So what’s coming up for Ridgeway MINI in 2016?
My strapline for 2016 is 'bigger and better'. That's building on the foundations of what has been a great 2015, in which seven out of eight of our departments grew. To me it's all about marginal gains. If we can do it bigger and better, then we’ll do it.
Four of our retailers will be redesigned with the new corporate identities as well as a redevelopment of our Salisbury dealership.
Do you think the brands are well positioned to grow?
I think so. The great thing about BMW and MINI as a whole is their ‘simply successful’ approach, and at the moment that means that the brand is simplifying everything it does. Of course, the quality is also constantly improving as well.
MINI had a fantastic 2015 in which it sold 71,000 registrations, so it’s very well positioned to build on that through 2016.
What was your personal highlight of 2015?
Without a doubt, my meeting of the All Blacks after the Rugby World Cup final this year.
I was invited by the CEO of BMW to the final, and I attended along with around eight other heads of big dealer groups, and we stayed at the nearby Pennyhill Park Hotel. We came back after a great final to find out that the All Blacks were also staying there, having their after-party.
So how were the All Blacks?
They were absolutely charming people, from the manager to the superstars. Richie McCaw was a perfect gentleman, who stopped to chat and take photos – it was the same with Dan Carter. It was a very surreal and exceptional experience. We felt at four o'clock in the morning that the party was just getting started. That'll live in my memory for a long time.
Have you always been a fan of the game?
Well historically I’m a football fan, but once I got into rugby, I was amazed at the cameraderie, the spirit, and the sense of family. It’s there in the players, but also in the supporters. You can go to an England-France match and sit next to the French supporters and you might as well be sat next to your best friend. The spirit in which the sport is played is exceptional, I've never experienced that in any other sport.
Craig, can you tell us a little about your background please?
I joined MINI Bournemouth from Ridgeway Volkswagen in Newbury. My role here is fairly similar to what I was doing at Volkswagen, in that I head up the business and manage the team, from sales managers to aftersales managers and parts managers.
What are the key differences between this business and Ridgeway Volkswagen?
There’s not a lot of difference between the areas of Newbury and Bournemouth. Both are very much aligned with the ethos of the MINI brand, and as such I’m excited to be talking with so many Bournemouth locals!
In terms of the geography of Bournemouth, the local customers are loyal to Ridgeway, and have no real reason to travel outside of Bournemouth to buy a car, and that was also the case in Newbury.
Is the Ridgeway logo as recognisable in Bournemouth?
This is key. The main difference is that Ridgeway Volkswagen is a very dominant badge in the Newbury area, but BMW in Bournemouth isn’t as prevalent. We can protect that by offering great customer service.
There’s a new, enhanced customer focus and hopefully this edition of DRIVEN will help to deliver that message.
Ridgeway has a home territory of Newbury and Oxfordshire and we have ventured south with MINI Bournemouth, so we have to work to ensure the name is as well-recognised. When you come and see the facility and have a chat with the people who work here you realise that. It’s the sleeping giant.
Hi Jim. How long have you been at Ridgeway?
I’ve been here for six months and it’s been a good experience so far.
How’s September been?
It’s been busy, but good. It’s been a hectic summer and cars like the Cooper S have proved to be popular, and I sold one today actually, which is always a pleasure. We sell a lot of new and used cars here and perhaps the joy of Bournemouth is the great variety we possess. All customers have their own individual taste and there’s a diverse age range too, so it’s good to be able to offer them something different.
The launch of the new MINI Clubman is on the horizon. Are people excited about that?
It’s going to be a hugely exciting model and a lot of development has gone into it. It features a lot of new technology, such as the new MINI Puddle Light, which projects a light onto the floor when you open the door to help visibility.
There’s a lot of toys on it, and I know we’re all excited to get our hands on it here. The current Clubman is very popular and I think the new model will exceed expectation. We’ve been sending out brochures to customers, who will be invited to the launch.
And how is working for Ridgeway?
It’s a great opportunity. Once your foot’s in the door there’s a great opportunity to progress within the group and the range of retailers they have across the country.
Prior to joining Ridgeway, what was your working background?
I was actually a police officer for 13 years in Hampshire. I left the force because I wanted a better work/life balance and I jumped at the opportunity here at Ridgeway. I left in March and started with MINI on 1 April and I’ve never looked back. I think because of the background I’ve come from, it helps me communicate with lots of different people and actually the most important thing when selling cars is communication, so it is a real asset.
How long have you been at MINI Hampshire?
I started on the first of September, and it's been very busy. I came from Ridgeway Kidlington Volkswagen, and i liked the idea of working back with premium brands. I also quite liked the idea of saving two hours travelling every day! I live in Basingstoke, and i'm now just a tweleve minute drive away. I've also always been a fan of the brand, so it's great.
How has your first month been?
