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CAR LEASING
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new lease car?

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Cheapest Car Leasing CHAT
My Customer Letters!
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Note: I live inside this website Monday to Friday 9am-6pm, to give you the very best service and make your experience a happy one! - I am Ling, accept no substitutes
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LIVE + KICKING twitter feed... WAIT!

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Intro Film News Blog Office TV Contact Moan Links Play Quiz Privacy Policy Google Visitors
Ling Valentine Quote Quote Apply for Quote DRAGONS' DEN

Richard Farleigh - "I wanted to invest; I was amazed by Ling's
complete lack of nerves, and also by her business acumen."

Duncan Bannatyne - "I wanted to
invest... but ye turrn'ed me dooon!"

Deborah Meaden
"Harrumph! I'm out!"

UK WARNING: Customers reporting many other internet prices hiding true lease costs! Beware dodgy companies selling high initial rental "6+" leases
Ling Valentine is Viz's Official Ethnic Business Ambassador Play stupid crash game! Cheap insurance Google Spider Google Spider
Food --->
Google Spider Food

View LIVE visitors: 11 online

 
Hi! I am Ling Cheap Car Leasing - WAH! from Dragons' Den. I lease cheap new cars!
UPDATE... The latest car I've added is a Peugeot Expert 1.6 HDi (90bhp) L1 H1 1000 Professional Van 1560cc Diesel at £254.42 inc VAT at 09:03 yesterday - Ling
Car Leasing Traffic Light
Candybar
MY NEWS CLIPPINGS!
HaHaHa!

This is where I keep all my press cuttings.

Some people visit my website, see my cars and they think I am spoofing it!

Crazy, but true. No - cars are real, I am real, website real! Published articles below should help you believe I exist in real life! I am human person, you can trust me and that I really live in Gateshead.

None of the other boring, useless, stuffy car leasing websites make as much effort as me! I laugh at them!

ENJOY THIS PAGE, IT'S BIG!

Lingdex of
231 articles


4 Networking Magazine - "FREE" IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL WORDS
ACA Demon - ANALYSIS OF LINGSCARS LEASING COMPANY IN THE UK
Admast - UNUSUAL IMPROPLUG TV ADVERT
Audi Portal.com - LINGsCARS.com MONGOL RALLY
Auto Community - A NEW WAY TO LAUNCH YOUR BUSINESS
Auto Express - WOMEN CAR BUYERS ANGRY
Autoblog Green - I AM BEST, I AM HUMAN BEING, NOT ROBOT!
Autoblog Green - CRITICS SAY AUTOMAKERS CAN BE GREENER...
Autoblog UK - LEASE HIRE
Automotive Distribution Federation - GREEN SALES DON'T COUNT
Automotive Management Awards - LING SHORTLISTED IN 2008
Automotive Management - CAR LEASING ENTREPRENEUR WINS I.T. AWARD
Automotive Management - LING VALENTINE TO STAR IN VIZ
Automotive Management - SCRAPPAGE: FOR AND AGAINST
Automotive Management - COVER STAR! THE FUTURE FOR CAR RETAILING?
Automotive Management - AUTOMOTIVE AWARDS 2007 - LINGsCARS NOMINATED!
Automotive Management - CHAT ROOM ENTREPENEUR SELLS £1M A MONTH
Automotive Management - TAX PROPOSED ON EMAILS AND TEXT MESSAGES
Automotive Management - LING TELLS DEALERS TO STUFF IT!
Automotive Management - ENGLAND FLAG/CHOPSTICK WORLD CUP OFFER
>Automotive Management - LING'S LEASE OFFENSIVE BEGINS
Automotive Management - MG NEEDS TO BE CHEAP AS IT'S "PRETTY USELESS"
Automotive Management - DEALER BLAST FOR LINGsCARS
Automotive Management - LING WINS AWARD
Automotive Management - THE BIG PICTURE - CUSTOMERS WILL DICTATE FUTURE
Automotive Management - LING ON VIDEO - AM TALKS TO LING VALENTINE
Automotive Management - THE GREAT, THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY
AutoWired.co.uk - E-MAIL TAX IS STUPID, SAYS GATESHEAD ENTREPRENEUR
AutoWired.co.uk - LING SLAMS DISABLED VAT SCAMMERS
AutoWired.co.uk - MOTOR TRADE ACCUSED OF ADDING TO NATION'S DEBT
AutoWired.co.uk - VALENTINE CAUSES MORE STIR WITH WAITRESS PRANK
AutoWired.co.uk - LING TURNS DOWN THE DRAGONS!
Baroness Goudie's Blog - NATWEST EVERYWOMAN AWARDS
Barry Richards Web Design - LINGsCARS RE-DESIGN
BBC Books - DRAGONS' DEN; SUCCESS FROM PITCH TO PROFIT
BBC 2 Dragons' Den - LING'S PITCH TO THE DRAGONS - PREVIEW - BEFORE THE SHOW
BBC 2 Dragons' Den - LING'S PITCH TO THE DRAGONS - FULL PITCH TO WATCH
BBC News - Look North - EVENING NEWS BULLETIN - WITH LING AND HER TRUCK
BBC Radio Cleveland Interview - LING ON DRAGONS' DEN; BEFORE & AFTER - 2 mp3s
BBC Radio Newcastle Interview - LING SLAMS GOOGLE
BBC Radio Newcastle Interview - LING EATS DRAGONS FOR BREAKFAST; LIVE
BBC Radio FIVE Live Interview - NUCLEAR TRUCK AND COCKLE PICKERS
BBC Radio Tees Interview Film - LING TALKS TO ALEX HALL - EX EMMERDALE
BBC World Service (Chinese) Interview - LING ON DRAGONS' DEN, plus mp3
Best Magazine - DEALERS TAKE NOTE!
Biz/ed UK educational business website - LING IS AN A-LEVEL PROJECT!
Biz/ed UK educational business website - WHAT'S NEW! LING ON EBAY!
Blogstorm - IT ALL STARTED WITH A GRAVESTONE
Blogstorm - 5 KILLER WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR WEBSITE OFFLINE?
Blogstorm - WORLD'S TOP 10 WORST WEBSITES?
Business 550 Magazine - ARE THEY STILL RISING?
Business 550 Magazine - RISING STAR
Business Car - BROKERS: HEROES OR VILLAINS?
Business Editors - YOU VISIT! YOU BUY! YOU DEAL WITH ME!
BusinessZone - FUNDING FROM THE DRAGONS? WE'RE OUT, SAY SMEs
Bytestart - ONLINE MEDIA TOOL EVERY BUSINESS SHOULD BE
Car Keys.co.uk - RICKY BUTCHER; TOP MECHANIC!
CheckMyFile.com - 12 THINGS TO DO AT YOUR PC AT CHRISTMAS!
Codeworks - YOUR-FILM CREATES UNIQUE IMPROPLUG TV ADS!
Company Car Driver - RENT A CAR - EAT SOME NOODLES!
Compfused.com - LING'S VIRAL CHINESE ARMY SISTER SUPPORTS EN-GER-LAND!
ComputerActive - UK VENDORS ATTACK EMAIL CHARGES
Computer Shopper - MY DING-a-LING: ZYGOTE!
Connected Internet - IS THIS THE WORST WEBSITE EVER?
Creative Match - ENGLAND FLAG WAVING MOVIE GOES CULT!
Crooz.jp - SOME BLOODY JAPANESE YOU-TUBE RIP OFF SITE FINDS MY MISSILE!
Daily Record - MAN, THAT'S ANNOYING!
Daily Star - JOHN TERRY SCANDAL CAUSES WOMEN...
Daily Telegraph Business Club - LOVE IT, HATE IT
Daily Telegraph Honest John - FEE? LING GROOVY
Daily Telegraph Honest John - TRAFIC JAM
Daily Telegraph - £1M MONTHLY NEW CAR SALES FOR CHAT ROOM ENTREPENEUR
Daily Telegraph - TARGETING TONY
Daily Telegraph - MG TF GETS "ENGLISH" DRIVING INSTRUCTIONS
Darlington & Stockton Times - HAZARDOUS MOTORWAY SIGN GIVEN A ROCKET
Darlington & Stockton Times - CHINESE A1 "ROCKET" ANNOYS COUNCIL
Darlington & Stockton Times - CHINESE WOMAN STUNS RALLYCROSS WORLD
Dealer Update - 5,000 PEOPLE LOGGED ON TO LINGsCARS.com!
Dept. of Trade and Industry: Auto Industry - ONLINE RETAILER COMPLAINS...
Dept. of Trade and Industry: Auto Industry - LING'S ECO-LABEL CAMPAIGN...
Dept. of Trade and Industry: Auto Industry - GREEN CHIPS
Designerstalk.com - WEB DESIGN COMPETITION WITH LING
Dev the web.com - 20 UGLIEST WEBSITES!
Dim Sum - MEETING LING, A NEW CAR SALES FEMALE CHINESE WHIRLWIND EXPERT!
Durham Business School - NORTH EAST WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2006
EdExcel - LING IS AN A-LEVEL EXAM QUESTION!
Encyclopaedia Britannica - A BLUETOOTH HANG-UP
Enterprise Nation - Newsline - WHAT KIND OF INTERNET SURFER ARE YOU?
Enterprise Quest - Newsline - LING SHOWS 'EM HOW IT'S DONE
Energy Efficient Motorsport - LINGsCARS CAMPAIGNS FOR WEBSITE ECO-LABELS
Energy Efficient Motorsport - MANUFACTURERS SHOULD OFFER GREEN CHIPPING
Evening Chronicle - TV ADS SCOOP GOLD
F and I Management Training - LING VALENTINE TO STAR IN VIZ
Fashion Shoot - NUCLEAR ROCKET TRUCK/FINANCIAL TIMES VIDEO SHOOT
FHM Magazine - 100 BEST WEBSITES; LINGsCARS
Financial Mail Womans' Forum - CALLING WOMAN ENTREPRENEURS
Financial Times - ASK THE EXPERTS; LINGsCARS
Financial Times - ALL YOU NEED IS A GOOD WEBSITE AND SUPPLIERS WHO...
Financial Times.com - DRIVING THE INTERNET SALES MODEL
Financial Times (Chinese edition) - CHINESE TRANSLATION OF THE ABOVE
Fleet News - WHAT'S HOT ON THE NET
Floating Frog - PROOF BAD WEBSITES WORK
Fleet News - TAX PROPOSED ON EMAILS AND TEXT MESSAGES
Fleet News Network - CAR BROKER REFUSES DRAGONS' CASH
Fleet News Network - ONLINE REPORTER POISONED BY LING
Fleet News - LEASE COMPANIES SHOULD EDUCATE ON FUEL
Flying Startups - LING VALENTINE OF DRAGONS' DEN FAME TALKS TO STEVE PARKS
Free Formed Marketing - WE LOVE LING!
FRESH Awards - LINGsCARS WINS NATIONAL TV AWARDS
Fresh Business Thinking - SOME USEFUL CAR ADVICE
Fresh Radio - ON-AIR OLYMPUS CAMERA/LINGsCARS.com RALLYCROSS COMPETITION
Fresh Radio - BLYTON OLYMPUS CAMERA/LINGsCARS.com RALLYCROSS COMPETITION
Fulchester.com - VIZ APPOINTS OFFICIAL BUSINESS AMBASSADOR
Glass's Guide Eurotax - MOTOR TRADE ACCUSED OF ADDING TO NATION'S DEBT
Goat Karma - GLORIOUSLY BAD WEBSITES - A CELEBRATION!
Green Car Guide - ONLY PLACE ONLINE TO LEASE AND COMPARE GREEN CAR RATINGS
Growth Business - 2009 BUDGET REACTION
Haynes Manuals - BUILD YOUR OWN WEBSITE MANUAL!
Heat Magazine - TV PICK OF THE DAY!
Hit Videolar - TURKISH YOUTUBE VIDEO SITE FINDS LING AND HER BUS!
Honest John - LING WINS HIGHLY APPROVED TRADER AWARD
I-Kew - BOYCOTT GOOGLE! AND AOL! AND YAHOO!
Info for Small Businesses - EMAIL SPAMMING CHARTER ANGERS UK WEB RETAILERS
InformNorth - KERCHING - THE SOUND OF SUCCESS
Internet World - BUSINESSWOMAN SLAMS GOOGLE'S CHINESE CENSORSHIP
ITV Online - LING'S TOP SOAP STAR MECHANIC POLL RESULTS
IT Week - UK VENDORS ATTACK EMAIL CHARGES
IT Security - EMAIL SPAMMING CHARTER ANGERS UK WEB RETAILERS
The Enquirer - CHINESE BIRD GOES MOBILE - CARS TO PHONES
Japanese Web-Blog - FROM ON HILL OF MID-LAND (GOOGLE TRANSLATION)
Jeff Smith - Insight - LING VAL' STEALS ADVANTAGE OVER MAIN DEALERS
Jeff Smith - Insight - WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET OUT OF BED?
Journal Business Daily - LONDON BUS A TRAVELLING OFFICE FOR CAR FIRM
Journal Business Daily - LING VALENTINE: ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR 2006
Junkk.com - CAR-LING'S RED/ORANGE/GREEN LABELS!
Jupiter Jasper - MARKETING DIFFERENTIATION, LING STYLE
Just-Auto.com - LING VALENTINE MAKES HER POINT WITH "WAITRESS PRANK"
Just-Auto.com - MAD CHINESE BIRD
K & N Filters.com - ROUND 2 OF THE 2007 LINGsCARs.com RALLYCROSS
Life Starts At.com - ARE YOU PAYING TOO MUCH FOR PAINT PROTECTION?
Letraz.mus.br - BRAZILIAN MUSIC SITE PROMOTES MY LONDON BUS VIDEO!
Life Out Loud.co.uk - LING SLAMS DISABLED VAT SCAMMERS?
Mail on Sunday - CALLING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
Management Today - AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO WEB NAVIGATION
Management Today - LING WRITES THE EDITORIAL
Management Today - THE BUDGET AND CAR SCRAPPING
Management Today - ENTREPRENEUR TAKES FRESH APPROACH VIZ SPONSORSHIP
Manchaster Evening News - THE JURY - FUEL PROTESTS
>Manchaster Evening News - LING'S CARTOON CAPERS
Manx Radio - PAINT PROTECTION INTERVIEW
(The) Marketing Blog - IS THE PRICING OF PAINT PROTECTION A RIP-OFF?
(The) Marketing Donut - HOW I USE PUBLICITY STUNTS TO PROMOTE...
(The) Marketing Donut - WHAT DOES REALITY TV DO..
Martonhouse PLC - YOU VISIT! YOU BUY! YOU DEAL WITH ME!
Metro News - LING'S CARTOON CAPERS!
Money and Employment - ENTREPRENEUR TAKES FRESH APPROACH VIZ SPONSORSHIP
Motor Trader - DEALERS ACCUSED OF PAINT PROTECTION SALES 'RIP-OFF'
Motor Trader - DING A LING (This is SO funny in a deadpan way)
MotorBar - THE WORLD SUCKS! (Ling takes down giant Nestle)
MotorBar - MOTOR DEALERS "SLAMMED" FOR CONCEALING GREEN RATINGS
Motoring4Media - SEISMIC SHIFT IN CAR OWNING CULTURE?
Motor Finance - WAR OF WORDS
Martin Lewis: Money Saving Expert - I ORDERED THE NEW CAR!
MSN Money - UNLIKELY MILLIONAIRES!
NatWest EveryWoman Awards - LOCAL CHINGLISH ENTREPRENEUR SCOOP!
Nee Hao - BUSINESS PROFILE - LING VALENTINE
>Newcastle Evening Chronicle - EVERYONE THINKS WE'RE MAD!
Newcastle Journal - LING GIVES CAR MART A ROCKET - double page spread
Newcastle Journal - JUST THE LING THEY NEED
Newcastle Journal - VALENTINE FALLS OUT OF LOVE WITH GOOGLE
Newcastle Journal - DRIVING AHEAD IN CAR LEASING
Newcastle Journal - HELP KEEP THE ROCK NORTHERN
New Woman Magazine - MONEY TRICKS
National Farmer's Union - CAR DEALER SHAMES MOTOR INDUSTRY
Northern Leadership Academy - I EAT DRAGONS FOR BREAKFAST
North East Business Directory and Yearbook 07 - ORGANIC WEBSITES...
Northern Echo - LING MOVES TO DEFUSE ROW OVER NUCLEAR MISSILE
Northern Echo - ROCKET WOMAN ENTERS DRAGONS' DEN
Northern Echo - DRAGONS TAKE ON MISSILE ENTREPRENEUR
Northern Echo - DRAGONS' CASH OFFER REJECTED!
OMFG this sucks! - GREAT WITH CARS, BAD WITH DESIGN
Online Marketing Summit 2010! - LINGsCARS: WEB USABILITY AND CONVERSION
OOO! - LING VALENTINE'S INCREDIBLY FUNNY CAR HIRE WEBSITE
Pan Asian Biz - LING'S VIEWS OF CHINA AND GOOGLE
Parc Ferme World Motorsport News - LINGsCARS.com IS OPEN SERIES TITLE SPONSOR
Personal Computer World - UK VENDORS ATTACK EMAIL CHARGES
Pocket Picks - VALENTINE LAUNCHES WEBSITE FOR MOBILE BARGAIN HUNTERS
Publicity Heaven - LING FROM DRAGONS' DEN
Rallycross proramme 11th Feb 2007 - SO WHY IS A CHINESE BIRD SPONSORING...
Rallycross proramme 20th May 2007 - HERE WE ARE AGAIN, SAT ON WET GRASS...
Rallycross Open Series - LINGsCARS.com OPEN SERIES TITLE SPONSOR
Real Business - INTRODUCING LING VALENTINE
Real Business - THE POWER OF DRAGONS' DEN
Real Business - 27 WAYS TO RAISE YOUR PROFILE
Real Financial Decisionmaking - WHEN WILL RECESSION END?
Real Financial Decisionmaking - PORSCHE PAYOUT: DESERVED OR DISGUSTING?
RallyCross SuperPrix 2006 - LINGsCARS SPONSORS PREMIER MOTORSPORT
Red Ant - INSPIRATIONS...
Retail Week - 50 WEBSITES YOU HAVE TO VISIT
RMS PR - ABOUT LINGSCARS
SelfMadeMinds.com - INTERVIEW WITH "DRAGON EATER" LING VALENTINE
Seth Godin.com - LINGsCARS IN SETH GODIN'S BLOG - GOOD PRACTICE EXAMPLE
Shields Gazette - JARROW FIRM HELPS DRAGONS' DEN CONTESTANT
Shields Gazette - STUDENT HELPS DRIVE CAR BUSINESS FORWARD
Silicon.com - WEEKLY ROUND UP
Silicon.com - LING FACES THE DRAGONS - INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR WALKS AWAY
Smarta.com - SMARTA 100 AWARDS
Squat Magazine - DRAGON SLAYER LING VALENTINE
Startups.co.uk - DRAGONS' DEN BAD VALUE FOR MONEY, SAY...
South China Morning Post - LING DOES NOT BOMB LONDON
Sunderland Echo - WORLD WIDE WACKINESS!
Sunderland Echo - SUNDERLAND STUDENTS GIVE LING A LIFT!
Sunderland University Fuse - LING'S WEB KINGS ARE FIRST CLASS!
SuperMondays - INTENET MARKETING - IN CHINGLISH
TarMag - Track and Road Magazine - LING TIME!
TarMag - Track and Road Magazine - CHINA GEARS UP FOR THE NEW MG!
The Evolving Internet Marketeer - WEBSITE BRILLIANCE!
This is Money - SEVENTH NATWEST EVERYWOMAN AWARDS!
Tile Doctor - LING IS RECOMMENDED SUPPLIER!
Tiscali - DID LING REALLY MISS OUT?
TwoMo.com - WAH! CONTRACT CAR HIRE...
VIZ - LING SPONSORS FULCHESTER UNITED!
VIZ - THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE LING!
Web Active Magazine - UK VENDORS ATTACK EMAIL CHARGES
Web Designer Magazine - WORST WEBSITE HUMBLE PIE AWARD
Wealthmonitor (Financial Times) - LINGsCARS.com
Web Pages That Suck - THE WORST BUSINESS WEBSITE OF 2009
Web Pages That Suck - WORST WEBSITES OF 2009
Who's On - LIVE WEBSITE MONITORING - WORLD'S FIRST!
Women into the Network - NORTH EAST ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR AWARDS

WATCH BBC 5 Live - COCKLE-PICKER INTERVIEW (Lo-res 5Mb, Hi-res 17Mb)
WATCH BBC Radio - GOOGLE INTERVIEW MOVIE (Ling in BBC studio 7.5Mb)
WATCH Financial Times - PHOTO SHOOT MOVIE (Ling and rocket 3.8Mb)
WATCH Mongol Rally - FUN PROMO MOVIE (Lo-res 5Mb, Hi-res 16Mb)
WATCH Mongol Rally - ACTION ADVENTURE MOVIE (Fiat on the rally 1.7Mb)
WATCH World Cup - PLA ENGLAND FLAG MOVIE (Lo-res 4Mb, Hi-res 14Mb)
LISTEN Manx Radio - PAINT PROTECTION INTERVIEW (mp3 1.4Mb)
WATCH London bus - LING SUMMER HOLIDAY MOVIE (Lo-res 2.3Mb, Hi-res 7.7Mb)
WATCH Lina and Lulu - RALLYCROSS SUPERPRIX MOVIE (Lo-res 11Mb, Hi-res 39Mb)
LISTEN to the Croft Rally FRESH RADIO on-air competition - HERE (mp3 780kb)
LISTEN to the Blyton Rally FRESH RADIO on-air competition - HERE (mp3 780kb)
WATCH the Dragons' Den preview film - HERE (wmv 1.5Mb)
WATCH Lina and Lulu - FEED RALLYCROSS DRIVERS NOODLES (Lo 10Mb, Hi 33Mb)
LISTEN to BBC Radio Cleveland "before the den" - HERE (mp3 1.9Mb)
LISTEN to BBC Radio Cleveland "after the den" - HERE (mp3 1.4Mb)
LISTEN to BBC Radio Newcastle Drivetime - "Ling & the Dragons" - HERE (mp3 2.2Mb)
WATCH the BBC 1 News bulletin with missile truck - HERE(wmv 9.5Mb)
WATCH my full BBC 2 Dragons' Den pitch - HERE (Lo-res 13Mb Hi-res 44Mb)
LISTEN to BBC World Service (Chinese) interview - HERE (mp3 3.6Mb)
LISTEN to Flying Startups podcast (Steve Parks) - HERE (mp3 5.3Mb)
WATCH the Northern Rock Ling's rescue - HERE(wmv 6.1Mb)
WATCH BBC Radio Tees - interview with Alex Hall (Lo 12Mb, Hi 39Mb)
HiQ pics image bank for use by press or anyone HERE

Press Pics
High quality images for press to use!






















Big FT article HERE




My thanks go to RMS PR who offer me incredible support to assist me in promoting my business. They are fantastic, they even get me in press in China! They also had a brand new Honda CRV from me! I recommend them 200% - Ling




 
"HONEST JOHN'S HAT AWARD!"




Copy of HONEST JOHN's webpage, below.


Honest John has announced the companies awarded a prestigious Highly Approved Trader (HAT) Standard for 2010. Motorists from across the UK were called on to vote for their favourite service providers from a short-list, and now the votes have been counted and the results are in.

"We asked motorists to vote for the companies they felt went the extra mile when it came to customer service," says Honest John. "Recent reports, such as the Office of Fair Trading investigation into second-hand car dealers, have drawn attention to examples of bad practice in the industry. But I think it is time we put the spotlight on businesses that deliver excellent service.

"Motorists are under pressure from so many fronts, so it's more important than ever that they can find service providers they can rely on to give them the best deals, decent service and, most importantly, are trustworthy."

In a change from 2009's HAT Standard Awards, in which Honest John himself picked the recipients, this year motorists were asked to vote for their favourite service providers and the nominees encompassed all areas of the motor trade, from auctions to car supermarkets.

"The HAT Standard this year truly showcases the businesses that support motorists with great service" concludes Honest John. "Drivers need a way to be able to find the organisations that can be trusted - and the HAT Standard does exactly that. Each HAT Standard winner has been voted for by real motorists who have enjoyed first-hand experience of excellent customer service."

The HAT Standard winners in 2010 are:



Ling Valentine of Lings Cars topped the recommendations by generating 131 votes.

Honest John says:

"Ling is certainly a controversial figure. But she engenders such unusually fierce loyalty from her customers that she has to be doing her job extremely well indeed and thoroughly deserves her HAT."



Motorpoint UK is an independent supplier of new and nearly new cars from branches in Burnley, Derby, Peterborough, Glasgow and Newport South Wales.

Honest John says:

"Motorpoint's directors, David Shelton and Gary Warren, and I used to stand together on the auction floor nearly 20 years ago. They have taken that experience and incorporated it into Motorpoint's no-nonsense approach - buy stock as cheaply as possible, take a small profit and pass the rest on in big savings to the customer. Offering 'nearly new' cars, independent imports and bulk-buys from manufacturers, Motorpoint has been at the forefront of providing great deals in the UK."



Warranty Direct is the UK's leading provider of direct consumer warranties specialising in used car and extended warranties.

Honest John says:

"In the past, aftermarket warranty insurers were happy to take your money, but prone to use 'wear and tear' exclusions and low claims limits making them of little real value. This all changed when Duncan McClure Fisher decided to come in and clean the business up with simple, straightforward and proper underwriting of risks. Duncan realised that Warranty Direct needed to be transparent - telling customers exactly what is and isn't covered for them to see in black and white."



British Car Auctions have over twenty auction centres nationwide and is Europe's largest vehicle remarketing company. BCA makes finding and buying quality used vehicles easy from a variety of vendors including: dealer part exchange, fleet, lease and ex rental.

Honest John says:

"I have been to more BCA auction halls than I have had hot dinners, and watched the business change. Over the years it has grown from one site to an international remarketing organisation, raising the standards througout Europe. BCA is more than just an auction house, providing added benefits, such as 'Sure Sell' for private sellers to sell their vehicles without risk or hassle."



Drive the Deal is a new-car-broker that supplies new UK cars to customers at cut rates by negotiating volume deals with franchised dealers.

Honest John says:

"Drivethedeal is run by Richard Sanders, one of the last few real gentlemen left in the car trade. He prides himself on making the best genuine deals with UK dealers for his customers. Through Drivethedeal, new car buyers can shop with peace of mind, knowing that they are getting genuine bargains, sometimes at very substantial discounts."



HPI has been checking vehicle histories since 1936 to help prevent motorists from getting ripped off.

Honest John says:

"The HPI Check is the first line of defence for used car buyers, confirming whether a vehicle has been stolen, written-off or is has outstanding finance, as well as offering a mileage check as standard - arming buyers with the information they need before a purchase. Over the years HPI has constantly expanded its offering and now provides CO2 certificates with every check, helping consumers make greener buying decisions, as well as being the only check to offer a guarantee in the event of data being inaccurate. HPI has also long been working within the industry to make used car buying the safest it's ever been. HPI is the first name in vehicle history checks, helping consumers protect themselves from the risks of used car fraud."



Autoquake is the UK's largest online used car retailer

Honest John says:

"Autoquake takes its stock from directly from large fleets and leasing companies, allowing savings can be passed on to customers without making any compromises. Autoquake provides good value combined with a seven day money-back guarantee, giving buyers confidence to buy online. They do this via a website that allows buyers to view up to 40 photos of each car, enabling them to see appraise every inch."












 
"HAYNES MANUAL"


Build Your Own Website:
by Kyle McRae and Gary Marshall


Iconic Haynes Manuals are not always about mending cars. There are manuals on a whole variety of subjects - one of them is building websites.

In the Haynes Manual to the right, the two authors research and publish information all about the subject of building websites. Unfortunately, they used LINGsCARS as an example of a "bad" website, and get most of their facts completely wrong, the idiots.

A book as reputable as a Haynes Manual should find out the true facts before publishing their book.


WHAT THE TWO AUTHORS WROTE:

"Ling Valentine runs a UK car rental firm and we're willing to bet she doesn't get much business from this online atrocity. It's a classic example of somebody throwing everything they can think of onto a single page, and the result is absolutely appalling. The cluttered layout makes it hard to see what matters on the website, the colours are distracting and often hard on the eyes, and the whole thing looks as it it were put together in five minutes by a toddler on a Sunny Delight binge.

It's not just bad from a design point of view - although, of course, it is bad from a design point of view. It's bad from a business point of view, too. The whole point of a business website is to say "Hi there! I'm experienced, professional and reliable, and I'm a good person to do business with." Ling's site says the absolute opposite.


The careless authors (shown on the right). I would refute just about everything they say. They have done no research and have completely neglected to publish the truth, that my website is incredibly popular, successful and that I have the best reputation for being "experienced, professional and reliable, and I'm a good person to do business with". It tarnishes the image of Haynes Manuals. - Ling





 
"WHAT DOES REALITY TV DO FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?"
September 2010


Two shows, two very different experiences for the businesses taking part. Ling Valentine, owner of LingsCars, famously turned down Duncan Bannatyne twice on Dragons' Den in 2007. Dazzle Parker runs No.37 Old London Road, a business transformed by Mary Portas for an episode of Mary Queen of Shops broadcast in June 2010.

On getting on TV

Ling: "I didn't apply to go on Dragons' Den - the producers approached me. They simply don't tell the truth to viewers about how businesses are approached to go on TV. I went on simply for publicity for LingsCars. Fifteen minutes of BBC prime time would cost a fortune if you could buy it. I didn't want investment at all."

Dazzle: "Optomen (the TV production company behind Mary Queen of Shops) rang us and said they were looking for an independent furniture retailer that also did accessories, had been in business for at least six years and was struggling.

"They were having difficulty finding one in the Home Counties that was still in existence. It was two months from the phone call to the day they said they would actually film us."

The TV experience

Ling: "Business reality TV is just TV - it has little to do with business and very little to do with reality. It is simply entertainment and people who believe they are in any way 'real' are verging on stupid. The programmes are good at making some business points, but they are edited to a format that bears no relation to reality. I was filmed for three-and-a-half hours for my slot on Dragons' Den, most of that time with no Dragons present, answering questions fired by BBC staff. How real is that?"

Dazzle: "It's slow. They had a couple of other people on the go as well until they decided which shop to feature. We didn't meet Mary until the first day they filmed.

"We knew the programme had to tell a story, be dramatic and show Mary in a good light. So she came in and she was very rude. You're expecting a knock, but you don't expect the knock you get. But we were losing money and they had to pick on something to make it dramatic."

The benefits to my business

Ling: "I got massive publicity out of Dragons' Den. My website visits simply doubled overnight and have continued to grow. It was worth a lot of money, but mainly because of the publicity - and I had a website that could convert interest into sales. Many people overlook that."

Dazzle: "We used to sell modern furniture, quite quirky, and Mary changed us into a recycled furniture seller, which is a brand new business. We weren't really resistant. As Under the Moon we used to go to Paris and to Milan to buy furniture. But suddenly these things dried up and we lost our way.

"Mary refocused us. We're suddenly a 'destination' shop and it's an approach that's working. It's been all systems go since the programme went out. It's extraordinary the influence that TV has and I think it will have a lasting effect."

Taking advice from the gurus

Ling: "The Dragons didn't say much, really. I simply tried to turn it into an enjoyable experience. The things that were worth their weight in gold were the offers of investment, which I turned down twice - to Duncan Bannatyne's disbelief.

"Of course, businesses shouldn't listen to Bannatyne; they should talk to professional advisers, though that's not to say many of the so-called professionals don't talk rubbish, too. Duncan Bannatyne or anyone else who is semi-famous is not going to transform your business. Only you can do that."

Dazzle: "Mary's a very clever lady, and her team was good as well. She had Peter Cross, her partner in Yellowdoor, in the background and the TV company had retail experts who still keep in contact with us.

"Mary's approach was very much linked to us two. She recognised that we had particular skills: I was capable of upcycling the furniture and Denny used to be an art teacher, so she could put the finish on what I had done."

"We were thinking of closing down. Then Mary came along and changed all that. She's been in touch a couple of times since - she's very supportive."

"Reality" TV

Ling: "I can imagine there is just as much fakery involved in other business reality shows like Mary Queen of Shops and The Business Inspector. But it doesn't matter - the TV company gets an hour of cheap, popular programming, the 'victim' and the star get free publicity and the viewer gets entertained. Job done."

Dazzle: "I'm not sure about Dragons' Den. It's entertaining TV, but they only back surefire winners and they rip these people off for about 30-40 per cent of their company. There are other people out there who could help just as well.

"Mary Queen of Shops told our story fully and there were some very cringy things they could have put in but didn't."

Whether businesses should try to get onto business TV shows

Ling: "Small business owners should absolutely get on a show if they can. But make sure you can do something with the viewer response, such as have a website ready to convert visitors into customers. Far too many people go on these shows and think they work like magic. They don't. You have to get the audience to react, capture the reaction, then turn that into business. By the way, I'm available for the next series of Dragons' Den - as a Dragon!"

Dazzle: "The last thing we ever wanted was to try to be on TV. Our view was that you had to go through pain to get the gain. You get an hour on TV, which is something you can't buy for a million quid. You'd be a fool not to do it. You can't afford to buy that expertise."









 
"HONEST JOHN IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH!"
June 2010


Trafic jam: I am a one-man band with a 2007 Renault Trafic. I am looking to buy a small car as a second vehicle, because I'm taking on more jobs that are farther afield. It seems a bit pointless taking the van for long runs when it's not being used to its full capability. I have been looking at finance deals where I basically rent a new vehicle for three years, then give it back and start again if required. All manufacturers offer these deals under different guises. Reliable motoring is a factor and I only expect to cover about 7,500 miles in a year, if that. Does one manufacturer stand out from the rest, or are they all the same with their terms? - DD, via email


HONEST JOHN SAYS: ...You are talking about personal contract purchase deals. All you can do is compare prices on the sort of vehicle you want (ie deposit plus monthly payments). Don't worry about the final payment if you propose to hand the car back after three years. Independents such as www.????????.com or www.lingscars.com will do PCP deals for you, too.


