Ben came to Southdowns having spent more than 20 years in the motor industry, working for major PLCs and manufacturers including Peugeot, Sytner and, most recently, Caffyns in Brighton.
Q What attracted you to work for Southdowns?
A I had been a Southdowns' customer for about three years and was headhunted a couple of times by MD Michael Ayling. In the end I said 'yes'!
Q What are your key responsibilities?
A I run the sales team, managing the sales side of the business on a day-to-day basis. I'm not just a manager but am very hands-on, following up leads, meeting and greeting customers, talking them through the various makes and models we stock and sending them away with the motorhome that really meets their needs, their lifestyle and their bank balance. We really do have something to suit everyone.
As Sales Manager, my key role is in liaising with manufacturers; travelling around Europe to visit the factories and taking a major role in our presence at the motorhome trade shows we attend on a regular basis. I also focus strongly on our Concorde customers. They are buying into an exciting and complex brand - the Rolls Royce of European motorhomes - and it is important that I invest my time in ensuring that our customers are as happy with the product as they can be. We do make mistakes but I like to think that we recognise what has gone wrong and remedy any issues as quickly and painlessly as possible. In our business the customer is king and we constantly strive to improve our service.
Q What is the best thing about working for the company
A Working at Southdowns is very different from the motor industry. Cars are in my family and both my grandfather and my father ran the family garage business. Now, I'm finding that in the motorhome sector, we have a different relationship with our customers - it's a people business, a softer sell and as a result is a more enjoyable process. We build relationships with our customers that we hope will last a lifetime as they come back to us for servicing and to change their vehicles over time.
The other exciting thing about working here is that unlike a major PLC - which is where I've mainly worked in the past - we are a small and adaptable company and we can make decisions quickly. Having been here for a while now, I feel that my opinion counts. I'm involved in making the decisions that are crucial to the way in which the company is run and that affect our approach to customer well-being. I feel very much part of the family and the team. That's not often the case in a large company.
Q Does working with motorhomes hold an appeal for you?
A To be a good salesman you have to be passionate about what you're selling. I can relate to our customers because I've been in their shoes and I'm enthusiastic about the product. I've travelled in France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Australia in a motorhome and that experience helps when you're talking to customers.
Q If you could take a motorhome anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A I would love to take a motorhome to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix - I've already scoped out the campsite!
Q Finally, what is your personal philosophy?
A Enjoy what you do, but take time out to be yourself - and make time for your family.