“Client in the spotlight” | In this recurring column, the account managers go on the road to put one of our clients in the spotlight. Today it’s Ank Dekker’s turn, responsible for marketing in the family company of the same name. Dekkerautogroep is the Ford dealership in North-Holland with 8 locations.
We sit down at Grand Café Novels, in the centre of Zaandam. Outside it seems the winter has started already temperature-wise, but once again it’s a sunny day. It’s time to put a new client in the spotlight!
Dekkerautogroep is a real family company. How did it all start?
“In 1923 the company started as a bicycle shop. Slowly but surely cars started getting fixed and sold. Ford Zaandam was born. In the 50s my father started working for the company as a car salesman. It turned out he was a natural, because as a top salesman he became sales manager and eventually head of the company.”
How did your father end up owning the company?
“Being the entrepreneur he was, he wanted more shares in the company and that was quite a challenge. As a child, we went on holiday once to the Veluwe. We had a great time and had fun with our mother on the playground. My father was busy negotiating the shares. Eventually he succeeded in becoming head of the company and a major shareholder.”
“During the evening 200 women came to the showroom who weren’t customers.”
How did you end up in the company?
“I started as a psychiatric nurse. I worked with many people and learned a lot. When I was around 25 I noticed that I didn’t like the work anymore. My father had just put out a vacancy for the workplace reception and asked me if I wanted to do it, even temporarily. I agreed and never left.”
How is it to work in a man’s world as a young woman?
“Well, I had to get used to the transition from care to the commercial world. I suddenly came in contact with entirely different types of people. People who wanted to negotiate the price, for example, and also people who just didn’t pay. I wasn’t used to that in care. Also, often a prejudice exists amongst men when it comes to women with cars and mechanics.”
Can you give an example?
“Haha. There was a man at the front desk once who didn’t know how to lower the back seat to fold the arm rest. I told him that there was a little lever under the seat that you had to pull up, and that I would show him. He necessarily wanted me to send a mechanic with him. I went with him after all and when I solved the problem for him, he looked at me in a weird way.”
“In the old days people came to the showroom 3 to 4 times on average. Nowadays it happens less than once.”
What is your role?
“Together with a few colleagues I’m responsible for marketing and communication. I discuss the strategy with them, organise events, run campaigns, manage the corporate identity and social media of Dekkerautogroep.
My strength lies in arranging things. I love doing that. I developed a concept for a Ladies Night in our showroom. I invited the wives of men that bought a car from us. And they could bring a friend. In one night we had 200 women in our showroom that weren’t customers.
During this night we organised different workshops. Think of changing tires, reversed parking, but also a nail painting workshop. The cake was sponsored by the local baker. Such fun!”
You still are a family company. How can you tell?
“My father still runs the company and my two sons are also active in the car world and company. The most important thing is though, that we feel like one big family with our employees and customers.”
What makes Dekkerautogroep distinctive?
“We are distinctive because of our flexibility and personal touch when it comes to customers. We all know each other. I have been working here for 30 years, and I find our contact with one of our customers a great example. He is of an older age and wasn’t allowed to drive anymore. He had to trade in his car and he wanted me to do it. Obviously I’m not a car salesperson, but I did help the gentleman. A week later he and his son brought me flowers.”
What else is planned?
“We grow along with all the developments in car land and want to be the mobility partner in North-Holland.”
How do you make sure your customers keep returning?
“We organise a lot of things for our customers. Ladies Nights, free check-ups, events, newsletters, e-mails and so forth. This way, we keep in touch with our customers.”
“We chat, e-mail and text our customers until 10 o’clock at night.”
What does the collaboration with other Ford dealerships and the Dutch importer look like?
“Our collaboration with Ford Nederland and other Ford dealerships in the country is great. This is important to determine a good strategy that’s advantageous for all dealerships.”
What does the future for the traditional dealership look like?
“I think that in the time to come, many electric cars will be added. Ford will also have beautiful models and a lot will take place online. Maybe the car will be sold online and delivered to the house. In the future this could cause the closure of some branches, but a wider service being offered in other ones.”
Is getting people to the showroom still the biggest challenge?
“No, this isn’t the case anymore. You used to see that on average people would come to the showroom 3 or 4 times before they bought a new car. People came to look at the different models, then they’d come to do a test drive and talk to an advisor about specifications, and after that they’d come to negotiate and pick up the car.”
When someone comes to the showroom now, in most cases it’s 90% certain they’ll buy the car, right?
“That’s right, nowadays it only happens once on average. The customer knows what they want when they come into the showroom. People read everything online. We have to make sure that they visit our website, find all the information they’re looking for and is able to put together their own car. In the showroom it’s mostly about the last phase of the purchase, maybe to check the colour, test drive and negotiate the price of the trade-in car.”
What does Dekkerautogroep do to have a good online presence?
“We do everything there is to do to be findable online. I think it’s important that people can find what they’re looking for immediately and that’s why we put a lot of energy into a clear and orderly website. We also find it important to communicate with our customers in a personal way through our online channels.
We’re available to chat, e-mail, call and text with our customers 7 days a week until 10 o’clock at night. Our goal is to respond as quickly as possible. We not only want to be available during office hours, because our customers are also active afterwards. When we respond the day after, too much time has passed and people have lost their excitement.”
Which online channels do you use and why?
“To increase our brand awareness and realise traffic, we’re running different bannering campaigns through New Sales Company. We also advertise on Google, in local newspapers, business newspapers, send DMs and mailings, and use Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.”
You have been working with New Sales Company since 2015. How are you experiencing this collaboration?
“The collaboration is of great value to us. We receive clear reports of the campaigns that were done. I find the quick action and great support by Nathalie and her team very positive.
I’m very happy with the results and our next bannering campaign with New Sales Company is ready to launch.”
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