Irene Ng of Monster Motors is In The Driver’s Seat
You are having an amazing career as entrepreneur in a vibrant space. Tell us about your first steps into the automotive business?
Monster Motors started with me being a car owner and a customer of the automotive industry. After owning my first car for two years, I decided to venture into the automotive detailing business, Monster Shine in 2016, before expanding to the used car trade a year later. Apart from being in a competitive male-dominated industry, the barriers to entry were high to begin with due to the many established detailing companies that were founded years before mine. Looking back, my first steps into this industry were gruelling but I persevered and I’m definitely glad it has worked out thus far!
It has been reported that the global car resale industry will reach at least US$3.66 trillion by the end of 2022. In Singapore, how is Monster Motors positioned for future success?
I think Singapore is still recovering post pandemic and the rising COE prices are deterring the locals from buying cars as it affects the affordability of vehicles both new and pre-owned.
With Singapore announcing plans to phase out the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040 in favour of full adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles, more local car owners are open to the idea of conversion to EV ownership. However, despite the growing market for EV, I feel that our local infrastructure (such as access to charging stations) has not caught up to support a steep growth in EV ownership.
Monster Motors is definitely supportive of the transition from I.C.E. vehicles to EVs so we have plans to adopt strategies to align with the government’s direction.
With regards to the expansion of the market, we understand that Monster Motors has adopted a very digital-first approach to its business since day one but how have you taken the company further? How about your plans for the future, then?
By rethinking our business model and customer experience. The automotive industry has always been traditionally brick-and-mortar, and our team is currently adopting a digital mindset to launch projects that can transform our organisation in a holistic manner with encompassing business functions in mind.
Apart from our goal to centralise all vehicle and customer profiles on a digital platform, one of our plans includes a digital lifestyle concierge service that allows our automotive customers to enjoy premium rewards not limited to the automotive industry.
How do you decide what to purchase and resell for Monster Motors? Most importantly, how does the business arrive at the data needed to influence these decisions?
Our team watches the market closely to identify demand for specific make and models. Data including COE trends and the number of vehicles available for sale per specific model affects our purchase decisions.
Type of car versus brand, or even market structure: what sales segment of the used car market moves the most for Monster Motors and why?
Selling Continental vehicles, like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, is our bread and butter. We understand the product, and are able to present its pros and cons and expected maintenance costs; hence customers return and refer for such vehicles.
A study in 2019 showed that women were 53 per cent of the customer base for used cars globally. When it comes to Singapore, what is the business like when it comes to women customers? As a woman yourself, do you think the marketing needs to differ across genders?
For Singapore, car ownership is below 20 per cent of the population which makes female ownership commensurately lesser. I would like to think that there is an increase in female drivers but not in female vehicle ownership. With the public transport system being a reliable and cheaper option to travel locally, owning a car is not essential, compared to other countries, say in Europe, where the destinations are further apart and to complete essential tasks such as marketing would require driving a distance.
As a woman, I believe the marketing has to differ across genders because what a man is looking for in a car tends to be related to lifestyle, performance and asset planning while I feel that women tend to be more concerned with considerations such as utility (can it fit groceries, baby prams, etc.), safety, ease of driving (and parking) as well as other details, for e.g. is the car child-seat friendly.
With your artistic inclinations and curiosity when it comes to intellectual topics, are you able to marry the sometimes technical aspects of the motor business with your personal interests?
I feel that the preferred car model, the colour choice of paintwork and even the outlook of existing paintwork plays a part in the psychological aspect of vehicle ownership. To some, a car may just be a form of transportation, but to me, a car greatly represents the owner in character and attitude.
I personally enjoy bringing out the confidence in the car owners when I makeover their cars to match their personas, or even matchmaking the right car to increase the reliability and credibility of their outlook as a working professional.
With Monster Motor’s spray paint and body repair services, what were some interesting customer requests, and how far is the brand willing to accommodate them?
There is a recent trend for faded paintwork design, meaning the car’s side profile will feature a gradient paintwork from dark to light (usually towards the front of the car). We are definitely open to work on such projects albeit it’s a high ticket item we are painting on so our team will have to work with extra care.
One of our recent projects was on a Maserati GT, where we combined two elements: spray painting and a custom designed vinyl wrap to complete a rainbow paddle pop effect.
What about the after-sales service then? How does Monster Motor differ from its competitors?
My team and I believe strongly in building long-term relationships with our clients. We provide all vehicle-related services, including 24 hours roadside accident assistance, repair, paint, maintenance and etc. Essentially, we are always a call away!
Where do you see the brand in the future? And more importantly, what are your predictions for the used car market?
I envision the brand to be doing more than just providing services in the automotive industry as we are exploring the education sector, as well as local job creation.
Electric vehicles will make up the bulk of the vehicle population in the coming years and I’m sure there will be further incentives by the government to make owning an electric vehicle affordable so we aim to embark on projects that are aligned with this direction, such as to build a business infrastructure that is green and environmentally friendly.
You are part of MAVEN Club, what has the club brought to you in terms of knowledge, connections and entertainment?
Being a part of Maven allows me to experience and increase my knowledge in areas such as art, finance, tech and mixology. The connections available range from brilliant entrepreneurs to creative artists and ambitious CEOs whose achievements I can learn from as I play a significant role in revolutionising the automotive industry.
If you were to name one mentor who has influenced you in your career, who would that be?
It would be my husband! He was the one who influenced and got me started on my entrepreneurship, to be ambitious with my goals and courageous in achieving them. Most importantly, he is often the anchor point for me to compartmentalise my emotions and thoughts to be successful in my career, without having to disconnect from the authentic part about myself.
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