Patrick Willemsen, Retail Development Manager

I joined CarNext.com last March. Previously I was working as a retail development manager with a US-based automotive company starting up in Europe. I was asked if this opportunity at CarNext.com would appeal to me, and after a couple of conversations, I said yes, because to me CarNext.com is at the beginning of something new and something great.

At that stage, last March, what CarNext.com, was doing didn’t exist yet, not on a large scale. CarNext.com was set-up to become a disrupter in the marketplace, and change something in the existing market. I was being offered a strategy position, one from which I could give input into building something from scratch.

We are growing and growing, but we are also flat as a team, so we can very easily provide our knowledge and skills to improve and structure things. My insights and ideas are listened to, and for me that makes a big difference.

With my team, we are rolling out CarNext.com’s retail delivery stores throughout Europe. These are physical locations, where we are delivering cars: currently we have 34 in 22 countries. We aim to have about 40-45 locations by the end of this year and we know that is ambitious. The challenge for me and for my team is that real estate needs to run 12 to 18 months ahead of the music, and currently as a business we are figuring out the type of music we like. It’s hard to know exactly how big the sites need to be, and we don’t know all the terms and conditions, but we do need to perform. So we are working to make the best of that challenge.

All the things I’ve learned in the past are things I can implement here. I’m on the learning curve in implementing. Working in other start-up environments, I’ve learned a lot, and now I can put those things into practice.

I have seen impacts: some can be written down; some are just felt. When I came to CarNext.com, no one was focused on real estate or retail development in bricks and mortar. At that stage, everyone was focused on the digital platform, the development of the website – those kinds of things. That was the environment I stepped into, and the open field was what attracted me; what pulled me in.

It still feels like a start-up environment. We have levels, but we don’t really confine ourselves to a certain description of a role. We all know we are in a group together and this is something we have to do. The progress we’re making can be unstructured, so the people who enjoy working here are hands-on. We see the opportunity and we see the empty field, and instead of waiting for something to appear, we create something. It feels extremely dynamic.

The exciting part is that when I wake up, I never know what’s going to happen at work. The moment I think I’ve got everything under control, it evolves. I get excited about changes: in role, strategy and direction. I like that. It keeps me alert and it keeps me alive, and it’s what’s on my mind when I wake up.

With our money-back guarantee, open history and fixed pricing, we’re already bringing big changes to the existing market. For my team, it’s about finding the right location for the right money and then building with the right planning. We’re making sure that whenever sales need locations, they will get the keys at the moment they need them. As CarNext.com changes the market, we’re facilitating the tools.

When I tell people I work for CarNext.com, they don’t always recognize the name, but I feel that in a couple of years, that’s going to change. So there’s the excitement of knowing we’re going to become a known brand.

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