Welcome to Chapelhouse, Operations Manager James McLaren

James McLaren joins us from the Peter Vardy Group, where he was F&I and Operations Manager since 2017. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. We caught up with James to get the inside track on his new role, his thoughts on the motor industry, and his passion for karaoke!

What attracted you to the role at Chapelhouse?  

I was attracted to the role with Chapelhouse for several reasons. Firstly, the company has an excellent reputation within the UK automotive industry, with a long-standing commitment to customer satisfaction and quality vehicles.

As Operations Manager, what are your main focuses for the business? 

My focus for the group is to ensure the business runs efficiently and effectively, while maintaining a strong commitment to customer satisfaction. This involves several key areas, including:

  • Sales process: working closely with the sales departments to ensure the sales process is streamlined, transparent and customer focused. This involves implementing best practice for lead management, customer relationship management and sales techniques to optimise our processes. 

  • Finance and Insurance: to focus on managing the finance and insurance processes to ensure that they are compliant, efficient and profitable. This involves working closely with our partner businesses to optimise the processes, minimise errors and improve return. 

  • Customer satisfaction: Ultimately, customer satisfaction is crucial to the success of our business, and I make it a top priority at Chapelhouse. This involves implementing processes to improve the customer feedback mechanisms, customer service training and ongoing monitoring and analysis of our customer satisfaction metrics. 

Overall, my focus is to optimise the processes and ensure that the customer is at the heart of everything we do to drive long term success and growth of Chapelhouse.

How does your new role excite you?

This role is exciting because it offers me the opportunity to work with an award-winning team and a forward-thinking organisation that is committed to delivering exceptional service and results to its customers. I am excited about the challenge of optimise the business operations, enhancing the sales process and improving our customer satisfaction. 

I am also excited about the prospect of working with a talented and passionate team of professionals who are on a journey of excellence and success. I believe my skills align well with the strategic goals of the business and I am confident I can contribute to the continued growth and success of Chapelhouse.

What are the biggest challenges currently facing the automotive industry? 

There are several challenges facing our industry. I feel one the biggest challenges is the economic uncertainty and shifts in consumer demand. This includes a shift towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly vehicles as well as changes in consumer preferences and purchasing behaviours. 

Although the industry face significant challenges in the coming years it also presents opportunities for innovation and growth and that is the exciting part of any challenge.

How do you expect the motor trade to change in the coming years? 

The industry is poised for significant change in the coming years driven by technology advancements and changing consumer preferences. We could also see a global shift towards alternative fuel and electric vehicles. However, these do present opportunities such as growing a demand for ecommerce and home delivery options and a need to reduce carbon emissions.

Was it always your ambition to work in the motor industry? 

I always had grand visions of being a professional Elvis impersonator to be honest I could not get the sideburns to work so I joined the motor trade. 

All jokes aside the motor trade has always been an integral part of modern society and has a huge impact on the economy and the way we live our lives. It's a fascinating industry that has undergone many changes over the years. Its an industry that is constantly evolving and adapting to new technologies and it's a privilege to be part of it.

(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of? 

One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been to see individuals grow and develop. I believe that by investing time and energy into the development of my team I am not only helping them to reach their potential but also building a stronger and more successful organisation.

How would you describe your management style in three words? 

Supportive, hands-on, service-orientated.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in car sales? 

Focus on building relationships and providing exceptional customer service. Find your own unique selling point. In this industry your success is directly tied to your ability to connect with people and to establish trust and rapport.

And finally... away from work, how do you like to unwind?

I understand the importance of balancing personal and work life. So, for me my unwind time is spending time with my children and playing various sports.

Additionally, I find letting loose on a karaoke microphone is a great way to relax and have some laughs. Usually at my expense!

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