Email your queries to letters@honestjohn.co.uk (please include your full name, postal address and phone number).







 
"LING'S WEB KINGS ARE FIRST CLASS"
July 2010


Three Sunderland students who’ve helped build an Internet goldmine for eccentric North East businesswoman Ling Valentine have all graduated with Firsts in computing. Friends Jamie Hurst, Mark Stoddart and Jonathan Scott, have been working part-time for LINGsCARS.com while studying for their degrees at the University of Sunderland, applying their knowledge of the latest technology to the wacky website which has seen the company turnover rise to £35m in the last two years.

All three develop software and maintain systems for Ling, and they have now introduced a state-of-the-art LINGO customer management system for use at the company. Ling, originally from China, won an award from BT Business for excellence in IT earlier this year.

Jamie and Mark will now continue working for Ling, who has developed a reputation for courting publicity, with her invitation to appear on Dragon’s Den on 2008 and her unmissable Chinese Nuclear Missile Truck, advertising the company on the A1. She is also the owner of a London bus.

Jamie, 21, from Washington, said: “Studying at Sunderland whilst holding down a part-time job in my desired industry was a unique opportunity I couldn’t miss.

“The skills and experience I learned at Sunderland was nothing short of invaluable when starting work in the industry, and I was absolutely delighted when I managed to graduate with a First, meaning all the hard work had paid off.

“Ling has offered me a graduate position and I am looking forward to continuing to work for her for a long time!”

The three began working at the Gateshead-based company after responding to her advert, which offered website developers £10 an hour, full sugar coke and plenty of doughnuts, as well as a ‘window into the Valentine mindset’.

Mark, 21, from Sunderland, was first to apply, followed by Jamie, and the two set about applying the latest technology to the website, ensuring Ling’s outgoing personality was stamped all over it. The Internet team then picked up one more addition, 20-year-old Jonathan, from Jarrow, and visits to the site have now reached 120,000 each month.

The website is designed around an interactive service; customers can log on and talk to staff within minutes. Full price lists are livened up with new deals, Ling’s Prisoner Camp, a quiz and much colourful scribbling and slogans, including Ling’s trademark “Wah!”

Mark said: “I was the first graduate to start working with Ling. I quickly realised that LINGsCARS ran in a very unique way and to keep to website running I would need to be joined by another student, Jamie Hurst. The University of Sunderland has taught me the skills and experience needed to work in the industry. The final result was a First Class honours degree in computing which I feel was greatly helped by the experience I received at LINGsCARS. I am planning on studying for a Masters degree then continuing onto a PhD whilst continuing to work at LINGsCARS.”

Jonathan added: “As well as the technical skills I’ve gained through my course, I’ve also learned a lot about how to work well both individually and within a team, and also how hard it can be to hold down a part-time job as well as a full-time university course.

“I completed my course with a First Class degree in computing and I feel this is partially due to the extra experience at LINGsCARS. After university my plans include completing a Masters degree in software engineering before deciding either to pursue a PhD or enter the scary world of full-time employment!”

Ling said: “Mark, Jamie and Jonathan have created a monster of complicated computer coding on LINGsCARS.com. My database contains over 320 tables and my site crashes regularly. However (a bit like Apollo 13) when it works, it’s a magnificent achievement.

“They have done computer miracles over the past three years. They have created a website which does so much; no other car leasing or car dealer website can compete.”

“My customers are delighted with all aspects of dealing with LINGsCARS.com, and this is largely down to the website coding. My business operates purely online, so everything must work well. We do so much stuff, that competitors can only dream about doing. The lads can make any idea work and translate wacky ideas into reality.

“Sunderland has done a fantastic job to turn out graduates of the quality of Mark, Jamie and Jonathan. That they got Firsts is amazing, and the university should be very proud. LINGsCARS.com has won many IT awards, directly attributable to these three graduates."







 
"SUNDERLAND STUDENTS GIVE DRAGONS' DEN STAR LING A LIFT!"
July 2010


Three students who helped build an Internet goldmine for eccentric businesswoman Ling Valentine have all graduated with Firsts in computing.

Friends Jamie Hurst, Mark Stoddart and Jonathan Scott, worked part-time for www.lingscars.com while studying for their degrees.

The company's turnover has now risen to £35million over two years, mostly due to the wacky website.

Jamie and Mark will continue working for Ling, who appeared on Dragon's Den in 2008 and owns a Chinese Nuclear Missile Truck and a London bus.

Jamie, 21, from Washington, said: "This was a unique opportunity I couldn't miss. Ling has offered me a graduate position and I am looking forward to continuing to work for her for a long time."

The three began working at the Gateshead-based company after responding to Ling's advert, which offered website developers £10 an hour and endless supplies of full-sugar coke.

Ling said: "My business operates purely online, so everything must work well. We do so much stuff that competitors can only dream about doing. The lads can make any idea work."








 
"SHIELDS GAZETTE"
July 2010



JONNY SCOTT (above)


STUDENT HELPS DRIVE CAR BUSINESS FORWARD

A SOUTH Tyneside student has been helping a local businesswoman drive her company forward.

Jonathan Scott, from Jarrow, worked part-time for Lingscars.com, run by Ling Valentine, while studying for a computing degree at the University of Sunderland.

Alongside university pals Jamie Hurst and Mark Stoddart, 20-year-old Jonathan applied his knowledge of the latest technology to the wacky website which has helped the company's turnover rise to £35m of new cars in the last two years.

All three – who this week graduated with first-class degrees – developed software and maintain systems for Ms Valentine, and introduced a state-of-the-art Lingo customer management system.

Ms Valentine, originally from China, won an award from BT Business for excellence in IT earlier this year. Jamie and Mark will now continue working for her, while Jonathan plans to do a masters degree.

The three began working at the Gateshead-based company after responding to an advert which offered website developers £10 an hour, full-sugar Coke and plenty of doughnuts, as well as a 'window into the Valentine mindset'.

Ms Valentine has developed a reputation for courting publicity, with her invitation to appear on Dragon's Den in 2008 and her unmissable Chinese Nuclear Missile Truck advertising the company on the A1.

The website is designed around an interactive service; customers can log on and talk to staff within minutes.

Full price lists are livened up with new deals, Ling's Prisoner Camp, a quiz and colourful scribbling and slogans, including Ling's trademark "Wah!"

Jonathan said: "As well as the technical skills I've gained through my course, I've also learned a lot about how to work well both individually and within a team, and also how hard it can be to hold down a part-time job as well as doing a full-time university course.

"I completed my course with a first-class degree in computing, and I feel this is partially due to the extra experience at Lingscars.

"After university my plans include completing a masters degree in software engineering, before deciding either to pursue a PhD or enter the scary world of full-time employment!"

Ms Valentine said: "Mark, Jamie and Jonathan have created a monster of complicated computer coding on Lingscars.com.

"My database contains more than 320 tables and my site crashes regularly. However, a bit like Apollo 13, when it works it's a magnificent achievement.

"They have done computer miracles over the past three years. They have created a website which does so much; no other car leasing or car dealer website can compete."

"Sunderland has done a fantastic job to turn out graduates of the quality of Mark, Jamie and Jonathan. The university should be very proud."




 
"MARKETING DONUT"
May 2010


How I use publicity stunts to promote my online car leasing business

Meet the irrepressible Ling Valentine. Her online car leasing business, Lings Cars, has become a multi-million pound success story thanks to her customer-focused approach and a wonderfully wacky website that has gone viral. And she turned down the Dragons! Rachel Miller reports...

Ling Valentine is an entrepreneur with a difference. She set up her car leasing business because she thought she could do a better job at it than her husband; she turned down the Dragons on Dragons’ Den; she’s the champion of her customers and stands up to the car manufacturers; and her publicity stunts are legendary.

Everything she says and does is featured on her incredible website which appears to break all the rules — with its clashing colours, fonts and flashing graphics — and yet attracts 100,000 unique visitors and has been praised by US internet marketing guru Seth Godin for employing internet marketing best practice.

Creating a brand

Established in 2000, Lings Cars supplies new UK contract and lease hire cars and vans from its base in Gateshead. Ling’s approach is to cut unnecessary overheads, offer fantastic customer service and undercut big leasing companies by as much as 35 per cent.

That approach has certainly paid off. Ling now leases an average of £3.5 million worth of cars and vans every month.

“It's amazing that many companies in this business still work with illegible, handwritten, incomplete and incorrect information on paper forms and they pass this amongst themselves until they have generated no end of problems,” says Ling. “My system is as perfect and as simple as I can make it, and I seem to reap the rewards. My customers get the savings I make passed on to them.”

So how did she start? “After I married my husband Jon in Finland and came to the UK, I took an MSc and then I needed something to do. Jon sold cars. I looked at what he did and thought ‘I can do better than him’, so I did. I know there was a big opportunity to use an emotional bond to sell cars, because all the other car dealers and leasing companies are quite hated, they are very impersonal.”

Over the past few years, Ling has created some fantastic publicity stunts to publicise her business. These include everything from appearing as a character in Viz magazine to buying a Chinese military truck, complete with a giant rocket, to advertise LINGsCARS.com to thousands of people passing by on the A1 every day.

Turning down the Dragons

Perhaps her smartest move, though, was to appear on Dragons’ Den in 2007. Much to the amazement of the panel, Ling turned down the offer that was made by Duncan Bannatyne and Richard Farleigh.

“Going on Dragons' Den massively helped my business,” says Ling. “Ten minutes on prime-time BBC, plus all the endless repeats on Dave, plus all the associated publicity was worth over £250,000 in advertising. Two million ABC12 viewers on the night gave my business a massive immediate boost.”

It’s clear that Ling’s approach to marketing is all about creating the biggest impression for the lowest outlay. “I have used publicity stunts because they are enjoyable, and also — I had to do it,” says Ling. “I could not afford conventional marketing budgets. Really, you have to look at things in a different way and maximise cash results. It's no good spending a million pounds because you have to earn it back and in a price sensitive market that is very hard. So, I look sideways and use entertainment to attract customers and visitors.”

For Ling, attracting customers is all about viral marketing and word of mouth. “Always, my marketing is talking directly to people,” says Ling. “I have tried TV advertising, but as a long term strategy it is simply too expensive. And, it is an old fashioned media now. I get lots of customer referrals out of loyalty and because customers enjoyed their experience getting a cheap, new car.”

Not surprisingly, Ling also loves networking online. “I spend a lot of time on social media,” she says. “Whether on blogs, Twitter, forums — just talking to people. I monitor LINGsCARS.com constantly and I jump in as soon as I see an interesting referrer. Occasionally I email my customer base, but not very often; just with stuff of value. My website is at critical mass, the interest it generates, generates enough volume.”

And what a website! LINGsCARS.com has been described by Management Today, as “the most cluttered website we’ve ever seen”. It has won awards for being the worst and ugliest website but it has also won plenty of best website awards too — acknowledging the huge following that Lings Cars has online.

That following of happy customers is what drives Ling. “Customers are number one. It's that simple,” says Ling. “This has helped, and hurt, my business. It's massively good for my public reputation and customer confidence, but equally suppliers in the motor trade hate me because I am firmly on the side of the customer.”





 
"Honest John
Daily Telegraph
"

8th May 2010


FEE? Ling Groovy





I want to lease a small car for a short daily commute. Handling and prerformance matter more than street credibility. I plan to hand it back at the end of the contract, so monthly cost is an important factor. - M.H. via email



Honest John says: "Go to www.LINGsCARS.com which is run by Ling of Dragons' Den fame - she'll sort you out. When I asked for recommendations from readers regarding her service, to place on my website, I received 60 within 4 days."





 
"FINANCIAL MAIL WOMANS' FORUM"
April 2010


CALLING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS

The annual NatWest everywoman awards, which celebrate female entrepreneurs and particularly those who have overcome personal and financial problems, open to entrants tomorrow.

The eighth event, backed by Financial Mail, comprises ten awards, including four that are categorised by age group and named after Greek goddesses.

Ling Valentine won the 2009 NatWest everywoman Iris award, sponsored by BT Business, which recognises female entrepreneurs whose business success has been driven by IT and communications.

Ling set up her online car leasing and sales firm LINGsCARS.com nine years ago and promotes it on a Chinese missile truck. She now oversees a company with a turnover of nearly £400,000. Last year Ling leased £38 million worth of new cars to customers.

Ling, 36, who runs the business from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, and employs ten staff, says winning "made her year". She adds "It has opened so many doors for me. I think the award gives customers extra confidence in dealing with me"

The awards, open from April 12 to July 30, are free to enter. Visit Everywoman website.




 
"4 Community"
April 2010
the UK's Business Networking Magazine


FREE!

“FREE!” is one of the most powerful words on the web.

If you have a Business to Consumer website (or even a Business to Business site), you need to start using “FREE!”.

I am Ling, and I’m a random Chinese immigrant from Chengdu, China, living in Gateshead for the past 12 years. Now; I have a website leasing brand new cars (called LINGsCARS.com - original, huh?). Can you see the dichotomy?

New car/Random Chinese bird. The two things are not a natural fit.

A new car is a hellishly big decision for the web (car decisions are famously the second or third largest decisions made by most people, after a house and a husband/wife) and consequently, getting one from a mentally unstable Chinese bird off the internet, instead of a branded franchised dealer, may not be the smartest move.

Consequently, early on, I decided that I needed to build my business a little bit differently to the usual suspects with their “professional” car leasing sites – you know the ones. Names like “SlickLease”, “ShinyCarLeasing” or “OmniLeasing”. Glossy, flashified operations, claiming “we give the most professional service, blah, blah”. There are hundreds of them out there.

So, what did I need to do to turn the tables?


I needed an emotional bond with my website visitors and subsequently, my customers. Not many people know how to do this, but notably some operator called Brad Burton has spotted this emotional requirement for great results, too.

So, what’s the easiest way to build emotional attachment from a business website? It’s simple if it’s a porn website or a Al Qaeda portal (see my www.al-qaeda-news.com) with millions of dedicated followers. Emotional attachment comes easy then.

But I didn’t want a boob or bomb website, I needed to magnetise my new car leasing website! Hard, eh? After all, everyone has the same bloody new cars for sale.

It’s not hard, though, if you use “FREE!”. “FREE!” is a great word, and a particularly great word for website visitors. Why? Because there’s often a slight stigma to taking FREE! offers in public as you’re affected by social peer pressure. On the web, you don’t have to be seen grubbing around free stuff publicly – no one is looking down their nose at you as they do when you try yet another free Bailey’s or biscuit sample in the local Sainsbury’s (nothing wrong with that, I specialise in it).

When you’re clicking around the shadier corners of the web with your sweaty little mouse, who can’t resist to click on a “FREE!” icon? Especially when it liberates the inner child in you.

So I began to promote FREE! offers. First were my famous FUKU brand fast-noodles (FUKU sounds like… duhhh, gettit?). These were accompanied by a horrible dried plum “causes big shit”, and free Nescafe satchets I bought from China (in Chinese).

Throw in a cheap pair of chopsticks and this became my famous “FREE LUNCH!” as in: “There’s no such thing as a FREE LUNCH!”

Oh yes there is dumbo; at LINGsCARS.com.

Immediately I saw website benefits sprouting like mushrooms. More visitors, blog postings, forum postings, news clippings. All these tended to criticise the God-awful FREE LUNCH!, but what the hell - people were interacting and talking about me and my business, on the web. So I followed the noodles with other FREE STUFF!



I gave away FREE MONEY!

This is a blatant bribe. I went to China and bought 10,000 1 Yuan notes (£1,000 worth). I post these to my victims, with a Chinese individually wrapped polo mint. People just seem to adore this stuff, they never seem to throw the note away and often give it to their kids. Frankly the postage stamp costs me more than the contents.

Nowadays, I give all my customers a FREE FIRST AID KIT! after their new lease car is delivered. These cost me £1 each, but are stickered with First Aid instructions from hell, featuring a crocodile biting off an arm. This is my in-car reminder. Other companies use tacky tax-disc holders. I may save their life with the FREE FIRST AID KIT! (as long as they have an incredibly freak accident where 6 Band Aids and a safety pin will make or break their survival). You never know.

My latest FREE! give away on my website is a FREE WERTHER’S ORIGINAL! Aimed at my older visitors who are too old to drive but enjoy my site, an individually wrapped Chinese-made butter-sucker is just the thing to keep the winter website blues at bay. I brought 17.5kg of Werther’s back from China after Christmas.

Results of the FREE! frenzy are stunning – far outweighing any cost. The amount of PR, links, blogs, posts, Google search wins, and general fuzzy emotional attachment I can build with a few cheap but fun giveaways is tremendous. The FREE STUFF! gives me an opening gambit, a conversation starter and an opportunity to build trust with visitors and customers (ie. I am real because the bloody stuff arrived in the post!).

FREE UP YOUR MINDS! 4N people, and start giving stuff away FREE! If it can help sell £30k cars, it can help sell anything for you.





 
"The Mail on Sunday"
11 April 2010
by The Mail On Sunday's Enterprise Editor
Helen Loveless


CALLING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS

The annual NatWest everywoman awards, which celebrate female entrepreneurs and particularly those who have overcome personal and financial problems, open to entrants tomorrow.

The eighth event, backed by Financial Mail, comprises ten awards, including four that are categorised by age group and named after Greek goddesses.

Ling Valentine won the 2009 NatWest everywoman Iris award, sponsored by BT Business, which recognises female entrepreneurs whose business success has been driven by IT and communications.

Ling set up her online car leasing and sales firm LINGsCARS.com nine years ago and promotes it on a Chinese missile truck. She now oversees a company with a turnover of nearly £400,000. Last year Ling leased £38 million worth of new cars to customers.

Ling, 36, who runs the business from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, and employs ten staff, says winning "made her year". She adds "It has opened so many doors for me. I think the award gives customers extra confidence in dealing with me"

The awards, open from April 12 to July 30, are free to enter. Visit Everywoman website.






 
"ONLINE MARKETING
SUMMIT 2010
"

February 2010



ONLINE MARKETING SUMMIT 2010!

OMS 2010, the only conference solely dedicated to online marketing education, held in San Diego.

Covering the topics of Social Media, Search, Email, Demand Generation, Analytics, Usability and Integrated Marketing, Online Marketing Summit offers attendees the opportunity to learn actionable best practices, strategies and tactics from leading authors, academics, brand marketers, and online pioneers.

Case studies, personalized one-on-one labs, panel discussions, advanced tactics roundtables and networking events present OMS attendees with countless options to learn without the distractions of vendor sales pitches.

Website Conversion & Usability Best Practices:
Paul Sherman is founder and principal consultant at ShermanUX.


Paul has worked in the field of usability and user-centered design for the past 12 years. He was most recently Senior Director of User-Centered Design at Sage Software in Atlanta, Georgia, where he led efforts to redesign the UI and improve the overall customer experience of the Peachtree Accounting desktop application and ePeachtree web-based app. While at Sage he also designed and implemented a customer-centric contextual innovation program that sought to identify new product and service opportunities by observing small businesses "in the wild". He also led efforts to modernize and make consistent Sage North America's product user interfaces.

In the 1990's he was a Member of Technical Staff at Lucent Technologies in New Jersey, where he led efforts to develop cross-product user interface standards for several telecommunications management applications. As a consultant he has conducted usability testing and interface design for banking, accounting and tax preparation applications, Web-based financial planning and portfolio management applications, and ecommerce Web sites.

Paul received his Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focused on how pilots' use of computers and automated systems on the flight deck affects their individual and team performance. Paul is Past President of the Usability Professionals' Association, was the founding President of the UPA Dallas/Fort Worth chapter, and serves on the UPA's Board of Directors and Executive Committee.

Paul's presentation used LINGsCARS as the example of how web conversion WORKS!





 
"SMARTA"
February 2010



SMARTA AWARD WINNER!
Ling Valentine


Ling Valentine is a marketing wizard. She has one of the most visually full-on, brightly coloured, graffiti-effect-laden websites you've ever seen. Frankly, it looks like a total car crash - but that's precisely the point.

It's gone hugely viral. Visits to the site have trebled since 2006 - and profit has doubled in that same period. LINGsCARS.com is the only completely online car leasing service. Ling also uses low-cost PR relentlessly to save on ad spend. She famously turned down offers on Dragons' Den, uses London buses and nuclear missile trucks to pull publicity stunts, and has had 350,000 views for her YouTube promo videos. And she uses social media to such success she's been giving lectures at universities on online marketing.

The Smarta 100 are the most exciting, promising, disruptive new businesses, the family businesses who remain the cornerstones of communities, the innovators ploughing their own furrows in staid or declining industries, the recession-busters making a mockery of the doom and gloom, the web wonders, the teenpreneurs, mumpreneurs, olderpreneuers and, er, just about anyone who's running a small business worth shouting about.





 
"NEE HAO"
February 2010


BUSINESS PROFILES:
Ling Valentine




For those who are fans of Dragons’ Den, you may have seen an episode where there was a Chinese woman and her business of selling cars through her web site. Some of the judges were impressed with her idea, and offered to invest in her business but she turned down the investment because the Dragons wanted too much equity.

Her name is LING VALENTINE of Gateshead, in the North East of England.

She runs a successful online business selling contract hire cars. Ling is from Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province. She is married to Jon an Englishman, they fell in love when studying together in Finland, of all places.



What do you think are the differences between doing business in China and the UK?

I can build my business without guanxi or any other favours or bribes. Plus, the business environment in the UK is very stable. In China, the law and the infrastructure is still immature (compared to the UK). Simple things can be a nightmare to organise in China. Like dealing with banks and moving money around, you only have to compare local Chinese branches of the Bank of China or China Construction Bank with my local Barclays and HSBC – I know which ones I would rather visit! Sure there is massive growth in China and there are riches to be made, but stick your head above the line and you become a target for every petty jealousy going. Freedom is a big benefit in the UK.

What advice can you give to Chinese students who want to work in the UK?

I would say go for it! Too many Chinese students accept second-best jobs and lack self-confidence. For example, I have just interviewed a 24-year old Chinese lady who has an MSc and is working in a Chinese Supermarket, being paid half in cash! That’s no good at all. Chinese people tend to accept this semi-illegal culture and seem to think they have to compete quietly and without making waves. That’s nonsense. I would say, shout about your abilities, make a real fuss, go and bang some doors down and aim high. You can use your Chinese-ness as a benefit. UK employers recognise diligence and hard work, but they want enthusiasm and action, too!

What do you miss about China ?

I miss my family and the food. Sichuan food is one of the four great cuisines of China and very little in the UK comes close. Of course it is natural to miss my family, but even if they could join me, my mum and dad (now 75) would not enjoy life here as they have their friends and social circle in China. I don’t miss the pollution, the police state or the rude attitudes of a lot of Chinese in China.

What do you like about living and working in the UK?

I love the environment, compared to Chengdu every day is fresh and clean, even when it’s raining here. In China, everything gets dirty and dusty, there is always a layer of grime. I love the NHS. This is a wonderful institution and compared to the Chinese, British people have a fantastic health care system. I like the way that in business, you can be rewarded based on yourself, not on who you know. And as well as the BBC, British police, legal system, Government system, and everything else that makes up the UK, I really love the British sense of humour. In China everything is serious. In the UK, everything is a joke, even the most terrible things are made funny. Remember, I learned a lot of my English by watching Dad’s Army.





 
"Daily STAR"
12th Feb 2010


JOHN TERRY SCANDAL CAUSES WOMEN TO CHECK IF PARTNER IS CHEATING

THREE out of four women have been so shaken up by the John Terry scandal they are checking to see if their partners are cheating.

Nearly 75% are looking for saucy texts on the phones of boyfriends or husbands.


And 8% admit they are checking up to five times a day in a poll by website lingsmobiles.com.

Founder Ling Valentine warned: "If you think your texts are secret, think again.

"My advice is to delete every text you receive immediately.

“That way your prying partner won’t get suspicious."






 
"SUPERMONDAYS"
January 2010


INTERNET MARKETING - IN CHINGLISH!

Click HERE to see movies

"We are going to kick 2010 off with a bang….and we have lined up one of our most explosive speakers to date!

Ling Valentine is one of the most prolific marketers in the North East and the owner of LINGsCARS, the UK’s favorite car leasing website.

After only a few years Ling has built her business up to a £35m new car turnover in 2008. She did this by being a prolific joker online and offline. Her practical jokes have ranged from parking a missile truck beside the A1 and regular ‘take the piss’ TV appearances. Ling’s antics are great for getting people to know her brand, her unique style of operating gives her a competitive advantage over her rivals.

Lings unique spin on life and ‘cartoon persona’ mask her incredible drive for business efficiency. Behind ‘the character’ is a very well resourced team of five software and web developers who help to run the lingscars.com website, the Lingo contact managing system and a myriad of other applications that track visitors, referrers and links. During the presentation Ling will describe some of her wildest online PR antics and how she has used a the whole suite of custom developed applications to take full advantage of this fame. Get your tickets soon!

This event will take place at the Research Beehive at Newcastle University on Monday 25th January at 18:00."


150 tickets were snapped up within 4 hours of release - the first time a "sell-out" had ever happened. Joining Ling on stage was Tom Fotheringham from DFDS Seaways, talking about Affiliate Marketing.

SOME COMMENTS FROM TWITTER:

Loved the session last night at Supermondays -your session was definately the evening highlight for me :)

Excellent presentations from @DFDSSeaways and @LINGsCARS - valuable info for budding and established internet marketing peeps.

Fun (and crazy! :-)) talk by @LINGsCARS at #supermondays tonight. If I wanted to lease a car I'd be tempted.

@LINGsCARS thanks for the #supermondays talk, even more entertaining than Avatar 3D! I think your site has more 3D effects!

Had a great night at #SuperMondays @lingscars mindblowing. Bonkers, but successful.

Fab session at #SuperMondays tonight - really informative, and great fun. @LINGsCARS is a legend in the making :)

Just been to talk by Ling of LINGsCARS.COM - the maddeat person i have ever met!

Ling Valentine @LINGsCARS just made the most fun marketing presentation I've ever seen. Great work :) #supermondays

...and look who else showed up on Twitter afterwards:






 
"Web Pages That Suck"
January 2010


UGLIEST/WORST BUSINESS WEBSITE 2009

The difference between the sites listed here and those found in Worst Over The Top Web Sites of 2009 is that the pages listed here belong to commercial businesses. Over the Top sites generally deal with philosophy, religion, politics, end times, etc., that are out of the mainstream.

How does this list differ from Worst Business Web Sites of 2009, But You Can Learn Something From Them? Well, the sites here are Car Wrecks on the Information Highway — the types of sites that can only be fixed by nuking them and starting over. They are what some people would call "The Ugliest Web Sites of 2009."

No.1 worst business web site of 2009: LINGsCARS.com

I found another shockingly bad site that you might be interested in. Have a look at your leisure. I think we have another sure-fire contender for the Worst Web Site of 2009. It's 4.3Mb of flashing, blinking crap.






 
"WEB DESIGNER MAGAZINE"
January 2010


WORST WEBSITE - HUMBLE PIE AWARD

Talk about a U-turn! This web magazine was forced to eat humble pie!

Web Designer magazine featured my website in "The World's Worst Website" article in November. However, by January, they had been forced to change their tune. Here's what they said:




WORST WEBSITE (above)

"I think the person behind this business has been on the popular Dragons' Den and this is not a website one would like to represent. Because of too many different colours and way too many ads, it is really hard to distinguish particular elements of the site. Multiople fonts only add to the inconsistency.

A lot of information on the very first page along with a lot of empty space in between the content guarantee the majority of visitors will just close it down after a few seconds. This site would benefit on decreasing the amount of ads, maintaining one colour scheme and spreading the information over a few of its sub-pages."



What a load of rubbish! Hahaha! Well, in the next issue, the magazine performed an amazing about-turn!
Read below:


Hahaha! what a laugh!





 
"Baroness Goudie"
14th January 2010


NATWEST EVERYWOMAN AWARDS

Winners in NatWest Everywoman Awards announced.



The UK’s leaders in business come together to recognise and celebrate the UK’s most inspirational female entrepreneurs.

The UK’s most inspirational female entrepreneurs are today being championed, as the winners in the 2009 NatWest everywoman awards are announced. In a year that has undeniably been one of the most challenging for the country’s business owners, these awards recognise those women that have demonstrated exceptional determination and drive in order to achieve success with their ventures. Through celebrating and raising the profile of these winners, the initiative aims to encourage future generations of women to start their own business and achieve their career aspirations.

Blah, blah, blah, loads of other stuff cut - Ling

The everywoman Iris Award sponsored by BT Business, for the woman whose business growth and success has been greatly improved through successful implementation and use of IT and communications was awarded to Ling Valentine of LINGsCARS.com. A Chinese immigrant, Ling founded her business in 2001 and today boasts over 100,000 unique monthly users to her website and an average of £3.5 million worth of cars and vans leased monthly thanks to innovative online marketing.

Co-founder and Director of everywoman, Karen Gill, MBE comments, “2009 has been an incredibly tough year for UK plc. This year, more than ever, we are overwhelmed by the achievements of our award winners. They have all exhibited gritty determination to succeed regardless of the obstacles thrown at them, whilst all the while demonstrating ethical working practices.”

Richard Taylor, Brand Director, NatWest comments, “The everywoman award winners characterise the spirit of entrepreneurship: that determination to strive for success and overcoming the odds to win through and build new businesses. The 2009 winners demonstrate outstanding achievements which will inspire more women to start up and grow their own businesses. At NatWest we are committed to developing female entrepreneurship and have attracted over 36,000 female businesses in the last 12 months.”

2009 sees the tenth anniversary of everywoman, the UK’s largest and fastest growing independent network for women in business, and the ninth annual NatWest everywoman Awards. To mark this milestone year, everywoman has launched a five point manifesto identifying areas for radical change for the landscape for women in business over the next decade. Whilst acknowledging that much progress has been made, there is still a long way to go before women are on an equal footing with their male counterparts in the business sphere. By 2019, everywoman calls for an increase in the number of women run businesses by 100,000, using initiatives such as the NatWest everywoman Awards to identify those who are already exhibiting success, in order to give others the confidence to themselves go it alone.






 
"Automotive Management"
December 2009


Car Leasing Entrepreneur Wins IT Award

Ling Valentine, car leasing entrepreneur behind lingscars.com, has won Natwest’s Everywoman award IT and Communications.

The NatWest Everywoman awards held at the Dorchester Hotel recognises inspirational females who are the best in their business field.

Dorothy Sheehan, general manager of BT Business, who sponsored the award, said: "Ling Valentine has fully grasped the power of today's technologies, enabling her to build a creative online business in line with the needs of her customers."

"Her innovative use of the internet and her dedication to first class customer service should bring her many more years of business success."

Valentine said the success of the business relies entirely on how effective her website is.

She said: "It’s also the only means to communicate with new and existing customers, so it has to be stimulating, fun and enjoyable."

"I use my creativity to make exciting and innovative marketing campaigns to make the company and website stand out against the traditional, boring car sales industry. I aim to answer queries instantly online with an average of a three minute response time."





 
"NatWest EveryWoman Awards"
December 2009


Local “Chinglish” entrepreneur scoops national award

GATESHEAD businesswoman, Ling Valentine won the I.T and Communications Award this week (Wed 3rd December) at a national event in London to recognise some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs.

The NatWest Everywoman awards held at the Dorchester Hotel recognises inspirational females who are the best in their business field.

Ling, a Chinese immigrant and boss of web car leasing company LINGsCARS.com, was awarded the Everywoman Iris Award for her effective use of IT in her online business.

Speaking of her achievement, Ling said:

"The success of my business is based entirely on how effective my website is, as I operate online. It’s also the only means to communicate with new and existing customers, so it has to be stimulating, fun and enjoyable. My self-built LINGO customer management software is the best in the UK, recognised by BT Business."

"I try to use my creativity to create exciting and innovative marketing campaigns to make the company and website stand out against the traditional, boring car sales industry. I also use my website to provide unrivalled service to my customers, as I aim to answer queries instantly online."

"I like to be unconventional in my approach to online marketing and to be recognised as a pioneer in my field is a real achievement. Customers can even translate my messages into “Chinglish” – a funny mix of Chinese and English."


Dorothy Sheehan, general manager of BT Business, who sponsored the award added:

"On behalf of BT Business, I am absolutely delighted to be recognising such a superb winner for the best use of IT and Communications. Ling Valentine has fully grasped the power of today's technologies, enabling her to build a creative online business in line with the needs of her customers. Her innovative use of the internet and her dedication to first class customer service should bring her many more years of business success."


LINGsCARS.com now boasts more than 100,000 unique visitors to its website every month and leases more than £35 million worth of cars and vans every year. It is the UK’s favourite car leasing website.




 
"AutoBlog UK"
December 2009


Lease Hire

Similar to buying a car on standard finance, but the difference here is you never actually own the vehicle. You agree a fixed monthly charge to rent the car for a set time period then, at the end, hand it back. You'll have to find a deposit though, and this can often be the first three months' rental charge up front.

However, if you're looking to fix your monthly outgoings, the fact some agreements let you factor in servicing costs to the monthly bill makes keeping an eye on your finances easy. Lease hire is getting more popular in the recession too: specialist lease firm Lings Cars has reported visits up 40 per cent.

Cost: Varied monthly payment Typical car: Your choice on the Lingscars website.





 
"This Is Money"
December 2009


Last week the seventh Natwest Everywoman awards were celebrated at the Dorchester hotel in Central London.

Ling Valentine, founder of LINGsCARS.com, the car leasing business, won the Natwest everywoman Iris award for the woman whose business has been grown successfully through the use of IT and communications.

The awards, which are sponsored by Financial Mail, were set up to recognise successful female entrepreneurs, many of whom have overcome difficult financial or personal circumstances.

There are four award categories, each named after a greek Goddess and each representing an age group.




