to walk through the door and see Brian's familiar face. We're living our "Friendship" motto with customers and family alike, each and every day!
Our grandson, Bradley, was a mere babe when they left for Colorado. Now he's a seven-year-old chip-off-Papa-Don's-block. The two chum around taking golf lessons these days. (I'll leave it to each and every reader to come up with their own humorous remark as to who's really benefiting from the lessons!)
And now there's our beautiful three-year-old granddaughter, Farah. Can I tell you how nice it is to have someone to oodle over and share lip gloss with? Yes, grandkids spice up life and, in the grand scheme of things, are the perfect companions for golf, barbeques, swimming, sleepovers and just about everything associated with fun!
All in all, it's been an amazing family and business experience. Life is good!
There's a first time for everything. Bradley played a few rounds of golf with Papa Don and Brian at the Big "V" recently, and got to drive the golf cart!
TWO FURRY REASONS
If you've ever been to Valencia Acura or seen its advertising, then you know why the dealership owned by Don and Cheri Fleming was the natural choice to be the Pet Adoption Sponsor of the SCV Pet & Family Expo. To the Flemings, their family dogs are a whole lot more than just pets. Spark Plug and Bumper are Valencia Acura's Official Greeters and a friendly, tail-wagging presence in the showroom every day.
"It's been that way since we opened - because we've always looked at our dogs as family members," said Cheri, "So it made perfect sense to bring them into the family business." Don added, "Now if customers don't see them running around the place, they always ask us where they are - and we wouldn't have it any other way."
Not surprisingly, both dogs have a slightly different perspective on the relationship.
"Don't let Don and Cheri fool you. We are the real masterminds behind Valencia Acura," asserted Spark Plug. Bumper continues, "They're well-trained, but do you really think they could run a world-class organization like this on their own?"
Everyone agrees the family dynamic has worked very well for the dealership. The dogs have helped enhance the friendly atmosphere in the showroom. As a result, many customers have become friends and Valencia Acura is now known as "The Friendship Dealership".
Valencia Acura has often featured the line "It's not just a dealership, it's a friendship" in its advertising. But it's clear those words are meant to be much more than just an ad theme. The entire team considers it to be their personal commitment to every customer - and it has apparently worked very well.
Earlier this year, Valencia Acura was awarded Acura's most prestigious honor - the Dealership of Distinction award - which is reserved for only those dealers that excel in providing "an exceptional customer experience". Then in February, their award-winning service department achieved the highly coveted position of Number One in the Nation for Customer Satisfaction.
Cheri proudly concludes "We've been number one in our district and zone many times - but being number one in the nation is especially gratifying for everyone here."