Ready for Change

Interview with Tobias Bellendorf, Managing Director of Autohaus Bellendorf GmbH

Tobias Bellendorf, Managing Director of Autohaus Bellendorf GmbH
Tobias Bellendorf, Managing Director of Autohaus Bellendorf GmbH

The automotive industry is facing significant changes. Topics such as digitalization and electric mobility require a rethink. Autohaus Bellendorf GmbH in Bottrop is ready for the associated changes, wants to seize opportunities and emphasize the human factor.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Bellendorf, you have been the managing director of Autohaus Bellendorf since 2021 and lead it as the second generation of the family. Was it always clear that you would follow in your parents' footsteps?

Tobias Bellendorf: When my parents founded the company in 1995 in a greenfield site, I was eight years old. Since then, there have always been touchpoints with the company. However, my parents never pushed me in any specific direction; it was my own decision to continue on this path. During my training, I was lucky to have a trainer who inspired me for the industry and showed me the many opportunities. This enthusiasm for the business, which is a real People Business, continues to this day. I look forward to unlocking the door of the dealership every morning.

Wirtschaftsforum: Autohaus Bellendorf has been around for almost 30 years. Much has changed in the industry during this time. What has been the development of the company until today?

Tobialis Bellendorf: My father, a trained car mechanic, founded the company in 1995 together with my mother and initially four employees, and steadily expanded it. Today we have a team of around 70 employees and focus on the brands SEAT and Cupra. We are happy to excite customers, to represent the topic of mobility in all its facets in the company, and to find individual solutions for our customers together.

Autohaus Bellendorf Team
The human factor makes the difference for Autohaus Bellendorf; this is evidenced by motivated and qualified employees and close collaboration with customers
Autohaus Bellendorf Cupra
Cupra - Spanish Chic in the Bottrop Dealership

Wirtschaftsforum: Has the development always been positive?

Tobias Bellendorf: Essentially yes, although we have seen a particularly large growth spurt in the last three or four years. In 2022 we remodeled and added an exhibition space of 500 m² to implement the new corporate identity of the Cupra brand; this was a big and important step forward. The dynamic development is supported by our employees. We are fortunate to find suitable staff at our Bottrop location and to be able to fill vacancies with high-quality personnel, which is not to be taken for granted.

Wirtschaftsforum: The mood in Germany's business sector is currently rather subdued. Yet, Autohaus Bellendorf continues to write a persistent success story. What is the reason for this?

Tobias Bellendorf: It's a combination of various factors. We have made fortunate HR decisions and have sales staff who support us fully. Furthermore, the Cupra brand has written its own success story. It was founded in Spain six years ago and is increasingly recognized in the market today. As for the development of the industry, I think there is too much doom and gloom. It is true that the automotive industry is undergoing changes; but these are changes that offer opportunities. Therefore, it's about seeing what is possible and necessary in the market. We must embrace changes and be ready to adapt, rather than wait. We have the chance to inspire people and want to be problem-solvers. If we master this task and are ready to adapt, I am optimistic about our company and the entire industry.

Wirtschaftsforum: Changes are occurring at various levels; for example, in sales or communication. What new approaches is Autohaus Bellendorf taking in this regard?

Tobias Bellendorf: To stay in close contact with customers, we have intensified our communication through social media in recent years. However, we use various channels, including the traditional newspaper ad. Whether print or digital, we always try to convey our personality.

Wirtschaftsforum: With the industry, have customer expectations also changed?

Tobias Bellendorf: The range has broadened, the opportunities have become more diverse. Customers can simply order their vehicle with a click on the internet. In this context, the human factor is key to success for us as a dealership. The larger the range, the more challenging it becomes to find the right one. Competent human-to-human advice gains importance in view of the complex issues, to develop individual solutions that fit. Therefore, I am not worried about the future of physical retail; it will be different, but there will always be people in a digital future who appreciate having a contact person at a dealership.