Jon Roberts, managing director at Infiniti Retail Group, says test drives, new routes to market and common sense are key parts of the manufacturer-owned dealer group's growth.
AM: What are the main responsibilities of your role?
Jon Roberts: Infiniti Retail Group operates from six sites across the UK from Glasgow to London and my key responsibility is to deliver the premium Infiniti brand experience to our customers in these market areas. IRG is a young company operating within the fastest-growing automotive brand in the UK , so my primary focus has been to establish a solid foundation of process, compliance and strategy that complements the broader Infiniti objectives and values. Equally important is the need to build a strong team of skilled, motivated, knowledgeable colleagues who share the same passion and drive to create a company we can be proud of.
AM: What are the most significant challenges ahead in your field of work?
Jon Roberts: The single biggest challenge in my role is increasing awareness of our range of products. We don’t have the history other brands rely on, however the brand offers customers a different kind of luxury to the usual formulaic products I see on the roads every day. In the Q30 and the new Q60 coupé, Infiniti has produced high-specification, innovative cars, built with care and incredible attention to detail, that are finding new advocates every day. Equally challenging is the requirement to deliver the operational structure and support that can absorb the rapid growth we are experiencing. Things move very quickly at IRG.
AM: How might these challenges be overcome?
Jon Roberts: Since joining IRG in May 2016, I have taken a pragmatic approach of putting forward our strongest assets first. We are taking our products to market through a simple test drive strategy, focusing on the unique elements of our cars, level of specification, how they drive and how they make you feel. We then layered this with a new website, enhancing our digital marketing platform and our social media elements.
We were also one of the first car businesses to embrace new routes to market through our partnership with the Westfield shopping centres. This is now into its third year and more and more customers are able to enjoy their purchasing experience without the need to visit a dealership.
AM: What attracted you to this area of expertise?
Jon Roberts: Having worked for 12 years within West Way Nissan, I was ready for a new venture and the next step in my career. Being presented with the opportunity to take control of Infiniti Retail Group and stay within the Nissan Alliance family was an offer too good to refuse. There are not many people who get an opportunity such as this to take a relatively new company within a fast-growing brand and build from the ground up.
AM: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career, and how have you made use of it at your company?
Jon Roberts: I’ve always taken the view that the car industry is as complicated as you want to make it. If you listen to your customers and staff, stick to the basic principles of economics and retailing, then apply a large dose of common sense you will not go far wrong. Just as important is to be consistent, fair and equitable in all your daily activities. I always try to ensure my staff also have the same fundamental outlook. This is a pillar of how much has been achieved so far at IRG and will also form part of our strategic foundation plans over the coming years.
AM: What drives you?
Jon Roberts: Seeing the month-by-month growth of the company and the positive effect this has on my staff.
AM: What’s your favourite app?
Jon Roberts: I travel the country a lot, so probably The Train Line app.
AM: How do you relax?
Jon Roberts: Relaxation comes from my eight- and five-year-old kids (ahem…), watching the mighty Fulham (ahem..) and by increasingly rare rounds of golf.
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