From the eyes of a person looking in, my work as a Pre-Owned Car Sales Supervisor may seem just like any other work—a job with its own specific goals, challenges and opportunities. I was fortunate to be given a very different perspective.
I joined Jebsen nearly five years ago as a Trainee, where during a two-year period I rotated among departments and cities, assuming different roles from frontline to back office. Walking in the shoes of the people involved in the daily grind across various functions completely altered my perspective about the meaning of work. I developed a holistic appreciation of how all the cogs work interdependently to move the machine, an insight that would later support my career advancement.
At the end of the programme, I was assigned a role as Pre-owned Car Sales Specialist at the Shanghai Minhang Porsche Centre. To me it was a totally unfamiliar business area, which, at the time, was also fairly new to Jebsen.
I was tasked with supporting the pre-owned car business in Shanghai Minhang and Shanghai Puxi. While a system was in place to guide business development, it did not reflect the day-to-day scenarios faced by the team. Factoring in these real-life challenges, I had to create a seamless trade-in process, managing everything from vehicle inspection and repair, stock keeping of parts, to report writing. To help close deals, I often assisted in the customer negotiation process, fully utilising the communication and needs anticipation skills I gained during the Trainee programme.
It was a straightforward job that was made complicated by the newness of the business. Clear guidelines were yet to be fully established, which created some perplexity among team members. While supporting my manager to navigate this challenging environment, I saw opportunities to build stronger work processes and relationships. I identified areas for improving in our system and implemented quick solutions. I also made sure that our work was professional and our communication to stakeholders was always timely and clear. Through this effort, we gained the trust of internal stakeholders, vendors and customers, while enhancing and maximizing our system. This allowed everyone to work smoothly, and eventually led to sales growth.
In 2016, I was promoted to Pre-owned Car Sales Supervisor to sustain the growth that we were enjoying and to further enhance the business. The new role presented a much more strategic challenge. Suddenly I was setting targets, establishing policies and even building team capabilities. Understanding from the Trainee programme that collaboration was the backbone of success, I turned my focus to people – I redefined the organisational structure to boost cooperation and mutual trust. I reengineered workflows to keep productivity high, and reintroduced a KPI system to keep sales representatives motivated. I also set up effective lines of communication with vendors and affiliates.
My Trainee experience and the frontline perspectives I gained have made me much more confident in making these high-level decisions. By the end of 2016, the culture of collaboration that was inspired during the 6-month work resulted in remarkable improvements, in volume and profit, for our non-Porsche trade-in business.
Today, I continue to observe and listen to various team members to keep myself abreast of challenges and issues in the frontline. Most of the time, my best response is not a directive, but a nudge to different teams to pool their unique strengths and find solutions together.
I often look back at my experience as a Trainee as the time I came to learn the true meaning of work. It is not simply keeping your eyes singularly on the task or target given to you. Rather, it is about understanding and embracing the work of those around you, so that “making things happen” becomes a shared mission that empowers everyone.