Jodie Barber and Joanna Smith from Wink Cars set up their business following a challenging Covid-period, spotting a gap in the market for a car dealership run just by women.
Smith had worked in car sales at other dealerships for seven years previously and convinced Barber, who had been in the beauty industry, to set up shop with her.
Speaking on the Car Dealer Podcast, Smith said: ‘I had seven years experience within commercial dealerships and family run dealerships. I’d left the trade for a couple of years and I just missed it. I missed it so much.
‘I thought I’ve seen these family dealers doing it – why not do it myself? I saw a gap in the market for a female-run car dealer, approached Jodie and we went from there.’
‘I was into a totally different career self-employed, I was actually doing beauty, hence the hair, makeup and all that,’ Barber added.
‘I was suffering at the back end to Covid with my business. Jo came with a new challenge and she’s a good sales woman. Let’s just say that. She sold me the idea very well.’
The business has now been running for three years based in the West Midlands, and Car Dealer editor-in-chief James Baggott asked if they felt being female in a male dominated industry had been an advantage for them.
‘Times have changed,’ said Barber. ‘When I was working in dealerships seven years ago it was for the Pendragon group, and those times have changed from 10, 20 and 30 years ago.
‘The hard sales where you’ve sat down in front of a salesman and he’s been informing you, you need this, this and this. Times have moved on, times have changed.
‘We find the public don’t want to be sold to like that anymore.
‘With our approach, we put our personality out there when we sell. We’re honest, if we don’t know the answer, we’ll say. We’ll tell them we don’t know the answer, if gonna be a couple more days because it needs work, we’re honest about that.
‘People respect that and want that more these days than to be sat down and hard sold to. I mean, there’s no right or wrong way to sell as long as you get the car sold but, for ourselves, this is what works for us.’
Smith added: ‘You have to be careful what you say, not wanting to offend the men in the industry, but [as a woman] you have a trustworthy factor and people do buy into that, and it works in our favour.
‘We do it the right way, don’t get us wrong, and it’s worked against us a lot in the motor trade as well.
‘When we started, people didn’t take us seriously. They saw two girls rock up with a few cars.
‘We were approaching mechanics, bodywork specialists, and then we had a few eye rolls and things when we walked away. But we’ve got thick skin.’
It began with a few cars sold from Smith’s driveway but 12 months ago the pair moved into their pitch where they keep around 15 to 20 cars in stock.
When asked what would be the one thing they’d like to go back and tell their younger selves, they said ‘have patience’.
‘Three years have gone like that,’ said Smith. ‘At the time, we wanted to be where we are now.
‘I’m already thinking where we want to be in the next three years.
‘But those three years have gone by so quickly, so just have a bit of patience.
‘Keep doing what you’re doing, have pride in what you do, offer a good service, and don’t get ahead of yourself.’
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