As consumer needs in the car retail sector change, Nigel McMinn, managing director for Lookers' Motor Division, explains that it's time to improve public perceptions and welcome an influx of talented and enthusiastic graduates
What's your view on the current state of the automotive industry and the direction it's heading?
There has been a shift in the needs of consumers within the automotive retail sector that has gone hand in hand with developing technology.
In previous decades, a customer would visit a dealership wanting to learn about vehicles, and it was the salesperson's job to inform and advise on the details of the sale. Nowadays, with increased connectivity and information readily available, consumers are much better informed. They don't want the 'hard sell' or to hear facts and figures they already have at their fingertips repeated to them.
Instead they're looking for great service and practical advice from knowledgeable staff. This is something we've looked to address as we've made the transition to the information age.
We've always looked to change the image of the hard-selling salesman
How are you planning for the future as a company?
We've approached it with a balanced strategy: investing in people who are well-suited to delivering the high-quality service we have envisioned, while supporting them with the technology they need to do so.
Therefore, we've invested a lot of time and budget towards ensuring that our staff have the tools to excel in their respective roles. This has been carefully woven together to create a multi-channel, customer-focused strategy.
We also recognise the importance of our online presence to consumers, so we've also made sure that our website and social media are geared towards being as helpful and insightful as possible. Our high-performing in-house digital teams are constantly working to ensure we're able to reach new customers, as well as supporting our existing clients as much as possible.
Tell us about the types of jobs you offer graduates…
Because of the poor public perception of the automotive retail industry, which is based on the dated idea of the hard-selling salesman, it isn't always the first choice for graduates when they leave university.
We've always looked to change this image by creating exciting and challenging job roles that offer competitive salaries and great perks. This also helps us to hire quality staff that can really help the company to progress and reach its goals.
I don't think graduates are really aware of the fantastic diversity of roles available within the sector - something that is, again, probably due to the old perception of the car salesman.
While it's true that we look for skilled sales people, graduates should know that there are more aspects to the company than they might think. We're able to offer them a wealth of roles across a number of disciplines, including marketing, sales, customer service, IT, finance, and the digital field.
What attributes do you look for in new recruits?
We're always looking to attract bright, young and enthusiastic people to Lookers. These types of people are not just essential to our business, but the rest of the industry too, if it's to thrive in the future.
It always helps if our new recruits have a passion for the product - that is, a real love of cars - which can really shine through in their day-to-day work. Our customers will always feel the benefit from interacting with staff showing genuine enthusiasm for the product they're promoting.
Additionally, there's always a place at Lookers for people who aim to deliver first-rate customer service - the automotive retail sector is a great choice for those who love to work directly with clients.
What advice do you have for students and graduates interested in pursuing automotive retail careers?
Look beyond the image of the car salesman and see the real diversity of opportunities within the sector. There's a huge choice of roles they can put their hard-earned skills to use in, with great benefits offered in return.
You should approach each opportunity with an open mind and a willingness to learn as much as possible. It also helps if you're able to get on with others and work as part of a team - as you often need to pull together to meet targets and goals. If you're looking to get into sales, some natural ability really does help - be confident, show some personality and use your product knowledge to get ahead.
If you have a passion for cars and the right skillset, you can go far in this industry. There's plenty of room for career progression, so even if you begin in an entry level role, there are many opportunities to advance if you show enthusiasm, initiative, and a dedication to the job.
Find out more
- Discover what graduate opportunities are available at Lookers.
- Read about how car retail jobs are changing.
- Explore the transport and logistics sector.
- Search for graduate jobs and schemes in retail, sales and transport.