It's been very busy September, and the approach has been very customer-focused. We've made sure there's transparency across everything, as well as some great value deals for customers. We're taking every opportunity possible to help out a customer.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I'm into my sports, mainly cycling, swimming and running. I do the Iron Man,
which is a race of all three - a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike ride, and then a marathon to the finish.
My last one was in Zurich. I prefer to go abroad because it's warmer, there's nothing worse than spending all day out in the rain!
How did you come to start at Ridgeway MINI?
I came in originally to buy a MINI, and while i was there i said to the salesperson, "I love it here, you make everybody feel so welcome - I want to be part of your team". She suggested that i look if there were any jobs, and there was. A month later, here i am! I'm really enjoying it. I just decided to go for it and change my career.
So you weren't in automotive beforehand?
Never. My background is medical, i've been in dental for twenty years. I've always been customer-facing, so i thought i'd start on reception and work my may into sales. I've been in sales before, for Colgate.
I live literally two minutes away, and my children go to school two minutes away, and it just all worked. I just wanted to be part of this team, and i loved the MINI brand so much already.
How has your first month been?
Everyone has been so welcoming, the atmosphere is extremely positive, and i fee that Ridgeway and MINI are just really prestigious companies to work for.
There's also a great team spirit here. I've only been here a month but it feels like a lot longer, I actually look forward to coming in to work.
Does being local add to the atmosphere?
I've lived in Hook for 17 years, so i know so many people who come in or call up! Hook's only 2.5 miles all the way round so there are lots of poeple that come in that i know. It's like being in the school playground sometimes!
Hi Ben. Could you tell us a little bit about your background please?
When i first joined the brand i had a variety of roles, MINI initially and then as a Used Car Manager. In December i took the Head of Business role, and i'm transferring all the skills i've learnt from the variety of roles i've done to work with th two different brands collectively.
How has MINI changed since you first joined?
Compared to when i started here 12 years ago, we're probably selling about four times the volume we were selling then. I guess part of that is that MINI has grown; whereas before they only had two core models, they've now got a massive model range. The site and the facilities and the staff have barely grown at all so it's hard work but it's very enjoyable at the same time.
Is there a particularly popular model at the moment?
I think the Countryman, because it's available in four wheel drive. In general terms it's an all year round car as well because it's got five doors, it's got a big
boot, it's got room for five people, and it's a great family car. It's very versatile, but as it's available in four wheel drive it opens up an extra safety element for people in the winter.
What is your favourite from the MINI range?
It would have to be the John Cooper Works because i think it's what every MINI owner wants, once they buy a MINI and get the bug. The inspiration is always there to get the John Cooper Works version on the car have a John Cooper Works version of every MINI model. The John Cooper name goes a long way.
What do you do with your spare time?
I like taking the dog for a walk and holidays in the UK, with Devon and Cornwall being personal favourites. I've also found myself increasingly enjoying wine a little more, and i'd say Pinot Noir is probably my favouite, but i like any red really. I also love Hotel Chocolat, but i seem to struggle only one when there's a box about!
Hi Georgia. How did you come to apply for the Ridgeway's Got Talent recruitment evening?
I came across the advert for Ridgeway's Got Talent online and i attached my CV. Thankfully, a couple of days later i received a call from Head of Business, Ben Austin, who invited me to attend. There was a large group of us and we had to solve a series of tasks and problems, which i think gave Ridgeway the measure of us all. I then heard a week later that they wanted me as a Service Advisor, so i happily came in for a trial shift and i've been here two months now.
Do you enjoy working as a Service Advisor?
It's quite a challenging role, but i love it. I love speaking to so many different people. I'm constantly on the phone to customers trying to help them out, or dealing with customers face to face. Customer service is something i have experience of and is something I'm suited to, so i quite enjoy it.
How are you settling in?
It's been really good and i'm enjoying it. I'm working with a great team here at Ridgeway. The job is completely different for me as i came from a retail environment, so it's my first time working with cars, different computer systems and a large team. It's been a lot to get used to, but everyone's been really friendly and i feel like I've settled in well.
So, were you a car fan before you joined Ridgeway?
I was, and that was a big appeal in joining. I'd finished college and I was having a look online when i saw the recruitment evening. Working with all the cars seemed like an exciting prospect. I do sometimes get jealous though, that i don't have a nice new one!
Are you a fan of MINI?
I actually own a MINI One at present and I've always been a fan of the brand. They've been my favourite cars since I knew what cars were. It's dangerous working with MINI though, as there's a couple that I keep walking past and keep dreaming of owning. I'd love to get myself a blue convertible in time for next summer.
And what do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy hanging out with my cats, King Merlin and Steve. I'm a massive fans of them, but I'm not a crazy cat lady, i promise. I also enjoy seeing my friends, ordering a takeaway pizza and relaxing.