Finest Motoring
Category: Luxury Business By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 509 Date : Wednesday, July 01, 2017 - 09:32:12




Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

Irmawan Poedjoadi, 59, is one of the most seasoned experts in the ultra-luxury automotive landscape in Indonesia, with almost two decades of experience handling brands such as Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat’s Abarth and now, starting three years ago, the two British ultra-luxury brands Aston Martin and McLaren. From his long experience, he has learned the subtle nuances of how to sell some of the country’s most expensive automobiles to the most demanding clientele in the country.

“Selling a car is like telling a story,” says Irmawan, the chief executive of McLaren Jakarta. Although his customers are some of the country’s top businesspeople, he has developed a technique to treat customers as hobbyists, who buy and own cars as a hobby, but who are also knowledgeable and demanding. The relationship has to go beyond just selling cars, he says one has to build a personal relationship with the clients, and be able to relate to them in other areas, such as appreciating wines or F1 races.

“We have to provide what the customer wants, and be out of the box to stay ahead, yet also be consistent and reliable,” Irmawan says.

Aside from organizing events for customers, such as upscale dinners, Irmawan and his team also go the extra mile to pamper customers with thoughtful surprises, such as gifts on birthdays or anniversaries, or getting a hard to book reservation in a popular restaurant overseas. “We want to show them that we care,” Irmawan says.

Selling ultra-luxury cars has become a daunting task in recent years. Aside from the high taxes, the economy is slowing and the currency is depreciating. The tax amnesty program discouraged potential clients from buying cars as well. “After the tax amnesty, people will be more at ease and think that it's the time to buy a car again,” Irmawan says.

To stimulate sales, Irmawan has partnered with several financing companies, including one that gives a flexible scheme for its customers, letting them pay installments according to their own schedule. Buyers can also register the car under the name of the financing company so the buyer doesn’t have to pay a registration tax. Even though the interest under this plan is higher, it helps to lure more customers. “In this kind of economy, we have to come up with something attractive,” Irmawan says.

Irmawan hopes that the government can support  his sector with more relaxed regulations. He uses the example of a bonded zone that existed years ago. If there is a bonded zone, the importer can import the car, store it in the facility and avoid paying taxes until the car is sold. Right now, importers must pay the tax up front, and then carry that cost until a sale. To get around that, many importers store their cars in Singapore, renting warehouses there and hiring staff to take care of the cars. “Because of the regulations, we are enriching other countries and not ours,” Irmawan says. Despite the tough situation, Irmawan notes that some buyers are wealthy enough to be willing to have the latest high-end models, because of the prestige. “Indonesian customers like to order a supercar full of the top-of-the-line options,” Irmawan says. 

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