Interviewed November 2014.
The last time we spoke to Alyson was in 2006. Eight years later her job has changed out of all recognition - as has the company!
Q When did you join Southdowns and how has the company changed during that
A When I joined Southdowns in January 2006, the company was based in Aldingbourne and employed fewer than 10 people. My key role was to provide support to then office administrator Julie Topley (now customer liaison manager and based at Alchorne Place) and the company accountant. I also acted as the receptionist - a job I continued to do until 2011 and was also chief coffee maker!
That was eight years and the company has grown massively, with more staff and the business now operating on two sites - the showroom in Painter Close and the workshop in Alchorne Place. I canít believe how the business has changed since I started. We are selling far more vehicles and there is just more of everything to keep on top of.
Q How has your job changed since you joined the company?
A My job has changed completely since 2006. Now weíve got a bigger sales team, Iíve taken on the role of Sales Administrator which frees up their time to deal with customers, not paperwork. I do miss working on reception because I used to see everyone as they came through the door - and I miss seeing the workshop team and Julie Topley - who I sat next to for years - as they are all based at our other site now. However, I couldnít do the job Iím doing now if I was still on the front desk as I need the peace and quiet of being in an office to concentrate on my work.
When I first joined Southdowns, we were selling around 5-6 vehicles a month, so the admin was relatively simple. Now we sell between 20-30 vehicles in an average month and I pick up all the related admin, so I do a lot of paperwork! I register and tax all the vehicles we sell, dealing with the DVLA and Revenue and Customs to generate our VAT receipts and also pick up all the little jobs that the sales team donít have time to deal with. Weíre now in the process of bringing in a new admin database which should make it easier to generate to manage warranties and invoices but she will still be involved in inputting all the data and overseeing the system. I also help Jeanette (the Southdowns financial controller) with some of the less technical finance tasks, which I find really interesting as it adds an extra dimension to her work.
Q Eight years is a long time to stay in one job, so what has kept Alyson
working for the same company for nearly a decade?
A Sadly I think weíve lost some of the family feel that Southdowns used to have but that is inevitable as we grow. Itís still a great place to work, with a good team of people and I get a real buzz from what I do. Iím on a constant learning curve, which I like as I enjoy a challenge,Ē she says.
Alyson has two grown up children and lives in Waterlooville with her fiancť Rod Freeman, who also works for Southdowns as a sales specialist. They married in May 2015.