Rising star at Lexus, Joanna Herbert is smashing targets and making sales history in an industry that is dominated by men at Lexus Cheltenham! Joanna, formerly a hair dresser from Toni & Guy, found herself as the Business Centre Manager of this exclusive brand just over two years ago through a series of interesting events. However, the key and bottom line is that she is flourishing because she is authentic and not trying to conform to being who she thinks she should be! I love this about Joanna, she is such an inspiration – I know her story will inspire you too.
When did you know that you wanted to be in car sales?
Probably about six months after I got this job!
How did you get into cars?
When I came back from overseas I was lookingfor a job, the obvious choice was to go back into hairdressing of some description, selling products perhaps, I didn’t actually want to get back on the salon floor, I had enough of that. To be honest I did enjoy hairdressing, I loved my time doing it but I didn’t want to do it anymore. My brother works at Listers Land Rover and invited me to come over and see him. I bounced around a couple of interview for admin jobs which I wasn’t offered because they didn’t really see me as an admin person in a back office. Then I came to see Tim here and I left knowing that I had a job but not knowing which job. It was either going to be retail sales or business centre manager.
In the end he said that the business centre side of things was more suited to my personality rather than the hard sell retail side. He called me the following evening saying that he had great news for me and put me on the fleet side and that’s where I started on September 11th, the busiest time of the year as it’s registration month. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!
So you had no sales or car experience then and you were just given a high profile job based on your glowing personality? How did that make you feel?
Fantastic. I was very pleased as well as very nervous. Actually I was quite terrified! When I first started I was very corporately dressed, very suited every day. Then I realised that that was not 100% me so I softened it a bit over time.
When you were offered the job at any point did you feel that you couldn’t do it and shouldn’t accept it?
No, I like a challenge and was ready to jump into it.
When you were a little girl what did you dream of being, what did you play. Is there any connection from then to what you are doing now?
I loved Scalextrics, horse riding, shooting, quad bikes and motor bikes but no it didn’t really relate as I used to shave or dye Barbie’s hair so mum decided that I would be a hairdresser. When I did get into hairdressing I really like the creative side and loved to make people feel good and happy.“Forget that you are in a man’s world, give as good as you get.” – Joanna Herbert Tweet This!
Would you say cars is still very much a male dominated industry?
Yes it is still very much male dominated, when we go to Lexus conferences it is hundreds of suits and a little scattering of ladies.
So what pressures do you face in this male dominated role?
Traditionally there is a car sales man but not a car sales woman, so originally I really felt that I had to prove myself as a female. I have since come to realise that actually I don’t! It is a lot more equal in terms of what is expected of you than what I thought it would be. I don’t feel any pressure anymore to stack up against men in suits. Sometimes I feel that as women we are more perfectly dressed when we are a bit softer. I have a lot of ladies come in and they say it is lovely to deal with a female in the car sales industry.
Have you found that a confident woman, knowing her cars very well, can be a little off-putting to a man?
It can be yes, it very much depends on the customer. I am very good at reading people, it may have come from working at Toni & Guy. If I feel that they are the type that will want to challenge me or will not want me to know more than them, I will explain something and then say, “But you will probably know more about that than me anyway.” Just so I don’t intimidate
them. I could also say, “You have obviously done the research online, what do you need from me?”
What is the best lesson you have learned from being a woman in a man’s world?
To not put any pressure on yourself. I am good at what I do because of who I am not because I am male or female. I just get on and do my job, work hard and almost forget about my gender.
What is the biggest mistake you have made being a women in a man’s world?
Not speaking my mind. Not saying exactly what I think and offering my input. Keeping my opinion to myself too much is not healthy for me and the guys actually do value my opinion and view very much.
What is your top tip for a woman in a man’s world?
Forget that you are in a man’s world, give as good as you get.
What are your dreams and goals for the future?
I would like to oversee the whole of Lexus for Listers. At the moment we have three sites and I would like to run the fleet and coordinate all of Lexus for Listers.
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