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Eight questions to… Mark Ballance, general sales manager, McLaren Leeds

Mark Balance, McLaren Leeds

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

The opportunity to oversee operations at a completely new dealership is something that doesn’t come along , especially with such a young and upcoming brand and a family-run business. One of the key things for me was getting the aftersales operation up and running, because we know there are McLaren customers in the area who previously had to travel to Glasgow, Manchester or Birmingham. The other thing was raising awareness, but there is a very clued-up customer base here and as soon as we set up the temporary facility, we had a steady flow of two or three people a day coming in and introducing themselves to me and Nick (Strong, McLaren Leeds sales executive and a former JCT600 colleague of Ballance’s). During my time with Parks, I have employed some key staff members who were keen to move forward with me and I’ll be responsible for ensuring they are in a position to oversee the departments as and when the new showroom is ready.

 

What are the most significant challenges ahead in your field of work?

How quickly the market can change. There are so many contributing factors that are out of your control. We’ve been experiencing strong demand so far in Leeds and have really high hopes for the facility when it opens, but it’s impossible not to have an eye on Brexit and the economy at the same time.

 

How might these challenges be overcome?

One of the real strengths of the McLaren brand is the sheer interest that it has generated in recent years. The cars are fantastic and there always seems to be an exciting new addition to the range just around the corner. That’s a great strategy and has really driven growth very strongly in recent years. As a supercar retailer, we must ensure that we maintain high
standards, transparency, listening, learning and, as we are a family-run business, the ability to be flexible when required. Working with a brand such as McLaren brings us into contact with a remarkably wide spectrum of customers – from traditional luxury car collectors to real petrolheads – but all should expect the very best service from us. We have to be knowledgeable, passionate and capable of meeting all their needs.

 

What attracted you to this area of expertise?

Three years on the road, as regional manager for Bentley Motors – covering a lot of miles and staying in numerous hotels each week – was quite enough. I had worked with Parks Motor Group in that role and when the opportunity to be in at the start of a brand new franchise within my home city was offered, I jumped at the chance. Having started out in the motor trade from school on a YTS scheme, I guess you always have the dream of being general manager. Landing this role does go to prove that years of dedication to the various roles taken does pay off eventually.

 

What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career, and how have you made use of it at your company?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of experienced and unique individuals over my career to date who have given plenty of advice… too much of it to remember.

But some of the main points that have stuck with me over the years have been: Be yourself and always remember that people buy from people. I like staff to
be themselves and offer a service they would like to receive.  

 

What drives you?

Every day gives a different opportunity in this industry, no two days are the same. The ability to make a difference within your workplace.

 

What’s your favourite app?

WhatsApp is great for messaging work and private life and I like Strava to record walks/cycling/hikes.

 

How do you relax?

With my family and occasionally a glass of something in hand depending on the day.

 



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