Lauren Watson is the Marketing Communications Controller at Imperial Car Supermarkets and is based in Southampton. The Group is part of the FOXY Lady Approved female friendly car dealer network in Hampshire and we think Lauren is a fantastic female ambassador there.
We wanted to know more about Lauren’s career and how she moved from mechanics into such a key marketing role that many females are likely to be interested in.
1. What is your job and what does this entail?
I monitor all online activity from press releases, reviews to social media. Our aim is to have a clear message about the services we offer and to portray this on all the various communications platforms that we use.
2. Did you always want to work in the motor industry ie how did this come about?
Growing up I always showed a keen interest in cars, I spent many a weekend (admittedly I was grounded) in the garage with an engine in front of me and a toolbox beside me with instructions to take it all apart. The only trouble was, I had to remember how to put it all back together again!
So I left school with a passion for cars and a nagging voice saying ‘don’t go there’. Clearly I didn’t listen! I went on to do a Mechanics apprenticeship where I dabbled in old classic Jaguars and Japanese sports cars – completely different ends of the spectrum but hey it was fun!
I moved over to the retail side of things in 2006 where I got my taste for marketing. Teamed with what I already knew about cars and the knowledge I have since gained about online and social media marketing has got me to where I am today.
3. Tell us about your career progression.
In 2004 I took up an apprenticeship in Mechanics and did this for two years. You would have thought it would have been the men that fazed me, but after surviving the initiation process, the cold and grubby workshop and the 2 week bet they had placed, they knew I meant business!
I really enjoyed my time as an apprentice mechanic and the knowledge I gained still serves me well today.
From there I used this knowledge in sales and held a successful junior sales position for 18 months before being approached by Imperial Car Supermarkets then known as Imperial Cars Of Swanwick. The business was a small used car retail outlet of around 40 cars at that stage. It was here I took an interest in the advertising and marketing side of the business and took it on as a full time role.
Having been here for almost 7 years and seeing the company grow so much it really has been an exciting time to be involved. The way marketing has changed in that small time frame has been a challenging but fun task.
4. When did you get the social media bug and how has this benefited your business?
Social Media was introduced to the business almost 3 years ago now. It was something we initially set up to have a presence but were unsure of how to use it to our benefit. After many months of trial and error we cracked it, we now have a weekly audience of over 50,000 people on average that engage with us on Facebook and have topped the Independent Dealers on Twitter list conducted by BirdSong and AutoTrader as well as obtaining the number 3 spot in Car Dealer Magazines poll.
I think Social Media helps to give a business a voice, an online personality so to speak. We have many people visiting our website each week from Social Media platforms and this continues to grow week on week.
5. Would you say that the industry is more female friendly than it used to be (and if so, how)?
Over the years I would definitely say that the industry has become more female friendly from a customer perspective. Which is how it should be, after all, we are the decision makers in the household ;-) From an employee perspective this has improved too. I have always said it takes a certain breed of female to survive the automotive industry.
Salesman can be strange creatures, you just need to know how to work them.
6. What advice would you give young women about career opportunities in the car sales industry?
Go for it! It is one of the most rewarding sales jobs you could go for. You get to drive nice cars, speak to a variety of different people on a daily basis from all walks of life and there’s nothing better than when you help a customer find their perfect car.
Purchasing a car is a big thing, it’s the second biggest purchase you’re ever likely to make next to buying a house. Therefore, when a customer comes in, the majority of the time for need and not want, it’s great to drill down and find out what exactly the car needs to do for them, which in turn helps you build a great rapport with them.
7. How do you switch off after a stressful week at work?
Nothing helps me to switch off from work quite like Peanut does (Peanut is Lauren\‘s little Teacup Yorkshire Terrier) and retail therapy…
Shoes and Ted Baker handbags make everything better!
8. Tell us about the cars you have driven and any all time favourite..
Wow… This is a hard one. I have driven many cars such as classic Jaguars like the E-Type, to a 1000 BHP Toyota Supra, BMW’s, Porsches, Mercedes-Benz, Bentley and even a Datsun 240Z… The list goes on!
For a daily commute, I would love nothing more than to do it in a Mercedes-Benz SL63 Black Edition! But I’ll be sticking to my MINI Cooper S for a little longer I think ;-)
Were money no object… it’d have to be a Pagani Zonda!
Thank you for sharing this with us Lauren. So now we know who is behind the social media face of Imperial Cars at Twitter and that really impressive Facebook Page.