 
"Fresh Business Thinking"
October 2009


Some Useful Car Advice

Businesses and entrepreneurs need to be much more open minded when choosing the types of cars to replace ageing vehicles.



While many directors will choose "default" vehicles like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra/Insignia, Ling Valentine owner of LINGsCARS.com says that if they shop around and choose less obvious cars such as Citroen C5 or Mazda 6 (a Ford Mondeo clone), they could cut car costs by 33%.

Often, selecting cars which certain manufacturers are trying to push or promote to the company car market will mean massive savings as users take advantage of subsidies passed on in lease rates.It used to be the case that many businesses would choose "standard" cars like older shape Mondeos and Cavaliers, back in the days when the alternatives like Renault 21s and Citroen Xantias were not only less reliable but costlier to run and had much poorer residual values. Smaller service networks also presented vehicle problems.

But now, according to Ling Valentine, the standard "Eurocar" can be ANY common make and model, there is no longer a good reason to make the "usual" choices and savvy business owners are now able to save thousands by spreading their car net much wider and considering brands that 5 or 10 years ago they would have dismissed out of hand.

"All cars are equally reliable these days and under the skin may be identical, sharing platforms and engines. Cars can now be serviced anywhere and are much more de facto consumer goods. There is no reason to restrict choice to a few mainstream brands".

While there are still some "oddball" cars out there, such as Subarus, Ling says that the choice between an Alfa Romeo, a SAAB, a Mondeo and a Citroen C5 should come down to a simple image/price equation Is the Alfa badge worth £100 more than the Citroen badge, because at the end of the day you have a few equally capable and reliable cars and choosing the right one could save businesses a fortune. Is the utility of the Mondeo badge worth a price premium over the niche SAAB, when to all purposes the SAAB is a Vauxhall under the skin?

Chinese born Ling has also been keeping her eye on the Chinese car market. "Soon, we will have the choice of Chinese models, built in internationally standardised plants. These will force down the cost of company motoring even further. All this extra choice can only be good news for UK firms."




 
"Retail Week"
by Charlotte Hardie
September 2009


50 Retail Websites you have to Visit

Whether pure play or multichannel, online retailers have mushroomed and grown in sophistication. But who do the online retail experts rate as the best in class? Retail Week finds out.

Retail Week is the UK's leading provider of retail industry news, top retail jobs, key retail market reports and data, from across the entire retail sector.

Oliver Tress, MD, Oliver Bonas, says: "Crazy but genius. With her sparkling personality, Ling successfully paints herself as the honest David fighting against the dishonest Goliaths of the car leasing industry. She wins customers by building trust through energy, openness, warmth and ingenuity."




 
"Connected Internet"
by Everton
August 2009


Marketing differentiation,
Ling Valentine style


I spent some time yesterday trying to find the best lease deal possible for a new car for my wife and I came across the website below. Definitely a candidate for the worst website ever!!

Update!! I actually found a video of ‘Ling’ on Dragons’ Den. She was exactly what I was expecting!

About the Author: Everton is based in London and has worked in the internet and mobile space for over ten years now, and before that worked in corporate strategy and consulting. He has a degree in Economics from Cambridge University, and currently runs the Portal and online operations for one of the largest ISPs in the UK. He also writes for Windows 7 News, Windows 8 News and One Tip A Day.

LING SAYS: Well, well, hahaha, another first-degree graduate who thinks he knows how to run a successful business :) Who else sells cars by shooting them with an AK47, but me? What would everyone prefer, some massively boring, out of date list on a very shallow advertising site (like any other car leasing or dealer website)?




 
"RED ANT"
Digital Consultancy
Red Ant is a digital consultancy, focused on delivering powerful online results - August 2009


Inspirations...

First thought is what is happening here?

But when you delve deeper into the world of Ling you will see that she really is the site and knows everything you would ever want to know about cheap car leases. Although we would not necessarily recommend the navigation and style of website.

- Paul Bidder, Commercial Director





 
"Jupiter Jasper Marketing"
Bronwyn Durand
August 2009


Marketing differentiation,
Ling Valentine style


Ling Valentine runs LINGsCARS.com Ltd. This is a car leasing company that has taken marketing differentiation to a new level in an industry where professionalism is rooted in convention. In an interview with Bronwyn Durand, Ling has given some great insight into how clear brand direction and giving your customers what they most want in a fresh way can be the path to your success.

Ling is a shining example of how breaking the rules may just be better.

www.LINGsCARS.com is on track to achieve 40million in leased car sales in 2009, despite the 25% drop in new car registrations in the UK. LINGsCARS is an online car leasing company, providing new cars by contract hire to private and business customers across the UK. The website had 612,812 unique visitors to the site last year, and based on last month’s figures, is likely to achieve at least a million unique visitors this year.

Why?

Ling says, ‘Because, clearly, I am the best at providing the correct mix of cars, prices, service and entertainment’. To fully appreciate the interview, view LINGsCARS. A written explanation wouldn’t do it justice.

So what is the Ling perspective?

Customers

The goal: To provide the very best personalised service to intelligent creditworthy customers; giving them a great experience while acquiring a new car; by the most transparent, cost-effective and simple method in the UK. Ling’s customers are ABC123 prime and creditworthy people.

Ling’s approach to customers:
  • The focus is on people, not cars.
  • Every customer will be dealt with in a thoughtful and a correct manner.
  • Ling’s website demonstrates the customer response time (and its good).
  • In a competitive space filled with faceless dealer groups, houses and brokerages, Ling stands out for quality personalised service and efficiency.
  • Every website visitor is treated with equal importance, and their website journey is monitored on a live basis through another Ling ‘first’. Computer Shopper magazine spotted this and said about it: “Welcome to the future.” They called Ling “The leading evangelist of treating website customers with intelligence and collaboration”


The key effect of Ling’s differentiation is memorability. The interactive entertainment and sheer Chinese madness of the website create a powerful experience intended to optimise the chance to be first-to-mind over long buying cycles – Ling isn’t just concerned with the first sale, but the ones to come.

Website

The only car leasing company to have an entirely online business model, everything is done from the website: sales, marketing and customer communications.

Ling says: ‘My website is 100% up to date and alive. I monitor it constantly; I seem to live inside LINGsCARS. I have a database with over 10,000 car trims and over 250 tables. I have some pages, which if they were printed out would exceed 400 pages of A4 paper in length. I break all the conventional rules. My whole website is more advanced than any other in the UK car industry.’

This ‘live’ availability of great deals is very advantageous in an industry where speed of securing a deal is of paramount importance, and where competitors are displaying an outdated list of car deals.

Ling: ‘I used my energy to build the biggest and best website in the whole industry. There are no limits to websites’.

Marketing

Ling: ‘I consider everything I do to be marketing – its my number 1 concern’.

Marketing is planned each year, but in such a way to facilitate adaptation as marketing opportunities present themselves – like Dragon’s Den. A spend limit is defined and allocated to what will best take the business forward – often brainstorms producing the most remarkable or crazy ideas will get the budget.

Given that there is a mature customer management model in place, once Ling has sourced the best deals, everything is geared towards relentless marketing. Ling says: ‘You never know what will appeal to different people’.

While competitors are spending a fortune on paid adverts, including adwords, Ling has focused on developing natural search to be top for every strong search term in the sector, as well as a long tail of content-related searches.

Marketing is driven by the entertainment factor – Ling explains the approach: ‘Much in the same way that Top Gear does not “road test” cars on TV, but entertains the viewers in many different and quite crazy ways’.

Ling’s memorable marketing includes (there are many many examples on her website)
  • “Rescuing” Northern Rock when it was collapsing: Ling invested £10,000 when everyone else was withdrawing cash and gained some big TV appearances on the news and GMTV.
  • “Pitch and run” on Dragon’s Den: entirely intended to promote the business. Ling managed to be entertaining and secure offers from two Dragons before turning them down. Ling says: ‘That took a lot of planning to pull off. I practiced for weeks and it nearly killed me in effort. However, it was well worth it. Subsequently I was so successful I was featured in a BBC book and given a whole chapter “A lesson in sales and marketing”.’
  • LINGsCARS is listed on EdExcel as an A-Level exam question alongside McDonalds, EasyJet, Boots and Sainsbury’s, for students taking business qualifications – demonstrating the belief that every activity is marketing, even when there is not necessarily an initial direct benefit.
  • “Chop Gear” series of car road tests with Ling’s crazy sister Shan appearing as a Chinese Red Guard.
  • Ling’s marketing assets include a Nuclear missile truck, a London bus, and Beijing jeep

Inspiration

Ling admires Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, and constantly watches for opportunities in the media. Ling says: ‘If it is difficult, we do it, because what makes things special is that no one else ever has the confidence to make the extra effort’.

Ling’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to have confidence in yourself and not to be afraid to make a fool of yourself. Take every opportunity presented to you and give it 200% effort. Always broadcast any results you get as you never know what can be gained from the extra publicity.

What next?

Ling is already bringing her unique approach to new ventures.

Check out www.lingsmobiles.com – an entirely automated site that runs without human intervention; used car advertising will never be the same again when LingTrader launches; and LINGsWINGS promises to find all those £1 flights you know exist but can never find.

Try this

If you type your first name into Google, what do you get? Try typing ‘Ling’.

Marketing differentiation is not about aligning yourself with your competitors and doing one or two things better or differently.

Ling inspired thoughts for your business:
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Make Google spider food
  • Make it as easy as possible to do business with you
  • Try something different, and commit to it

Bronwyn Durand writes the Marketing Ideaology blog for JupiterJasper Practical Marketing.





 
"SUNDERLAND ECHO"
The Page 6 Feature by Alison Goulding
30 July 2009


WORLD WIDE WACKINESS

Alison Goulding meets madcap businesswoman Ling Valentine and the three Sunderland University students who've built her an Internet goldmine.

Don't be fooled by the fun: Ling Valentine and her team mean business. And with a 2008 turnover of £35 million on track to jump to £40 million this year, there's method in their madness.

LINGsCARS.com began life in 2001 as a traditional car contract hire business. But Ling, who comes from Chengdu, in Sichuan, China, soon got tired of sending faxes and decided to harness the might of the Internet to bring the cash roaring in.

After an invitation to appear on Dragons' Den two years ago, business began to spiral, and Ling found a nifty way to keep the website alive and thriving. Mark Stoddart, 20, from Castletown, was the first to apply to an advert looking for website developers. In typical Ling fashion, it offered £10 an hour, full-sugar Coke, plenty of doughnuts and a window into the Valentine mindset. "I own a Chinese Nuclear Missile Truck - need I say more?" the ad read.

Mark was joined by Jamie Hurst, also 20, and the two set about applying the latest technology to the website and finding new ways to stamp Ling's personality across the site. Today, the internet team has one more addition - protege 19-year-old Jonny Scott - and hits (Alison means "unique visits" - Ling) are up to 90,000 each month.

All three are studying for a computing degree at Sunderland University and work for Ling in their spare time, in between drinking, partying, drug-taking, sex, bad music and more drinking.


The website is designed around interactive service; customers can log on and get talking to staff within a few minutes. Full price lists are livened up with new deals, Ling's Prisoner Camp, a quiz and much colourful scribbling and slogans, including Ling's trademark "Wah!"

Jamie said: "We do have a bit of a reputation at university because the website is very different. Most people think it's a good laugh."

Jonny said: "We get the chance to test things we wouldn't be able to at universtity because technology moves faster than the syllabus can."

Mark said: "It definitely gives us the edge because we've got nearly two years of sound business experience. The website is alive - we update it every day in one way or another. We try to make it better and better all the time and come up with new ideas."

Ling, 36, said; "They are all very good and I hope they are happy here." All three are on 24-hour call should things go wrong and Ling is in talks with them about staying on after university.

Developing the website is a constant and Ling aims to cut out as many phone calls as possible. It's a strategy that could alienate customers, but Ling's approach seems to have the opposite effect.

She said: "The best TV programmes have emotion and feeling. Websites are the same. Our website is totally different to the normal, boring corporate sites - there are too many of them."

"We're trying to put lots of fun into it. Customers spend hours on there."


Over the past eight years, Ling has cultivated a reputation for entertaining publicity. Her invitation to meet the Dragons came from the fuss generated by herChinese Truck (complete with homemade missile) parked up on the A1 to pull in punters. She is also the proud owner of a London bus and sends packets of noodles to clients in an envelope adorned with Chairman Mao.

Ling said: "People think I'm mental and, plus, I'm Chinese so I get away with a lot more. But the business works because people, men especially, like shiny new cars."

When she started, Ling admits, her car knowledge was basic, but her business instincts pushed her on. She said: "When I started I didn't know what a Vauxhall Corsa was. My husband wanted to sell cars, but I knew the future was leasing. It works because people, especially men like new things - they like shiny new cars."







 
"REAL FD"
Connecting Senior Financial Decisionmakers
July 2009


Porsche payout: Deserved or disgusting?

Another day, another whopping corporate payout. In what will be the biggest "golden parachute" ever given to an industry boss in Europe, Porsche chief Wendelin Wiedeking is set to pick up £86m when he leaves the debt-ridden sportscar maker. Does he deserve this astronomical amount? We ask entrepreneurs.



"It's a poor state of affairs that the director is accepting this payoff," comments Glenys Berd, the entrepreneur behind online footwear retailer lovethoseshoes.com. "Shades of Fred the Shred! Greed is so rife in the corporate world – it's now almost as common as laziness."



"Wiedeking should be appropriately rewarded for the results he achieved earlier in his career at Porsche – but he shouldn't be getting such a significant golden parachute at such a bad time for the business," says Applied Language Solutions founder Gavin Wheeldon, referring to the company’s plummeting share price and €10bn debt. "Any kind of exit bonus should be based on the current health of the business you are exiting."



Ling Valentine has an entirely different view. She reckons Wiedeking should "take the money and run".

"He has moulded Porsche into one of the most profitable and successful car companies in the world over the past 16 years (albeit with a heavy debt burden), with 2006/7 profits in excess of €4bn. That's a stark contrast to the rest of the global car industry, which culminated in the bankruptcy of GM last month," says the entrepreneur behind online car leasing website www.lingscars.com. "Wiedeking deserves every penny of his pay-off – he remains well respected and popular in Germany for his refusal to dilute the Porsche workforce with cheap overseas production."


I love this story. It's weird, incestuous and strangely German. For further background, I will add:

In the run up to a massive internal boardroom battle between two Aryan car making ReichGigants, (VW and Porsche) Porsche AG have spent years slowly and quietly buying Volkswagen shares, masterminded by the sportscar maker's Chief Executive Wendelin Weideking. Remarkably for a German, Weideking was awarded a medal for "Humour in the Office" after ingenious use of the rear-engined Porsche office photocopier in 2003.

This line-up for a takeover (as well as the photocopier antics) has angered uber-rival Ferdinand Piech, head of VW. Piech hates Weideking.

Piech, sitting in his Wolfsburg headquarters and stroking his purring white cat with diamond collar, resembles a latter-day Ernst Blofeld, the evil James Bond film mastermind character. It is said that when Porsche passed a 51% shareholding in Volkswagen and they announced their intention to take over VW (surely one of the boldest and bravest moves of the 21st Century by Weideking), tannoys called the StormenTroopen VW security operatives to their assembly points and as the roof rolled back the V(w) rocket was raised to the vertical, aimed at Stuttgart, and the massive VW machine launched its attack on the embattled but brilliant Porsche chief.

Unluckily for Weideking, Ferdinand "Blofeld" Piech and his cat happen to own roughly 13% of Porsche and it is said that they have sworn to rid Porsche of the pesky upstart Weideking. With VW precision, Piech's first salvo landed right on target.

VW and Porsche have a long and complicated history, ever since Porsche stole the Czech Tatra rear-engined car designs, prior to Hiltler's pal Doktor Ferdinand Porsche designing the famous VW Beetle for Adolf's World Domination programme (known as World War 2).

So, basically we are seeing residual infighting of post-war Germany coming to a head. Achtung, baby!




 
"Web Pages That SUCK!"
Vincent Flanders!
July 2009


Worst Websites of 2009

Web design is an art. Great web design occurs when design and content are seamless and you don't notice its greatness. With great web design, it's easy to find the information you need. The content makes you want to return again and again and, most importantly, great design gives credibility to the company/organization.

3. LingCars.com

I found another shockingly bad site that you might be interested in. Have a look at your leisure. I think we have another sure-fire contender for the Worst Web Site of 2009. It's 4.3Mb of flashing, blinking crap.

Vincent Flanders’ comments: I’m pretty sure the site makes almost all the possible text mistakes:
  • 1. Small text, which is difficult to read and comprehend.
  • 2. LARGE text, which is difficult to read and comprehend.
  • 3. LOTS OF WORDS IN ALL-CAPS.
  • 4. Scrolling, blinking, fading, or moving text.
  • 5. Underlined text. (Only links should be underlined.)
  • 6. Centered text (some headlines can be centered)
  • 7. Justified text.
  • 8. Sideways text.
  • 9. Uncommon fonts.
  • 10. <FONT> tag.
  • 11. Inappropriate font faces — like Comic Sans on a senior citizen site.
  • 12. Multiple text sizes on a page (video). There should be two sizes — one for headlines and one for text.
  • 13. Multiple text colors on a page.


I apologize if I’ve missed some or some of the above don’t apply. The site is too messy to examine thoroughly.

Other comments: This site really does suck (seems to try very hard to look like a newspaper page - big mistake) , but oddly enough, it isn't offensive. My biggest problem with it is that it lacks focus - your eye isn't allowed to rest on anything. Maybe that is the idea? It isn't anywhere nearly as bad as that raving loony web site we saw a couple of weeks ago.

In any case, if you look carefully, there is actually some pretty interesting information, hidden like Easter eggs in snake-infested weeds.




 
"BARRY RICHARDS"
Web design portfolio
June 2009


LINGsCARS redesign

Front page mockup of Dragon’s Den entrant Ling Valentine’s car and van rental website Lings Cars. It was a challenging task because Ling’s website is full of links, content boxes, embedded videos and graphics with little consideration to organisation and usability.

View Mockup
Key Points
Layout


The content itself is amusing and could keep a visitor entertained for hours, that’s what has helped the site achieve in excess of a million hits annually. I decided to go for 960px width, with a left and right sidebar to contain the content in a more organised and usable way.

Visual Hierarchy

I made the most important elements of the car rental business more prominent than the not so important fun stuff. The list of cars available to rent is the main focal point and an explanation of how it works just below it in the main column. Some of the fun stuff is displayed in module positions down the left hand side where it doesn’t cause interference.

Graphics

The colour scheme is mainly based on blue and red, similar to her current site. I created the Ling’s face graphic using an image of her for reference and used it several times throughout the design together with speech bubbles.






 
"DEV THE WEB.com"
20 Ugly Websites
June 2009




 
"COMPUTER SHOPPER"
Zygote (Mel Croucher)
June 2009


MY DING-a-LING

When I go shopping, I interact with other shoppers and sales personnel. So why am I treated as if I'm in solitary confinement when I shop online?

The leading evangelist of treating website customers with intelligence and collaboration is Ling Valentine, who turned down a Dragon's Den investment and went on to become Entrepreneur of the Year. In spite of the recession her website, www.lingscars.com, has shifted £35 million worth of new UK cars in the past year.

Even if you don't want a car, Zygote recommends you visit her site to enjoy the experience of being detained in a virtual Maoist detention camp, where you can meet other online customers, in real time. "I think this is the future, allowing customers to interact and play," says Valentine.

Zygote doubts there will be many moans, as car-seeking customers will be too busy enjoying themselves evading the "bloody vicious People's Liberation Army guard" and dancing to the Pump-Up-The-Jamjar disco. Welcome to the future.

- ZYGOTE!




 
"OMFG this Sucks!"
Oh My F**king God this Sucks!
June 2009


Great With Cars, Bad With Design

One of my favorite friends from twitter (and winner of the coveted shorty award for #sports, beating Lance Armstrong no less), girlwithnoname, sent me this one, and she got it from another twitter friend (whom I do not know).

I have a great deal of respect for Ling. She is multi-lingual, obviously a hard worker and based on her case studies and customer letters is very good at what she does. This blog, however, is about bad web design. As such, Ling needs a few pointers.

Firstly, this site is so busy, it’s a wonder people can find what they want. There are moving distractions everywhere, and things that should be billed as important are next to invisible. Some of the images (especially the moving ones) have nothing at all to do with what Ling is selling. For instance, what on earth does horse racing have to do with cars? More to the point, why is it necessary to have a weird looking horse head flashing center screen on a site dedicated to lease and contract hire cars? That’s real estate that would be better served to showcase, um… cars? Move the horses stuff to another site. It could be it’s own blog.

Secondly, the whole site is a giant table that contains several giant tables that contain smaller tables that contain still smaller tables (you get the point). It’s like a Russian table doll at the center of which is flashing lights and a pile of suck. Tables are not OK, and they consume too many precious bits as HTML overhead. Bandwidth, like time, is money. Sucking it up with tables is kind of wrong like Broadway musical adaptations of action movies are wrong.

I think that Ling is shooting for an “over the top” persona, and more power to her for it. I think, however, that she should look into hiring a designer to help get that idea across in a less obnoxious way. In her commercials, which I kind of dig for their unordered and grabastic nature, she says some people love the site and some hate it. I’m in the middle because I can see potential.

It’s a great idea for any designer (hack, budding young or seasoned pro) to follow @mayhemstudios on twitter. Even if you don’t interact, just clicking the links he somehow finds and posts will improve your ability to put a site together. If you actually read the links? Forget about it.

So, Ling… Learn a bit (more) about CSS and how to use it to eliminate tables. Less motion, more typography. Less “horse”. Oh, and less content on one page. Put your “a” material on the front, and move all the rest to someplace else.





 
"Goat Karma"
Web Development
May 2009


Gloriously Bad Websites: A Celebration

While the internet as a popular medium enters it’s awkward teenage years, you would have thought that bad design would slowly disappear into the ether. By bad design I mean those third-trimester-abortions of sites that people would knock up and host on geocities. Terrible tabular designs containing frames, eye-bleeding colour clashes, horrible little animated GIFs, and not forgetting amazing music playing in the background.

Many of those amazing sites from those heady days have slowly disappeared, but some remain, and this post aims to celebrate and salute those websites that stick 2 fingers up at standards,css and 'web 2.0', sites so fantastically grotesque that if directly looked at would cause permanent retinal damage.

Now I’m not a great designer by any means, I’m more a code monkey, but I can tell when a site is bad. But not just bad. Gloriously bad, so bad that they are actually pretty damn brilliant, so bad that they would have had to put in a lot of effort to make them that bad (trust me, as you will see at the bottom of this entry, I tried!).

So behold, some of the most amazingly bad websites on the interweb.

LINGsCARS.com

I was torn whether to put Lings Cars here. It surely is a beautifully horrible website. But the problem is, is that it’s meant to be. I think a lot of time and effort went into making this site look how it looks. It’s all to do with marketing. People come to the site (named after Ling, the owner of the company) and think they are looking at a personal amateur site, hence getting a personal service by Ling. Very very shrewd, and effective. Last I heard the site was doing exceptionally well.

I especially like this at the footer:

Made in the People’s Republic of China (me, not the website… which was handcrafted by Ling, in the UK)

But perhaps that’s me being cynical and the site is actually all done by Ling in her back room. If so, I salute you Ling. The site is glorious!





 
"MSN MONEY"
Unlikely Millionaires
June 2009


Unlikely Millionaires!

It’s not always the class swot who goes on to be the success story. From plumbers to dyslexic youngsters to glamour models, we’ve rounded up the most inspiring unlikely millionaires.

Alex Tew - Pixel Millionaire
It has to be the simplest advertising idea on the net. Alex Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage was intended as a way to make some cash to carry him through university. He set up www.milliondollarhomepage.com with a 1,000 x 1,000 pixel grid available to advertise on. In two weeks, with minimal promotion, Tew had enough money to cover the first year of his degree. Companies snapped the pixels up and the final 1,000 were sold on eBay for $38,100.00. In total, Tew had earned $1,037,100 from one simple idea and the tenacity to give it a go.


Katie Price - Glamour Model
It sounds like an off-colour joke, the glamour model who has made a fortune from her enhanced assets, but Katie Price aka Jordan has clawed her way to a rumoured £30million fortune in true showbiz style. The ambitious mother of three grew up a horse-obsessed gawky youngster, before a breast enlargement took her from little known glamour model to tabloid favourite. Her trysts with fellow celebrities and party lifestyle kept her in the public eye before some shrewd PR helped rebrand the star from a sexpot to an all-round entrepreneur whose empire includes TV shows, lingerie, calendars, books, haircare, jewellery and more.


Ben Way - Web Entrepreneur
Ben Way launched his first company on his 15th birthday. By 2000, Gordon Brown presented him with Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award and after a series of online ventures he made his way into the 2001 Sunday Times Rich List worth £18.3million. But investors pulled out and the day the Rich List was published, he could not afford a tube ticket. But he his way back to the top, launching many self-initiated projects. The going got good – again – and in 2006 Way was able to give £45,000 to community leaders in deprived Hackney, East London, for the Channel 4 show Secret Millionaire.


Charlie Mullins - Pimlico Plumbers
Charlie Mullins, now 54, wanted to be a plumber from the age of nine and skipped school to go and help a local tradesman. His dedication paid off and after a four-year apprenticeship he started his own firm in 1982.Pimlico Plumbers is aimed at the cash-rich, time-poor residents of south-west London, offering a 24-hour call-out service with a response time of just one hour. Plumbers arrive in smart vans and there’s no charge if they are late. This attention to detail and high level of service saw Pimlico Plumbers turn over £13million last year alone, making Charlie Mullins Britain’s richest plumber.


Ling Valentine - LINGsCARS.com
The BBC Dragons got more than they were bargained for when Ling Valentine came to their Den in 2007. Pitching for £50,000 to expand her online car leasing company, it soon became apparent that award-winning business woman did not need the money. Instead, she had grabbed thousands of pounds worth of free publicity. It’s this kind of cheeky intelligence that has made the Chinese extrovert her fortune. Her sass and sense of humour, have earned her fans, attention and even a cartoon version of herself in Viz magazine.


Sir James Dyson - Inventor
Sir James Dyson had been toying with the idea of a cyclone vacuum cleaner since the 1970s. He worked on the prototype for five years, while his wife supported him. In 1983, the G-Force vacuum cleaner was ready to launch but no manufacturer would produce the machine. Dyson started selling the product himself in Japan, winning Japanese design awards and a US patent. In 1993, Dyson set up his own manufacturing company in Wiltshire. The Dyson Dual Cyclone became the fastest-selling UK-made vacuum cleaner ever and the inventor is now worth an estimated £1.1billion.


Stewart Butterfield - Flickr
Web entrepreneurs and married couple, Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield launched photo-sharing web service, Flickr, almost by accident. Their small company, Ludicorp, was in the process of developing a game for the web that included a tool for sharing photos online. This grew into Flickr – by 2005 it Flickr was purchased by Yahoo! and Fake and Butterfield remained on staff. His resignation letter to Yahoo! was written from the perspective of an old tin miner struggling to cope with the technologically advanced new age in metal production. An old tin miner whose company was bought for $35 million.


Katie Hanton - Toptable.co.uk
Hanton grew up in Aberdeenshire where her father ran a dairy. She moved to London as a teen and started a career in human resources. By 29, she had launched her own IT staffing company which she later sold, sinking the money into a restaurant in Fulham. This venture sowed the seeds for online restaurant booking service, toptable.co.uk. Launched in 2000, as the dotcom boom imploded, the odds were stacked against the fledgling company. But the site, literally launched from Hanton’s kitchen table, fought against the tide and went onto become a lasting success, finally becoming profitable in 2005.





 
"Real FD"
Connecting senior financial decisionmakers
May 2009


Finance and Banking: Entrepreneurs tell us when the recession will end

There's been plenty of reaction from entrepreneurs to Alistair Darling's comments that the recession will be over by Christmas;


“I would ignore anything Alistair Darling says. It’s like watching a puppet dancing to Gordon Brown’s string on one side and the City’s string on the other with unions holding a string that drops his pants. Whatever Darling says, the recession will be over when it’s over. There are many other factors to this recession than just the UK ones.

“I am beating the recession with LINGsCARS by ignoring it and powering on full steam ahead. It seems many people are consumed by a slight drop off in volume; the economy as a whole is only slipping a few percentage points. The car industry is in tailspin, with stupid car industry people panicking at every change in the wind.

“My sales are actually up; I refuse to allow the recession to affect me. I am gobbling up sales from hopeless car businesses that are going bust.

“Businesses need to spread their risk, get more active and stop listening to useless politicians who can’t even manage their own expenses, never mind the economy. Turbulence is good – it creates opportunities.”

Ling Valentine, LINGsCARS.com founder


“Stock markets are showing strong indications of an upward trend after a prolonged downward trend which seems to indicate confidence is returning. However, this could be what is known as a “dead cat bounce”. Generally speaking the key to recovery is consumer confidence not stock market confidence. As long as energy prices stay low (or fall), food costs are low and housing costs remain at a low level due to interest rates, I would be optimistic that the end of 2009 can see us moving out of recession.”
Jim Watson, Shred Easy managing director


“For Somerset entrepreneurs, the likelihood is that the worst of the recession will be over by Christmas. With our independent spirit and entrepreneurial tendencies, Somerset's business community is well placed to be first out of the blocks when the economy takes an upturn at the end of 2009 or early 2010.

“Strong and growing sectors such as advanced engineering, energy and creative's will lead Somerset out of recession, as they are showing early signs of an upward movement.”
Rupert Cox, Into Somerset interim chief executive


"Technically we are talking about positive growth returning in Q4. From the viewpoint of consumer confidence and financial activity, survey evidence suggests this could happen. The growth in money supply will also provide a substantial stimulus in the coming months, and is already reflected in the rise in the stock market. Much however will depend on developments in bank lending and on business confidence picking up strongly."
John Gilbert, JGFR chief executive


“It won't be over by this Christmas or the next, and probably not until after the Olympics

“We're going to see unemployment continue to rise to three or even 3.5 million, which will continue to pull down the real economy. Then we have a major structural issue with the banks, which are going top struggle to regain the capacity to start lending again regardless of the amount of Government money that has been pumped into them. And general taxation will have to rise to pay for both the unemployment and the enormous amount of Government borrowing necessary to rescue the banking system. That means less money in the pockets of consumers.”

“The chancellor's growth predictions seem to ignore the drag these factors will impose on the real economy and is quite simply over-optimistic.”
Tyrone Courtman, Turnaround Management Association (UK) chairman




 
"Management Today"
Budget Editorial
April 2009


The Budget and Car Scrapping:

The Government's car scrapping scheme is a terrible idea, for all sorts of reasons.

Well, Darling, I can't say I'm overwhelmed. Encouraged by the success of the vehicle scrapping scheme in Germany and France, Darling has taken the plunge (after a lot of pushing from Peter Mandelson) and has just announced a £2,000 incentive for scrapping an old vehicle. This isn't a great idea. And I don't maintain this simply because my old clunker is only nine years old and therefore won't be eligible for a two grand voucher off a new set of wheels.

Already there are likely lads asking if they buy an old banger for 50 quid, will they be able to trade it in against a brand new set of wheels? The answer is almost certain to be no. Not even the Treasury is that daft. No, really.

But why should the car industry be favoured over any other area of manufacturing? We don't have a huge indigenous car industry here anymore. It's a fiscal stimulus to get a bit more VAT in. Why not allow punters to trade in their old DFS sofa for some homemade organic hemp furniture? Surely the Hon. Kirstie Allsopp would approve.

The other industry that will be reaching for its tin hat is the scrap metal business. There is likely to be such a huge amount of old steel coming into the recycling market that all their margins will be shot to pieces. But I suppose the real disadvantage of this scheme is likely to be that all the profits from any increase in sales of new cars will go abroad. It'll be the Germans of BMW and Mercedes and the Japanese owners of Toyota and Honda who get all the benefit. A little help may be directed towards the desperate and beleaguered Jaguar Land Rover, but any profit from that is going to India.

I defer to MT's old friend and dotty entrepreneur Ling Valentine in this: ‘It makes no logical sense to crush a perfectly good, 10-year old car just as an excuse to buy a new one. It's an environmental crime, based on greed. All the dealers and manufacturers can see are taxpayers' pound notes up for grabs. Dealers and speculators are said to be buying old bangers and registering them in friends and family names simply to take advantage of a windfall. What will happen to the 70,000 used cars currently for sale at less then £2,000 in AutoTrader? This scheme stinks, and the effect it has had on freezing sales this year can be attributed to a greedy industry headed by desperate people. Very few genuine owners of 10-year old cars will trade in against a new car, it just doesn't happen. These industry heads should resign for causing a self-inflicted sales-confidence catastrophe'.
You tell ‘em, Ling.

In parallel with this is the government scheme to encourage the purchase of green i.e. electric cars. There is, however, a big problem with these vehicles as they are available at the moment. Never mind that they simply change the carbon spewing venue from the exhaust pipe to the power station. They are too small, too slow and too expensive. You can barely fit Noddy and Big Ears into a GWhiz, however much it looks like their set of wheels. Electric cars have environmentally very unfriendly batteries and when fully loaded with a family of 4 or 5, plus luggage, their juice supply is unlikely to get you further than the end of the street.

PS According to our colleagues over at Autocar, Darling actually wants manufacturers to stump up half of this £2k - and they're not very happy about it...





 
"GrowthBusiness"
Budget reaction
April 2009


Entrepreneurs and advisers offer their immediate reactions to measures announced in Chancellor Alistair Darling's Budget speech

The new fund for innovation
‘The headline measures to boost the technology sector in the UK are very welcome, although efficient delivery of the £750 million new fund will be key to ensuring it delivers value'
Barry Murphy, tax partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Scrappage
‘It makes no logical sense to crush a perfectly good, 10-year old car just as an excuse to buy a new one. It's an environmental crime, based on greed. What's more, the UK economy will not benefit from the subsidy; UK taxpayers will be funding vehicle factories in other countries, as 85 per cent of new cars sold in the UK are imported.'

