Drive My Career interviews David Sowerby, Chapelhouse KIA General Sales Manager
How did you get into the motor industry?
I started working in the motor trade when I was 19 with Chapelhouse Motor Group. At the time, I was doing a Business Management Degree but I became disillusioned with further education. So, I decided it wasn’t for me. I knew a couple of people selling cars. They seemed to enjoy it and they were earning a lot of money, which motivated me.
I liked the idea that no two days were going to be the same. Also, I saw selling a car as something that could change somebody’s life for the better if it was done in the right open and honest way. I was a Trainee Sales Executive for just over a year, then I was one of the most successful salespeople and after two years I started as Senior Sales Executive. I got my first Sales Manager role in 2007.
That was a big learning curve with your department and team to manage. The business supported me and sent me on training courses with manufacturers. From there, I have developed into more high-volume roles within the business and I am now a General Sales Manager for our Kia franchised in Southport.
How important is the support you received from your employer?
I have to say when I came into the motor trade I felt like a fish out of water.
I was very young, but the business fully supported me, they provided me with the skillset I needed and stood by me every step of the way until I was comfortable selling cars in a professional and proficient manner.
Fifteen years down the line, our training and support is still something we pride ourselves in. We don’t expect our staff to run before they can walk, we have an individually tailored training programme that helps and supports everyone.
Even now that I am 15 years into the job, I always know that I have got senior managers ready to help and support me. This is a fantastic business to work for. We are always looking to grow and I have always been given opportunities to develop.
As a motor group, we enjoy taking trainees onboard and we fully understand the importance of ensuring that they feel comfortable and are able to be successful.
Did you face any challenges?
In my early 20s, I looked very young and sometimes, in the beginning, that was a challenge with the customers. However, I learned to adapt and I turned it into an advantage.
I was a successful salesperson, so, I faced some challenges caused by my over self-confidence. On some occasions, I put myself on a pedestal where I did not belong. However, my manager was really good: without demotivating me, he brought me back down to earth and redeveloped me to that stage where I was competent.
What is your recommendation to young people looking to start their careers in the motor industry?
Our industry is still one of the very few where you can come in without a degree and quickly earn a very good salary. I love the variety of people and customers that we speak to on a day to day basis.
Some people get really emotional picking up a car. For me, there has always been that sense of pride every time that I felt I was able to help a customer and connect with them. Especially, when I managed to overcome an initial negative perception and to show them that they could trust me. Some of these customers still deal with me fifteen years later.
Today our industry is about delivering great customer experience every time and helping our customers in a professional, courteous way so that they want to come back to you. This is something we talk about every single day.