Interested in a challenging sales job in Japan requiring multilingual skills? The second-hand car export business is big, growing, and in need of ambitious people. Since 1996, Al Ain Japan Ltd. has been a leading Japanese used car dealer and exporter, and is looking for talent to help it meet surging global demand.
Read Jobs in Japan’s interview with key company executives, this first installment with President and CEO Mr. Hameed Ramzan, to see if a position there might be a good fit for you.
Q: Are your open positions full-time jobs with available visa sponsorship?
A: Yes. The company has been operating profitably for 20 years; there is no problem with sponsoring work visas for employees.
Q: How many people are working at the company now?
A: We have 47 employees in all, 40 based in Japan and the rest posted overseas in places like Sri Lanka and east Africa.
Q: Second-hand Japanese cars are known to be in high demand overseas, especially in similar right-hand drive countries. How is the market looking for these vehicles?
A: The quality of Japan-made cars is high, the maintenance standards are high, the roads are in good shape, and owners typically take care for their vehicles. Also, the ‘shaken’ that comes with every car gives a detailed record of the service they received over the years, so people can buy them in used condition with confidence, even if the cars have 50,000 to 100,000 kilometers on them.
Q: So essentially you source your cars in Japan, and then look for overseas buyers?
A: Yes. We participate in a nationwide auction system, which is done remotely by computer terminal. We ship to more than 70 countries.
Q: What kinds of skills are you looking for in new employees?
A: Demand is only getting stronger overseas for used cars, so we need sales people with good communication skills to deal with clients abroad. South America is one of our biggest growth markets, and so Spanish language ability is a big asset, along with English. Local languages such as Tagalog, Bengali or Urdu are also useful. Work experience in this industry is a plus, of course, but it is not mandatory. A strong interest in cars is enough when starting.
Q: What language is spoken at the Japan office, and what is the atmosphere like?
A: Mostly Japanese and English, but other languages such as Russian and Sinhalese can also be heard. The atmosphere is friendly and multi-cultural. There is a strong team spirit and sellers always help each other’s.
Q: What age groups have an advantageous to be hired?
A: For salespeople, being young usually brings a lot of energy, so somebody in their 20s or 30s would have an advantage. Gender doesn’t matter.
Q: Is there a training period?
A: Yes. Thereafter, there is a three- to six-month trial period to see how they do. There is a lot of phoning, skype sessions, and emailing with clients.
Q: So what kinds of questions will new employees be asking overseas customers?
A: They’ll be asking questions related to the kind of car the client wants, including make, model, color, price range, car condition, etc. But also information regarding the shipping and the export process and documents.
Q: Do clients’ time zones affect the working hours?
A: The standard working day is 9am to 6pm, but we can make accommodations for different shifts, depending on the time zone and the need. For example, somebody with a big client in Jamaica which is 12 hours behind Tokyo would work on an adjusted schedule. We are also open on weekends, but an eight-hour per day (including lunch), five-day work week is standard.
Q: Can salespeople expect to make a commission?
A: Yes. Regular staff make a fixed salary, but sales people can make more with a commission if they do well.
Q: What season(s) are the busiest?
A: We bid on an average of 50 to 100 cars per day and export 500 to 1,000 cars per month, sometimes more. On the other hand, we also bid on specific vehicles that clients want. More vehicles usually become available in March and April, as car owners sell before the shaken expires, so that is our busiest period.
Q: How well do the best salespeople do?
A: We have had one staff member sell 300 cars in a single month. The average is about 100, however.
Q: Is there a specific kind of vehicle that is more in demand than others?
A: It really depends on the region and the demand. For example in Mozambique, there is strong need for passenger cars, minivans, and buses. But we can get almost any kind of vehicle at an auction, including agricultural machinery such as rice planters, as well as garbage trucks, sewage trucks, up to 55-seat municipal buses. We have more than 10 yards where we keep around many cars ready to ship.
Q: How long does the average employee’s tenure at the company?
A: Three or four years for the foreigners is average.
Jobs at Al Ain Japan