Ling Valentine, owner, LINGsCARS.com (car leasing company)

Energy efficiency
'The extra £165 million of interest-free loans to be made available to business and the public sector to expand existing energy efficiency programmes is most welcome. This loan initiative makes perfect business sense as it will deliver low cost carbon savings and drive significant overall cost savings for the UK economy'
Tom Delay, CEO, The Carbon Trust

New initiatives
'As with any government intervention for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Darling needs to ensure these measures are more easily accessible and understandable. Otherwise, as with many other initiatives to date, there will be considerable confusion and most importantly a barrier to access for SMEs'
Edward Rimmer, chief executive, Bibby Financial Services (UK & Ireland)

Trade credit insurance
‘Over the past 12 months the reduction in credit insurance and in some instances the withdrawal of it has hurt both retailers and suppliers and created much uncertainty in the sector. Any move to boost confidence must therefore be supported'
Tarlok Teji, head of retail, Deloitte

The new top rate of income tax
‘Most of those in the top two per cent of earners are people who risked their own capital and assets, as entrepreneurs, to start new companies and create wealth and employment. The Tories should argue to retain the current tax structure for those who have built successful businesses, but impose them who have grown to large salaries in secure employment'
David Rose, CEO, GrowthWire (early-stage investment newswire)

The economy
‘The chancellor had the chance to increase the standard rate of VAT to 20 per cent, which would have added an estimated £12.5 billion to the Government's coffers. Instead he chose to increase borrowing to £175 billion, nearly double that of 1997'
Andrew Jupp, head of tax, Tenon





 
"Floating Frog"
Proof bad websites work!
April 2009


Ling from Dragons' Den

Do you remember Ling off Dragons Den? The Crazy Japanese girl (JAPANESE??!!?? aaaaagh! - Ling) who used a rocket to advertise her online car leasing website? Well I just stumbled across her website and being a web designer almost spat out the tea I was drinking. Forget the rule book, forget design best practices and certainly forget anything you have learnt thus for, Ling of Lingscars.com shows us how it's done!

Proof bad websites work!

For as much as I should hate this site, and there are plenty of reasons why I should, I must admit I love it! Seriously...

A lot of businesses are accused of having a faceless website with no personality or connection with there customers. LingsCars.com has Lings crazy personality spattered all over it. The website performs too, in 2005 it turned over £1m in car leasing revenue, netting over £100k gross profit for the referral driven revenue generated online based company (meh!).

There's even a TV advert

Forget the Circus, I want to run away from home and join Ling in her crazy world. Time to learn from the master.




 
"Automotive Distribution Federation"
Green sales don't count
April 2009


But 'green' car sales don't count



The UK arm of French car maker Citroen has launched a trade-in incentive scheme which offers customers £2,000 for trading in vehicles registered before 2000 or £1,000 for vehicles registered between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2002.

The new scheme is available on orders placed between now and April 30 and registered by the end of June 2009. The trade-in deal is in addition to any existing cashback offers and the cashback can be used towards any deposit.

The deal applies to Citroen's C4, C5, C6, C-Crosser SUV and C8 ranges. The deal will not be available on C1, C2, C3, C3 Pluriel, C3 Picasso or Berlingo First Multispace models.

The scheme at a glance

£2,000 - to customers with a vehicle registered before 2000 (vehicles will be scrapped via an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF).)

£1,000 - to customers with a vehicle registered between 1st January 2000 and 31st December 2002. (There is no obligation to scrap these vehicles.)

Xavier Duchemin, managing director of Citroen UK, said, “We have seized this proposed government initiative and extended its scope to launch our own scrappage incentive scheme. “The Citroen trade-in deal allows us to pass on significant savings to new car buyers, and also helps reduce the number of older, more polluting vehicles on the roads.”

The ADF's chief executive Brian Spratt, whose opposition to scrappage proposals has been widely publicised, commented, “Interestingly, Citroen are not including their ‘greener' vehicles in the scheme, so they're shifting their ‘dirtier' cars, by offering, in effect extra part exchange value. Which is fine if you want one of their cars. But Citroen have confirmed that they will be scrapping cars which, given the RAC Foundation's figures, are only half way through their life.”

His view was supported by independent car leasing dealer Ling Valentine (www.lingscars.com), who used the AM online website to give her views of Citroen's marketing move.

She said: “By encouraging people to scrap cars just 9-years old, Citroen are breaking their own promise of sustainability. There is nothing sustainable about scrapping a car after just 9-years. The driving factor is clearly the greed to sell a new car, absolutely nothing green about this."

"In an evil twist, Citroen are excluding their greenest models, meaning customers using this scheme will certainly not be doing it for environmental reasons. They will be forced into a higher CO2 car, to get any bribe. Not only is this completely contrary to Citroen's own claims on their website about swapping into C1s to save the planet, the marketing and publicity means the public is even more strongly persuaded to hold off buying a new car until the "proposed government" scrappage scheme is introduced. Which it won't be. Which means the signals sent out by Citroen, the SMMT, RMIF et al are killing new car demand by promoting this!"

"The government have not "proposed" the scheme, anyway - it is just made up rumour."

Citroen should tell the truth; it is a simple marketing ploy. It should have avoided the recent price rises designed to mop up any "proposed government" scrappage scheme benefit and allowed people to choose lower CO2 cars at the older prices, if it was serious about the environment. This subject needs hard, investigative journalism, not mere PR reporting. Unless, of course, it is just an April 1 joke.”


The Number 10 petition against a scrappage scheme can be found at: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/No-to-Scrappage/





 
"Who'sOn"
Live Website Monitoring
March 1st 2009


LINGsCARS Launch On-Line Site Traffic Mapping Using Whoson

World's first live, accessible on-line site-traffic mapping.

A world's-first benchmark in on-line business transparency, ingenuity and customer inter-activity has been notched up by the UK's favourite car leasing company.

Internet car-leasing specialists, www.LINGsCARS.com, has launched a live sitemap on its website that shows the presence and cyber-whereabouts of each of the 85,000 people who visit the site each month.

In keeping with the entertaining, tongue-in-cheek ethnic branding introduced by LINGsCARS.com proprietor, Chinese immigrant, Ling Valentine (35) - who famously uses a fake nuclear rocket launcher as her company symbol - the live page is jokingly presented as a Maoist detention camp. Individual site visitors are seen as animated 'prisoners' exploring and flitting around 'Camp Ling' - the virtual 'showroom' - checking availability, prices and financial arrangements.

“This is the first time that a small on-line business has used the kind of technology that has been the exclusive preserve of massive organisations like the Stock Exchanges and International money markets.” says Ling. “Anyone, anywhere, can see my business working, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, in real time.

“You can see how many people are looking for a new car; which marques they are interested in, how often they've visited my site before, whether they've decided to lease one or not and where they are on the site. I also show the most popular cars, in pecking order.

The software was built by Ling's in-house team of programmers who used Parker Software's WhosOn Software to track how visitors use the website in real time and allow visitors to communicate via live chat and click to call-back. Customers can simply browse to LINGsCARS website and click the button to begin talking live with Ling herself.

“We've built in quite a few jokes because we believe the whole business of choosing a new car should be fun,” she says. “My customers know that behind the gags and diversions we take their enquiries very seriously indeed. We deliver £42m-worth of cars a year, after all.

“I've gone out of my way from the start to be a completely new and different route to accessing a new car - any make or any model. 'Camp Ling' simply makes my business model even more transparent and convincing. Customers getting a car on-line for the first time find it reassuring to know that they're in the company of plenty of other on-line car leasing 'virgins' looking for a great deal.

“With anything from 30-to-90 people on site at any one time around-the-clock, it's fascinating to watch - a bit like TV sport. You can literally track the progress each one of my 1 million visitors a year, including yourself!

“It's about as far removed from going to your local one-brand car dealership as you can get. It was always my intention to re-invent the car retail business and find a totally new and simple way of getting a new car from your home computer.”

Camp Ling may have the look of a rather dated metaphor from China's insular past but it’s a cutting-edge confidence-builder.

A world first for Internet business.




 
"AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
The newspaper for the automotive industry
April 17th 2009


Scrappage: For and Against

The benefits and flaws of introducing a scrappage scheme in the UK has stimulated a divide amongst the industry, with most dealers and manufacturers throwing support behind the idea, while industry onlookers fail to see the long-term benefits.

Here on AM's sounding board we've allowed the industry to present its case for and against the introduction of the scheme, the fate of which is likely to be decided just five days from now in Alistair Darling's 2009 Budget.



WOW! I am so proud to stand beside Brian Spratt of the Automotive Distribution Federation and Professor Garel Rhys, automotive professor at Cardiff University Business School, in presenting a reasoned argument why "scrappage" is very bad for the industry, and for consumers and taxpayers... and the environment!
The dealers and manufacturers can simply smell the taxpayer's money!




 
"DESIGNERS TALK"
Leading Mac-Fags redesign Ling's website!
April 1st 2009


DesignersTalk use LINGsCARS as their March competition!

Designers Talk, the online design community populated by graphic designers and Apple Mac freaks has chosen LINGsCARS as the subject of their March 2009 web design competition.

Web designers from all over the World compete for a fantastic £250 prize put up by the mental car-leasing magnate, Ling Valentine. She will give the runners-up some Ling car mats and a wad of Chinese RMB cash, too. Five entries were shortlisted for consideration and voting took place between the designers, in their own little community.

The conversation thread went something like this:

"So we doing purposefully bad designs or a nice version of Lings?"

"you can't get any worse than her current site."

"my retinas are burning!"

"I can't even figure out which content I'm going to use, the site is crazy. Everything flashes!"

"I've gotta say good luck to anyone who takes this on. A site like this should take ages to pick apart. Let's hope Ling is generous with that prize."

Five entries are shown below...


ENTRY: "Oli" - WINNER! 32/82



ENTRY: "Jerome" 3/82



ENTRY: "Charming Man" 27/82



ENTRY: "Steve B" 2/82



ENTRY: "Bazzle" 18/82

Congrats to Oli!! He wins £250 prize plus "LING" car mats!






 
"MOTORING 4 MEDIA"
The leading motoring news service for the media
March 25th 2009


Seismic Shift In Our Car-Owning Culture?

News that on-line visitors to an eccentric car-leasing website in Gateshead will top 1million this year, a 40% increase, will send shivers down the spines of struggling conventional motor dealers. As they battle to cope with the biggest downturn in new cars sales in decades (amid reports of a market decline approaching 50%) on-line new car hire leases to private motorists completed on www.lingscars.com are showing a 32% year-on-year improvement.

In the depressed first 2 months of 2009, unique web-visits to Lingscars.com have shown an even more pronounced upturn, climbing by 20,000 a month to over 80,000.

Is this simply a knee-jerk reaction to tighter domestic budgets and chaos in the financial markets or are we experiencing a seismic shift in our attitude to new car ownership?

Lingscars.com' founder, Chinese-born entrepreneur Mrs. Ling Valentine believes something more fundamental is happening. Motorists are electing to get their new cars on 2-3 year term-rental from her Internet supermarket for hard-nosed commercial reasons, she claims.

"Ownership of what is, after all, a depreciating, expensive, mass-produced consumer durable machine is losing the kudos and magic that the car manufacturing industry has spent billions generating over many years," she says.

"The traditional ritual of physically visiting a succession of single-marque dealerships to press the flesh with a pushy salesman seems to be losing favour. People are looking for an alternative to paying a large deposit, losing thousands of pounds as they drive out of the showroom, signing-up to an overpriced HP deal and acquiring a massive residual value headache.

"The quality of a new vehicle is the same however you acquire it, so the other retail factors of choice, service, price, convenience and trust come into play. Having to eventually trade-in or privately sell the car that you ostensibly ‘own’ (that in reality belongs to the bank) is increasingly seen as a burdensome disadvantage."

"People don’t want to be in a financial equity hole with both their house and their car. In many cases contract hire, is a quicker, simpler and cheaper way to gain the use of a car, over the term of a lease. In the USA, almost a quarter of all new cars are leased. The penny seems to be dropping here."


More than 2,680 motorists each working day seem to agree with Ling. Her website rarely has less than 35 people from around the UK searching for their next car from more than 500 vehicles available; the sort of ‘showroom footfall’ that hard-pressed dealerships can only dream about. Conventional sales of up-market cars and 4x4s, in particular, are suffering a huge downturn.

Ling Valentine believes that the fragmentation of the vast TV audience across a multiplicity of commercial and internet channels now denies advertisers their previous power to command the attention of whomever they choose, whenever they choose. Duplicity, repetition and deception have become ineffective tools in a marketplace where consumers have so much more choice and power.

The only way to be truly conspicuous in search engine-driven, idea-viral world of web-marketing is by being remarkable and honest; being the only female Chinese entrepreneur in the UK motor industry helps. Ling's 1,200 unsolicited ‘warts and all’ website testimonials prove the point.

Perhaps it's taken the deepest recession in seventy years to finally begin the erosion of the British love affair with car ownership. "This business of actually owning your car is an outmoded cultural anomaly," Ling insists, "It dates from the time when owning a little MG runabout was something to brag about at the golf club. This is the Internet age. There's no turning back now."

"A million motorists a year browsing my website isn’t a statistical accident, it's symptomatic of a major sea change in attitude."


She'll underline the point by leasing £42m worth of new cars this year.




 
BYTESTART
The small business portal
March 2009




The online media tool every business should use

These days generating publicity materials is not just about trying to promote your business in the media. It’s also about using those materials to enhance the perception of your business to everyone who has any contact with you.

As a matter of course you should keep a “boast book” of press releases and media coverage available in your reception. But more importantly, you should also ensure you have a virtual press centre available on your website.

Typically this is accessible from a small link saying “press” at the bottom of the home page. Any journalist researching your company will look here. But just as importantly, so will some other visitors to your website, including potential customers.

All of this original content is also likely to enhance your website’s performance in search engines such as Google.

A busy press centre suggests a successful busy business, and is an essential tool for every new business. Make sure you have all these elements in yours:

Latest press releases

Ideally you will have the headline and a brief summary of your last 3 or 4 press releases. Each headline should link through to the full release. If you send press releases to different areas of the country or different market sectors, make it easy for visitors to access the relevant information quickly.

Press release archive

Every press release you have ever sent out should be here, normally in chronological order, or arranged by specific campaign. Even if your press centre is new, it’s worth you adding older releases. They help to form a history for your business.

Press coverage received

Sometimes it gives a journalist more confidence about your business to see that lots of other journalists have written about you. Include links to every story you’ve had and date them.

Contact details

Include a number to contact a company spokesperson 24 hours a day. And then ensure someone is always available! It’s OK to state that this is for journalists only, but be aware that some of your customers will use it to contact you – especially if they can’t find a phone number anywhere else on the site.

Company information

Write a basic factfile on your business, and ensure it is always 100% up-to-date. Cover off a brief history of your business, what you do, where you do it, and the key people involved.

Photographs and logos

Always have photographs and logos available to download. Offer low res and high quality versions. As you have more and more photos available, keep the old ones on the site but make it clear they are now archive pictures.

Product request

Allow journalists to easily contact you to get a sample of your product. Don’t worry about trying to put off blaggers now – most authentic journalists will be used to proving they are who they say they are, normally by their email address or sending you a written request on headed paper. Watch out for people who claim to be freelance journalists – ask them who they typically work for and to provide links to samples of recent work.

Charity links

If you do any kind of cause-related marketing (i.e. support a charity) then include details of your support here, including a link to the charity’s website.

Great examples of online Press Centres

On every website you visit, keep an eye out for the telltale “Press” link at the bottom. Here are a few different examples:

Corporate: http://www.warburtons.presscentre.com
Another corporate: http://www.gner.co.uk/GNER/PressCentre/default.htm
Online retailer: http://www.tiewarehouse.co.uk/press.php
Highly unusual: http://www.lingscars.com/news.php <--- Duh! You are here already!! They talk about THIS page. You are reading an article referring to this article. How weird!!! Time-warp! - Ling!

Why do they think this page is "HIGHLY UNUSUAL"? I would suggest is is HIGHLY BLOODY FANTASTIC! Sheesh!




 
"THE EVOLVING INTERNET MARKETEER"
Add Value
By Tom Gray
January 30th 2009



Website Brilliance: How to Use Worst Practice Web Design to Generate Controversy, Conversation, Traffic & MONEY


Too many websites are like Muzak; kind of safe, kind of boring, kind of forgettable. None of these terms apply to Ling Valentine's LingsCars.com.

It's busy, crowded, eye-achingly garish but, in a train-wreck sort of a way you can't help but be drawn in by its break-every-rule-in-the-web-design book approach.

And with a reported 500+ links on the home page alone it's impossible not to find something to click on.

Does it work? Apparently pretty darned well. Ling is reported to be one of the leading car dealers in all of Britain (where she's located) and draws in over 70,000 unique visitors a month.

By the way, I was introduced to Ling and her crazy site by this post at Ninja-nerd.com: Website Atrocity – Things you Should NEVER do to your Web Site.

Three Things You Should Do

I recommend that you...

1. Take a trip to http://www.LingsCars.com. Don't just pop-in, say ewww, and bounce out. Scroll around. Click a bit. Take a real tour.

2. Read the Website Atrocity post AND read all the (65 as of this writing) comments. You'll see some real gems, most agreeing with Ninja-Nerd Daiv Russell's view of ‘atrocity’ but a few contrarians (me included) who wish we were bold enough - and creative enough - to be as ‘bad’ as Ling. By the way Ling Valentine - in the digital flesh - posts a couple of must-read comments herself. Very cool.

3. Weigh in with your take. Come back here to comment or leave your views at Daiv's place but make sure you add your voice to a very interesting debate.

Oh, and if you're aware of any other sites that are successful despite their flaunting of accepted web design dogma, throw a shout out to them as well.




 
SETH GODIN'S BLOG
Seth Godin...
  • writes the most popular marketing blog in the world
  • is the author of the bestselling marketing books of the last decade
  • speaks to large groups on marketing, new media and what's next
  • and is the founder of Squidoo.com, a fast-growing recommendation website

  • 29th January 2009


    Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages, and his ebooks are among the most popular ever published. He is responsible for many words in the marketer's vocabulary, including permission marketing, ideaviruses, purple cows, the dip and sneezers. His irrepressible speaking style and no-holds-barred blog have helped him create a large following around the world.

    Seth's latest book, Tribes, is a nationwide bestseller, appearing on the Amazon, New York Times, BusinessWeek and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. It's about the most powerful form of marketing--leadership--and how anyone can now become a leader, creating movements that matter. The Miami Herald listed it among the best business books of 2008.





    Seth Godin writes the MOST POPULAR marketing blog in the whole WORLD!

    I am so proud that Seth noticed my business and used it as an example of internet marketing best practice - Ling


    What would a professional do?

    Every day, you do a hundred or a thousand jobs, some of which are occasionally handled by specialists. You make a sales call or give a presentation or answer the phone... you design a slide or create a simple spreadsheet. You get the idea.

    When you are busy being a jack of all trades, you're competing against professionals. The recipient of your work doesn't care that you are also capable of doing other things. All she wants is the best she can get.

    I'll define a professional as a specialist who does industry standard work for hire. A professional presenter, for example, could give a presentation on anything, not just the topic on which you're passionate about.

    When you compete with professionals, you have a problem, because generally speaking, they're better at what they do than you are.

    I think there are four valid ways the think your way out of this situation:

    1. Hire a professional.

    2. Be as good as a professional.

    3. Realize that professional-quality work is not required or available and merely come close.

    4. Do work that a professional wouldn't dare do, and use this as an advantage.

    The first option requires time and money you might not have, and I'm presuming that's why you didn't do it in the first place.

    The second is a smart option, particularly if you do the work often and the quality matters. Slide design and selling are two examples that come to mind here. The first step to getting good is admitting that you aren't (yet.) Invest the time and become a pro if it's important.

    The third option is worth investigation, but it's what you've probably already decided without putting words to it. Is the assumption really true? Does your customer/client/employee actually believe that they haven't been shortchanged by your amateur performance? It is costing you in ways you're not measuring because you're willfully ignoring the consequences? Think of all the sub-pro experiences you've had as a customer, instances where someone was pretending to be a chef or a bartender or a computer jock but just came up short... Were you delighted?

    The fourth option is really exciting. From personal YouTube videos to particularly poignant and honest presentations or direct and true sales pitches,
    (Seth linked this word to LINGsCARS as the example. It may not sound a lot, many people will say "so what", but people who KNOW - as Seth does not endorse companes - will say "WOW!" - Ling)
    the humility, freshness and transparency that comes with an honest performance might actually be better than what a professional could do. Harvey Milk was an amateur politician, not a pro. If you're the only person on earth who could have done what you just did, then you're a proud amateur.

    You can't skate by when you refuse to mimic a professional. You must connect in a personal, lasting way that matters. That's difficult, but the professionals have no chance to compete with you.

    Be an amateur on purpose, not because you have to.

    - SETH GODIN




     
    "THE EVENING CHRONICLE"
    Working Life Section
    By David Old
    January 15th 2009



    TV ADS SCOOP GOLD


    FRESH CREATIVE AWARD judges impressed by YourFilm's innovation and creativity.

    A film production firm has struck gold through its successful TV advertising campaign

    Jarrow-based YourFilm saw off competition to land the top prize in Creative, TV, Digita, Media and PR in the Fresh Creative Awards. It was the first campaign the firm had worked on and judges were wowed by their innovation and creativity.

    The LINGsCARS adverts broadcast on Tyne Tees Television and featured an unscripted Ling Valentine, 34, who is well-known for her unusual PR stunts. One of the adverts was delivered entirely in Chinese.

    Your Film was set up in 2005 by Kevin Owens, 26, and Matthew Newman, 26, (pictured right - Ling) with the aim to provide high-quality moving image marketing to companies of any size. Kevin said: "We were surprised and delighted to be nominated for a Fresh Award, but to win the Gold Award was an unbelievable honour and we couldn't be more happy."

    "This was our first TV ad campaign and we thouroughly enjoyed working with Ling and we have been vindicated for our decision not to stick with the norm. We are now looking forward to building on this success and continuing to think creatively with our future projects"


    Paula Kelsey, organiser of the Fresh Awards, added: "Fresh always welcoms new entrants to the awards and it's great to see an organisation that hasn't previously entered the competition picking up a gold award on their first foray into Fresh. The standard of work was incredibly high this year across the competition, so YourFilm should be congratulated on their incredible success."



    See the Leasing TV films




     
    "ACA DEMON - ESSAYS ONLINE"
    A site selling term papers and essays
    January 2009


    An analysis of the Lings Cars car leasing company in the United Kingdom

    We have thousands of high-quality term papers, research papers, essays, book reports and dissertations on every topic. At AcaDemon, you can download those term papers to help you write yours! You can be sure that the term paper, essay, book report or research paper, you download are top-quality, competitively priced and high-level work.


    An analysis of the Lings Cars car leasing company in the United Kingdom.

    Written in 2008, 1,834 words, 4 sources, $58.95

    Abstract
    The paper provides an overview of the car leasing market in the UK and examines Lings Cars' competitors. The paper presents a SWOT analysis and a Porter's five forces analysis and looks at the aims and objectives, ownership and organizational structure and financial performance of the company. The paper offers recommendations to maintain and improve the company's current performance and to expand the company.

    From the Paper
    "The following pages will present an analysis on a company located in the United Kingdom, named Lings Cars. The company operates in the car leasing market. The company's clients include both private individuals and businesses as well. The company's operating ways are different than those of dealers', as "Ling relegates the dealer to a middleman position and deals directly with clients arranging the supply and rental of their new cars" (Bized, 2007).

    "Experts state that in the United Kingdom the car leasing market is experiencing a rapid growth period. This situation can be attributed to the fact that the number of companies and individuals that use the car leasing method is continuously increasing. It seems that this method presents a series of advantages related to costs for customers (Parry 2007)...






     
    "TARMAG"
    China gears-up for the new MG
    October 2008




     
    "DAILY TELEGRAPH"
    Telegraph Motoring Online
    September 2008



    MG TF gets 'English' driving instructions


    The new MG TF LE500 roadster has a confusing enough provenance - assembled at Longbridge, from parts made in China, first owned by MG Rover, then BMW, then Phoenix, then NAC, then SAIC - but Chinese owners of the new roadster are about to be even more bemused.

    The car comes with English "driving instructions", which, in China, are apparently more sophisticated when printed in English. Only, not English as you'd recognise it.

    "Sensibly race the engine. Before starting your car in the early morning, especially before cold starting, it is necessary to warm up the car," advises the handbook. "Some people like pulling the rotation speed to the red line edge when the first gear is applied, and the powerful engine sound would satisfy them... but the terminal acceleration quality is not the best here and sustainable acceleration could be achieved when shifting to a higher gear when the rotation rate reaches the peak value of the twisting force," it adds, helpfully. Confused? Quite. Although we'd agree that "sustainable acceleration" is best achieved by progressing beyond first gear.

    Where braking is concerned, it seems full-on drifting on public roads is the desirable method: "Make full use of the car and reduce unnecessary braking. The drivers should pay attention to the road blocks and reduce the oil consumption by replacing braking with sliding, as one hard cut off and start will consume gasoline of about 35ml."

    The full MG "driving" instructions can be found at www.lingscars.com/pdf/mg.pdf. Just don't put what you read into practice.




     
    "FRESH AWARDS"
    The "Fresh Awards 2008" recognise outstanding creativity and innovation outside the M25 in Creative, TV, Digital, Media and PR.
    September 2008

    Owens and Newman in custody on their forced return to Ja'rrah, Iraq, after being arrested entering the United States illegally last week. The Iraqi ambassador and the US Consulate in the UK refused to comment. The pair are now back in Jarrow, UK.



    YOU CAN SEE THE AWARD WINNING TV COMMERCIALS HERE


    LINGsCARS.com "ImproPlug" is the winner of the 2008 TV Advertising Campaign category for outstanding innovation, originality and execution.

    Producers/Directors:
    Kevin Owens/Matthew Newman (Your-Film)
    Booking Agency: AdMast
    Star Turn: Ling Valentine (LINGsCARS.com)

    The UK FRESH Awards announced: "With thanks to our working partners at City Gateway Media, The FRESH Awards announced both the Creative Awards event last Thursday 25 September, and the winner of Best TV Campaign Your Film/LINGsCARS.com.

    The screen outside Piccadilly Station welcomed the arrival of the UK's regional creative community to Manchester and then featured the Chase Calendar in conjunction with the awards ceremony held at the Imperial War Museum.

    Ling Valentine, the female, Chinese, car leasing magnate, was judged the winner of the BEST TV CAMPAIGN category, with her "Improplug", ahead of efforts by the Department of the Environment "seatbelts", and "Every Buyer Wins", for Sit-Up TV Channels.

    The LINGsCARS campaign was directed by plucky pair Kevin Owens and Matthew Newman of Jarrow-based film company YOUR-FILM. After the event, Ling Valentine commented; "We put a hell of a lot of effort into these 20-second commercials, and even though ITV banned one of them (for racist language against Mackams and Smog Monsters - ethnic Sunderland and Middlesbrough people), the rest went on to screen on TV in April and May 2008. It was fun, and I think the result from these awards reflected that. Of course, I played the race card and the sex card and the kooky mentalist card. Along with the "it was a bloody good campaign" card, it all went towards securing the win."

    After a disasterous week for YOUR FILM which involved the two co-directors being expelled from the United States for attempting to film some work without a licence (they were turned back at the airport by American officials who mistook Jarrow for "Ja'rrah", a Sunni-militant stronghold suburb of Baghdad), the two plucky directors were on hand in Manchester to receive the award. Newman said "The highlight for me was when I spilled a glass of red wine down my tux, just before the presentation". His partner Kevin Owens commented "The Americans may have been right, Matthew looked like a failed suicide bomber".

    Ling Valentine did not attend the event. Interviewed from her World Headquarters in Gateshead, via a live video-link, she told the FRESH Awards, "I cannot afford to be seen with these two Axis of Evil film producers. I am worried I will be associated with terrorists and have my next Chinese visa application rejected.

    The USA consulate in Manchester refused to comment. Booking agency Admast, based in Newcastle, refused to comment, too. They have since issued a statement saying "Admast has never been associated with international terrorism".




     
    "MANAGEMENT TODAY"
    MT focuses on the issues that most challenge and inspire Britain's bosses and managers.
    September 2008



    I write the editorial diary piece for Management Today, this week


    The contract car entrepreneur courts controversy with her radical approach to PR, cost-cutting and SEO...

    Following a busy couple of weeks watching the Beijing Olympics, I'm now dealing with the aftermath of my spoof You Tube video which was a "rehearsal" of the Olympic Closing Ceremony, with me on piano replacing Leona Lewis.Unfortunately, some people took it rather too seriously and I was attacked for being anti-British, and then yelled at again for being anti-Chinese. Strange that no one mentioned pro-Nazi, as the tune I used was "Tomorrow belongs to me", the Hitler Youth song, from Cabaret. Maybe people were already seeing red from my insolence in choosing a red Biffa bin (along with my own red London bus) as a symbol of London 2012.


    Citroen UK emailed at the end of last week asking if I could offer some advice on moving contract-hire Citroen C-Crossers (the Mitsubishi Outlander clone). "Drop the price" was my answer. That took 0.005 seconds to think about. But it's not just Citroen who are struggling in the current business climate. There is blood on the car showroom floor. Land Rover are panicking with a 57% registration drop in August 08 compared to August 07, and I managed to sell more cars on my own than the whole of the Dodge or Subaru dealer networks, which cheered me up. I just about equalled the whole volume of Lexus UK. Prepare for some car dealer bad news stories over the next few months. Remarkably, my sales are up, which is good news.

    At home, my central heating pump has broken, and it struck me - what a great way to save energy. So, we've been having a clamp down at work and bulbs have been removed from many lights and I've simply disconnected some plug sockets. Some of my (British) staff have been moaning, but my Chinese people say it's just like being back in China - nothing works. I'm not sure of the benefit of having a light in the loos, but the girls have shouted, whereas boys have all said they don't care, although I notice an increase in mop activity. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I have to offset all those Chinese coal-fired power plants, somehow.

    Otherwise, one topic seems have dominated my week: Google. I’ve been trialling the new browser; Chrome; hopefully having a new process for every webpage will stop the memory-hogging problem, and it’s quite cool and fast to use. Later, Google called for information about my business – it’s not often you get a phone call from Google! Despite their political roll-over in China, Google is one company I am always happy to talk to.

    Recently I’ve been attacked on the UK Business Forums by some SEO ‘experts’ over the way I approach the potentially expensive task of grabbing customers from Google searches (and it certainly can be expensive - I know some large car-selling companies who spend well in excess of £20k/month on Google AdWords). My argument is that people do not consult a dictionary of "standard search terms". Humans are mentally-crazy beings with fingers attached to their brains by a group of uncontrollable nerves and weak muscles. The range of things that gets people inspirationally clicking away is so diverse, quite apart from the fact that their minds are built like exploding cauliflowers. There are billions of crazy search terms entered each day into Google - from misspellings, to dyslexic attempts, to the purely daft. One visitor to my site yesterday managed to get three different full stops into one single word.

    SEOs call themselves experts and have services to sell, and they can hardly admit that uncontrolled explosions of emotional interest generate massive random Googults (Google results).(I made up the GOOGULTS word just to see if Management Today would publish it - they have!!! - Ling :) So, they subscribe to a neat theory of '10 key phrases' which, they assure website owners, will constitute the bulk of targeted traffic response. Creating a bidding war over these is how Google makes so much money on Google AdWords and is also how SEO people justify their charges. Companies end up bidding well over £2 a click to get to the top of the list for the exactly same term as everyone else. They pay SEOs thousands to dominate the free searches. Don’t they realise only one result can be at the top, for every search?

    My firm belief is that creating masses of good content is much more effective, and much cheaper, than going for 10 or 20 key phrases at £££s a click. You also get less competition in the results, you get fresh customers to your website and you avoid standing shoulder to shoulder with the usual suspects. I find that an easy way to get clicked on after appearing on the Googults page is to generate the meta tag description (the two lines of descriptive text) from an array of amusing and worthwhile sentences. Two I use are try saying this car’s name after drinking 8 pints and not your average car saleswoman! Much better than Lease, Car Lease, Cars Leasing, PCP, Contract Hire, which is the staple fare in my industry.

    Why companies think people are turned on by key words beats me. Surely humans respond to emotion and warmth?




    Ling Valentine is the Gateshead-based entrepreeneur behind contract car business LINGsCARS, which supplies new UK Contract Hire (and sometimes PCP, Lease and Lease Hire) cars and vans. In 2008, she moved over £28,000,000 of brand new cars. We first came across Ling when we wrote THIS.




     
    "ENTERPRISE NATION"
    A free resource to help you start and grow your business at home
    September 2008


    Could you be a Scroller, Bit-picker or Tracker? And what about your site visitors?

    The three forms of surfer...

    Ling Valentine, owner of Lingscars.com has undertaken her own extensive research into the psychological surfing habits of over 50,000 visitors to her website.

    Ling's findings state that internet users fall into three distinct groups when digesting visual information;
  • The Scroller: These down-to-earth, practical types choose to scroll up-and-down or from side to side as if examining a large picture or reading a newspaper.
  • The Nit - Picker: More educated, pedantic people prefer to progress from frame-to-frame, as if turning the pages of a book.
  • The Tracker: These inquisitive and creative surfers prefer to navigate and explore by zooming, panning, scrolling and tracking through sites in all directions in search of the content they need. They are stimulated by the pictures, film clips and graphics they discover, rather than just by the written word.

  • Ling's understanding of website psychology is evident in the structure of her own website which provides an online playground for visitors to explore, discover and store information. Multiple indexes connect users to an array of video and cinematic links, some with tongue-in-cheek, spoof information such as the "Car-u-like-ator", a virtual fruit machine that gives car model suggestions.

    Ling says that understanding website navigation is essential for an online business: "Very few people have the slightest idea about the mental processes that trigger buying impulses or cause people to click into or off a site and look elsewhere."




