MINI is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. It has reached a level that all car manufacturers and companies want to reach: Cult Brand Status. What makes MINI special and unique is that it appeals to all ages and both women and men. People in their 20s all the way up to their 80s buy MINIs. MINIs are fun, and the people that own them and love them are loyal. MINI is a great company to study if you want to learn how to create a great work culture, branding, influence and reach.
I was reminded of this a few weeks ago at the Auto Show that took place in Ottawa. MINI Ottawa was at the show and it was one of my favorite areas to visit and be in. The cars are fun and great looking and the staff that was there from MINI Ottawa were engaged talking all about MINIs. They didn’t have to do a ‘hard sell’. They let the MINI cars speak from themselves. I fell in love with the brand all over again.
History of the MINI
The Mini is a small car that was designed by Alec Issigonis for the British Motor Corporation (BMC). BMC and its successors built the original Mini from 1959 until 2000. The Mini quickly became an icon of the 1960s. The Mini was produced in many limited edition designs and was easily customizable making it a fun car to make your own.
In 1994 BMW bought Mini and in 1995 began development of a new Mini. The new MINI was designed by Frank Stephenson and it hit the production line in 2001. The newer MINIs still capture the essence of the original Mini but with technological advances that weren’t available at the time that they were first produced.
When the MINI was re-released the majority of the cars on the market were getting bigger, but MINI prided itself on being smaller – much smaller. When MINI wiggled its way back onto the scene, it became the little engine that could. After the MINI re-launch under the BMW Group in 2001, sales increased fivefold in the first year. Today, annual MINI sales are roughly twelve times higher.
It has been more than fuel efficiency that makes MINI a smart choice. MINI celebrates each individual driver and encourages him or her to “you-ify your MINI.” According to MINI, “Everybody wants their car to say something different about them. Fortunately, the MINI can say anything.” This celebration of each individual that buys a MINI is what creates top notch customer service and creates a work culture that makes it unique to other car companies and dealerships. They really do put the customer first and do their best to WOW everyone that purchases a MINI. MINI also proudly fosters a solid network of customer communities—the MINI Family, as it’s called—connected throughout the world. The MINI Family often puts on events to have meet-ups with other MINI drivers around the world.
MINI Company Culture
Since I love learning about awesome work place cultures I reached out to MINI and have had the pleasure of connecting with the MINI Ottawa team. I had fun speaking with Ian Su, the General Manager of MINI Ottawa and Ana Maria Trujillo, Client Relations Specialist at MINI Ottawa to learn more about what MINI is all about. The following is an interview that I conducted with Ana.
How long have you worked at MINI Ottawa Ana?
Ana: I have been working at MINI Ottawa for 2 years now. It is my first time working at car dealer. I looked around at other car dealers to see what they provided in terms of customer service and how they worked but ended up at MINI Ottawa.
What attracted you to wanting to work for MINI Ottawa?
Ana: I love the MINI brand! Ever since I was young, ( and like so many others) I have always loved MINIs, so when I saw the job posting I eagerly applied. At the time I really hoped that MINI would give me a chance (as I had no previous car dealership experience) and they did. It has been a fantastic experience! I love working for MINI Ottawa and MINI as a brand.
What is like working at MINI Ottawa?
Ana: Everyone works well with everyone else. It really is a team environment. We all help one another and are supportive of each other at work. It makes me happy to come to work here because of the MINI brand. It is a fun brand to work for. We all get along and we really are a big family. We have fun working together too. It really doesn’t feel like work – it feels like we are simply hanging out. That’s also what customers feel walking into MINI Ottawa – low pressure sales environment with great customer service.
Speaking of customer service, what makes MINI’s customer service different from other car dealers?
Ana: We try to bring the MINI experience to everyone that comes to MINI Ottawa- more relaxed, more fun, and more social than a business environment. Some customers come by to have a coffee with us and just chat. People that are in for service on their MINIs walk around and talk to us about everything MINI – their own, new models, accessories, lifestyle products, etc. We don’t rush anyone and we listen and talk to everyone. We want everyone that comes into MINI Ottawa to feel special.
What type of after sales service does MINI and MINI Ottawa offer?
Ana: When a customer buys a MINI they become part of the MINI family. We put a big red bow on their new MINI to make it an event and special for them. We also place a sign on the MINI with the new owner’s name on it. After delivery of your MINI, you get a full explanation of everything about your new car. But what makes us different is that we give you a few days to adjust to your new MINI and then we will follow up with a phone call and ask if you have any other questions. We will even go above and beyond by setting up a 2nd delivery appointment. We are willing to make sure that you understand everything about your new MINI to be able to enjoy it to its fullest!
Also, all MINIs come with 3 years or 50k after sales service (i.e. oil changes, filters, etc all included with the purchase of new MINIs). Plus if you call ahead of time we will do our best to make sure that you have a loaner car (at no additional charge) while your MINI is in for service.
I see myself working there a very long time – I love the brand – it is such a friendly environment.
MINI 2017 Countryman
A MINI post wouldn’t be complete without some pictures and information about their awesome cars. Besides being a Cult Brand they do make great, nimble and fun to drive cars. One of the MINIs that I loved from the Auto Show is the 2017 Countryman. Technically, it is the biggest MINI to date. MINI has increased the 2017 model’s length by 7.8 inches overall and has increased the wheelbase by 2.9 inches.
I love what it says on the site:
“The people you never hear from are always the ones with the stories to tell. Chances are that they’re in a 2017 MINI Countryman, living each day like an adventure. It’s a versatile, five-seater Sports Activity Vehicle that’s more comfortable than ever. With powerful engines and some serious off-road capabilities, it tackles even the trickiest terrain with ease. So what are you waiting for? The world won’t explore itself.”
The MINI Cooper Countryman is powered by a three-cylinder engine, and is rated at 134 hp and 162 pounds-feet of torque. The Cooper S Countryman has a four-cylinder engine that raises output to 189 hp and 207 pounds-feet of torque.
MINI also has added a plug-in hybrid variant to the 2017 Countryman family, a first for the company, with this new redesign.
The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines a three-cylinder gasoline engine with a 87 hp electric motor for a combined output of 221 hp. MINI estimates that it will have an electric range of approximately 24 miles (40 kms). This model is expected to be released sometime this June.
The 2017 Countryman has more room! Inside, the rear backrest is composed of three sections and can be rearranged in a 40-20-40 split. The luggage compartment volume is 17.6 cubic feet and can be extended up to 47.6 cubic feet, a 5.4-cubic-foot increase over the previous Countryman model. There is also more rear headroom and legroom.
The 2017 MINI Countryman has a long list of standard features including a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, backup camera, parking sensors, an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display, heated seats and leatherette seating.
The John Cooper Works Countryman models will be fitted with standard LED headlights and daytime running lights, sport seats and 18-inch alloy wheels.
You can check out more in the video below:
MINI is definitely worth checking out! And if you are in the Ottawa area definitely stop by MINI Ottawa to take a look around and say hi.