Backstage at Louwman Exclusive –Arjen van Beek
Since 2013 Arjen van Beek is Managing Director at Louwman Exclusive. During the recent years he, together with his team, put Louwman Exclusive on the map. Full of enthusiasm he talks about the future plans of a special car dealership. “This is not a normal organization and because of that there are no ordinary people working here!”
The showroom is packed with exclusive cars. At first sight this is an extraordinary view, however, in what other respect is Louwman Exclusive an exceptional company?
In many ways Louwman Exclusive is an untypical car dealership. An average company operates with two or three brands, we have eight. Each brand has its own systems and wishes from the factories, so that makes it a complex business with a lot of information to share coming in each day. From stock management, workshop planning to the training of our employees. The responsibility of each member in the team is of great importance and that requires a range of skills from everyone who works here.
So a car dealership with extraordinary people?
When you disassemble a car and assemble it again, you cannot afford to have one screw left. So the focus the technicians have to have and the responsibility on their shoulders is of great importance. I think this is very clever. The knowledge and skills which they have together is incredible. They all are bilingual and can initiate contact with the factory themselves to ask specific questions about a car they are working on at that moment. They communicate regularly with the customer, so in addition to technical knowledge, communicative skills are also important. Because their work is rather complex they often work together on a car. It is important that everybody who is working here not only carries out his own task well, but also support other members of the team.
So teamwork is an important aspect to let things run smoothly?
The success of this company depends on each other. You work together. Here we say: “To ask is strong, but to help is even stronger”. And that begins with simple things like picking up someone else’s phone when the owner is not around. A lot of companies have a goal on the horizon and are only focused on that, while the basis has to be looked after too. The customer notices that. It has to be real. If a team is not functioning properly, a customer notices that immediately.
We like to be an example in this market in terms of service and quality. Our customers come to us because the experience, the service and the quality are good. As a team we give our utmost each and every day. We have been working very hard to put Louwman Exclusive on the map and we did a pretty good job. In the recent years we have grown substantially so now we have to continue to deliver that distinction. That requires a different approach, for example to hire a Customer Service Manager instead of an Aftersales Manager. Someone from outside this branche who brings new insights.
How does the customer notice this different approach?
By setting up the organization more customer focused we will be able to listen more closely to the customer and advise him or her better. With a regular car the maintenance is scheduled in advance. A car comes in for a small or large overhaul, you hand over your car and it will be brought to the workshop. Here it all works differently. Of course a car is given the normal checks but the maintenance depends on the use of the car. Some customers race their car on the tracks. Others keep their car inside during winter. So there are many aspects you will have to take into consideration and by structuring our organization better we will gain more time to advise the customer in the best possible way.
Because communication changes in this new world, the customer is more demanding. He not only wants to communicate by mail or phone but also by, for instance, Whatsapp. You have to go along with this. You have to engage with your customer in a different way.
The communication with customers is more and more digital nowadays and also sales via the internet is increasing. How do you look at developing this within your segment?
At the moment we already sell cars all over the world before the customer has driven the car or that we have even seen the customer. It is based on mutual trust. Sales online will increase for us as well, but I also believe very much in the experience with our brands. We not only make sure the car is in a perfect state, we also see to it that everything about it is perfect. We organize beautiful rallies and our customers experience fantastic events where all our products are present. We like to share the nice things in life with our customers and partners.
Finally, of course it is hard to make a choice between your “kids” but is there one brand that stands out for you?
To choose one favourite is always hard because all our brands are meant for different purposes. Each day I drive many kilometers and because of that a Maserati is a super car to travel with. If you like to drive especially on capacity, you will end up with a McLaren. A sports car so different from any already existing car. This is also shown by the reactions of the press. Driving a Morgan is also a real experience. It gives you the impression of a classic car. It is a greatly rated brand. When you drive one you get big thumbs up from people on the road.
That is also the case driving a McLaren. It is typical Dutch to think “what a show-off”, but that is not the case with these cars. I am regularly approached by people at the petrol station saying “what a beautiful car you have”. They express their appreciation for the product. That makes this all very special.
Each day I am aware of that.
We have the luxury of having the most beautiful brands in the house, they have a similarity with our customers who wish something else to set them apart from the mass. These are distinctive brands. It is a powerful statement to drive one of them. We launched the campaign “invite the individual in you”, that says it all. Be powerful and make the choice you wish for yourself. Distinguish yourself. And “so what” when the neighbours ask you what it costs.
Managing Director since 2013 / Age: 53 / Children: 2 / What keeps him busy beside work: Arjen likes to exercise.