     
    "TARMAG"
    Track and Road Magazine
    September 2008



    LING TIME


    Ling, can you please tell me a bit about your business, and your personal history.

    I'm Ling, I'm a self-made car-leasing magnate. Actually, I'm an immigrant, female, Chinese female millionaire nutcase who runs LINGsCARS.com, the biggest and best car contract hire website in the UK. To give you an idea of the scale of my business, this year I will rent in excess of £40million of brand-new cars. All that business is done from my website.

    Why should people lease a car rather than buy?

    Leasing, or contract hire, simply means “renting over a fixed term”. The term is usually 2 or 3 years.

    The great thing about renting is that it fixes your costs, you know exactly how much the car will cost you, over that period, including the road tax. If you get a car by any other method, you usually take the residual risk… and as anyone with a big 4x4 has found out over the past few months, values have dropped by up to 25%, leaving many people with an overpriced lemon to sell.

    Many people think they can buy and sell cars cheaper than renting them. Well, good luck to them. All my cars are brand-new, and I defy anyone to buy and then re-sell a new car in 2-years whilst spending less money than they would on my rentals.

    Sure, you can run an old banger cheaper, but who wants an old banger? Er… me, I guess. I own a 1970 Zil 7.0 litre V8 6x6 nuclear missile truck, and a 1966 Routemaster bus as well as an old Beijing Jeep.

    And why should people go to Lingscars.com?

    For the experience! My site is the best website in the UK, I think. It has been voted Top 100 in the world in FHM, Top 10 in Car, as well as being voted one of the 10 worst in the world. I guess that depends in you are an anal Mac developer or a normal human. I have won many awards, including Best Car Industry Website.

    I really take my webpage seriously, even though it is completely nutty with more films and multimedia than YouTube. I even have a LingTube page, and completely blow Top Gear out of the water with my spoof “Chop Gear”. You take off in whatever direction interests you, from the starting point of my 800-car long index page.
    I take the ‘spider web' concept quite seriously, too. Once you're entangled, it takes a desperate effort of will to escape the cerebral attraction of uncharted territory. It's like having an IV heroin drip via your computer monitor. Every page contains some ‘sticky' feature that threatens to get you hooked. It's fun. Why can't selling or business be fun? Behind the scenes, I have a built an industry-leading customer management system, where customers are walked through the supply process in a similarly crazy website, with a full conversation log, free noodles, cash bribes and a free toy car. On a serious note, I am the only UK car business to conduct all my business online, and all on a 256 bit secure server. I give the highest data security in the industry, everyone else relies on unprotected emails and fax, for the most sensitive personal of information.

    Your website is very informative with lots of customer referrals, how many cars do you lease out a month? And year?

    I lease about 2000 new cars a year, but it's a moving target. My business grows between 50% and 100% every year, so managing the growth is difficult. I have 1,000 attributed customer letters and an interactive customer map. Even the power of Google Maps is not enough to display all my push-pins on my map. My customers just love my service. There has to be meat and potatoes behind the scenes.

    Has featuring on bbc1 Dragons Den affected you and your business?

    Yes, Dragons' Den was tremendously important to me. I gained loads of publicity, but more importantly two of the Dragons (Bannatyne and Farleigh) offered investment. They saw my business potential. I immediately turned them down and they came back with a better offer! That is almost unheard of in Dragons' Den. I turned down the second offer too.

    Is the credit crunch affecting you and your business?

    The credit crunch is not affecting me one bit. I think a lot of this is self-induced paranoia by weak-willed people and businesses. Every single month this year has been significantly up on 2007, and at the end of July I was about £90,000 in revenue ahead, year on year. One reason for this is that term-rental is like a fixed mortgage rate - it is very attractive to have fixed costs when the world around you is in turmoil. Another good reason is that providing the best service in the industry helps, too, along with the highest efficiency and lowest overheads which mean that I can offer the lowest prices in the market, more profitably than any other company.

    Lingsmobiles.com your latest venture, can you tell us more about it?

    I have taken the opportunity to set up an affiliate mobile phone site, as it is a great fit with my car site. Unlike LINGsCARS, LINGsMOBILES is unmanned and operates automatically. The cars will always be my main business, but the mobile side is pure profit and gives me some opportunity to cross-sell. I have many more ideas in the pot, just ready to unleash on the UK.

    How do you answer critcisms about your "crazy" website?

    So many other websites follow strict unwritten rules about layout. They say, “It must be clear!” Really?

    Subheadings like; “Home” “Contact Us” are almost uniformly boring, but really human beings and the human mind do not operate in that way. Look at your own web-surfing habits. The human mind wants stimulation, not communist-era conformity plus a logo.

    I aim to polarise visitors, some love my site, some hate it, so what? Better than being boring. My latest adventure becoming the sponsor of Fulchester United in VIZ magazine and playing on the “Kung Fu Panda” film with my own version based on my free noodle brand - “FUKU Panda” is a very good illustration. I hold the Billy-The-Fish team to ransom with a Chinese nuclear missile. Why not? Buy VIZ and read it! Gotta have fun!

    Click HERE for Tarmag

    Visit www.tarmag.co.uk and subscription is free! TarMag – Track and Road Magazine – FREE monthly motoring magazine.

    Click HERE for Billy the Fish movie




     
    "MANAGEMENT TODAY"
    MT focuses on the issues that most challenge and inspire Britain's bosses and managers.
    August 2008



    Entrepreneur takes fresh approach Viz. sponsorship


    Ling Valentine's novel approach to marketing clearly applies to sponsorship deals too...

    Regular MT readers may remember Ling Valentine, the entrepreneur behind Ling’s Cars, whose remarkable website we wrote about last week. In our ongoing attempts to bring our browsing habits into the 21st century, we’ve been having a good look around her site – and couldn’t resist bringing you news of one of the more unusual sponsorship tie-ups we’ve seen...

    Ling has signed a deal with Viz, the rather rude comic that your Mum probably didn’t like you reading as a teenager. In the latest issue, she appears as herself in the comic strip ‘Billy the Fish’ (the half-man, half-fish who plays in goal for Fulchester United) as the team’s new sponsor. It’s not the first time that real people have shown up in cartoons (Spandau Ballet and DJ Simon Mayo rather bafflingly turned up in ‘Roy of the Rovers’, while Shakin’ Stevens and Mick Hucknall have both featured in ‘Billy the Fish’), but Ling has gone for a typically unusual approach.

    In the story, Viz has her holding the chairman hostage with a Chinese nuclear missile, demanding that a massive advertising hoarding featuring her website address be put up in front of one of the stands. The dialogue includes the chairman confessing to the manager: ‘I’m scared, Tommy, she’s absolutely mental,’ and the piece signs off: ‘Is Rick Spangle really about to get his life taken away by a Chinese nutjob?’ Not exactly the flattering coverage that most sponsors would expect for their bucks...

    Still, Viz took a similarly daft approach to a sponsorship deal with betNOW last year. And clearly Ling doesn’t mind too much – after all, she now signs her emails as ‘The OFFICIAL Business Ambassador to Viz Magazine: the only mentally unstable, ethnic minority North East entrepreneur to represent Viz's interests in the wider business community’ (which seems pretty indisputable to us, as titles go).

    Now you may think this is just Ling being her usual zany self – she’s a big believer in using humour to raise profile, which we reckon is great (and judging by the fact that she’s apparently enjoying a record year for car hires, it seems to be working for her). But it also raises an interesting question about the way sponsorship deals are done today. In a world where corporate sponsorship is everywhere, does the sponsor really get enough bang for their buck just by plastering their logo on something? Or are we so immune to corporate branding these days that it takes something mould-breaking and unusual like this to grab our attention?

    Watch this space: our corporate titans could be dreaming of inventive tie-ups with Roger Mellie, Sid the Sexist and Finbarr Saunders even as we speak...

    You can see the full cartoon in pdf free of copyright, HERE




     
    "MONEY AND EMPLOYMENT"
    August 2008




     
    "FULCHESTER.COM"
    Fulchester.com is an independent Viz enthusiasts' site.
    July 2008




     
    "METRO NEWS"
    Welcome to the Metro News
    August 2008


    Ling's cartoon capers

    RMS PR has secured an "unfeasibly large" amount of publicity for one of its clients in Viz.

    The launch of a new comic strip featuring RMS client and car dealer Ling Valentine is part of a campaign which has included almost as much television exposure as Roger Mellie, the adult comic's "man on the telly".

    RMS PR, Altrincham, has worked with lingscars.com since it was launched in Gateshead in 2005 by Ling Valentine and her husband, Jon.

    The business has become the UK's leading online car leasing website and leases over £15m of new cars every month.

    The marketing campaign led by RMS PR has included PR coverage in the Financial Times on BBC Radio 5 Live as well as a carefully executed appearance on BBC's Dragon's Den which saw Ling offered £50,000 for a stake in her business - but turned it down claiming that "Chinese eat dragons for breakfast."

    Peter Davies, director of RMS PR, said: "It's a major coup for Ling to be honoured in such a way."

    "It fits perfectly with our client's brand and is exactly the sort of profile that Ling and her customers love. We love Ling and Ling loves RMS PR."


    Viz comic was started in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1979 by founder Chris Donald, who produced the comic from his bedroom in his parents' home.

    Hampton Doubleday, current editor of Viz, said: "Ling was chosen on the basis of being completely barking mad."

    "Her lunacy and character is evident from her website. She's also quite short, so we save on ink."


    RMS now claims to be the UK's first PR agency to help turn a client into a cartoon in a best-selling comic.

    Ling Valentine said: "I choose to use RMS PR because of their attitude, and the help and assistance they offer.

    "They are full of ideas and have a fantastic sense of humour, which suits me."

    "Hardly a day goes past without them suggesting another campaign or way to promote my business. I have a very special relationship with them."




     
    "ADMAST"
    Innovative, yet cost-effective creative & media solutions.
    July 2008




     
    "F&I MANAGEMENT TRAINING"
    News, Views and Bite Sized Chunks of Information, keeping UK Automotive Professionals up to speed.
    July 2008

    If you like to read these news articles, you probably like:Blog
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    "MANAGEMENT TODAY"

    MT focuses on the issues that most challenge and inspire Britain's bosses and managers.
    August 2008
    An altenative approach to website navigation

    One entrepreneur's remarkable website makes us question what we really know about this interweb thing...

    Like every self-respecting business website, we're fascinated by the increasingly sophisticated techniques companies use to draw readers into their sites and (in some cases) persuade them to part with their cash. And we don't just mean the extraneous use of words like 'nude', 'Britney' or 'Spears' into the copy, in order to attract a particular type of search engine user (much like we've just done there, in fact).

    So we were interested to see a release today from Ling Valentine, the entrepreneur behind car-leasing firm LingsCars.com. Ling has apparently undertaken 'extensive research into the psychological surfing habits of over 50,000 visitors to her website' and identified three distinct groups: scrollers, who read pages like they're looking at a big picture or a newspaper; nit-pickers, who read frame-by-frame (like a book); and trackers, who jump about all over the place in search of the content they need.

    Ling reckons (not unreasonably) that understanding website navigation is essential for an online business: "Very few people have the slightest idea about the mental processes that trigger buying impulses or cause people to click into or off a site and look elsewhere," she argues. Her solution, she goes on to say, has been to turn her site into an "an online playground" for visitors to find about her company. "Everything I've learnt from my research has been applied to the website," she boasts. "I aim to provide entertaining and interactive content that will stimulate the user and get them hooked."

    So far, so plausible. And then we had a look at www.LingsCars.com, the result of Ling's 'extensive research' – which really has to be seen to be believed. If you can't see it, it's without question the most cluttered website we've ever seen – in fact it looks more like the Million Dollar Homepage than a proper business site. The description in Ling's release ("multiple indexes connect users to an array of video and cinematic links") completely fails to do it justice...

    We can only assume that this site is aimed at trackers – those 'inquisitive and creative' surfers that Ling reckons are "stimulated by the pictures, film clips and graphics they discover, rather than just by the written word". So if you've just spent thirty seconds looking at it and ended up with nothing but a headache, you're clearly just a bit retrograde in your online viewing techniques. (It also means you missed out on excellent features like a video of Ling posing on a converted Routemaster bus, Ling's commitment to the Human Rights Act (Chinese rules), and Ling's promise to give 10 people a day a free lunch - plus pudding and a hot drink).

    The future's here, and it's slightly bonkers websites...




     
    "VIZ MAGAZINE"
    The hardest magazine in the World
    Aug/Sept 2008


    I Sponsor Fulchester United!

    Armed with a Chinese nuclear missile, this month I hold the top footy club Fulchester United to ransom by threatening their promoter with death.

    Billy The Fish, despite being born half-man half-fish, stares incredulously at the massive advertising hoarding I erected right in front of the main stand. Never mind the fans, think of the TV exposure!

    Following the worldwide success of the Kung Fu Panda film by Dreamworks, I had the idea to combine my FUKU brand free noodles with a Fiat Panda, to create FUKU PANDA! How brilliant is that?

    Viz call me a "Chinese nutjob", but then what do you want??? A car from a boring useless company of Polish immigrant administrators, or a car from a Chinese nutjob?

    Another gold medal for China! That's one in Fulchester United's goal, hehehe.

    If you like to read these news articles, you probably like:Blog
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    "JEFF SMITH - INSIGHT"

    Motor Industry KPI and best practice provided by Jeff Smith
    July 2008
    What happens when you get out of bed?

    Yeah, sure, you shower, have breakfast and visit the loo, but more people then ever take time out to check their emails. After this, and a brief look at online news, plus following a few links sent by friends/business contacts etc, quite a few people check their messages on MSN, their messages on their mobiles, and knock out a few text replies.

    On the way to work there is the radio in the car, in between bleeps or texts arriving on your mobile as you drive, but after an hour or two of Wogan, or Today on Radio 4, you have a list of things to visit/check on your PC when you get to the office. Plus 50 emails backing up.

    Work! Is it really work? I know you are supposed to w-o-r-k at work, but with an internet-connected PC on everyone's desk, efficiency is balanced out by a healthy ability to pretend you are NOT at work. Most people spend a lot of every day doing online “research” into YouTube, Facebook, and various other crucial business opportunities. Personal email is just a click away, much more convenient than the company email program.

    Whatever you come across during the workday, can be Googled. Checking suppliers, finding an address, seeing who exactly that guy at the company you are talking to on the phone really is… or looking at at stuff to do with cars. Just anything. Immediate gratification becomes accepted. Whatever you enquire about, you can get an immediate result. All day long you have been getting instant information and responses.

    However, according to a recent report highlighted by Stephen Briers, Editor of Automotive Management…

    “Almost half of (car) retailers in the AM100 top 20 take more than two days to respond to an email request for information, according to new research. The Auto Trader website usability study, carried out by eDigital Research, found that fewer than half of the 500 motorists who took part in the assessment would visit the dealer website again based on their email customer service experience. Quality of response, product knowledge and ability to help for email enquiries were all rated below 50% - substantially behind phone enquiries ratings at 73%.”

    Ye-ouch! At LINGsCARS.com I live RIGHT INSIDE my webpage and Outlook - and I pounce on anything that comes my way, immediately. What a shock when I read about the normal response of the car industry!

    So what can dealers do about this sad state of affairs? They need several lines of attack to be able to regain ground in this area:

    1. Break free of constraints.

    Dealers should get active and stop relying on manufacturer and “official” websites. They should look at posting advice on forums, offering goodies to download - not just screensavers, but USEFUL stuff like parts catalogues and full car information, they should JOIN IN and interact with customers. Encourage interaction between staff and customers. Website and email volume should be shown, live in the dealership, maybe using one of those LCD scoreboards. Incoming emails and website actions (like form completions) can be announced by noises, to make everyone aware of the volume of activity in the air. “Is that the fire alarm?” - no, it’s a finance proposal form coming in, or a service request email.

    2. Get on top of emails.

    The holy grail is to reply to the customer while the customer is still logged into his or her email. That’s it. Even if it is just to say “Fred, got your email, please wait”. Key personnel (that’s everyone who does email) should have two monitors on their desk, one permanently looking at email. That £80 for the extra monitor will be paid for as soon as they make their first quick reply, and someone bites. Email “groups” mean that many people can share an email box, so volume can be handled immediately and if someone is causing a bottleneck, others can see it and deal with it.

    3. Get rid of small print.

    Have you seen what most dealers append to the bottom of emails? “You will be arrested if you copy, forward, read, edit or use the information contained in this email, blah, blah, blah. This is NOT the view of the business, etc”. Would you EVER write such nonsense on a paper letter? Delete stupid legalistic signatures. When did you EVER enforce this nonsense. Bin it. Emails should have a full return signature. There is nothing more annoying than having to search for a snail-mail address or phone number because the lazy person has not used an intelligent signature.

    4. Get relaxed.

    Email is not a good format for legal stuff, so keep email light. If you are worried, get some approved, canned jokes and let people choose from an array of 50 lighthearted comments. One of mine is; “I am Chinese, not Catholic. I cannot do miracles”. When I receive documents in the post, I email: “I got your docs back in the post, just to let you know. Thanks. Please wait, I send to the finance company for them to make sure everything is OK, and then we give the release to the dealership. I will be in touch. I know you want to ask me the question “When…”, but like small kids in a car you just have to wait. :)”. Many customers email back with a jokey response like “Awww, Ling, are we there yet?” Treat staff and customers like adults, not idiots. Arguments are not great, by email. Even a normal email can easily be taken the wrong way. Teach the use of smileys, and use them often as things can easily be mis-read on an email, you dope :) …Exactly. If you have something bad to say, ring them or write a quick letter.

    5. Combine email with snail mail.

    Email volume can easily grow out of control. Use snail mail letters to slow people down, don’t slow them down by ignoring email. For instance, I deal with remote website customers. After proposal, I have a problem that customers repeatedly want to chase me for news, yet sometimes it can take finance companies 48 hours to turn car applications around. To slow the customers down, I send out a “security letter” in the post, the day of the emailed proposal. I tell them I am doing this so “please wait” for the security letter. That buys me until the next morning. The letter arrives, and they have something tactile and real in their hands. I email to say “do you have it?” They reply “yes”. They sign and return it (it confirms their address) in an SAE I provide. They almost always wait until the next day when I say “I have it back, thanks”, before politely enquiring how their application is going. And magically, I usually have good news waiting for them. Using real letters to back up email and slow down customers, is so simple - but is rarely used.

    6. Develop systems.

    Get a sausage machine up and running. Many emails can be automated yet work wonders. Get customers into your system, whether its a car enquiry, a service booking or a parts enquiry, database their info and follow the proceedure. If you are clever and natural, by the end of the day, six emails will have been exchanged and the customer will be your new best friend.

    7. Database stuff

    Always drive this email plan forward by using a database. Time stamping and storing customers enmail subjects will allow you to follow up and re-solicit these customers for business, at pre-determined intervals. A special offer or promotion can reach everyone who has emailed you, in the past 5-years, within seconds. Get ready for serious response volume, and get on top of it immediately.

    8. Have fun.

    Have I mentioned this already? The customer wants fun in his/her emails, they spend all day wanting a bit of entertainment or a chuckle from their PC. That’s why they spend so much time avoiding real work and using MSN or Facebook. So treat them like a friend, don’t lie (harder than it sounds for many in the car business) and have a laugh at your own business. No one dies. That way, when something goes wrong (and it will) you have a small amount of goodwill in the bank.




     
    "MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS"
    Manchester's newspaper
    July 2008


    Ling's cartoon capers

    RMS PR has secured an "unfeasibly large" amount of publicity for one of its clients in Viz.

    The launch of a new comic strip featuring RMS client and car dealer Ling Valentine is part of a campaign which has included almost as much television exposure as Roger Mellie, the adult comic's "man on the telly".

    RMS PR, Altrincham, has worked with lingscars.com since it was launched in Gateshead in 2005 by Ling Valentine and her husband, Jon.

    The business has become the UK's leading online car leasing website and leases over £15m of new cars every month.

    The marketing campaign led by RMS PR has included PR coverage in the Financial Times on BBC Radio 5 Live as well as a carefully executed appearance on BBC's Dragon's Den which saw Ling offered £50,000 for a stake in her business - but turned it down claiming that "Chinese eat dragons for breakfast."

    Peter Davies, director of RMS PR, said: "It's a major coup for Ling to be honoured in such a way."

    "It fits perfectly with our client's brand and is exactly the sort of profile that Ling and her customers love. We love Ling and Ling loves RMS PR."


    Viz comic was started in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1979 by founder Chris Donald, who produced the comic from his bedroom in his parents' home.

    Hampton Doubleday, current editor of Viz, said: "Ling was chosen on the basis of being completely barking mad."

    "Her lunacy and character is evident from her website. She's also quite short, so we save on ink."


    RMS now claims to be the UK's first PR agency to help turn a client into a cartoon in a best-selling comic.

    Ling Valentine said: "I choose to use RMS PR because of their attitude, and the help and assistance they offer.

    "They are full of ideas and have a fantastic sense of humour, which suits me."

    "Hardly a day goes past without them suggesting another campaign or way to promote my business. I have a very special relationship with them."




     
    "THE JOURNAL"
    The North East's Daily Newspaper
    July 12th 2008

    Just the Ling they need -

    "Barking mad" entrepreneur takes Viz role
    By Paul James, Chief Reporter


    One of the North East business community's true characters has become the latest star of Viz magazine.

    Ling Valentine, known for her unique publicity stunts for LINGsCARS.com company, is being honoured in print by the Newcastle institution.

    In this month's edition she is the newest real-life cartoon star in the magazine, following the death earlier this year of curry restaurant boss Abdul Latif, Lord of Harpole.

    Viz said that Ling, the online car leasing entrepreneur who once appeared on the BBC Dragon's Den programme, was selected from hundreds of applicants from the business community on the basis of the "mental instability" evident from her LINGsCARS.com website.

    The cartoon depicts Ling in her "nuclear rocket truck" - which she bought to advertise her business alongside motorways - chasing Viz favourites like Roger Mellie. She also owns a red London bus, which she drove into the centre of Newcastle last year to deposit £10,000 in a show of support for Northern Rock.

    In 2006, Ling picked up the Woman in Retail Award at the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

    Yesterday she said: "To celebrate my appointment as Viz's business ambassador, I'm giving away a packet of instant noodles to every reader who rents a car from my website. I'll even supply my new customers with chopsticks and indigestible preserved plum Chinese pudding."

    The magazine article on her appointment as the new Viz Entrepreneur Laureate said: "Following the tragic death earlier this year of Abdul Latif, Lord of Harpole, the search has been on to find a minority North East entrepreneur to represent Viz's interests in the wider business community."

    "We've interviewed hundreds of applicants and have finally made our appointment. The winning candidate, Ling Valentine, is the proprietor of the Gateshead-based vehicle hire company LINGsCARS.com. She was born in China and is so mental we have already been forced to take out three restraining orders on her. And to celebrate her appointment as the comic's business ambassador, she's giving away a packet of alarming-looking instant noodles to every Viz reader who rents a car from the huge range at LINGsCARS.com."


    Viz editor Hampton Doubleday said: "Ling was chosen on the basis of being completely barking mad. She's also quite short, so we save on ink."

    If you like to read these news articles, you probably like:Blog
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    "JEFF SMITH - INSIGHT"

    Motor Industry KPI and best practice provided by Jeff Smith
    July 2008


    Ling Valentine steals yet another advantage over main dealers

    Ling Valentine, owner of an online leasing company called LingsCars.com has done it again. After appearing on the BBC programme Dragons' Den and being famous for refusing their money, she’s now got herself included as a character in VIZ, the adult comic.

    Whether you loathe or like independent leasing companies, you have to acknowledge the sheer cheek and marketing savvy that this company utiliises. By operating outside of the norms of the “usual” main dealer activities, Ling Valentine has become a very high profile character, much to the annoyance of many main franchised dealers. Well, the annoyance is perfectly understood, but the main question is, “Why are we not seeing main dealers getting involved in such high profile marketing projects?”

    I have questioned Ling about her current sales volumes and the effect of the credit crunch and she informs me that business is booming. (I won't quote exact figures).

    Ling says "Dragons Den is being re-run on “Dave” and the web site goes mental with the volume of enquires we get for days afterward. We have a new office and we’re lookng to employ more people to cope with the growth."

    Needless to say, being the marketing genius that she is, she's released a story prior to the project going live in Viz. Why oh why do dealers not do this kind of thing?

    Ling Valentine, the female owner of LingsCars.com, is being honoured in print by becoming the latest real-life character to feature in Viz magazine.

    The search has been on to find a suitable replacement for Viz star and local ethnic hero Abdul Latif, Lord of Harpole, following his tragic death earlier this year.

    Ling, the “mental oriental” online car leasing entrepreneur and former Dragons' Den monneygrabber, is getting a taste of fame after being selected from hundreds of applicants from the business community to become Viz’s mentally unstable Business Ambassador.

    “She was chosen on the basis of being completely barking mad” said Viz editor Hampton Doubleday. “Her lunacy and character is evident from her website, Lingscars.com. She's also quite short, so we save on ink.”

    Ling (35), a Master's Degree educated “Chinglish” immigrant who came to the UK ten years ago and set up her award-winning website selling over £30 million of new cars every year, says:

    “To celebrate my appointment as Viz's ethic business ambassador, I have bought a flagpole and Chinese flag and I fly it outside my Gateshead office. I have been chomping on Ferrari Rochers and I'm partying by giving away a packet of instant F.U.K.U. brand noodles to every person who rents a car from my website. I'll even supply my new customers with chopsticks and awful preserved plum Chinese pudding.”

    “I'm not sure what my role in the comic will be, but Hampton told me it will probably involve my nuclear missile truck and two flat snags. I have no idea what that is, but he told me it is a common term for English girls. I will also offer motoring tips, such as ‘don't wash your car - simply rent a new one from me!’”


    Ling will feature alongside such classic names as Roger Mellie and Sid the Sexist.

    “I have no idea about those strange people”, said Ling. “All I know is that Viz has a very highly educated, effluent readership, mainly hairy men”.

    Viz, the adult comic magazine, has been published on Tyneside since 1979.




     
    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    The Journal of the UK Motor Industry
    July 2008

    Ling Valentine to star in Viz




     
    "VIZ"
    The dog's bollocks!
    July 2008

    The King is Dead! God Save the Ling!


    Following the tragic death earlier this year of Abdul Latif, Lord of Harpole, the search has been on to find a replacement mentally unstable, ethnic minority North East entrepreneur to represent Viz¹s interests in the wider business community.

    We've interviewed hundreds of applicants, and after a long Apprentice-style elimination process, we have finally made our appointment.

    The winning candidate, Ling Valentine, is the proprietor of the Gateshead-based vehicle contract hire company LINGsCARS.com. She was born in China and is so mental that we have already been forced to take out three restraining orders on her. And to celebrate her appointment as the comic's business ambassador, she's giving away a packet of alarming-looking instant noodles to every Viz reader who rents a car from the huge range available at LINGsCARS.com.

    "I'll even supply you with chopsticks and Chinese pudding," says Ling. "Choose from marshmallow cone or dried plum, which is delicious but will make you soft British people shit like hell."

    For a full insight into the state of Ling's mind, visit her enormous website at www.LINGsCARS.com (no need, you are already here - Ling :) You can view close-up of the page as a pdf, HERE

    If you like to read these news articles, you probably like:Blog
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    "FLEET NEWS"

    Essential information for vehicle fleet managers
    June 2008


    Lease companies should educate on fuel costs

    Outspoken car-leasing entrepreneur, Ling Valentine, has called on lease and rental companies to show customers their predicted weekly fuel costs before they enter into a contract.

    "My customers rent brand new cars from me for two years at a time, based on how many miles they will drive in the year," Ms Ling explained.

    "Therefore, it is not rocket-science for me to tell them how much they will spend on fuel."

    However, the call has been met with cynicism, as Andrew Mee, pricing risk manager at Lloyds TSB Autolease explained.

    "Giving a future fuel usage cost prediction at time of purchase, whilst achievable, serves only as an indication and in reality could be misleading at a time when fuel prices are rising so rapidly," he said.

    "The best advice we would give to our customers is to be sure that they fully understand the fuel consumption figures of their chosen vehicles and the potential cost implications this may have on the whole life cost of the vehicle.

    "Driver education also plays a key part in helping to mange this escalating expense."


    Your comments:

    "Driver education"!!! I have never heard such rubbish. This is so simple. Tell people how much their car will cost them in fuel per week. We know the mileage they will cover, we know the average combined mpg, we know the cost of fuel today... simply do the sums for people, and don't expect them to have to use a calculator and convert litres to gallons and look up the cost of fuel and use maths you cannot do in your head to compare dozens of different cars to each other... if you ask people if they want to know this fuel cost per week, they say "YES! PLEASE!!!"

    Of course fuel prices change, that's why this is affecting so many people, because they have risen so high! That's why people want to know how much it will cost them (at current prices). They are not so stupid that they don't know fuel will go even higher. In my opinion, the reason clear fuel costs are never given (by ANYONE in the trade) is that it is seen as a "negative" like all the other stuff from CO2 to MPG that is hidden in tiny print at the bottom of adverts. Bring on the EU regs where half an advert should be devoted to this stuff.

    I am already doing it, showing current fuel cost for EVERY of the 700 new cars on my price list (as well as full NCAP safety ratings and full environmental labels that a dealer gets fined £5000 if they fail to show). No other leasing company bothers with this stuff, never mind franchised dealers. It is a scandal to the British public.

    Stop hiding stuff that is easy to show, like banks hide bank charges. Treat people like adults, not idiots - Ling




     
    "MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS"
    Manchester's newspaper
    June 2008

    THE JURY: With soaring oil prices globally, can domestic fuel protests achieve anything?


    Ling Valentine, Director, LINGsCARS.com:

    "No, but motorists can find other ways to keep their costs down. The new hybrid cars can reduce fuel consumption. Leasing a car for two or three years is cheaper than buying a depreciating asset, and choosing a car that suits your needs instead of flattering your ego, will cost you a lot less.

    Fuel price rises are inevitable and the trick will be to find ways to use less of it. Political protest won't reverse market forces. The planet's running out of oil."

    If you like to read these news articles, you probably like:Blog
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    "SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST"

    International newspaper for South China and Hong Kong
    June 2008, By Mark Footer




    Tyne and Wear, in the northeast of England, may be a long way from Sichuan province, but for Lan Ling, who now considers herself "Blitish", it is most definitely home.

    "Chinese are very well accepted here. Possibly because we do not tend to bomb the London Underground or fly planes into Twin Towers buildings. We get on with making money."

    Ling Valentine, as she is better known in Britain, is an unusual character: home and what she calls her "World HQ" are in Gateshead; she owns a red double-decker bus and a former PLA nuclear-decontamination truck - complete with "missile"; she is a national television personality and has been so successful at leasing cars that she was a winner at the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year awards in 2006.

    Valentine was born and raised in Chengdu. Her mother secured her a place at Guangzhou's Jinan University, where she studied chemistry. Then she took the unusual step of moving to Finland: "My mum had friends in Finland and the education was free. I studied wood chemistry [in Finnish] but failed - what a surprise."

    She met and married Englishman Jon Valentine in Helsinki and, after battling Britain's Home Office for permission to enter the country, studied environmental management at Bournemouth University, in Dorset. "It was hard, as my English wasn't brilliant. I learned about information processing and efficient use of tools, and I use these skills in LINGsCARS.com," she writes on her eye-popping, gimmick-laden website. Her husband, a successful car-hire agent, showed Ling the ropes. And she learned fast.

    "I must say I'm better at it than him. The key is efficiency. I give good personal service, I have very few overheads and use a computerised system I built myself."

    Valentine's success - and the missile-launcher parked on the outskirts of Gateshead - caught the attention of the BBC. She was invited to take part in the TV programme Dragons' Den, in which participants try to persuade a panel of rich entrepreneurs to invest in their business ideas. Valentine says she enjoyed the show but turned down offers of investment because the percentage of the company "the dragons" wanted was too high and she didn't need their cash; LINGsCARS brought in £28 million (HK$429.5 million) last year.

    She has since launched a series of TV ads and has made several "fun films" - the Chop Gear series - showing her sister, Shan, who works for the Sichuan Poverty Alleviation Department, road-testing cars leased through the company. "We filmed them while she was over visiting her son, who is at university in Newcastle. We had a great time ... but BMW hated the way we road-tested the 7-series by finding out how many Chinese takeaways could go in the boot."

    Valentine thinks she is the only Chinese person in Britain's car contract-hire business and has vowed to "keep the red flag flying in the motor trade.

    "Actually I'm quite proud to be Chinese, if not proud of the Chinese government," she writes. "I tasted tear gas in 1989, although in Chengdu not Beijing. There was much more happening than the Tiananmen stuff."

    Valentine is relieved her family - her mother is a dentist, her father is retired - escaped injury in last month's earthquake. She plans to visit them at Christmas as usual.

    Although she does not expect to include Chinese-made cars on her books in the near future - "The new (old) MG is a joke" - Valentine's company does seem to possess one thriving Chinese import.

    "I am a successful immigrant. I did it all legally and I have succeeded. That puts a big smile on my face."




     
    "THE INQUIRER"
    News, Reviews, Fact and Friction
    By Tony Dennis
    May 2008

    Chinese bird goes mobile - Entrepreneur moves from cars to phones



    OH JOY. Yet another mobile phone comparison site. This one, however, is run by Ling Valentine, a Chinese-born, British-based entrepreneur, made famous by an appearance on TV's Dragon's Den.

    She happily describes herself as "a Chinese bird who flogs cars".

    Ling claims her online car-leasing site, lingscars.com, has gone from zero to a turnover of £5 million in five years.

    Now she plans to shake up the UK's mobile contract phone business. Her company claims that the site price checks over 75,000 mobile contract offerings and then shows the best 10 deals.

    Valentine spotted the opportunity when her car-leasing customers asked her about Bluetooth and car kits for their cars.

