So I was googling images for Withams Truck stop and this comes up..?
This is an interesting way to sell cars:
I’m Chinese, from Chengdu
in the People’s Republic. I married Jon Valentine in 1997 in Helsinki.
I was in Finland doing a Master’s degree (in Finnish!!!), when I met
Jon. He’s English. He said Valentine is a Scottish-Jewish name, but
he’s from Yorkshire. He talks rubbish…
These days I am
full-time LINGsCARS business owner and I specialise in supplying new UK
Contract Hire, PCP, Lease cars and Lease Hire cars and vans.
Do you still visit China?
Yes, my family is mostly in China. My mum and dad still live in Chengdu,
Sichuan, and I go back at least once every year. China is coming on,
you know. Although the political situation is rotten, it’s stable and
my family have a good life. My mum’s a famous dentist, and my dad used
to work for the government in the Environmental Service, but he’s
retired now. My sister Shan works for the Sichuan Poverty Relief
Office, but in the Cultural Revolution, she used to be a red guard! I’m
too young to have been involved in all that rubbish. China’s quite
polluted, and not as green as the UK… plus there are so many people
everywhere there. Life is more pleasant here…and I’ve been
naturalised now. I guess that makes me Chinglish. I am a successful
immigrant at least. I did it legally, and I have succeeded. That puts a
smile on my face.
Where did you learn your contract hire car sales skills?
husband set up Caledonia Contracts, then established Arena Contracts in
London before he went to work for himself. He was very successful, so I
learnt the business and took over the reigns. I must say I’m better at
it than him. The key to this business is efficiency. This means that I
give a very good personal service, I have very few overheads to add to
the cost of the cars, plus I have a fully computerised system that I
built myself. Computers are my hobby. I live on the internet. I
consider myself to be the equivalent of Ryanair, in the Contract Hire
business. In January 2006, FLEET NEWS, the car fleet operator’s trade newspaper said; “(Ling is…) contract hire’s Ryanair”.
LINGsCARS.com gives better service than larger, posher businesses, but
I have lower overheads, offer cheaper prices and do more business; and
the end result is that people can rent exactly the same cars for less.
I spend a lot of my time finding the best deals in the UK, then cutting
out most of the larger companies’ costs so that my cars are the UK’s
Will you expand LINGsCARS.com?
have plenty of room for expansion. I am certainly not fully utilised
with the level of business I am doing at the moment (between 50 and 100
cars per month). My investments in the business go into efficiency
savings instead of staff. Many larger companies do what I do, but with
many staff shuffling paper backwards and forwards. I strive to do
everything right first time, too. That’s my trick to running this
business at a good profit whilst undercutting everyone else. It’s so
simple, but it seems many people want to build organisations of dozens
of people instead of doing the job themselves. If the right person came
along, then I would consider taking them on.
Who are your suppliers?
I use many large motor supply companies, and I make them compete for my
business. You see, they know that they get pre-screened, computer
generated information that enables them to do their jobs so quickly and
easily that they seem willing to pass more of their savings on to me.
It’s amazing that many companies in this business still work with
illegible, handwritten, incomplete and incorrect information on paper
forms and they pass this amongst themselves until they have generated
no end of problems. My system is as perfect and as simple as I can make
it, and I seem to reap the rewards. My customers get the savings I make
passed on to them. I often make my money out of bulk business bonuses
that mean that I don’t need to make 1p on the cost price of a car. So
simple, but so hard for other firms, it seems. Am I giving away my
secrets? I’d better stop…
Tell us a bit more about yourself?
grew up in China, did my middle school and managed (very difficult, my
mum pulled strings) to go to uni in Jinan (Guanzhou) and did Organic
Chemistry. I was punished in uni because I wouldn’t do the morning PE
regime. Then I went to Finland because it offered free MSc courses. I
arrived in Finland alone with very basic English and stood crying when
I arrived at Helsinki airport in January 1997, but survived. I studied
wood chemistry (in Finnish!) but flunked it – what a surprise! After
marrying Jon and battling with the UK Home Office to come to the UK, I
did my Master’s in Environmental Quality in the UK at Bournemouth. I
learned a lot about data and information processing and efficient use
of tools, and I use these skills in LINGsCARS.com, if that doesn’t
sound too ridiculous. It’s quite true.
What does “PMH” in the old “PMH Contracts” stand for?
this is a bit of a story, but briefly… I helped to set up Porritt
Motor Holdings (then CarShock car supermarket chain) with Mike Porritt
and my husband Jon. I ran all the contract hire for PMH Ltd (Porritt
Motor Holdings). Then I told Porritt I wanted to run my own business
(Chinese are good at that you see), and he agreed. So I left, and I
established PMH Contracts in 2000, but I kept the name of Mike
Porritt’s business because it was there, and because I had an emotional
attachment to Porritt and his work ethic.. Sadly, CarShock has now
ceased trading. I do my best to carry on the tradition of offering the
best value cars in the UK. I rebranded to LINGsCARS.com in September
2005 because PMH initials don’t mean much to anyone. Hmmm…
Are you the only Chinese in the UK Contract Hire business?
I think so. I’ve never met another. Do I get a medal? I’ll keep the red
flag flying in the motor trade. At least people remember me because of
it, but actually I’m quite proud to be Chinese, if not proud of the
Chinese government. I tasted tear gas in 1989, although in Chengdu not
Beijing. There was much more happening than the Tianamen stuff. One day
things will get better, it’s actually much better now but still
frustratingly “controlled” (anyone been to China will know what I
mean), and I hope I’m doing my bit for Anglo-Sino relations. A shame
there are no Chinese vehicles to sell in the UK (yet! They are coming
soon now Nanjing Automotive has bought MG Rover), but then everyone
would moan about having to pedal them along, ha ha.
What’s your character like, Ling?
I’m hotheaded. I get angry easily and then I shout. You don’t want to
make me mad. Sometimes I have to really hold myself back if someone is
rude or loud on the phone. Occasionally a customer can be really
offensive, you know how things happen sometimes – maybe they are having
a bad day and then I spring some bad news on them like a delay in car
build time at the factory or something. I have been known to tell
someone never to ring me again, but that’s very, very rare. Racism
never bothers me, and it’s very rare, or maybe I never notice it. I
really can’t understand people that are so politically correct that
they think you don’t have a racial identity. I’m quite proud my skin is
yellow and my eyes aren’t round. Over one billion of us can’t be wrong,
eh? You should hear how in China we describe English noses, and anyway
all the British look the same to me – that is a Chinese joke by the
way. I only ever swear in English, not in Chinese. My mum’s doing;
polite Chinese girls don’t swear, you see. – Re Posted from LingCars.com