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27 March 2019  •  By: Perry Robb

Customers of all shapes and sizes

The Greater London area is a melting pot of cultures; etc., but how do you attract them, and How do you retain them?

Well it helps in attracting them if you have a fantastic franchise like Porsche and are based in the greater London area. 

It also helps if you get a good reputation for customer service and are viewed as being approachable as a business.

We worked on the assumption first in St.Albans and later in Hatfield that anyone interested in buying a new Porsche was probably (thought not always) fairly successful, and that some of those individuals would actually be “leaders” in their business arenas, often  influencers in their ethnic communities and sometimes even  “Captains of Industry “.

Quite early on in our Porsche days we sold a couple of top of the range new Porsches to two highly successful individuals who happened to be from both Greek and Jewish backgrounds.

Both were proud of their heritage and often when we met we would talk about their path to success, their close family and community connections, and sometimes they would ask me about my background as well, as I also was a ‘blow in’.

These guys had worked incredibly hard and taken full advantage of the huge number of chimney pots that London offers to the retailer or entrepreneur. They importantly had integrated into not only English and British culture but also had kept close contact with their own cultures and communities. 

And this was the clue.

Look after these high fliers at the top of their game and you could expect others from those communities to follow them into our showroom.

And so we did.

Time and time again we would hear the words ” ….Oh, I know ‘so and so’, he says you guys look after him well, so here I am …”

So this approach became one of the pivots to our businesses success.

Get involved with and look after the key people in “that” community, and others will follow.

The vast majority of these key individuals, these captains of industry, were great to deal with. They knew exactly what they wanted, made quick decisions, and provided you looked after them well and gave them personal service,  you had a long term customer and an important advocate for the company.

Muck them about, give them poor service, and you would be history.

So, over the years we would actively pursue these ‘top’ business people as we valued their business and also their approach to dealing with us.

The same didn’t always apply to people called ‘celebrities’.

I guess you could include footballers in that category as well, though mostly we hardly ever dealt directly with them, it was usually through their agents.

Over the years I often wondered at the sheer greed of many of these agents. Not happy with a huge slice of the action when their player was sold to another club, these blokes frequently also wanted ‘covered’ for everything their footballer was getting :- they wanted money when he ordered the new car; money when he got the car serviced; money if he got a lot of extras on the car….. And the trouble was that as often as not the footballer would be unaware that this was happening. 

If you wanted to deal with these ‘names’ then these were the rules – take them or leave them!

So we didn’t chase after footballers or their agents and we were happy enough to let them go and bother some other Porsche dealer or the Ferrari or Bentley dealerships.

Many of the show biz and TV celebrities were great to deal with. 

You needed to give them space and not hassle them. Sometimes showroom staff would need a little bit of direction on when to speak to them and when to leave them alone. 

These ‘stars’ were normal human beings just like us so they appreciated time alone and not being crowded or hassled for an autograph.

Mind you, there were one or two of these celebrities that gave you a closer insight into the odd world they inhabited.

I vividly recall getting a call one day from the PA of the wife of a member of one of the worlds most famous pop groups.

 She was looking for a green coloured Porsche 911. 

It had to be green because because she was, according to her PA, “….heavily involved in animal charities and groups which were..’ saving the planet’ etc.. “

Now, apart from the Porsche family in Germany not many people wanted a green 911, the popular choice then was red , black or white. However, because of my Irish background the team had just ordered  our next demo car in green, as a surprise for me!

As luck would have it this demo car had literally just been put on the road, and the car seemed to be exactly what the pop stars wife wanted. So, a couple of days later after about a dozen frantic phone calls from her hyper  PA , the wife of this pop star duly arrived on site to inspect the car. 

She loved the 911 and loved the colour, but there was a big problem which we had to attend to first before she was to take delivery.

Her association with several ‘animal rights and green’ type organisations meant that she  could not ever sit inside a car with leather upholstery or indeed any leather materials.

So to conclude the deal she insisted we remove every piece of leather from inside the car ( seats, dashboard, door panels, handbrake, gear lever etc..), and replace it with mostly a pale green ‘cloth’ material, along with some ‘leatherette’ fabric ( a leather like synthetic material containing no animal parts!).

No easy job, and not one we had ever attempted before.

I can tell you this work subsequently took several weeks by a seriously skilled individual and cost the client many thousands of pounds, but the end result was superb and she was deliriously happy when we delivered the car. 

Indeed she also looked stunning in a green Valentino outfit, with Jimmy Choo shoes (leather), and a stunning Chanel personalised handbag (you guessed it!).

Saving the planet in a Porsche 911 –  there’s a first time for everything!