    Ever one to grab publicity, Valentine makes a reference to the recent UK TV expose of the mobile phone industry's worst practices on Channel 4's Dispatches programme. She says her recommendations will steer clear of "cashback offers, free gifts and other worthless offers."

    We wonder if she realises just how fierce the competition is amongst mobile phone comparison sites.

    L'INQ
    Lingsmobiles

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    "POCKET PICKS"

    Ling Valentine launches website for mobile bargain-hunters
    May 2008, By Stuart Dredge




    I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Ling Valentine, but apparently she’s a self-made millionaire thanks to her internet-based car leasing service.

    Anyway, she’s turned her attention to mobile handsets, with a new site called LingsMobiles which promises a simpler approach to finding a new handset. In short, it furtles through more than 75,000 different mobile contract offers, then serves up the ten best deals for whatever phone you’re interested in. The site multiplies the monthly contract by its length in months, and adds the initial price in the handset (for example, the total cost of a Nokia N95 might be £15 times 18 months, plus £239.99 for the phone, making £509.99 in total).

    “I hate the mis-selling side of mobile phones where less savvy consumers are enticed by those awful redemption cashback offers,” says Valentine. “They’re difficult to claim and can result in massive contract charges. I have no allegiance to any retailers or networks so I exclude redemption cashback offers, free gifts and other worthless offers.”




     
    "REAL BUSINESS"
    Connecting and Inspiring Entrepreneurs
    by Catherine Woods
    April 2008

    27 ways to raise your company's profile. Wise up to the ways you can market your business and boost brand awareness.





    1 Consider stunts
    Stunts may be risky but they can be very effective if done in a witty and relevant way, says author and “ideas man” Shed Simove. “The best are those that show you have the skills relevant to what a person wants,” he says. Ling’s Cars founder Ling Valentine put a missile truck on the side of the A1 motorway to promote her firm. “People’s opinions changed from ‘you’re mad’ to ‘that’s clever’,” she says. “When Tony Blair forced me to remove the rocket, I was inundated with messages asking where it had gone, and was interviewed on radio and TV.”

    2 Try something different
    On occasion, it’s good to change tack, says Ronnie Bartlett. His family’s 60-year-old root vegetable business, Albert Bartlett, became a sponsor of iconic horse racing festival Cheltenham. He explains: “We’re getting to the male consumer because that can drive demand. Cheltenham is covered all across the world, so it’s huge exposure for us. "There’s a lot of trade involved in the festival over the week; punters get to try our products. Everyone who eats a potato at Cheltenham will eat one of ours.”

    3 Personalise and differentiate
    Shed Simove, who writes about success and creativity in business, recommends adding a personal touch to your offering. “Target decision-makers but strike an emotional connection. Don’t do what everyone else will do,” he says. “One time, to win a client, I found out all about the company’s boss, discovered his favourite character in Coronation Street was Mike Baldwin and then got the actor in question to sign a photo with a special message on it.”

    4 Hire a PR firm for your business
    It’s an oldie but a goodie. Hiring a good PR firm is one of the easiest ways to increase awareness of your business. Dean Horridge, founder of children’s activity company Fit for Sport, recently hired his first PR company. “We were sending a lot of mixed messages about what we did through some of our initiatives – we wanted clarity on brand awareness across the UK,” he says.

    5 Hire a PR firm for you
    One of the services Rostrum Communications offers is “personal” PR. Founder Mark Houlding explains why it can be useful: “It can create credibility for the company by giving it a human face and personality, which can add value if you’re competing against larger firms with bigger budgets and brands.”

    6 Pick a firm that knows your market
    “An agency is not going to be able to do a great job of positioning your brand and finding the opportunities and dealing with journalists in a professional manner if it doesn’t know your market,” says London-based Jay O’Connor, MD of European operations for PR firm Racepoint Group. She also says it’s important to check a potential PR partner’s contacts and references.

    7 Be eponymous
    Ling Valentine of Ling’s Cars believes putting herself in the firing line has been the most successful tactic to raise the profile of her business. “Every other company in the car-leasing sector trades as a generic-style firm, such as XYZ Leasing, but I trade as myself. People know who they’re dealing with,” she says. “Sticking my head above the parapet includes putting myself on TV [Valentine turned down funding on Dragons’ Den], representing myself on my webpage and personally taking care of my customers.”

    8 Network online
    The Results Academy founder Fraser Hay says he’s become well known through the use of online social networks such as Ecademy and Facebook. “I’ve been able to generate leads, get referrals from people in many different places and create pre-qualified prospects without having to cold call,” he says. To make this sort of networking work, however, Hay says you need to identify what peoples’ problems are and how you can help.

    9 Don’t be intimidated
    Networking is a great way to raise your profile, but Liz Taylor, founder of £3.5m-turnover events company the Taylor Lynn Corporation, says you’ll make more of an impact if you’re not easily intimidated. “You should always have the confidence to speak to anybody,” she says.

    10 Know your objectives and your audience
    You won’t get anywhere if you don’t know what you want to achieve and who you’re trying to target, says Jay O’Connor. She advises business owners to ask themselves a few questions before embarking on a publicity drive: “Why are you doing this? Who do you want to reach? How do you reach those audiences? Who influences them?”

    11 Target obvious customers
    Ronnie Bartlett, who runs Albert Bartlett, his family’s root vegetable business, says the company successfully raised its profile by targeting relevant media outlets. “We featured in Good Food magazines around the world, as well as sponsoring the Food Channel and other food programmes,” he says.

    12 Strike the right partnerships
    To raise the profile of his new business, iammoving.com, Simon Preston, former chief of Tiscali UK, has partnered with organisations his clients have to deal with when they’re moving house. “We have a partnership with the Royal Mail, which deals with redirections,” he says. “You’ll see us gradually growing relationships with other people, such as letting agents.”

    13 Align with big names
    Luxury shirt maker Emma Willis was featured in a recently published report called Face Value: Your Reputation as a Business Asset, published by private bank Coutts. “People bank with Coutts all over the world, so it’s a really good affiliation,” she says. “I have also collaborated with young British fashion label Rodnik. It distinguishes you from being just another shirt maker in Jermyn Street.”

    14 Hire a celebrity
    Neville Upton brought former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio on board as a director of motivation for his £26m-turnover customer relations firm, The Listening Company. As well as inspiring the 2,000-strong workforce, Upton says Dallaglio also spends time with clients. “Everyone knows who he is. He’s an impressive person and he’s helped raise the company’s profile a great deal,” Upton says, adding that the initiative has been “very good value for money”.

    15 Focus on content
    Jay O’Connor, from PR group Racepoint, says whatever your message, the content you’re putting out there has to be relevant to the audience. “You need to focus on the benefits of your products or services and what’s going to matter to clients or consumers, not the technical aspects that people won’t care about,” she says.

    16 Champion a cause
    IT services specialist Connect has helped grow awareness of the company by undertaking initiatives to boost the number of women in IT. For example, Connect has formed a group for women IT specialists, worked with schools to promote the IT sector to female students and taken part in industry-wide groups investigating the issue. CEO Mark MacGregor says: “It helps us stand out from the crowd because it’s not just about us launching a new product.”

    17 Be an expert
    Writing opinion pieces, joining the speakers’ circuit or running an event that shows your expertise is a good way to get yourself known, according to Judith Germain, the managing director of leadership company Dynamic Transitions. She says: “I’ve published a lot of articles on the web. I’ve also written a lead article for Talent Management Review, as well as running online and offline business communities.”

    18 Be accessible to journalists
    If you’re positioning yourself as an industry commentator in the media, Rostrum Communications founder Mark Houlding recommends: “Be readily available and give an interesting and different point of view.” He warns against becoming a “rent-a-quote”, saying it’s easier to build an image in one specialist area.

    19 Befriend the right writers
    Emma Willis says dealing with the press is “absolutely critical” to building up your profile. “I’ve worked hard – on my own and with PR agencies – to be written about in quality publications my customers read, such as the Financial Times and Vogue,” she says. “I will personally go and meet the relevant journalists, even those in the US. I give them a good idea about what I do.”

    20 Join a business organisation
    “I’m involved in quite a lot of other business activities,” says iammoving.com’s Simon Preston. “I’m an international board director of the Young Presidents’ Organisation. We have a relatively low public profile, but it’s all about business leaders networking together, sharing experiences, ideas and education.”

    21 Be charitable
    Helping a charity to raise money not only means using your skills to help others – it may also put you in touch with potential partners. Liz Taylor, founder of events firm the Taylor Lynn Corporation, works with the Prince’s Trust Fundraising Committee. She advises: “You’ve got to be a little bit canny and make it work commercially for you. Find out who supports the charity, who’s involved, where they come from and what they’re trying to achieve.”

    22 Target students
    James Lott is the co-founder of business management tool provider The Working Knowledge Group, which runs competitions with university students as a way of promoting its products and services. “Students use a derivative of our strategy tool,” he says. “Throughout the competition, they keep seeing this tool and think ‘I could use this in my future business’.”

    23 Be transparent
    Today’s consumers are demanding more information about the products they buy and the companies that supply them. Tapping into that can help give your business a better profile. Take vegetable company Albert Bartlett. Boss Ronnie Bartlett says: “Our packaging tells you the name of the grower and you can also read about them on our website. It’s good for everyone, as the growers are focused on promotion as well.”

    24 Get sporty
    Bulldog is the official grooming supplier to rugby team the London Wasps. “We sponsor the back of the shorts,” adds co-founder Rhodri Ferrier. He says that while it’s hard to measure the tangible benefits of sports club sponsorship, the club did get a lot of publicity during the Rugby World Cup. “It’s a great tie-up because it’s a good club that stands for the things we stand for.”

    25 Apply for a business award
    Many organisations, Real Business included, give out annual awards to the great and the good in a particular area. Winning an award can earn you coverage in the press, the respect of your peers and make potential clients aware of you.

    26 Jump on the bandwagon
    While we would never advise changing your business to take advantage of trends, it’s worth promoting a particular side of your business if it’s relevant to a hot issue. Kelly Smith’s company, Smartbunker, offers customers a data centre that uses zero-carbon energy and green technology. “We have a truly unique proposition, which marks us out in a crowded marketplace – that’s why we’re getting so much publicity,” he says.

    27 Be consistent
    No one is going to take you seriously if you don’t come across as genuine or consistent. Dynamic Transitions’ Judith Germain says consistency is often a problem when people cross from offline to online: “A lot of people feel they can write stuff online and act in a certain way, then be very different offline. Everything on the web can be googled.”

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    "RMS PR"
    Case Studies: About LINGsCARS

    April 2008, By Ruth Shearn



    LINGsCARS.com



    Many of you will remember seeing the diminutive Chinese motor trader, Ling Valentine, turning down 'The Dragons' offer of a £50,000 investment in her online contract hire business with the withering remark, 'Chinese eat dragons for breakfast'.

    What you may not know is that this 8-minute peak time opportunity on the BBC hit show, which doubled the size of her business overnight, resulted from RMS's involvement.

    Ling started her business with a computer on her dining room table six years ago. She now employs seven people at her dedicated office in Gateshead and leases more than £50 million worth of cars a year. Her sales have doubled year-on-year.

    Until investing in a small regional TV advertising campaign earlier this year, PR was the only marketing tool used to promote her company's extraordinary growth and success.

    RMS PR started the ball rolling with a page in the Financial Times containing a dramatic photo of Ling with her 'mobile thermo nuclear rocket launcher' roadside attention grabbing truck (we've YouTube-d it here for you to view). The press and publicity section of her website chronicles the appearance of some hundreds of items of publicity since then.

    The company's lifeblood - website hits - have reached a consistent 50,000 + per month on the strength of the accumulated momentum created by a constant stream of news, comment, conjecture and the chimera of mildly anarchic lunacy that disguises the fiercely customer service driven ethos of the business. Word-of-mouth and renewals by loyal 'converts' have created exponential, perpetual growth.

    We love Ling and she loves RMS PR.




     
    "SHIELDS GAZETTE"
    North and South Shields Newspaper
    March 2008

    Jarrow firm helps Dragons' Den contestant



    A SOUTH Tyneside film company has put a contestant from TV's Dragons Den in the picture.

    YourFilm, based at Tedco Business Centre, Jarrow, secured a contract with Ling Valentine, owner of LINGsCARS.com.

    The company was commissioned after initially creating successful video podcasts for the car hire specialists. Then YourFilm was asked by Ms Ling, 34, who was a recent contestant on the popular TV business show, to create TV ads for her car company.

    The Jarrow film firm came up with the ImproPlug, a unique type of visual advertisement, which can be shown on TV and also on LINGsCARS' website.

    Kevin Owens, director of YourFilm, said: "We're very excited about working with Ling and the creation of the ImproPlug comes from a shared vision. We are proving that moving image marketing can be achieved without the traditionally over-inflated production budgets."

    "Ling is quite a character and these ads are sure to cause a stir among TV viewers."

    Ms Valentine said: "YourFilm were just great. LINGsCARS have collaborated to break new ground for this exciting new genre of advertising. I'm extremely proud to be the first advertiser to use this new format of TV ads. It has been great fun making them. I already have over 200,000 views of my YouTube films, now a much larger audience of millions will see the ImproPlugs."

    Kevin Owens and co-director Matthew Newman have been running their Jarrow-based digital film production business for three years.

    YourFilm recently completed a nationally shown promotional film for leisure group Tiger Tiger and the company is working with Gateshead Council on various film projects.

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    "CODEWORKS CONNECT"
    Improplug TV adverts

    March 2008, By Neil Kumar, news editor



    YourFilm creates unique TV ads for Lingscars.com



    YOURFILM, a Jarrow-based film production business, has secured a contract with Dragons Den contestant Ling Valentine of Lingscars.com.

    The film producers secured the contract with the car contract hire specialists after initially creating successful video podcasts. The TV ads have been filmed at Lingscars HQ in Gateshead and star Ling herself.

    The brief was to create something that stood out amongst mainstream TV commercials – hence the ‘ImproPlug’ was devised; a unique style of visual advertisement, which allowed Ling to improvise getting her message across.

    The advertisement will be shown not just on TV, but also on the Lingscars website and as part of a viral marketing campaign.

    The ImproPlug is an improvised, low-cost alternative to spending thousands or millions of pounds on the production of a single, 30-second television commercial.

    Kevin Owens, director of YourFilm, said: “We’re very excited about working with Ling, and the creation of the ImproPlug comes from a shared vision. We are proving that moving image marketing can be achieved without the traditionally over-inflated production budgets.

    “Ling is quite a character, and these ads are sure to cause a stir to TV viewers.”


    Big global corporations often spend millions of pounds on one international commercial.ImproPlugs bring the 'hands-on, one-to-one, treat customers as people' philosophy to TV. The owner of a relatively small businesscan get up front and personal with potential customers on the box, on the net and by e-mail.

    It's the opposite of the anonymous call-centre in a foreign country and the overdubbed glossy TV advert. The viewer gets the chance to look who they're dealing with in the eye. And they know the price paid for the goods isn't being squandered on lavish TV budgets.

    TV's first ImproPlug star, Ling Valentine, said: “I'm extremely proud to be the first advertiser to use this new format of TV ads. It has been great fun making them. I already have over 200,000 views of my YouTube films, now a much larger audience will see the ImproPlugs.

    “Some of my ImproPlugs have snippets in Chinese. It doesn't matter. The viewers see me chatting to them in quick-cut clips, in YouTube format. It's the TV/PC crossover advert, and it is set to take the world by storm.


    “YourFilm were just great. Lingscars has collaborated to break new ground for this exciting new genre of advertising. Just wait until the snotty-nosed London agencies see these ImproPlugs, their reaction will be enough to make the whole of the North East chuckle.”

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    "BUSINESSZONE.co.uk"
    For UK Businesses
    Februaury 2008

    Funding from the Dragons? We're out, say SMEs



    Nearly 65% of small businesses say that they would turn down an offer from TV programme Dragons’ Den if they didn’t think it represented good value for money.

    According to a survey of just under 750 business owners, accounting software company Kashflow found that businesses would prefer to turn to banks or private backers for a more reasonable rate or split of the business.

    Of those who would accept, 36% said it was because of the experience the dragon could bring to the company, while 27% said they would use it to try and grow their company.

    A further 24% said they would only accept for the positive public relations opportunities.

    Ling Valentine, owner of LINGsCARS.com, is a small business owner who decided to turn down the Dragon’s offers of investment.

    She said: “I had two joint offers from dragons Bannatyne and Farleigh, but they wanted too much [of my business.] I refused both of their offers.

    “LINGsCARS.com has more than doubled turnover to £28m in 2007 and I am really glad I walked away.”

    “Businesses who jump at their first offer must be desperate or barmy,” she added.

    Duane Jackson, managing director at Kashflow, advised: “Many business owners don’t realise that if they kept a better eye on their business expense they would probably not need to approach television shows for funding and could get a much better offer either from a private financial backer or the banks.”

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    "BLOGSTORM"
    It all started with a gravestone

    Feb 20th 2008, by Patrick Altoft



    It all started with a gravestone.



    On a motor industry forum, some contributor had posted about a man called Jeff Smith, who is a well-respected and well-known UK Motor Industry trainer. Jeff runs www.askinsight.com. As well as speaking at conferences and product launches around the world, Jeff continues to work with motor manufacturers developing training courses for their dealer networks and he also runs open training courses and bespoke in-house programmes for individual dealerships and major groups. You get the idea of his provenance.

    So, I took this silly post on this quiet forum and thinking it looked like an epitaph, turned it into a gravestone – pointing out that I was doing this to make the post look silly, not Jeff himself. I had quite a lot of respect for Jeff.

    Now, I did not know Jeff at all, I had never spoken to him. I may sell cars, but I’m certainly not part of the UK motor industry establishment.

    Obviously, someone on the forum knew Jeff Smith and suddenly an email from the great man arrived saying “just for the record, I would like to make the point that as of 15:00 on Tuesday 19 February, I am still very much alive and kicking so don't write me off too quickly :))))))))”. Wow, I was impressed, this man who is the author of the definitive and best selling Motor Trade Key Performance Indicator bible “The KPI Book”, was talking to me! His book provides profit-based guidance in parts, service, sales and general management. It sits on most motor-managers’ desks.

    We exchanged a couple of polite emails and I pointed out to him that my livelihood at LINGsCARS.com depended on generating Google visitors from free searches, who then saw the opportunities in my brand-new, cheap, contract hire cars which are rented for 2 or 3 years. Over 50% of my incoming business is as a result of natural links on Google.

    “Oh”, said Jeff, “I dominate Google with The KPI Book”

    Hmmm, “you dominate Google, huh?”, I said. That was like a red rag to the Chinese bull! “Give me 10 minutes, I’ll put my neck on the line to show you your Google dominance”.

    I had 10 minutes, so I (copied and pasted most of it from Jeff’s website) began to blog (here) about Jeff and his damn book. I included a couple of pictures with nice names, and tried to fit in as many keywords as I could within 10 minutes. Pressed “save”. I panicked. I emailed Jeff Smith: “I’ve put my money where my mouth is. Google is now digesting me and you together. Wait. Either I will fall flat on my face, or I will amaze you.”

    Jeff emailed back “What do I do now?”

    “Search for “The KPI Book”, Mr Dominance”, I told him. I had everything crossed.

    Within 2 minutes the reply: “Whoa!!! Now I'm mega impressed - when can we have coffee? I need to know this stuff.” The results he saw on Google, linking to LINGsCARS.com, astonished him.

    Google: "the kpi book" – LINGsCARS comes 5th

    Google: "service kpi book" - 2nd

    Google "parts kpi book" - 2nd

    Google "read the kpi book" - 3rd

    Google "kpi motor industry" - 4th

    Google "jeff smith the kpi book" - 5th

    Google "jeff smith explains the kpi book" - 2nd

    Google "jeff smith trainer" – 2nd

    Google " motor trade kpi indicators" – 2nd - on this search I even beat Jeff Smith!

    This 10-minute result was impressive, even to me, and especially as Jeff owns the domain www.kpi-book.co.uk. I was beating Amazon, where the book had been available for years! I made sure my blog article was favourable to Jeff Smith and contained a link to his website, I didn’t want to steal his customers. The result of my “domination demonstration” was, I had an instant new friend - one of the Motor Industry’s top guys. It shows the power of blogging and the effects of a clearly written article. Jeff wants to talk to me about using this stuff in his training. Who knows what will come from this?

    Thanks from me, go especially to Patrick Altoft who has given me help and guidance that has enabled me to pull off this 10-minute trick, and thanks to Google, my business lifeline, for working so efficiently, quickly and superbly – as ever!

    Ling

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    "STARTUPS.co.uk"
    Inspiring New Businesses
    Februaury 2008

    Dragons' Den bad value for money, say small businesses



    Nearly 65% of small businesses say that they would turn down an offer from TV programme Dragons’ Den if they didn’t think it represented good value for money.

    According to a survey of just under 750 business owners, accounting software company Kashflow found that businesses would prefer to turn to banks or private backers for a more reasonable rate or split of the business.

    Of those who would accept, 36% said it was because of the experience the dragon could bring to the company, while 27% said they would use it to try and grow their company.

    A further 24% said they would only accept for the positive public relations opportunities.

    Ling Valentine, owner of LINGsCARS.com, is a small business owner who decided to turn down the Dragon’s offers of investment.

    She said: “I had two joint offers from dragons Bannatyne and Farleigh, but they wanted too much [of my business.] I refused both of their offers.

    “LINGsCARS.com has more than doubled turnover to £28m in 2007 and I am really glad I walked away.”

    “Businesses who jump at their first offer must be desperate or barmy,” she added.

    Duane Jackson, managing director at Kashflow, advised: “Many business owners don’t realise that if they kept a better eye on their business expense they would probably not need to approach television shows for funding and could get a much better offer either from a private financial backer or the banks.”





     
    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT AWARDS 2008!"
    27th February, The ICC - Birmingham

    Feb 2008




    Winning an AM Award is about more that getting your face in AM and collecting a trophy at the prestigious black-tie awards ceremony...



    It's a chance to pit yourself against your peers, to give your staff a boost by proving they are the best in the business and to raise the reputation of your company with your customers.

    AM Awards auditor Carter & Carter will call each business that has entered one of the seven company categories to obtain further information on performance and planning before carrying out a full audit of shortlisted companies. Their independent audit will focus on key areas of the business, including business planning, financial performance, people management and customer relationship management. Category changes this year include a new award, Dealer website of the year, and revisions to the two dealership awards - the split is now based on turnover, rather than car sales.

    The host for the evening is Huw Edwards. Huw Edwards anchors the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News. Previously, he was Chief Political Correspondent for BBC News 24 and has hosted the Six O’Clock News. Huw has presented a range of BBC programmes, including Newsnight, Panorama and Breakfast News. He combined this with presenting programmes on classical music for BBC TWO, Radio 3 and Radio 4. He co-hosted General Elections for Radio 4 and presented The Story of Wales, Songs of Praise, and hosted coverage of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Service at St Paul's Cathedral.

    Huw’s other BBC duties include training young journalists. He conducts writing workshops for young people in schools during the year and is a patron of Skillset. In 2005 he was appointed Patron of the National College of Music.

    The RAC are sponsors of the Best Environmental Policy Award, the category entered by LINGsCARS.com. You can read Ling's entry HERE.

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    "SELF MADE MINDS .com"
    Earning by Learning
    Februaury 2008

    Today’s post is an interview with Ling Valentine, she was the 2006 North East Entrepreneur of the year and owns and runs the super successful website LINGsCARS.



    Ling became a legend when she pitched for investment on Dragons Den and famously turned down 2 different offers from the Dragons, you can see a video of her pitch over on the Dragons’ Den site which includes the classic line “Chinese eats dragons for breakfast”.

    Like herself, Ling’s website and blog are exceedingly unique and it proves that if you have the passion and give your customers what they want with excellent service that you can succeed. So without further ado here’s what Ling had to share with us.

    1/ Can you give us specifics as to the traffic you generated through your website through being on BBC2 Dragons Den especially on the night it was aired?

    On the Dragons’ Den night - 14th Feb 2006, after the first minute of the programme, my website activity went mental. I use “WhosOn” (www.whoson.com - fantastic British software) to monitor LINGsCARS.com and live visitors went up to over 550 concurrent. The “clicks” of arriving visitors sounded like a machine-gun! My server was disk-swapping like hell. At one stage the server that monitors the live visitors crashed, too, it was overloaded. On that first night, I had over 5000 unique visitors (between 8pm and midnight). The next day, I had over 10,000 visitors. This volume settled to a doubling of pre-DD levels and has stayed pretty constant since then. All the Google links and stories posted on the web about me helped enormously, of course. I’m always surprised that many other businesses on Dragons’ Den don’t have a website to promote to give instant gratification to the 2m TV viewers.

    ***if you want technical*** My webserver is an AMD-powered unix dedicated server and runs 4GB of RAM. LINGsCARS is programmed mainly in php and ajax and runs a MySQL database.

    2/ You used to sell over £1 million worth of cars a month, can you tell us how much car sales you managed to achieve in 2007 and your targets for ‘08?

    In 2006, I was selling just over £1m of new cars a month, at retail prices. My turnover in 2006 was £125,000 which is finance commission income. In 2007, I have moved over £28m of new cars (£2.3m per month), my commission income reaching over £280,000 (£282,986 to be precise). I am targeting over £40m of new car sales in 2008, to generate a gross income of over £400,000. This seems steep, but I think I can achieve it. Matter of fact, £1m of income would be possible but I am not brave enough to gamble on that much marketing. Plus, I have to cope with the work I generate. I have moved into my new office I bought - “LINGsCARS World Headquarters”. I am planning TV advertising later this year.

    3/ You say the website should be an extension of yourself, do you till update the site yourself or have you managed to delegate and let others take more responsibility, do you still change your website everyday?

    I do live inside my website. I am constantly updating it; I really enjoy to do this. Most of my time is spent modifying or changing and adding cars and prices. I also spend a lot of time monitoring who is visiting the site, using “Who’s On”. For instance, as I type this I can see 30 visitors online, 16 from random Google searches (not AdWords). Often I spend 30 minutes just watching customers navigate around LINGsCARS. I do my best to add some customer letters every day, add news articles and every week I modify at least one form. I employ two part-time IT students from Sunderland University and pay them very good money and feed them free doughnuts. We work on long-term projects such as a customer management side to the website, as well as new features, fun stuff and operational improvements. I have developed 9 extra videos to accompany emails at various stages of my sales process. This means I can take a more hands-off approach, yet customers get “Lingged” more than they ever did before.

    4/ Your website is something on the busy side, is this intentional and do you think it may confuse some of your visitors?

    Yes, it’s intentional. In this World, you generally have just one chance to grab a visitor, and I try to do this by being different. Often visitors can spend a whole hour inside my site. I try to engage with them emotionally instead of the standard about>contact us>home>order approach most companies use. My professionalism is in my service to the customers, but my shop (my website) is as unique in my industry as I can make it. I give customers so much information, treat them like adults not idiots, and allow them to pick and choose what they need. It may confuse some people, but most customers are ABC123 and are quite intelligent enough to find their way around. Most other car sites seem to want to bore people to death instead of entertaining them. Google also seems to like my approach.

    5/ Do you feel your blog helps greatly with traffic flow and sales of cars through to the main part of your website?

    Yes. My blog is mainly auto-updated from my customer letters and my added car deals. Google loves to index it, of course it pings out every time it updates. As well as the blog, a great tool is the live chat. I have dozens of live chats with website visitors each day and have webcams in my office during office hours. I simply try to give the best experience to any website visitor. I can’t work miracles, I’m Chinese - not Catholic; but customers can see I am doing my best for them.

    6/ You are something of a master at offline marketing and promotion can you give us some examples of your must successful offline marketing campaigns?

    Well, they all have an online side to them, my whole purpose is to attract the maximum number of intelligent, credit worthy users to my website.

    I have my nuclear missile truck which brings in loads of visits every time I park it next to a motorway. Unfortunately the town planners don’t like that rocket. Also, I make movies of everything I get up to. I have over 140,000 views of my movies on You Tube. These include my rescue” of Northern Rock, my adventures sponsoring UK Rallycross and photo-shoot for the Financial Times. I offer “free lunch” for 10 visitors every day, and post out “FUKU” brand noodles and Chinese coffee.

    7/ You’ve made a fantastic success with Lings Cars, do you have any other business ideas and plans for the future?

    I would like to start another business, but LINGsCARS takes up all my time. I am really not even scratching the surface; I market to the whole of the UK. This way of financing cars is so popular in America, it takes over 20% of the market. In the UK it takes less than 1%, so you can see the potential.

    I would encourage anyone to have a go at running a business website, it can be lots of fun. As long as you get loads of visitors, that’s the key. I would advise to talk to customers in personal terms, for example to show them who is behind the website and manage email enquiries in double-fast time. In the motor industry (for example) email replies can take between 24-48 hours, that’s not unusual. I speed that up to 24 minutes at the outside. Often I grab customers when they are still logged into to Outlook and they commit after a few ping-pong questions. It’s all common sense really, but very few other businesses in my business sector take the web seriously. Go for it!

    Thank you very much Ling for taking the time to share your answer with our us and our readers, we all wish you every success for the future. If you would like to ask Ling any other questions check out Lings Cars and feel free to drop her a question via a comment.

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    "BLOGSTORM"
    5 Killer Ways to Promote Your Website Offline

    Jan 7th 2008, by Patrick Altoft


    Print your url on a fake rocket

    Former Dragons Den contestant and winner of North East Entrepreneur of the Year Ling Valentine has a unique method of promoting her car leasing website.

    In 2005 Ling had a 6 wheeled military truck imported from the People’s Liberation Army in Shanghai and her husband built a giant nuclear missile to go on top. The truck was parked next to the A1 motorway in North East England for a couple of years before being moved to one of the busiest motorways in Western Europe, the M62, where it remains.

    Millions of motorists see the missile truck every year and it is no doubt a much better investment than any online advertising campaign in such a competitive industry.



    Pitch in the Dragons Den

    Hundreds of companies pitch in the Dragons Den every year but only a few of them are web based businesses. Some of the most famous are Lings Cars (owner of the rocket above), Gaming Alerts and most recently Hungry House.

    The one thing these sites have in common is a huge influx of traffic after the show. The day after Hungry House were on TV thousands of people were searching for them on Google and even competing sites saw an increase in business because of it. Their Alexa Rank went through the roof and continues to rise even today.

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    "LIFE OUT LOUD .co.uk"
    Website for the over 50's
    December 2007

    Ling slams disabled VAT scammers



    The UK's only female, Chinese new car dealer has slammed fraudsters operating a multi-million-pound scam involving the tax-free sale of top of the range luxury cars.

    The cars, including Range Rovers, Land Rover Discoverys, Bentleys and an Aston Martin - are being bought VAT-free as part of a tax break to help the handicapped.

    The vehicles are then resold to dealers who share in the profits from the 17.5% VAT saving. In some cases the car never leaves the showroom as it is bought back by the dealer who sold it. Two weeks ago, South Yorkshire police arrested six people as part of an investigation into VAT fraud on cars such as Lamborghinis and Maseratis that had been adapted for disabled users.

    Ling Valentine, owner of online car contract-hire company LINGsCARS.com, which is based in Gateshead, said, "It seems to be just the tip of the iceberg". She has slammed these greedy disabled customers; as well as senior management of dealers and manufacturers who, she says "must be complicit in these multi-million pound scams".

    "This VAT scam seems to have become widespread in the past 18 months. It spread by word of mouth among some unscrupulous disabled people and once they saw how easy it was, they were all for it. A number of major dealers seem to be turning a blind eye to repeated purchases of luxury cars again and again by the same disabled customers. The scammers earn between £1,000 and £3,000 on each purchase, which could be just half an hour's work as the paperwork and financing is often organised for them. In order to obtain the tax break, disabled people have to confirm that the car is being purchased for their own use. The dealer takes a photograph of the interior of the car to show that it has been adapted. It's an absolute disgrace".

    In reality, some people are given the cash to buy their cars by middlemen who already had customers for the car. For example, a scammer could buy a new Luxury Range Rover worth £62,000 for just £53,000 once the VAT has been deducted. The middlemen then buy the car back for perhaps £55,000, leaving the scammer with a £2,000 profit.

    The car is then bought by a dealership for £57,000 who could sell it on. The spoils can be even greater on some of the more expensive luxury cars such as the Bentley GTC, which can cost more than £145,000 new.

    These are not the only scams being conducted, according to car-boss Valentine. "Last year I was repeatedly offered a number of Nissan Navara pick-ups which attracted additional factory (Nissan staff) discounts, I was told to offer these to individuals and businesses at reduced rates. It turned out to be a scam; I saw an email asking for people to register them in their names for the payment of £50 each. I saw right through it. It seems this underhand activity goes on in many forms. Apart from greed by the individuals, financial strains on unprofitable car dealerships probably play a large part. In my experience, senior dealership management often turn a blind eye to these tactics, certainly there must be some high-level complicity. I would be happy to expose dodgy dealers that are trying to pull a fast one over the authorities. More dealers should speak up about what is going on."

    Stephen Fox, a fraud expert at national law firm Ralli, said: "It may not actually be illegal and there are certain loopholes that may be exploited. A scheme to evade would be illegal as would a conspiracy to cheat but merely benefiting from the scheme when it is a term that you do not do so may be a civil breach of contract. A disabled car dealer who changes his car say twice per annum could be an interesting scenario.

    "The evidence that may be used against these people may not even stand up in court. It is not surprising to me that so many people are getting caught up in this scam and that dealers are being approached to collude in this sort of activity. VAT fraud is big business which costs the authorities billions of pounds but it is a grey area and there many innocent people embroiled in it.


    Internet car entrepreneur Valentine claims some dealers, manufacturers and suppliers gag her from "critical" publicity about cars. She says that a major Japanese manufacturer has officially "black-listed" her partly because she published truthful customer letters about their new cars on her website, LINGsCARS.com. She displays over 600 fully attributed customer letters and says she refuses to gag her customers or doctor the hundreds of letters she receives. "I am often told I should be more careful about being truthful", she adds, "but that is one reason I prefer the UK to China, and speaking the truth here seems like the right thing to do".

