Meet Marcel. A true entrepreneur from Liège with a passion for people. He will tell you more about his daily duties as Shop Manager and his growing role within Dockx Rental. We have been counting on him for 8 1/2 years, and we can assure you that he is one of a kind!
How did you end up at Dockx Rental?
I have been working in the automotive world since the age of 21. I started out in a car rental company and then moved to a windshield replacement enterprise. The latter one teamed up with Dockx Rental. At one point, I had heard that Dockx was looking for a Service Shop Manager for the Liège branch. Since I had always followed Dockx from a distance, I applied for this position. It is a company that has always interested me. It seemed like a nice place to work because it is a family-run business based in Flanders, and the eye-catching lettering of the vehicles always caught my attention. It is an interesting and fast-growing company, yet not a big European concern. Unlike the other Shop Managers, I am self-employed. This allowed me to start immediately as Liège’s branch manager.
Meanwhile, you have been working at Dockx for quite a few years. How has your career progressed?
I have now been working at Dockx for 8 1/2 years. I started as Service Shop Manager in the Liège branch. After a while, I was asked if I wanted to include the Verviers branch. I did this until Dockx decided to close this shop in 2021. Because of my commitment, qualities and demonstrated interest to keep growing, I have since become Shop Manager of three Dockx Service Shops: Liège, Charleroi and Nivelles (on an interim basis). And I will grow even further in my position and will be appointed Regional Manager of our shops in Wallonia as from January. In this new position, I will remain committed to leading my teams in the right direction.
How can you manage everyone in three different places at the same time?
I believe in leading by example. I have created a team that follows my way of working. Good communication is incredibly important in all of this. I get up early so that I can be reached as soon as the branches open their doors. For me, it is important to always be available and able to provide support. This until closing time. I like to be fully present. How do I manage this with three branches? For example, when I am in Nivelles, I already call my Liège and Charleroi staff while driving the car in the morning. Together, we then discuss what needs to be done that day. Throughout the day, we communicate a lot by phone and e-mail to keep each other updated on progress. So, to show that I am present and involved, I make sure that I am always readily available and I respond to questions. When things are quieter, I divide my time between the shops. Then I'll stop by, just to let everybody know that I'm there when needed.
My job is all about being available and being able to support and guide my staff. I also draw up the procedures that must be followed. I am lucky to have a good team that responds well to my working method. This makes it really easy for me to manage everything via a laptop and mobile phone.
I also have an excellent professional relationship with Joeri Dockx. This makes for good and easy communication, and I am also kept informed vis-à-vis important issues. There is a lot of mutual trust between us. Dockx gives me plenty of freedom and much support. That is the strength of a growing group, of a family structure. Being approachable and the constant dialogue.
What does your typical day look like?
There are no typical days at Dockx. I have to be flexible all the time and help customers and colleagues where necessary. Even though I always start with a predetermined schedule and to-do list, this can change several times during the day. Being flexible is at the heart of my job.
As mentioned earlier, the main task is to manage and support my team. But I also help at the front desk, receive customers, draw up contracts, do invoicing, follow up complaints and claims, help with transfer planning ... I'm from Liège myself and the people here are very friendly. Sometimes we have customers asking "Hey, is Marcel here?" as a kind of courtesy call. You also need to be flexible in those situations. And that is what I love most of all: helping and supporting others.
Where does your passion to help others come from?
It was passed on to me when I was still a child. I am from a family of self-employed people. It has always been my dream to give people the opportunity to work and help them grow. I may not be the boss who pays the salary, but I do select, supervise and train the staff. I feel proud when one of my colleagues comes to me to say that they have just signed the rental contract of their new flat, or that their job allows them to go on holiday. And that's a wonderful part of my job, helping others grow so they can have a great start in life and take on responsibilities.
Besides, it is also very valuable for yourself. By helping customers and colleagues, you find out many interesting things. For example, I recently learned during a customer visit that cut flowers are put to sleep during delivery. This is a story that intrigued me so much that as soon as I got home in the evening, I told it to my family. The great thing about the rental industry is that you meet people from all walks of life, so you are always learning something new.
Do you have certain habits while working?
In Liège, we have a rather amusing habit. During our lunch break, we do sports together. I play American football, as do two other colleagues. Step by step, we set up a small 'gym' in our branch. We use it for cross-fit and strength training every afternoon. When I am in Liège, all colleagues join in. Some customers have already seen our installation, and they like it. Sport is actually very similar to the professional world: we support each other and motivate each other to push our limits. In Charleroi, they are even a bit jealous. A couple of colleagues in Charleroi have also started exercising at lunchtime. A good habit that can only strengthen the team spirit.
Who is the ideal person to join Dockx?
Everybody who loves helping customers move forward. Of course, it is nice that you are interested in vehicles but since we offer a mobility solution, you should especially enjoy finding solutions to customer problems. Some customers just come to rent a car, but we also get specific or last-minute requests. Then we have to rethink our schedule and look for available vehicles. If a vehicle breaks down or there are payment problems, we also have to find the proper solution. Dockx is the ideal employer for those who want to push themselves to provide perfect customer service and also love flexibility.
At Dockx, and also in my team, we strive very hard for a friendly and family atmosphere. Even though as Manager I manage the team, everyone has a say and we are open for dialogue. When I draw up certain procedures, I always listen to others because this can give rise to new ideas. And that is the strength of working in a family business.
You have a lot of responsibilities, how do you relax?
I don't feel the need to let go of my work. I am self-employed and like to be available at all times. I visit my colleagues regularly because I appreciate them and want to help them. However, that doesn't stop me from spending time with my family. I also do a lot of sports, American football. That helps me to release all the tension. But I also like quieter walks in nature. Next summer, I will hike the GR20 in Corsica. I am already training for this. I love these types of challenges, because they help you with better understanding yourself and they challenge your own limits.