THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Porsche versus Aston Martin

It’s a Sunday afternoon and a car pulls into the customer car park at the main Porsche dealer in Wilmslow, Cheshire. It’s a beautiful building. The car is a Black BMW M3 with a 57 plate – looks in good condition. Out steps a man in his late 50’s (although he looks much younger) dressed in t-shirt, jeans and trainers, accompanied by an attractive young woman. He walks into the showroom and spends 20 minutes looking at the new and used cars, in deep conversation with said long-suffering lady. Now – for those of you who either have or have not been on Ashley Latter’s training courses – do you think there are any possible clues at to what the man is doing? Apparently not to the half-dozen or so sales executives who are sat around one of many desks on the other side of a large glass window. No, their abundant posteriors move not one jot, even when the mystery man gazes inquisitively through their window. They certainly don’t look as if they are in a crucial sales meeting. Eventually, and in increasing frustration, he tries further tactics: • leaning over the price and specification particulars beside both new and used models, reading the details intensely • walking around the models in the car park and repeating the process • standing in the middle of the showroom and not moving • waking around the showroom But no – clearly he hasn’t yet discovered the magic formula that The Porsche Centre Wilmslow regard as a “buying signal”. Perhaps the fact that I don’t look like a footballer, investment banker, estate agent or rapper are working against me. We return to the the M3 and drive slowly away. To Stratstone, the Aston Martin garage in Wilmslow. Where after no more then two minutes on the forecourt we are engaged by a young man (Nick? I’m sorry if I got your name wrong) who asks very politely if we are just enjoying the view or require any information. I ask him if we can discuss my situation – he obliges and we sit and chat for a while. My circumstances: • high mileage • some luggage • a rather silly financing arrangement on the M3 He listens carefully, asks me questions about my occupation, finds out that we have just moved back to the area – listens empathetically. Walks out and down the road to take a good look around my car and to read the service history. At the conclusion of our conversation he explains that he is a trainee in sales and will ask his business manager to contact me. I feel like adopting him – so good at the job and so young – it is clearly in his DNA. A few days later I begin an email and telephone conversation with Martin Wallace, sales specialist at Stratstone Aston Martin, a conversation that will continue. Swapping vehicles isn’t going to be easy – but I actually feel like making the effort and suspect that Martin and the team will help me every step of the way. Now – before all my flat earth society members tell me that changing my car is unnecessary, an Aston isn’t best suited, that I have better things to do with my money, that the sales team at Stratstone have seen me coming and that happiness is being able to sleep at night and not a new car….. And before you tell me that Porsche are more suited to higher mileage and that the new 911 is a dream (I have downloaded the free iPad app). I KNOW ALL THAT and I’ll change my car to what I like when I’m good and ready. The Porsche may be the less impractical solution but which company do you think are going to give me the better after-sales experience? And I have promised myself an Aston by the time I’m 60 – which isn’t very far away now – because I can. For now – I reflect upon the two “customer service experiences” and realise that Ashley Latter and his peers are going to be busy for a very long time.

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