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    "BLOGSTORM"
    The World's Top 10 WORST Websites

    Oct 31st 2007, by Patrick Altoft


    Do you ever open up a really badly designed website and wish you hadn't? I've had the misfortune to visit a few shocking sites recently and here is a list of the very worst. If you are a designer feel free to send them an email offering your services.

    If your website is on this list please don't be offended, although you may wish to consider a redesign.

    Top of our list and probably the worst of the bunch is this UK insurance company. Not content with using yellow and pale green on the same page they have made the page refresh every single second just so you don't miss it. Also check out the quality pages such as this one with more html errors (check the title tag) than you can count. Extra points granted due to the waste of a good domain name.

    Its not really clear what (or who) Franz is but you won't miss that "Home" button. The title is nice and descriptive as well.

    MSY is an Australian technology company boasting "more than 10 years in the computer industry". Unfortunately their definition of "computer industry" clearly doesn't encompass web design as pages such as this one selling Flash memory and other assorted products demonstrates.

    Seriously this is painful to watch. Would you hire VF Designer?

    This online ministry website seems to think that making people blind will help spread the faith. They even helpfully provide a series of well designed banners for you to use when you link to them.

    This image heavy Norwegian gadget site has more pictures than flickr and takes an age to load thanks to the html image resizing. It didn't seem to render properly in any of my browsers.

    Another site wasting a great domain name is 00.com which utilises the least user friendly Flash navigation system we have had the pleasure to use.

    Web Wizz have been given the dubious honour of having designed two sites on the list. Lets hope www.posture.co.uk is suitably pleased with the design work. Helpfully Web Wizz will register a domain name for just £89.99 initially, plus £2 per month.

    Ling's Cars was featured recently on the BBC's Dragons Den program and really tries hard to provide a personal touch to her car leasing website. Unfortunately this means ignoring a few of the user friendly features on more conventional sites. Just try navigating round a few pages and you will see that the mass of information at the top isn't just on the homepage, its on all the pages.

    Helpfully Ling has created a nice guide on how you should be building your site: "Most business make mistake of paying a company to build page, without learning. Learn! Modify, change. Don't pay the idiots to do this, do it yourself. Treat webpage like business office or shop. If you want to move a desk in office you move it. Put calendar on wall, you put. Do the same on website. Do every day. So simple. All your customers can see this. They get "feeling" from it."

    Ling responds to being a Top 10 Worst Website

    It seems that Ling is loving the publicity of being in my list of the Top 10 Worst Websites, you can read her comment here. That (Worst Websites) post has had over 30,000 readers so far
    (WOW! - Ling) so it must have sent a lot of traffic to the sites involved but only Ling has responded with a comment to show she cares about her online reputation.

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    "BBC Radio TEES"
    Local radio for Teesside
    25th October 2007

    BBC Interview


    BBC Radio Tees called me and said they wanted an interview about 6-months on after Dragons' Den. So I jumped in my car and nipped to Middlesbrough for a chat with ex-Emmerdale star Alex Hall. Video below...

    Here's the movie!


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    "BBC BOOKS"

    Dragons' Den - SUCCESS from pitch to profit

    Published Oct 1st 2007


    Extract from Dragons' Den, Success from pitch to profit...
    A lesson in Sales and Marketing: Ling Valentine and LINGsCARS.com



    ...Deborah, frustrated by Ling's ability to present any plausible financial answers, arrived at the same conclusion as her colleagues: 'You have a lot of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur but I couldn't work with you because you can't give a straight answer,' she explained. 'For me you've absolutely lost credibility. I'm very disappointed.' Deborah, too, withdrew from any possible bidding.

    Ling, however, feels their questioning was unfair: 'At the time, Lingscars.com was a partnership. Consequently, I did not have any corporation tax figure or audited accounts. It's quite impossible for a partnership to provide these and it was unfair of Theo to demand them just to make me look like I did not know how much money I was earning.'

    Three down and two to go and it appeared that Ling's appealing pitch had perhaps championed style over substance. Richard, not for the first time, was about to buck the trend. 'I think you're a good business person,' he began. 'You've created a good business with great turnover and you have a good reputation. I have an issue with the valuation, but just to get things moving I'd like to offer you half the money, but it's going to be a completely different valuation to what you're talking about. I would like to offer you £25,000 for 20 per cent.' This was well short of the kind of investment to equity ratio that Ling was looking for, but she remained quiet as Duncan weighed in. Clearly charmed, the Scottish millionaire felt that Lingscars.com could grow into a nice business and matched Richard's offer.

    Ling had been looking for £50,000 for 5 per cent - here was an offer of £50,000 for a whopping 40 per cent. Ling did not blink as she refused the offer. The effect was immediate. Theo laughed, Peter gasped and Duncan replied, in disbelief: 'You're turning us down?' It was another example of Ling's headstrong belief in herself and the business. Staring Duncan right in the eye she uttered a Line that is now immortalised on her website, where she glories in her encounter in the Den:

    'Well, Chinese eat Dragons for breakfast! I would say 5 per cent each, 10 per cent in total.'

    Richard was once again measured in his response and between himself and Duncan an improved deal for 30 per cent of the company was tendered. To the incredulity of the Dragons, Ling remained completely unmoved. 'Thank you. I refuse it.' Theo, perhaps surprised that Duncan and Richard had even made such an offer, could contain himself no longer:

    'Ling - think about it. It's a fantastic offer. It's an unbelievable offer. Take their money.' Deborah concurred and for a moment it looked as if Ling had a real dilemma on her hands, but she didn't. She thanked them again and she refused them again and retreated back down the stairs.

    You can download this chapter of the book (shown below) as a pdf to print, HERE (2.6 Mb)

    You can buy this book (discounted) at Amazon, HERE

    Read the whole chapter HERE


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    "NEWCASTLE JOURNAL"
    Today's Voice of the North
    22nd September 2007

    Help keep the Rock Northern

    by Paul James

    Valentine delivers the goods

    NORTH entrepreneur Ling Valentine has given Northern Rock her own unique brand of support – investing £10,000 in the process.

    The managing director of Gateshead-based car leasing business lingscars.com, she took her own London bus across the Tyne to bank her wad of cash in Newcastle city centre. Her trip has been captured on film and is on the video sharing site youtube.com for others to enjoy and draw inspiration.

    Yesterday she said she hopes the gesture will help turn the tide of adverse publicity which has resulted in withdrawals from the bank.

    Chinese-born Ling, who attracted national attention by her appearance on television’s Dragon’s Den, said: "I think the run on Northern Rock is stupid and ridiculous. People are acting like sheep, afraid of shadows.

    "I came to this country as penniless immigrant from a totalitarian country. I know which governments you can trust. I have complete faith in British banking system and the Government’s word.

    "This is not Zimbabwe. This is not Russia. If a British Government Minister says my money is safe, that’s good enough for me.

    "I drove to Northern Rock in my 1966 London bus to pay in my £10,000. I eat dragons for breakfast, remember – £10,000 is a lot of money to me but I’m happy to put my money where my mouth is."


    Here's the movie!


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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    Sept 12th 2007

    The Big Picture: Customers will dictate future


    What is the future for the car retail industry? In 10 years’ time, will there still be 6,000 dealerships, most single or dual franchised? Or will there be a network of 200 supercentres selling every car brand supported by 10,000 repairers?

    The debate over waste and efficiency is producing some interesting arguments on the AM Forum.

    On one side is Ling Valentine, the devoted clipper of dealers’ wings. She believes customers would jump at the chance to visit associated shops where they can look at every car. It would be a bit like, in Ling’s words, “a motor show all year long”.

    But there are 366 new model ranges on the market (not including derivatives). It would take a mighty facility to display all those and do them justice. Customers probably don’t want to see them all but they will want a test drive. Ling’s vision is for rental companies offering fast rentals, of an hour or more.

    On the other side are franchised dealers who believe the current structure is best for the 2.4 million new car buyers and the seven million used car customers.

    Neither side has the total answer. There is certainly a lot of inefficiency in the current set up, which is being partly addressed by the growth in multi-brand sites and retail parks and the moves by some dealers to shift repair on to cheaper industrial estates.

    It is also being aided by the internet, which enables people to whittle down their choice to two or three cars (that’s now the average number of showrooms a customer visits before making a purchase).

    Ling’s vision is too restricted to meet everyone’s needs and creates its own complications. She views the car as a lump of metal, but many owners view it as their most prized possession.

    And that’s the beauty of people – every one is an individual. There isn’t a one size fits all solution.

    The motor industry already offers people choice. They can buy from a dealer, online, from a multi-brand car supermarket or via a contract hire supplier.

    Ultimately customers will dictate how the market structure changes by voting with their wallets.

    By Stephen Briers, EDITOR
    Automotive Management Magazine

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    "AUTOWIRED"
    Leading UK motoring news site
    06 Sept 2007

    Ling slams disabled VAT scammers



    The UK's only female, Chinese new car dealer has slammed fraudsters operating a multi-million-pound scam involving the tax-free sale of top of the range luxury cars.

    The cars, including Range Rovers, Land Rover Discoverys, Bentleys and an Aston Martin - are being bought VAT-free as part of a tax break to help the handicapped.

    The vehicles are then resold to dealers who share in the profits from the 17.5% VAT saving. In some cases the car never leaves the showroom as it is bought back by the dealer who sold it. Two weeks ago, South Yorkshire police arrested six people as part of an investigation into VAT fraud on cars such as Lamborghinis and Maseratis that had been adapted for disabled users.

    Ling Valentine, owner of online car contract-hire company LINGsCARS.com, which is based in Gateshead, said, "It seems to be just the tip of the iceberg". She has slammed these greedy disabled customers; as well as senior management of dealers and manufacturers who, she says "must be complicit in these multi-million pound scams".

    "This VAT scam seems to have become widespread in the past 18 months. It spread by word of mouth among some unscrupulous disabled people and once they saw how easy it was, they were all for it. A number of major dealers seem to be turning a blind eye to repeated purchases of luxury cars again and again by the same disabled customers. The scammers earn between £1,000 and £3,000 on each purchase, which could be just half an hour's work as the paperwork and financing is often organised for them. In order to obtain the tax break, disabled people have to confirm that the car is being purchased for their own use. The dealer takes a photograph of the interior of the car to show that it has been adapted. It's an absolute disgrace".

    In reality, some people are given the cash to buy their cars by middlemen who already had customers for the car. For example, a scammer could buy a new Luxury Range Rover worth £62,000 for just £53,000 once the VAT has been deducted. The middlemen then buy the car back for perhaps £55,000, leaving the scammer with a £2,000 profit.

    The car is then bought by a dealership for £57,000 who could sell it on. The spoils can be even greater on some of the more expensive luxury cars such as the Bentley GTC, which can cost more than £145,000 new.

    These are not the only scams being conducted, according to car-boss Valentine. "Last year I was repeatedly offered a number of Nissan Navara pick-ups which attracted additional factory (Nissan staff) discounts, I was told to offer these to individuals and businesses at reduced rates. It turned out to be a scam; I saw an email asking for people to register them in their names for the payment of £50 each. I saw right through it. It seems this underhand activity goes on in many forms. Apart from greed by the individuals, financial strains on unprofitable car dealerships probably play a large part. In my experience, senior dealership management often turn a blind eye to these tactics, certainly there must be some high-level complicity. I would be happy to expose dodgy dealers that are trying to pull a fast one over the authorities. More dealers should speak up about what is going on."

    Stephen Fox, a fraud expert at national law firm Ralli, said: "It may not actually be illegal and there are certain loopholes that may be exploited. A scheme to evade would be illegal as would a conspiracy to cheat but merely benefiting from the scheme when it is a term that you do not do so may be a civil breach of contract. A disabled car dealer who changes his car say twice per annum could be an interesting scenario.

    "The evidence that may be used against these people may not even stand up in court. It is not surprising to me that so many people are getting caught up in this scam and that dealers are being approached to collude in this sort of activity. VAT fraud is big business which costs the authorities billions of pounds but it is a grey area and there many innocent people embroiled in it.


    Internet car entrepreneur Valentine claims some dealers, manufacturers and suppliers gag her from "critical" publicity about cars. She says that a major Japanese manufacturer has officially "black-listed" her partly because she published truthful customer letters about their new cars on her website, LINGsCARS.com. She displays over 600 fully attributed customer letters and says she refuses to gag her customers or doctor the hundreds of letters she receives. "I am often told I should be more careful about being truthful", she adds, "but that is one reason I prefer the UK to China, and speaking the truth here seems like the right thing to do".

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    "HIT VIDEOLAR - Some bloody Turkish video site"
    From on hill of mid-land
    July 2007


    Ling's new Routemaster London bus - Ling at LINGsCARS.com

    Bilgi: All aboard as Ling Valentine creates the UK's first travelling mobile office Immigrant entrepreneur LING VALENTINE has hit the road with her online car-leasing firm -- by turning a London bus into a high-tech travelling office and showroom. 40,000 Britons rushed to the forecourts on September 1st to buy new registration "57" cars but Valentine says the increasing trend for changing cars...

    This is some bloody Turkish (I think) YouTube site that keeps posting videos about me. Apparently I am very popular in Islamist Turkish Republic. Must remember not to wear a headscarf. Illegal, apparently. I am confused.

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    "INFORM NORTH, the North East's leading magazine for enterprise and change"

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    "WEALTH MONITOR, part of the Financial Times (FT) Group"
    August 2007


    Ling Valentine, the owner of Gateshead-based LingsCars, is currently hoping to expand and bolster the group and by the end of 2008, will "have a think about what [she is] going to do."

    Valentine said this in an interview about her plans for the vehicle leasing business she took on in 2002, in which she and her husband are both shareholders.

    Turnover this year could hit the GBP 20m to GBP 24m (EUR 29m - EUR 35m) mark, she said, up from GBP 2.5m in the first year of business.

    Born in China, Valentine moved to the UK at 24 and now lives with her English husband Jon whom she had married in Finland, with another wedding reception in China. After working with other people, Valentine said, "I thought I might do better."

    LingsCars was previously PMH Contract Hire, which has changed names since Valentine took it on. Her website is a colourful one with images of the cars for hire competing with many others, all under the tagline, "I live inside this website Monday to Friday 9am-6pm, to give you the very best service and make your experience a happy one!
    - I am Ling, accept no substitutes."


    Valentine recently garnered an Entrepreneur of the Year award Sponsored by One North East and run by Durham Business School and Women Into The Network [WIN]. The laurel proved a mixed blessing, however. Valentine had been unable to attend the ceremony to pick up the trophy and so sent friend Lina Liang in her stead. Much to Valentine's horror, Liang, a "ballsy China-bird," did not appear on photos of the event and the people on that photo are all white. Valentine carried the full tale on her website and the original photo has since been replaced.

    Ling also appeared on the BBC series Dragons' Den [in which entrepreneurs bid for financial support for their ventures] in February. She turned down an offer of GBP 50,000, but according to her public relations agency, saw her online profile substantially bolstered by the appearance.

    In a vivid online Q&A style online biography, Valentine describes her background. She hails from China where her mother is a well-known dentist. Valentine attended university in Guangzhou province. She has also earned a master's in environmental quality from Bournemouth. In the same section of the website, she describes herself as "hotheaded." On average once a year, she visits her native land, where her parents and sister still live.

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    "JAPANESE WEB-BLOG"
    From on hill of mid-land
    July 2007


    Before you say it, this makes no sense. I have never understood bloody Japanese. But Google has translated like POETRY, hehehe... - Ling

    In night of Saturday “Dragon's Den - Where are they now?” You saw.

    The English edition “Dragon's Den” “of tiger of knowing money”. Those challengers “after that” it was the program which is chased.

    “Dragon's Den” well enough is favorite program. The company which searches the new partner, comes to sale betting on screen, as for me who do the work which relates to the start-up of business and/or with it says. Even now without being thrown away the point of view, there are many times when it stands on dragon side. The husband and the business finance financing and the like the work handle which is taught, to be unusual the married couple doing, be able to admire, it is the program where at the same time opinion agrees.

    “(Word of the dragon) is too hard at standpoint of challenger side!” With it removes and scared is the “(The challenger) the face washing at standpoint of dragon side, come again!” With you hit, you hit, you say.

    So, in the program of Saturday 2 people doing, “it can be able be able be able be able to do!!!” Instead of with you say falls to speech less state the scene which.

    As for the challenger being the Chinese woman of the car dealer, “Share can do at the point in time when the lowness which cannot there be 5%” “is requested!” But there is offer from the dragon 2. The other dragon “this offer the one which is received is good”, that you say relation When refusing that, in word “!!!!!” Don't you think? “Well and Chinese people eat dragons for breakfast”

    Which it does, does…

    It is the word which is not made from the mouth of this Japanese. Truth it cracked.

    But as for her the reason which you go away with the hand and others as for business the best condition. By the way, they are 33 years old of crossing over English 8 years, so. In courage and it takes hat off in English ability.

    Because original broadcast was February, already in YouTube various comments. But all the compilation English the person who is please.

    Quite mad, but since when have Japanese been anything but :)

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    "NORTHERN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY"
    July 2007


    Ling Valentine is certainly a unique personality. Aged 33, she had only arrived in the UK 8 years before, having arrived from China with nothing "apart from perfect Ingrish" - a great sense of humour and real guts. After five years she had created a £1M pounds per month turnover business that offered car leasing deals through a website.

    Her marketing techniques are eye-catching and original - go and look at her current website! She understands how to grab attention by breaking all the rules. And she certainly wins the hearts and admiration of the dragons with her confidence and her personality.

    She was looking for £50,000 to finance a new website for her business, in exchange for a 5% share.

    But she was not on top of the figures, and this is a good lesson for others - if you're pitching for money, you have to know the detail of your accounts and be absolutely ready to discuss it. This loses her credibility and possibly a great deal.

    The last two Dragons are not happy with the valuation of the business, so come up with 50K pounds for a massive 40% share. She turns them down, saying "In China we eat Dragons for Breakfast!" and negotiates hard, but still ends up turning down the final offer for a 30% stake. The Dragons are dumbfounded.

    The lessons are powerful in terms of preparing to pitch - but also in terms of being sure about what you want. Ling was clear that she wasn't going to give away 30%, even though the Dragons unanimously told her to rethink. And she's gone on to be successful without them.

    It's an inspiring performance from a young entrepreneur - and she's a woman, and she's an immigrant from an ethnic minority. Good on Ling!

    Jane Moreland - strategic marketing consultancy

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    "ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA"
    Sharing knowledge since 1768
    July 2007


    A Bluetooth hang-up.

    This article reports that the British car rental company LINGsCARS.com is warning clients to switch off Bluetooth devices when leaving them in the vehicle. Enterprising criminals are strolling through parking lots holding Bluetooth phones that pick up any nearby Bluetooth signals. It's then a simple matter for the villain to home in on the signal, pry open the trunk or door and depart with a laptop, personal digital assistant or cell phone. Bluetooth is a wireless signal that allows digital devices to communicate with each other.

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    "PUBLICITY HEAVEN"
    Expert help from media insiders
    July 2007


    Ling from Dragons' Den

    "Just watched the last Dragons' Den on Sky+. How did I forget to visit Ling's website??? Lingscars.com is the most unusual website I think I’ve ever seen... it's brilliant… what do you expect from a woman who uses a Chinese nuclear missle to promote her car leases?"


    Paul Green, free publicity expert.

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    "Tiscali Business"
    Internet Portal
    July 2007


    Did Ling really miss out?

    "Many women might not feel too happy if their husband built a rocket with their wife's face on the side. But Chinese-born Ling Valentine was delighted by "superhusband" Jon's efforts.

    In fact it was her idea to use the rocket to advertise their personal and business contract car hire website, Lingscars.com.

    Originally the rocket, perched on top of a truck imported from Shanghai, was parked by the side of the busy A1 near Darlington. The story of the truck, which was eventually moved on by the council, provided a rare moment of mirth when Ling appeared on the BBC2 programme Dragons' Den.

    Ling, 34, who runs her website from her home in Gateshead, tried to persuade the show's five millionaires, the "dragons", to invest £50,000 in return for a five percent share in her company. While the panel was impressed by Ling's entrepreneurial flair they were worried about her vagueness over financial figures, particularly pre-tax profits. Peter Jones described her lack of business nous as terrifying.

    But when two dragons offered her £50,000 in return for a 15 per cent share each Ling stunned the panel by turning them down. Her final comment that: "The Chinese eat dragons for breakfast", made her a mini hero on the internet.

    Looking back at her TV appearance she says it was "good fun but the dragons were just too greedy. Beforehand I'd decided I would be prepared to give away ten per cent but suddenly I'd had enough and walked away." But the experience wasn't all bad.

    "It's made me think about the future of the company more and I do spend time reading the financial press now."

    Ling's customers are mostly individuals and small businesses and she earns commission for every deal that is signed. She believes renting brand new cars holds many advantages. "It offers new technology, people like new toys and you don't have to worry about the residual value."

    Although Jon's background is in cars, Ling studied chemistry at university in China before moving to Finland to take an MSc. She spent a lot of time in internet chat rooms because "the weather wasn't enjoyable" and 'met' Jon in one devoted to China, although she still doesn't know what he was doing there. They married in Helsinki in 1997 and she considers herself 'Chinglish'. In England she started working for the CarShock car supermarket chain which Jon helped run. She jokes that he asked her to join because she was "cheap labour" but it was here that she learnt about the contract hire business and decided to set up her own business five years ago.

    Ling puts her success down to personal service, low overheads and a fully computerised system that she built herself. "I live on the internet," she says. This includes being available for a live chat with customers during office hours. Her success has won her titles such as North-East Entrepreneur of the Year and the Woman in Retail Award.

    Her website is at the heart of the business and is bursting with competitions, strange photos and examples of Ling's irreverent humour. Visitors can apply for the same free lunch of noodles that she offered the dragons and winners of a poetry competition will receive a 'genuine red book' by Chairman Mao.

    But the website has a serious side. Ling has a Master's Degree in Environmental Quality from Bournemouth University and is proud of her 'green credentials'. She supplies detailed environmental information, such as CO2 emissions, about most vehicles on her list and also tips about how to be a 'greener motorist'. Under a photo of the American film star she adds, "Be like Minnie, Be a lovely Driver".

    Ling admits that she works very hard and even takes her laptop with her on trips home to China so that she can carry on with the business. She relaxes by playing table tennis or visiting the gym. Asked what she would do differently if she was starting up her business again she says she would take fewer holidays. These days she can't remember the last time she took a break."

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    June 2007


    The Great, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly! - you decide...



    How amazed I am to be featured on the motor industry Automotive Management website in their list of top industry video interviews...

    Squeezed in between Paul Philpott (the head of Kia Motors UK), the Honda UK head of sales (Bernard Bradley), Chris Hayden (CEO of Ford Retail), and Roelant de Waard - Ford of Britain boss... there I am - little me! I must say, I have never been invited to one of their cocktail parties!!

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    "EdExcel"
    A-Level Examination Specialists
    June 2007


    EdExcel is the UK’s largest awarding body, providing academic and vocational qualifications to more than 25,000 places of learning here, and in over 100 countries worldwide. In the UK, EdExcel offers qualifications and testing in more than 24,000 schools, 450 further education colleges, more than 80 higher education institutions, 600 public and private sector employers and, increasingly, e-learning providers.

    They prepare courses, assess, examine, quality control and certify achievement. Their qualifications include A levels, GCSEs, GNVQs, Key and Basic Skills, and the vocational BTEC suite that provides progression from pre GCSE level through to sub-degree Higher National Diplomas and tailor-made qualifications for employers. They also offer a range of Foundation degrees.

    EdExcel have chosen LINGsCARS as an A-Level examination question!

    Ling says, "I am so pleased to be able to put some effort in and offer myself up to long-haired, drug addled students for dissection of my business... I have worked with EdExcel to draft a great exam question, which is obviously not available for publication, so I have blurred it (left) - the sensible students would read it and cheat - but I hope it shows that I am willing to invest in non-profit areas which will benefit young people in the UK and abroad. Good luck to them!"

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    "TILE DOCTOR"
    The UK's leading Tile and Stone Maintenance Business


    Tile Doctor is a UK based business for tile cleaning, stone cleaning, grout cleaning and tile, stone and grout sealing.


    The specialised nature of the services Tile Doctor provides are beyond the abilities of regular cleaning companies and are of little interest to the typical tiling contractor. Tile Doctor services this niche market.

    Their mission is to make Tile Doctor a house hold name for Tile, Stone and Grout Maintenance. Franchising provides a great framework for this expansion and will allow their success to be shared with like minded individuals looking to start their own business and break into this new sector.

    On their website, Tile Doctor recommends LINGsCARS!

    "You will need a vehicle to get around between jobs and we recommend a small van such as the Volkswagen Caddy for this purpose. We find contract hire is a very efficient way of financing this, check out LINGsCARS.com for some great deals."

    I am very proud that this growing business has chosen me to be their first port of call for franchisees looking for a new van!

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    May 18th 2007

    "THE FUTURE FOR CAR RETAILING?"

    Labelled a 'parasite', Ling Valentine puts her case for contract hire



    She's been called a parasite, a deranged internet freak and a blatant publicist, but she's also the north-east woman entrepreneur of 2006. And one look at her accounts reveals that Ling Valentine is enjoying levels of profit that no dealer can match.

    Pre-tax profits hit £71,000 last year on a turnover of £125,000 - a 56.8% return on sales in an industry that averages 0.7%. In fact, her profit performance is equivalent to a £10m turnover dealership. Valentine's advantage is not having to endure the huge overheads of a dealership; her contract hire business is internet-based and run out of an office in her house.

    So does this business model, as she claims, point to the future for car retail? "We're something fresh in the industry. If dealers were so good then there would be no need for us to exist", says Valentine.

    Business is about customers

    "My website is always up to date. I get eight to 10 proposal forms every day and in April I invoiced £22,492 worth of sales."

    "The fact that I sell cars isn't important - the business is about selling excellent customer service. All my advertising is about myself, not the cars. Dealers think it's all about the cars but customers like to have fun instead of going to a serious showroom."
    "The sale is very passive. I don't try to push anything - I'm just laying out the products and asking 'what do you want to choose'?"

    Ah yes, the advertising. Since launching LINGsCARS.com three years ago, Valentine has used a variety of wacky, weird and sometimes tacky marketing techniques to become one of the most well-known contract hire suppliers in the UK. "I don't want to offend anyone, I just want to have fun and have a laugh. I treat customers like adults, not idiots", she says.

    Chinese missile truck

    Advertising is her biggest expense. Last year she invested £25,000, which will double this year as she looks to take turnover to £200,000. Valentine owns a Chinese missile truck, complete with a hand-made, branded rocket, and an original London bus. She uses the bus to show customers about the business. Meanwhile, the truck has stood in fields at the side of busy roads up and down the UK and also featured in Valentine's Dragons' Den appearance on February 14th. "Those 10 minutes on the BBC means the truck has basically paid for itself", says Valentine.

    Her appearance on the entrepreneurial show brought her to the attention of the public, but it also drew criticism, mainly due to het lack of knowledge of her finances. "I was a partnership, not a Limited Company, so my figures were done differently. But I'm not secretive about them. I'd been in there for three hours and I was getting bored", says Valentine in her defence. The Dragons did make her an offer - £50,000 for a 30% share in the business. Valentine turned them down.

    Valentine's business is her website. She uses it to promote contract hire and lists the best finance deals she can find. Customers fill in proposal forms and if the qualify for finance, they can contract-hire a car.

    LINGsCARS.com works with a number of finance companies such as BMW Finance and Citroen Finance, but most deals come through Lombard, Bank of Scotland and Lex. "They own the cars, not me. I never see the cars, I just source them", explains Valentine, who handled £12.5m worth of new vehicles last year. Suppliers include Pendragon-owned Reg Vardy and CD Bramall, as well as carmakers. "Dealers want to sell as many cars as possible and lots approach me. I'll try them for a couple of deals and see how it goes. There are some I've been using for years. I look for good communication and honesty from those I work with. It's all so political, though. If a dealer supplies me with cars, no-one has to know. Many of them claim the sale for themselves. But if the dealer messes me around they get chopped. I have a choice and if someone's not good enough, I go somewhere else."

    Valentine strives to conduct the majority of her business through email and says she gets hundreds every day. One of the three monitors she works from is permanently set to her email. "Why work with just one monitor?" she asks. "It's like burying your phone under the carpet. With email, you have everything written down, so there can be no confusion."

    Everything runs from home

    Valentine currently runs everything from her office at home, where she works alongside her husband Jon, who looks after the marketing and Mark Stoddart, a student at Sunderland University. She plans to have a section on her website where customers can get free advice (relating to their motoring experience) from a solicitor. Other ideas for expansion include offering car accessories.

    Over the next few months Valentine plans to turn her business from a partnership to a Limited Company (done - Ling). "I know my strengths and limitations. I don't have a motor industry background", she says. "I didn't start out working in a car dealership or a finance company. I want someone who can see the opportunity that's here, who can take the business and build it - a super-duper here from the motor industry!"

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    "BLYTON CIRCUIT
    RALLYCROSS PROGRAMME
    "

    May 2007


    "Hello! Here we are again, sat on wet grass in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the bloody racing to begin! It seems ages since the last meeting. Glad to see you back."

    "I might have a damp green arse, but now I have a green pricelist, too!"

    "Since Croft, as well as adding the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic (battery supplied) to my price list, I have been offered the new SAAB BioPower cars to sell. Because of this I am keen to know exactly when biofuel will be on the agenda for Rallycross! In my opinion we all need to be pushing as hard as possible for change towards greener fuels. Changes to this sport that might provoke interest, argument and discussion are great, I think. The more publicity and noise we can make, and the more newspaper headlines we can shout about, the better."

    "But I am a novice at Rallycross, what do I know? So what if all the engines blow up and the cars will have to be pushed around the track, hehehe. Budget, what budget?"

    "Despite your reservations about new-fangled stuff, you should pay attention that when biofuel is used in road-going BioPower SAABs, it increases the power by up to 25bhp! Yes, I know you cannot buy biofuel anywhere yet except one Morrison’s store in Essex, but that is hardly the point… people whinged about unleaded fuel 20 years ago. I am quite excited about this. And biofuel smells of dandelions. I think."

    "On TV the Top Gear idiots are making petrol from rapeseed. In Wales strange ethnic people have been running diesels on chip fat for years. Now I have BioPower cars to sell!"

    "Please note, I have had a word with God about the weather, so it should be fine today. Less sunny is the thought that for the round near Dover, I have to drive my 40mph London bus 400 miles there and 400 miles back! Pass the pro-plus."

    "I rent cheap brand-new cars for 2 or 3 years! Pay attention. Come and see me on my bus. I don’t bite! - Ling!"

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    "FRESH RADIO"
    THE Radio Station Of The Year for Yorkshire and the North East
    16th May 2007


    LINGsCARS.com/OLYMPUS
    camera competition



    Fresh Radio, the radio station of the year in the North East runs an on-air competition to win the latest Olympus camera and 5 x pairs of LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series tickets.

    Fresh Radio has been named Yorkshire & The North East Radio Station Of The Year in the Radio Academy's 'Nations and Regions Award' for 2006. As part of their decision, judges praised Fresh Radio’s coverage of local issues saying that: “The station successfully combines serious delivery with human personality and appeals to a wide audience in the community.”

    Fresh Radio teamed up with Ling to run a Rallycross competition, giving away 5 x pairs of Blyton Circuit tickets and an award-winning OLYMPUS u725SW shock-proof, water-proof digital camera, worth £300!

    The u725 SW is waterproof to a depth of 5m and shockproof to a drop from 1.5m, with 7.1 million pixels and a sharp 3x optical zoom (equiv. to 38-114mm on a 35mm camera). BrightCapture Technology ensures great results are possible even in low-light conditions. Whether it's being taken snorkelling in a rock pool, mountain biking over rough terrain, or put in the hands of a butterfingered four-year-old, you need never worry about the u725.

    The LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series 2nd round at Blyton Circuit near Gainsborough, Lincs, on May 20th 2007.


    LISTEN to the on-air competition - HERE (mp3 780kb)

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    "AUTOTRADER DEALER UPDATE"
    The Monthly Automotive Insider
    April 2007


    5000 People


    5000 people logged on to Ling Valentine's car leasing website, LINGsCARS.com, following her appearance on BBC 2's Dragons' Den.

    She was offered £50,000 on the show in exchange for a 30% stake, but turned it down.


    (Actually, 5,000 people logged on that evening, 10,000 people logged on the next day, and life has never been the same since! - Ling)


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    "COMPANY CAR DRIVER"
    EMAP's online magazine for Company Car Drivers and Fleet Managers.


    Rent a car, eat some noodles


    If you saw your fleet manager munching on some Chinese noodles at lunchtime today, chances are they have visited LINGsCARS.com.

    The eccentric contract hire website has been generating sales of more than £1 million a month thanks to, the creator, Ling Valentine’s ‘unique sales patter’.

    "I'm the first motor retailer to use live chat room technology to drive sales. Customers can type and chat in real time to ask questions about the cars I sell or talk to me. There are serious business benefits. In a chatroom I can chat to several people at once, whereas I can only make one phone call at a time. It also enables me to show pictures of the cars, discuss prices and make deals online," said Valentine.

    Ling says she has sold over £10m worth of new cars on contract hire agreements. By undercutting the big car leasing companies by as much as 35% she has seen her fledgling business grow fourfold in the past year.

    Her unique marketing offers customers free Chinese takeaways (noodles by post), wrapped Chinese polo mints, Chinese banknotes (worth 8p), genuine 1960's red Mao communist books and other collectibles.

    Ling is also the owner of a Chinese military truck, complete with a giant rocket, parked in a field by the A1 motorway. Thousands of people drive past it everyday and she says it has been a great marketing tool.

