Trading Stories: Driving onwards and upwards in a male-dominated industry

Trading Stories: Driving onwards and upwards in a male-dominated industry
Aisling Lavelle-O'Brien of Audi Cork. Pic; Larry Cummins

AFTER working in the restaurants for a number years, Aisling Lavelle joined Audi Cork as a salesperson two years ago. She tells us about the company’s 25 year history, and what advantages a woman has working in an industry dominated by men

Tell us about Audi Cork and how it got started?

Audi Cork was established on July 1 2010 following a comprehensive review of the Audi dealer network in Ireland. Audi Cork was established after Blackwater Motors Audi won the franchise for Cork after extensive reviews from Blackwater and other applicants. Blackwater Motors began trading in 1991 when it was one of three Audi dealers in Cork. Last year the company celebrated its 25th anniversary with a great night for staff in Rochestown Park. Audi Cork is now one of only 11 Audi dealers in Ireland. Audi Cork has achieved the number one spot for premium brands in Cork every year since 2008.

Has it changed much over the years?

There have been big changes in Audi Cork and Audi as a brand in the past 10 years. Audi as a brand itself has massively extended its portfolio with recent models such as the A1 in 2011, Q3 in 2012 and more recently the Q2 last year. From my recent trip to Munich I can tell you there are many more on the way. Audi Cork has grown year on year since its first full year of trading in 2011 when we sold 300 cars to our record year last year when we sold over 1,000 cars. In August 2014 we moved from our previous location on the South Douglas Road to our current site on the Bandon Road Roundabout. This was a massive step for the company as we moved from operating out of a 6 car showroom to a 17 car showroom with space for 70 used cars. Without this move we would not have been able to hit our record numbers of last year. Our service department really benefited from the move also as like sales they have moved from a 6 car workshop to a 17 car workshop with a big increase in their output. I know our directors David Quirke and Denis Murphy will be pushing for more results like last year this year and I know they have big plans for the group in the future.

What's your background and when did you join up?

My background consists mainly of working within the hospitality industry. Previous to working in Audi cork I worked in Liberty Grill, a fantastic restaurant in the city centre, where I worked as a waitress for two years, prior to that I worked in another great restaurant in Bishopstown called Gallo and Galettis. I had been working within the hospitality industry since I was 16 in different pubs, restaurants and hotels. I began working in Audi Cork on June 15 2015.

What's it like being a woman in a male-dominated industry?

You face so many different challenges in a business that’s always been run by men, so it’s important to surround yourself with successful people & learn how to be assertive – I enjoy the challenges I face daily.

There are a lot of advantages to being a woman in the industry as I often perceive situations in a different way to my male colleagues, so I can discuss things with them and add a female perspective. This is particularly important when in contact with female customers as I have a good understanding of the challenges they face when purchasing something as important as a car.

What makes Audi Cork stand out from the crowd?

Everyone is aware of the Audi brand. It is recognised worldwide as a leader in innovation and design in the premium car market. Audi is constantly evolving with product quality and customer delight to the forefront. On a recent trip to Munich for product training, I was introduced to a different side of the brand, we were given some previews of what is in the pipeline for Audi and I can tell you there are some very exciting times ahead.

Audi Cork also stands out due to the customer service it provides across all areas. Each member of staff from sales to service goes through extensive training which ensures our customers get fantastic service.

In Audi Cork we work as a team to ensure the highest standards at all times. All members of staff who work here are well looked after and I really think this reflects on the customer service provided.

Aisling Lavelle-O'Brien, Sales Executive at Audi Cork. Pic; Larry Cummins
Aisling Lavelle-O'Brien, Sales Executive at Audi Cork. Pic; Larry Cummins

Tell us a bit about your job? What's your typical day like?

So as anyone who works in the motor industry knows no two days are ever the same. My day consists of meeting customers to organising the delivery of cars and ensuring all customers that have been in previously are followed up.

What is the car sales industry like at the moment? Has a lot changed since you got involved?

At the moment I would have to say we in Audi Cork are very busy. We have a large sales team consisting of 9 sales staff and we are all kept going at all times.

What's your favourite part of the job?

I love meeting new people and being able to enjoy the experience of buying a new car with them – people work very hard and to be able to give themselves a great car and this really is a fantastic achievement.

What's your least favourite part of the job?

I find myself a bit of a perfectionist, therefore I want to get every car I work with right for the buyer. Therefore, time is sometimes not on my side but this is something I am constantly working on every day.

What kind of car do you drive yourself?

A3 Sport Back 1.6TDI S Line in white .

What is the best thing you've learned from working there?

Every day is a new experience as you are working with a variety of different personalities. I do find that having learned how to handle difficult situations has and will definitely stand to me in the future,.

What's in the future for you and the business?

Working within the industry has opened my eyes to interests I never knew I had until I walked through the door – I would love to stay within the industry whether it be in sales or another role, so who knows what’s in store for me in the future!

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