A Day In The Life Of A Car Sales… Woman!

Cara Whitehouse

When you think of a car sales person you will inevitably be picturing a Del Boy type man, pushing you into decisions and baffling you with technical lingo. But the wheels are turning in the world of  car sales, and Cara Whitehouse is at the forefront when it comes to proving women can succeed just as well as men in the competitive world of motor marketing.  Cara, Chief Marketing Officer at Tootle, lives and works in London, packing as much work and social life into a week as possible. Here’s what a day in her life looks like:

I’m not really a morning person, but I do try to haul myself out of bed early and get some pre-work exercise in three days a week. The alarm goes off somewhere between 6.20 and 7.20, depending whether it’s a swim, a quick 20 minute session at home or a lie-in! Then it’s a multi-tasking breakfast, shovelling some toast into my mouth while I’m doing my make-up, and I’m out the door by 8.15 to get into the office for 9 o’clock.

I work in a team of six that comprises me and five guys, which I love! It’s relatively rare to be a woman in the car industry – and although I do like cars, I’m not a real petrolhead – and I think both of these things give me and my team a real edge. Our service has been created to empower consumers and bring some trust and transparency to a sector which has been vilified over the years. The fact I come at things from a female, non-car-enthusiast perspective helps keep us very focussed on the ‘everyday consumer’, without falling into traps and cliches about “the people who buy and sell cars”. (Because let’s be honest, a huge chunk of car owners are women. And even when it is men doing the final transaction, it’s often a female partner that is driving the decision.)

First thing on my agenda when I get into the office is to check on the traffic and sales figures from the previous day. I also have a number of different spreadsheets, charts and graphs that I’m constantly checking in on to make sure things are moving in the right direction and any anomalies or problems are caught straight away.

The rest of my day could take any of a number of directions. As I already mentioned, we’re a team of only six – which means everyone rolls their sleeves up and gets stuck in to whatever is most important at the time. I do everything from picking up the phone to customers to meeting with potential investors. No two days are the same, which is one of the exciting things about working in a start-up.

Last month we ran our first TV advertising campaign, which absorbed a huge amount of my time and attention. From defining budgets and writing the initial briefs to appointing agencies, signing off scripts, recording voiceovers, filming the final creative and agreeing our ad spots, it was an intense four month process. I’m keenly aware that we are creating a brand and the marketing choices we make early on could make or break us. So although it was an incredibly exciting project to manage, it was also fairly terrifying!

Reviewing how that TV activity has worked for us (amazingly well! Our sales increased by more than x4) and planning our next phase of marketing activity are top of my day to day agenda at the moment. As is working with my CEO on our next round of fundraising; working with our technical team on website developments; working with our operational guys on building our network of car dealers and liaising with our PR agency on press opportunities.

My team are a brilliant bunch of people, and one of the nice habits we try to maintain is getting away from our desks and out of the office for lunch. It’s not always feasible on super-busy days. But in summer, we’ll often pick something up from a local food market and take it into St James’s Park (which is right by our office) to eat in the sunshine. I love working so centrally, and seeinng all the sights on the way to work every day. Living in London is something I will never take for granted!

I’m increasingly out at meetings as we try to establish partnership opportunities with other businesses. But when I’m in the office, I’ll usually work through till about 6.30 or 7pm. I find it can be easier to concentrate when the office starts to empty out and there’s less noise and distractions.

Post-work, I’ll probably do some sort of dinner / drinks / theatre or similar with friends two or three times a week. The Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden Bar on the Southbank is a summertime favourite. It has incredible views over the Thames, taking in the Houses of Parliament round to St Paul’s and the City. Bounce – the ping pong bar in Holborn – is great fun to a night out with friends too. If I’m not out being a social butterfly, I’ll be at home catching up on missed TV, planning an adventure for my next chunk of annual leave, or after a particularly long week, falling asleep on the sofa….!

Top Tips for Selling Your Car

  • Decide how you want to sell. A private sale will probably get you more money, but it can be a hassle, and involves meeting and negotiating with strangers. If you’re not up for that, I recommend www.tootle.co.uk, which allows you to get multiple offers from dealers around the country. You simply pick the one that’s best for you!

  • However you decide to sell, get an idea of your car’s value so you can price it realistically. Use online tools such as those from Parkers, CAP and Auto Trader. They can sometimes be off, but it’s a good start.

  • If you’re creating an ad, be detailed and honest about the car. Describe any damage and drop the price a little if it’s not in perfect condition – otherwise you’ll end up wasting time with buyers that will be disappointed when they turn up for a viewing.

  • Make sure your car is clean and tidy inside and out. A dirty, messy car can make buyers question how well it’s been well looked after.

  • Having a full service history is extremely valuable as it will reassure buyers that the car has no hidden problems. Have all the proof and documentation together before meeting any buyers.

  • Be prepared to haggle. Most people think it’s best to let the other person make the first offer, but research shows that a final price normally ends up closer to the opening offer than the counter-offer. If you’ve done your research, you should know what a fair deal looks like.

  • Don’t forget that you car is depreciating in value every week. At some point, ‘holding out for a better offer’ will end up losing you money.

  • Cara Whitehouse is the chief marketing officer at tootle.co.uk, an online platform helping customers find the best offer for their car from a network of competing dealers. The company, which was named by startups.co.uk as one of 12 “spectacular businesses set for stardom in 2016”, sold almost £1 million worth of cars last month. It gets the best prices for sellers by marketing their vehicles to hundreds of dealers actively looking to buy stock. Sellers simply pick the best offer from multiple bids.
Emily Cleary

Emily Cleary

After almost a decade chasing ambulances, and celebrities, for Fleet Street’s finest, Emily has taken it down a gear and settled for a (slightly!) slower pace of life in the suburbs. With a love of cheese and fine wine, Emily is more likely to be found chasing her toddlers round Kew Gardens than sipping champagne at a showbiz launch nowadays, or grabbing an hour out of her hectic freelancer’s life to chill out in a spa while hubby holds the babies. If only!


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