Saturday 10 December 2016

'The day I sold three cars to members of the same family'

Published 21/03/2012 | 05:00

Motorsport enthusiast Grainne McElhinney works with Kelly's Toyota in Mountcharles, Co Donegal. She began her rallying career as a junior in the Donegal International Rally with her best friend, Michelle Doherty, as navigator. Saving for the "white dress fund" has put Grainne off the circuit for the last two years but she is all set to return to the sport in 2012.

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• What's your own background?

I never liked school. Just did enough to get me through. I wanted be a mechanic but had to get a garage to take me on for the apprenticeship and they wouldn't. This was probably to do with the fact I was a lady, although no one ever said it. I was determined to get into the motor trade and got a job covering reception for two weeks which turned into 10 years.

• What does a job in aftersales involve?

Daily dealings with customers, workshop management and planning the day ahead.

• What do you most like about your job?

I enjoy finding out what someone wants in a car and seeing them leave happy and satisfied.

• What's the most difficult part of your job?

Pricing second hand vehicles because a lot of people purchased in 2007/2008 and car prices have come down since and there have been changes in VRT and tax rates. My hardest task is getting the customer a value for their car that they and we are happy with.

• Are you a car person?

Yes. I love cars and my husband is a mechanic so we're both petrol heads. I got into motorsport through working at the garage as the guys there rallied. I loved the thought of doing it but never thought I would get the chance. I navigated in an Escort MKII for three years doing local events and when I got the opportunity to drive, I grabbed the wheel with both hands.

• If you could work in another industry what would it be?

I honestly don't think I could, I would be lost.

• If you had a limitless budget what would be your dream car?

I'd be practical and choose a Landcruiser to tow my rally car and take our dog to the beach.

• what are the two most common questions when people are buying a car?

Can I speak to the salesman? And what's your best price?

• What are the strangest things people have asked for on their cars?

A bow.

• what was your best deal?

Selling three cars to the one family in the same day.

• what was your worst deal?

None that sticks out!

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