When Steph visited FOXY Lady Approved used car dealer, My-Motor-Net in Burry Port, she wanted to know more about its female owner Denise Merrigan and this is what they discussed.
What did you do before the motor industry?
I worked for Tesco for more than 20 years as a Customer Service Manager, in Bristol and Wales. I looked after some 300 staff including ones at the check out and spread over 9 sections.
To this day I can’t bear having to queue and I expect good customer service wherever I go. This was a good grounding for My-Motor-Net…
What brought you into the industry?
My husband took early retirement and was looking for a challenge. That’s us both flanking Sir Stirling Moss at the recent Motor Trader Awards. It just seemed the right time for me to try something new too. I had the customer service background and he had motor industry experience. We started dabbling in car sales from home and this business just grew and grew. When we saw the empty garage in a prime location near us in 2011 we just had to have it!
What bits of the job do you enjoy most?
I love everything to do with dealing with the customer.
Every customer is different and my aim is that they must all be totally happy with the car they drive and then buy. Sometimes the one you like the look of isn’t a comfortable fit or drive hence the need for a lengthy test drive.
Nobody can tell you what’s right for you but you! It’s a personal thing and because cars are so expensive you need yours to be spot on for you.
Have you noticed any differences in car buying behaviour today?
People are much better informed nowadays and have usually done their car shopping homework online. Gone are the days of walking around a forecourt and choosing a nice looking car that catches your eye.
Do you find any differences between male and female car buyers?
I’d say that some women know everything about cars, more than some men even and most are highly confident buyers. Most of us are influenced by the look of a car but few females know much about mechanical matters (like me). We want a car that’s practical for our needs, economic to run and which comes with a good and reliable warranty – which all My-Motor-Net cars do.
Men seem to be more interested in the engine performance than women, in general.
What makes this a good job for women?
Whilst this is still a highly masculine industry and many more men than women sell cars this doesn’t have to be a male thing because we’re dealing with people and women are really good at that!
I think a car sales role should appeal to more women as it can be a flexible working role. But maybe larger car dealers can’t offer the same flexibility as we can? I like to think we act as a team here – we all help each other when it’s necessary and of course we aren’t driven by the ‘sales commission’ culture which might prevent others from working together.
What makes My-Motor-Net better than the rest?
I can think of lots of plus-es for us here. To begin with, we knew our market and customer needs and did a lot of research before we started up.
Our warranty product is the WMS Group’s Safe and Sound which we think is one of the best out there.
Our variety of finance packages covers all needs, including Black Horse, MotoNovo and Close Finance. Our local Black Horse rep is female and I can call her at any time which I really appreciate.
We also sell cars all over the country which I hope proves that our pre-sales used car checks are very thorough because we don’t want any long distance aftersales hiccups or returns from places as far flung as John O’Groats or Lands End, for example.
We’ve delivered cars to Scotland and the South West recently and if a local person wants us to bring a car to them we’re happy to. We charge a £100 holding deposit to secure a car but that’s refundable if need be – and trust me, it rarely needs to be.
Why are women good at selling cars?
As the number of females buying cars continues to rise, I often hear women say how nice it is to buy a car from another woman. Perhaps we see things in the same light?
Other than that and based on my own experience could it be that women are often more truthful or simply better informed than some men?!!
I like to think we also bring integrity to the party and then there’s female intuition of course – we are good at interpreting the customer’s best interests I find.
Our second car dealership, at Pontarddulais is run by Vivien and I’m sure she’d agree with me here!
How do you make your showrooms welcoming for women?
I like them to be clean first and foremost because this is important to me and women in general. I make a nice cup of coffee to anyone waiting and there’s a children’s play area with toys.
These amenities appeal to men as well of course so it’s quite simple – I like to provide service levels I’d expect myself – regardless of gender really.
Finally Denise, what would your favourite car be?
I see and like so many but I’m a practical person at heart. It’d be hard to beat a Honda Civic and if I wanted an estate car you can’t do much better than a Volvo for comfort and safety. These are two lovely brands.
If you’d like to know more about My-Motor-Net and their showrooms at Burry Port and Pontarddulais, near Swansea, you can visit their website and contact Denise there.
PS: My-Motor-Net would like to recruit a local apprentice in the Swansea area but has been unsuccessful finding the right one to date. This could be an excellent opportunity for a young female to ‘learn and earn’ at the same time in a female friendly customer service oriented business environment.