    "It's a genuine Chinese Nuclear Army vehicle. I imported it from Shanghai and built a dummy missile to go on to," she said. "I get texts, emails and phone calls from people every day who see it. I think it will become a landmark as iconic at the Angel of the North. I may even fix it with a webcam so that the whole world can see how great the North East people are."

    Odd areas on the site include: ‘Ling’s guide to speed cameras’, ‘Car porn SHOCK!’ and ‘Car flu’.

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    May 10th 2006


    LING ON VIDEO


    Ling on video: we interview the Gateshead business woman...

    In the May 18 issue of Automotive Management, we will feature a double-page spread on an interview staff writer Andrea Klettner did with the boss of LingsCars.com, Ling Valentine.

    This video provides a teaser of that interview. ...


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    "MARTONHOUSE PLC"
    A training and learning development company based in the UK. We work alongside some of the largest organisations in the world to provide training resource, elearning, mentoring, materials and management development.
    13th April 2007


    You visit. You buy. You deal with me!


    This is Ling Valentine. Ling is an entrepreneur who appeared on the BBC show Dragons’ Den.

    Ling’s company offers rental and lease purchase options for buying cars, nothing new there.

    Her website lingscars.com is a mind-boggling, single-paged brain dump of everything her company offers. It’s probably the craziest, information overloading website I’ve ever seen. If you visit this website with a purpose of finding a particular car good luck to you, you could be searching for some time.

    She is very successful though and won the accolade of Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Women in Retail award last year.

    Why is she so successful though, particularly when she has a web-based business with a website most people can’t be bothered to navigate their way through?

    You see LingsCars.com is all about Ling. Ling is honest, hard working and down to earth and it’s her zany personality that makes people remember her. Her appearance on Dragons’ Den wasn’t about getting the money, it was all about the publicity. She didn’t win the money, but unlike so many other hopefuls that appear on the show Ling and her silly nuclear missile promo is the only non-winner I still remember, months on from the shows original transmission.

    In a world which is overrun by companies selling the same things it’s becoming more and more important to have something that ignites your businesses gravity bringing people to you rather than sending them to the car lot next door.

    So why would anybody remember your business?

    More importantly, why would anybody remember you?


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    "K & N Filters.com"
    The World's best air filter!
    01 May 2007


    UK Drivers Prepare for Round 2 of 2007 LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series

    Round two of the 2007 LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Championship in association with K&N Filters takes place at Blyton Circuit at Lincolnshire on May 20th. K&N Engineering is an associate sponsor of the Rallycross Open Championship Races.

    The majority of the vehicles in this circuit are equipped with K&N Filters.

    Tony Bell has the points lead and Dereck Jobb is in second place ahead of Chris Langley and Mad Mark Watson. Team Open Series driver, Chris Cake will be replaced by Belgian driver Tom Geenen in the Division 1 Vauxhall Corsa for this event only. Cake will return to action in the third round of the championship at Blyton Circuit on June 17th. In the Super National category, championship leader Ben Power will face strong opposition from a long list of talented racers. Jamie Lee and Allan Tapscott are second and third, closely followed by Stuart Coldron and Russell Etherington.

    There will be two additional cup races run at this event in the UK, the Silverston Tyres Stock Hatch Cup along with the Olympus Minicross Cup.

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    "FLYING STARTUPS"
    Flying Startup Podcasts from Steve Parks
    5th March 2007


    LING IS PODCAST STAR!


    The Flying Startups Podcast is published monthly, and features an interview with a startup entrepreneur who is a member of FlyingStartups.com, an interview with a well-known successful entrepreneur, and a round-up of the latest Pilot's Log and Forum posts on the site.

    The programme is presented by Steve Parks, the founder of Flying Startups and the author of books for entrepreneurs such as Start Your Business Week by Week and How to be an Entrepreneur.

    On this issue of the flyingstartups podcast for startup entrepreneurs:

  • Ling Valentine of Dragons' Den fame tells what it's really like to appear on the TV show and gives tips on internet marketing and pr. You can also read more about Ling's experience on Steve's blog at www.steveparks.co.uk.
  • Yo!Sushi founder, and former Dragon, Simon Woodroffe talks about branding, creativity and time management in the second installment of the two part interview.
  • Steve talks about his new blog for entrepreneurs
  • And of course - the latest round up of what's happening on the FlyingStartups website.

    FLYING STARTUP PODCAST
    INTERVIEW WITH LING VALENTINE


    LISTEN to the 14-minute interview - HERE (mp3 5.3Mb)


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    "SQUAT MAGAZINE"
    Online KOOL magazine aimed at the UK Chinese community
    March 2007


    DRAGON SLAYER!


    Ling Valentine, probably the UK's only female Chinese car dealer, tells Squat's Gerry Ho what it is like flogging cars, giving the finger to stereotypes and slaying Dragons.

    "Chinese eat dragons for breakfast."

    That is what Ling Valentine said to Dragons Duncan Bannatyne and Richard Farleigh when she turned down their investment offer, on the BBC programme Dragons' Den.

    The 33-year-old founder, owner and boss of Gateshead-based car-leasing company LINGsCARS.com is no shrinking violet. As probably the only female Chinese car dealer in the UK, she squares up to plenty of beasts (both customers and unwelcoming, male white counterparts) with a steely determination and self-deprecating humour that have seen her win Woman in Retail at the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2006, organized by One North East (Regional Development Agency of North East England) and Durham Business School.

    So it is unsurprising that Bannatyne was Valentine's favourite Dragon. "He is quite fearless. He is not stuck up and does not have an ego problem. He was the most down-to-earth and charming," she says.

    Valentine is no stranger to the media.

    Her story has captured the imagination of the press up and down the country. (Female car dealers are far and few between. A female Chinese car dealer is certainly an anomaly.) She has featured in a huge range of publications, including Auto Express, the Financial Times (FT) and FHM. "The FT feature was my favourite, because it made my mum and dad in China so proud when they saw it. They knew I had a great business, but they suddenly realized the scale of it when they saw the FT page," she says.

    LINGsCARS.com's trademark is a Chinese nuclear missile truck, which last year was parked next to the A1 road to advertise the company to motorists. "I imported the missile truck from China. It was a nuclear decontamination truck, probably from Lop Nor. However, it had been in storage since being built, new, in Russia. When I got it, it had less than 200 miles on the clock. It was effectively brand new. In total, I paid £3,500 plus VAT for it. However, it is road tax exempt, MOT exempt and goes really fast with a petrol 7.0 V8 under the bonnet," she explains.

    The truck got so much attention, the Deputy Prime Minister stepped in to ask for it to be moved. "John Prescott intervened with the local council, probably at the order of Tony Blair because I had parked the missile truck in Blair's constituency, pointing west towards the USA. Unfortunately, Prescott brought it to a climax just one week before he was caught shagging his secretary," she laughs. "If only I could have held out one week, I could have turned the missile into a giant penis and put Prescott’s head on the side."


    LINGsCARS.com uses other unconventional marketing methods too...

    Potential customers can order free lunches made up of a packet of instant noodles, as dessert, a choice of a marshmallow cone or stoneless dried plum and, as a beverage, a choice of a tea bag or instant coffee sachet—all imported from China, of course. "The brand of the noodles: Fuku brand! Really," she laughs. "I buy every box my local Chinese supermarket can get their hands on—even out-of-date ones. Customers are crazy. They just love receiving out-of-date noodles. I have had a warning from trading standards about that! I send out roughly 100 packs per week. The noodles give me great publicity and every month at least two people who I've posted noodles to take a car from me.

    "I have my London bus, which I bought and converted to a display bus for £10,000 in total. I use this to attend events and outside locations like the LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series which I sponsor. I always take my Chinese 'Cheeky Girls' Lina and Lulu with me, and they have made two movies in which they spoof and gently humiliate the rally drivers. Everyone enjoys it.

    "Also, I sent Lina to collect my Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead, planted in the event as a waitress. There was uproar when a waitress climbed on stage to accept the award. They airbrushed Lina out of the photo, which was disgraceful, but they gave in when I turned it nuclear. I was making the point that while the white, middle class gathering accepts Chinese people as waitresses and servants, they object to them having parity on the stage, and I was proved correct!"

    Valentine may have muddled her figures in front of the Dragons, but, especially considering that she came to the UK eight years ago with "nothing but perfect 'Chinglish'", she has an impressive business.

    LINGsCARS.com does not buy and sell vehicles. It instead earns commission, by matching car renters to car companies and then brokering. An increasing number of new-car drivers—particularly businesses—are choosing to use contract hire. Advantages include accurate monthly budgeting, tax breaks and no depreciation risks.

    LINGsCARS.com's unusual website has made the company stand out among its competitors. Its sprawling design is hard to follow, but inviting. Its content is eclectic, but addictive. It is quite indescribable and must be seen. Valentine's fun and self-deprecating humour, which turns the Chinese stereotype on its head, is enthusiastically stamped over everything.

    Valentine does not know exactly how many cars the company has leased since it started in 2001, saying she "counts in pounds, not in cars", but estimates that "a reasonably accurate figure would be over 4,000 brand new cars, maybe more, of all brands from Mercedes and BMW to Kia and Fiat."

    Turnover is impressive: "In 2006 I leased out £12.5m of new cars at retail value. Currently, January 2007 is 69% up on January 2006—so it looks like I will have a busy year," she says.

    However, because the company only earns commission, it needs to lease out a lot of cars to make good profit. "Total net profit was in excess of £70,000 in 2005. It will be more in 2006 and 2007," she says. "My overheads just don’t change no matter how many more customers I supply cars to." (LINGsCARS.com is staffed by just Valentine and her husband Jon Valentine.)
    Ling Valentine was introduced to car dealing by Jon Valentine, who had already been in the business for ten years when they met. She helped him and Mike Porritt (a friend) set up Porritt Motor Holdings (PMH) in 2000 and handled the contract-hire business. Finding that she had a bit of a knack for it, she set up her own car leasing company, PMH Contracts. She rebranded it LINGsCARS.com in 2005.

    Ling Valentine was born in Chengdu, China. Her mother is a famous dentist and her father used to work for a government environmental service. The mother pulled some strings to get the daughter into Jinan University.

    Valentine already showed signs of becoming a non-conformist on her undergraduate course. Although she loves exercise and plays badminton and table tennis every week, she got in trouble for refusing to take part in the university's morning PE regime. "They wanted me outside every morning at 6AM to do that communal rubbish they inflict on people in China—imagine 18- or 19-year-old students in the UK being forced to do that!" she says.

    Valentine was desperate to escape from China. "I just hated the system of work units and restrictive opportunities in China. I wanted to do what I wanted, not what job my mum could wangle for me," she says. After landing a scholarship, she went to Finland for a master's degree. On her arrival at Helsinki Airport, she broke down in tears before pulling herself together with a tenacity that has served her well since. "It was the first time I had been outside China. I had only 'Chinese taught' English and was in a country that spoke Finnish and Swedish—impossible bloody languages! And the guy who was to meet me was a few hours late. It was just one of those dark moments when I really questioned if I had done the right thing. I said in Chinese what I always say in English now: 'Fuck it—just do it'”. Unsurprisingly, she failed her wood chemistry course, which was taught in Finnish—but, in hindsight, that isn't the moral of the story.

    Ling Valentine (née Lan) met Jon Valentine on an internet chatroom. "I wanted to travel, to break out of Finland. So I flew to the UK to meet him and we both drove around Europe in his car meeting all our chatroom friends along the way. It was just the best thing I had ever done. Coming from China, I couldn’t have believed it was possible, driving from country to country so freely," Ling Valentine recalls.

    Responding to the unfair, but nonetheless intrinsic, accusation that faces every Chinese woman who marries a British man, Valentine is pragmatic but genuine: "I applied for a British passport as soon as I could. Knowing the Chinese government, I think anyone who has that opportunity would be crazy not to take it. However, I married Jon because we loved each other, of course."

    Always keen to study, after marrying, Valentine went on to complete a master's degree in environmental quality at Bournemouth University. Challenged to reconcile that with her current occupation of flogging cars, she says: "Everything we do, including farting, damages the environment." She also points out that Martin Callanan, an MEP who sits on the EU Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, has praised her company: "LINGsCARS.com displays environmental information in a way that leads the UK motor industry," he said.

    Valentine thinks that her usually male counterparts are still sexist. "Except for one or two exceptions, it is a terribly old-fashioned, sexist industry. I exposed a porn email ring going on at a Toyota franchise dealer to Toyota GB, and they would not even allow a manager to speak to me. They just wanted to stifle my complaint and protect the dealer. In the end the dealer physically threatened my husband. Does this illustrate my point? The fact I am willing to discuss this shows I have all the evidence I need to avoid a legal challenge by Toyota, and they know it," she says.

    Valentine also thinks that her usually white counterparts are still racist. Although she says, "The Chinese do not hold top place in racist target league." And she admits, "Everyone is racist to a degree. To generalize, I must say I find dealing with sub-continent customers more work and more difficult than typical white English customers. The same applies to Chinese customers!"

    However, Valentine explains that many of her customers find buying a car from a Chinese woman a refreshing change in a sales environment perceived as dishonest (Frank Butcher in EastEnders, Boycie in Only Fools and Horses, Matilda's dad in Matilda... ): "I think they find me non-threatening and fun. As soon as they realize I do not put them on a pedestal and grovel to them, we have some great banter. I cannot do miracles. I am Chinese not Catholic. So I am not afraid to tell a customer to fuck off if they are rude or extremely demanding. But often, this is an icebreaker and as soon as they realise I am a human being, they calm down and we have a great crack."

    Valentine's success has come with detractors. Some counterparts have criticized her for undercutting prices and accused her of threatening the profit margin of the industry. She quotes a message about her somebody posted on an car-dealer internet message board: "Ling ling ling. If it wasn't for idiots like you ruining the retail car industry maybe the staff at dealerships might not have the time to take drugs or need to cos their livelihoods are dwindling fast. You think you are doing the public favours raping the margins out of dealers but the poor public have to foot the bill in terms of depreciation at some point anyway."

    And LINGsCARS.com's marketing has attracted email complaints from other Chinese people. "Many Chinese say I lose them face and insult China. Well, I think these people are so uptight just as many Muslims get so uptight about any comment about Islam. They should relax," she says.

    Have Valentine or her sister, Lan Shan, who stars in many of LINGsCARS.com's cheeky promotional videos, ever got in trouble with the authorities in China for poking fun at the Chinese? "No, thank God. If we ever did, that would be the end," Valentine says. "I don’t think even they can take that much offence from a few jokes. I do not organize political dissent; I just speak my mind in, hopefully, a light-hearted way. It’s a bit difficult to do that about a government that executes thousands, persecutes millions and denies human rights, but I am not trying to change the world."
    The future for China's car industry is bright, but will take time to develop, Valentine says: "Chinese cars are coming to the UK, soon. The new MG will a hopeless old design thrown together by old tooling in China, finished by disgruntled Brummies to gain EU status. It will be a dreadful car and is just a tentative first step. In ten years time, a large number of Chinese cars will be sold in the UK. In 25 years, Chinese carmakers will dominate the UK and the planet."

    For LINGsCARS.com, Valentine predicts faster growth: "In three years, I predict a turnover of between £50m and £100m of new cars, equating to a gross income of £500,000 and £1m per annum."

    No one can accuse Valentine of shying away from graft. She plans to continue working 9AM to 6PM Monday to Friday (LINGsCARS.com opening hours) and often overtime well into the night, while developing her unique website further. "At the moment it is very hard work. I am striving for efficiencies. I deal with everything by email at the moment. Soon, my website will take over a lot of that work with a revolutionary customer interface that will use a Ling-Bot (my pet Dalek-with-my-head gif) to represent automated responses. I will reward customers at every step of the process with treats, like a short movie, a gift or a funny experience. I will train them to communicate with the website. Of course I will still be there, but I will cut my communication with them by 50%. Yet, to customers, it will seem like a better service. They will be dealing with a Chinese Dalek! Quite surreal and almost Web 2.0,” she says.

    And to any male white counterparts who still despise the sight of her, Valentine sounds this war cry: "I want to become known as the best new-car supplier in the UK. To be the biggest in a mature market populated by giants is a hard task, but to be the best is easier because the rest are rather hopeless. One day they will see that a Chinese bird has pulled their trousers down, when they weren’t even paying attention."


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    "HEAT MAGAZINE"
    This week's hottest celebrity news
    17th-23rd March 2007


    PICK OF THE DAY

    BBC2 8pm

    Missed it last week when it wasn't on?

    Well, you're in luck, because it's back again. But only for this week, sadly, because this really is the last of the series.

    Tonight's inventions include a tough new puzzle that offers a cash reward to the successful few, and a power saving plug socket.

    Plus, we catch up with entrepreneurs from this very series, including Ling Valentine and her nuclear missile truck. Sheer brilliance!


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    "BBC WORLD SERVICE"
    BBC Chinese - the Chinese BBC output around the World
    25th Feb 2007


    LING IS WORLD SUPERSTAR!


    Following my appearance on Dragons' Den, the BBC has had requests for information from Chinese news organisations.

    So, the World Service in Bush House thought they had better create some Chinese output to meet the demand!

    In this BBC World Service interview, broadcast around the World and even into China (areas where the Chinese Government does not block BBC transmissions), I discuss my appearance on the Dragons' Den show;
    what happened and the results of my grilling by the 5 multi-millionaires.

    You will notice I struggle at times, as I don't often have to use Chinese terms to discuss my business! Feel free to listen...

    CHINESE WORLD SERVICE
    INTERVIEW WITH LING (in Mandarin Chinese)


    LISTEN to the 10-minute interview - HERE (mp3 3.6Mb)


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    "FLEET NEWS"
    Targeted at fleet decision-makers within UK companies
    16th Feb 2007


    CAR BROKER REFUSES DRAGONS' CASH

    CAR broker Ling Valentine received a roasting from the dragons this week in BBC2’s Dragons’ Den. Yet in a strange twist, despite some harsh words aimed squarely at the Gateshead entrepreneur she ended her pitch refusing their money.

    Valentine wanted £50,000 in funding for a 5% share of her five-year-old web-based contract hire business, LingsCars. Her pitch included giving the dragons packets of noodles.

    While three ‘dragons’ turned her down flat, two others each offered her £25,000 for a combined 30% share, to which she responded, ‘the Chinese eat dragons for breakfast’ and turned them down.

    Valentine has posted her pitch on You Tube in two segments. You can view them here in two parts:

      


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    "AUTOWIRED"
    Leading UK motoring news site
    15th Feb 2007


    LING TURNS DOWN THE DRAGONS!


    NORTH EAST entrepreneur, Ling Valentine, last night turned-down an offer of £50,000 for a share of her lingscars.com business.

    The Chinese girl, who runs her online car business from Gateshead, appeared on the BBC2 series, Dragons Den, last night.

    She asked the Dragons for £50,000 for a 5% share in her company. The money would be spent on marketing, she explained.

    Duncan Bannatyne and Richard Farley offered Ms Ling £25,000 each - but for a total 40% share.

    The two Dragons then revised their offer for a 10% share.

    The Chinese entrepreneur turned down the money. "The share holding was too big," she said.




     
    "SILICON.COM"
    Online Business Publication of the Year
    19th February 2007
    by Tony Hallett, Editor


    Editor's Blog: LING FACES THE DRAGONS
    - Internet entrepreneur walks away from deal


    I was lazing around the other night, channel hopping (a rare treat) when I came across a familiar face on a familiar TV programme. It was Ling Valentine, of LingsCars.com fame, on the BBC's Dragons' Den.

    For those of you who don't know, Ling runs a car-leasing business from her base in the northeast of England. But that's underselling her. She is a self-promoting, fearless, energetic entrepreneur. silicon.com knows this not only from her homepage (one of the most crammed you will ever see) but from an email from her a year or so ago.

    In our Weekly Round-Up we'd had the temerity to joke that when someone said they'd done a deal with "two leading e-tailers", or words to that effect, they didn't mean an Amazon.com or eBay but instead LingsCars.com and… well, I forget the other.

    It took a short time for Ling to send in a note, to the Round-Up, to be precise. She began 'Aiieeiii…!' and explained her success to date - and asked what the Round-Up had ever done. What indeed.

    I told one of our team to make friends with her. I think he was too afraid to pick up the phone.

    So to Dragons' Den. Many of you will know the format. Would-be tycoons, often with a start-up or early-stage product on their hands, pitch to a room - the den - of assorted successful business types - the dragons.

    They typically want some money for a certain stake in their venture. The dragons typically laugh them off the stage or get around to an offer, which is normally either less than they expected or the right sum only for a higher proportion of the business. Sometimes it's both those things.

    Ling threw them a curve ball from the get go. Whereas many approach the den visibly shaking, she came straight in with a picture of her main marketing machine - a Chinese nuclear missile launcher. (I have no idea what this once was, though I'm pretty sure the missile isn't real. Pretty sure.)

    When pressed with some tricky questions, she replied that she "eats dragons for breakfast".

    And then the best bit. Two of the dragons offered to stump up the cash she was after - only she deemed it too dilutive.

    "Thank you for your money - I refuse it," she said. And off she went.

    Good for her!

    I have mixed feelings about Dragons' Den. At its best it is very good entertainment and taps into growing entrepreneurialism in the UK, something I honestly believe took a step forward through all the ups and downs of the late-1990s internet boom.

    At its worst, I feel the dragons too often sit there and ridicule the entrepreneurs, for no good reason, or worse still novice entrepreneurs walk away after giving up uncomfortably large parts of their businesses. And is the BBC's main economics editor well-placed as the host for what is basically light entertainment?

    But Ling stood her ground and I now can only wish her well. I see she has wasted no time in getting a Dragons' Den image atop her website. There are also posts galore on YouTube, supposedly from Ling. (YouTube description: 'I am Ling. I am female Chinese human UK new car expert!')

    I trust the BBC is happy with these. It'd be crazy not to be. And if the internet car leasing doesn't work out for Ling, there is always a career in marketing to be had.


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    "NORTHERN ECHO"
    This is the North East
    13th Feb 2007


    ROCKET WOMAN ENTERS DRAGONS' DEN!


    A CHINESE entrepreneur who created a storm by advertising her company on a missile launcher has entered the Dragons' Den.

    Ling Valentine, who set up car website lingscars. com, will appear on the BBC2 television series tomorrow night. Ms Valentine attracted wide publicity with her Chinese People's Liberation Army nuclear missile launcher, complete with rocket, parked by the A1(M) near Sedgefield, County Durham.

    She moved the vehicle after she was threatened with legal action if it was not removed.

    Ms Valentine, whose appearance on television will coincide with Valentine's Day, tells the Dragons: "I have been in the country for about eight years. I came with nothing apart from perfect Chinglish."

    Ms Valentine, who runs her contract-hire car business from an office in Gateshead, said last night: "They approached me. They saw I had won the Entrepreneur of Year and they contacted me.

    "They pestered me to go. In the end, they even filled in the application form for me and asked me to sign it.

    "They filmed me for three-and-a-half hours. The Dragons are all very nice off camera. I was very relaxed, the BBC guys were very sweet to me. They even went to get me Chinese takeaway for lunch and brought me chopsticks. Some of the Dragons' questions were very tough. At times, it felt like I was being questioned by the Chinese secret police."


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    "FREE FORMED MARKETING"
    World-famous marketing ideas blog
    15th Feb 2007


    WE LOVE LING!

    After her appearance on the BBC show Dragons' Den, LingsCars.com is even more well known than before!

    If you missed it, you can see the unedited version here.

    Ling brings something different to what could be a VERY boring market place and while her style will no doubt turn a lot of people off, the very fact that so many people are talking about her speaks to the power of standing out and being different.

    How many businesses do you know that would use a full sized nuclear missle truck to promote their website?


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    "Real Business"
    For entrepreneurs and fast-growth companies
    By Dan Matthews
    Feb 15th 2007


    THE POWER OF DRAGONS' DEN!


    The best case scenario for someone pitching their business on Dragons’ Den: you turn up, do a good job of conveying what your business does, then turn down offers of investment.

    Then you walk away with tens of thousands of pounds-worth of positive PR.

    Ling Valentine, owner of Ling’s Cars (and one of my favourite entrepreneurs), appeared on the show last night, and carried off a textbook “pitch and run”. She came across well, if barking, and today she’s enjoying the exposure.



    Please note, this is an outrageous slur - Ling


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    "BBC 2 DRAGONS' DEN"
    THE best business programme on TV - in the World!
    14th & 18th Feb 2007


    LING'S DRAGONS' DEN PITCH

    Richard Farliegh (Australian Dragon multi-millionaire investor who offered me £25k) said, "'Chinese eat dragons for breakfast!' is probably the most confident claim ever made by an entrepreneur in the Dragons' Den! Not only was I amazed by Ling Valentine's complete lack of nerves but also by her business acumen. After only 8 years in England she has created a business arranging 1 million (£'s of) car sales each month, and, I think, with an annual profit of about £70,000."

    My full DD pitch can be viewed HERE (.wmv 13Mb)

    ...or if you can see YouTube vids from your computer... look below (in 2 parts due to YouTube size restrictions).

      


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    "BBC NEWS - LOOK NORTH"
    BBC EVENING NEWS
    Feb 15th 2007


    BBC EVENING NEWS - FEATURING LING


    Following Ling's controvertial appearance on BBC2 Dragons' Den, BBC News despatched a film crew to interview Ling about her appearance on the TV show.

    Filming her at work in her low-cost office, and then out and about with her Nuclear Truck, the BBC News interviewer discovers what Ling would have spent the £50,000 investment on.

    This is the one question Ling was not asked by the Dragons, and her answer leaves no doubt as to her grand plans for future success. Let's just hope she leaves the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army with enough nuclear missiles to defend her homeland!...

    WATCH the BBC News item - HERE (wmv 9.5Mb)


    ...or if you can play youtube vids...below:



    BBC 1, WED 15th Feb, 6.30pm... watch it!


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    "NORTHERN ECHO"
    This is the North East
    15th Feb 2007


    DRAGONS CASH OFFER REJECTED!


    A NORTH-EAST entrepreneur stunned some of the country's fiercest businessmen when she turned down an offer of £50,000 for a share of her business.

    Ling Valentine, who runs a car leasing business from an office in Gateshead, appeared on the BBC2 series Dragons Den tonight. She asked the Dragons for £50,000 for a five per cent share in her company, intending to spend the money on marketing.

    North-East businessman Duncan Bannatyne and Australian entrepreneur Richard Farley were sufficiently impressed to offer Ms Ling £25,000 each - but for a total 40 per cent share.

    Ms Ling, who hit the headlines when she advertised her business on a missile launcher parked near Sedgefield, County Durham, rejected the offer, adding:
    "We Chinese eat dragons for breakfast."

    The two businessmen then offered the full amount for ten per cent each.

    But Ms Ling stood her ground and turned down the money because she said they wanted a bigger share of the company than she was prepared to give away.


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    "BBC Radio Interview"
    Live BBC Radio Newcastle
    Feb 15th 2007


    LIVE ON-AIR INTERVIEW WITH LING


    Jon Harle presents a feature on BBC Radio Newcastle about Ling Valentine "after the Dragons' Den", where his drivetime news show interviews Ling, plays clips from Dragons' Den and tells the story of her pitch the the Dragons.

    Ling tells Jon all about appearing on the show and what it felt like to face the five multi-millionaires - and to turn down their offers of cash!

    Includes Duncan Bannatyne's astonished reaction to being rejected and Ling's famous quote "Chinese people eat Dragons for breakfast"...

    INTERVIEW WITH LING

    LISTEN to the 6-minute interview - HERE (mp3 2.2Mb)


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    "NORTHERN ECHO"
    This is the North East
    12th Feb 2007


    DRAGONS TAKE ON "MISSILE ENTREPRENEUR"


    A CHINESE entrepreneur who created a storm by advertising her company on a missile launcher has entered the Dragons' Den in the hope of getting an added boost for her firm.

    Ling Valentine, who set up car website lingscars.com, will appear on the popular BBC2 television series tomorrow (WED) night.

    Ms Valentine attracted wide publicity with her seven-litre V8 six-wheeldrive Chinese People's Liberation Army nuclear missile launcher, complete with rocket, parked on the A1(M). She moved the vehicle after being threatened with legal action if it was not taken it away from the motorway, near Sedgefield.

    Ms Valentine, whose appearance on television will coincide with Valentine's Day, tells them: "I have been in the country for about eight years. I came with nothing apart from perfect Chinglish."

    Full details and whether she gets the cash she hoped for, remains under wraps until the screening. Ms Valentine, who runs her contract-hire car business from an office in Gateshead, said last night: "They approached me. They saw I had won the Entrepreneur of Year and they contacted me.

    "They pestered me to go, in the end they even filled in the application form for me and asked me to sign it." Ms Valentine said: "They filmed me for three and a half hours. The Dragons are all very nice off camera.

    "I was very relaxed, the BBC guys were very sweet to me. They even went to get me Chinese takeaway for lunch and brought me chopsticks.


    "Some of Dragon questions were very tough. At times it felt like I was being questioned by Chinese Secret Police."


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    "BBC RADIO CLEVELAND"
    Breakfast show with Matthew Davies
    14th Feb 2007


    LIVE ON-AIR INTERVIEW WITH LING


    Matthew Davies from BBC Radio Cleveland interviews Ling live on air about her appearance on BBC Dragons' Den on Feb 14th 2007.

    Ling approaches the Dragons with a view to securing investment for her business LINGsCARS.com. Matthew asks about the reason she is better than traditional dealers, and moves on to the subject of he Nuclear Missile Truck.

    Included in the interview is a clip recorded last year, where a plucky BBC reporter takes a ride in the truck with Ling and they nearly submerge themselves in a river. The BBC had to bleep out the reporter's reaction!

    This interview takes place on Valentine's Day, and Matthew is amazed that Ling has not given her wonderful husband Jon (who is coding this news item) a Valentine's Day gift! Typical.

    BEFORE THE DEN

    LISTEN to the 5-minute interview - HERE (mp3 1.9Mb)

    AFTER THE DEN

    LISTEN to the 5-minute interview - HERE (mp3 1.4Mb)


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    "NORTHERN ECHO"
    This is the North East
    12th Feb 2007


    DRAGONS TAKE ON "MISSILE ENTREPRENEUR"


    A CHINESE entrepreneur who created a storm by advertising her company on a missile launcher has entered the Dragons' Den in the hope of getting an added boost for her firm.

    Ling Valentine, who set up car website lingscars.com, will appear on the popular BBC2 television series tomorrow (WED) night.

    Ms Valentine attracted wide publicity with her seven-litre V8 six-wheeldrive Chinese People's Liberation Army nuclear missile launcher, complete with rocket, parked on the A1(M). She moved the vehicle after being threatened with legal action if it was not taken it away from the motorway, near Sedgefield.

    Ms Valentine, whose appearance on television will coincide with Valentine's Day, tells them: "I have been in the country for about eight years. I came with nothing apart from perfect Chinglish."

    Full details and whether she gets the cash she hoped for, remains under wraps until the screening. Ms Valentine, who runs her contract-hire car business from an office in Gateshead, said last night: "They approached me. They saw I had won the Entrepreneur of Year and they contacted me.

    "They pestered me to go, in the end they even filled in the application form for me and asked me to sign it." Ms Valentine said: "They filmed me for three and a half hours. The Dragons are all very nice off camera.

    "I was very relaxed, the BBC guys were very sweet to me. They even went to get me Chinese takeaway for lunch and brought me chopsticks.


    "Some of Dragon questions were very tough. At times it felt like I was being questioned by Chinese Secret Police."


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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    9th Feb 2007
    by Stephen Briers - Editor


    AM AWARDS 2007


    One of the highlights of the UK motor retail industry's calendar takes place on February 21st - the 2007 AM Awards.

    The country's leading dealers, repairers, manufacturers and support businesses will gather at Birmingham's ICC to discover if their entries have been selected by our judges to receive an industry accolade.

    From a flood of entries, the following finalists have been selected.


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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    9th Feb 2007


    MG NEEDS TO BE CHEAP AS IT IS "PRETTY USELESS", SAYS LING


    An announcement by Nanjing Automobile Corporation that it will recommence final assembly of the MG TF roadster at Longbridge this April has been met with guarded optimism.

    Up to 3,000 right-hand drive vehicles, sub-assembled in China, will be completed in Birmingham each year by a 250 strong workforce.

    Ling Valentine, Chinese national (wrong - I'm actually a damn British national - Ling) and head of online vehicle leasing business LINGsCARS in Gateshead, says NAC will want a stron presence in Europe by pricing TF extremely cheaply to undercut its Mazda MX-5 rival. It will take many years to re-establish the brand, Valentine says, but the opportunity for growth will be tempting to dealers.

    "This is the start of a Chinese nuclear explosion in the European car industry", she adds. "This old MG is a toe in the water, designed to give a Chinese brand some European presence. This car is not important - a good job as it's pretty useless. It is the flood of second-rate imports that will follow that will sting the rest of the sub-prime brands like Fiat. In five years, when the Chinese manage to produce acceptable export cars, they will pour into Europe."

    More than 80 UK dealers have already shown interest in taking on MG, according to NAC's Longbridge-based sales and franchising manager, Steve Cox.

    Although Cox won't reveal his target network size (Two?? To sell just 3,000 cars a year? - Ling) he expects dealers to add the brand alongside an existing franchise. He also insists consumer demand will continue, claiming the MG brand has not suffered from Rovar's demise (He's on drugs - Ling).
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    "BBC 2 DRAGONS' DEN"
    THE best business programme on TV - in the World!
    14th Feb 2007




    WATCH the Dragons' Den preview film - HERE (wmv 1.5Mb)

    ...or if you can play youtube vids...below:



    BBC 2, WED 14th Feb, 8pm... watch it!

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    "FRESH RADIO"
    THE Radio Station Of The Year for Yorkshire and the North East
    6th Feb 2007


    LINGsCARS.com/OLYMPUS
    camera competition



    Fresh Radio, the radio station of the year in the North East runs an on-air competition to win the latest Olympus camera and 5 x pairs of LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series tickets.

    Fresh Radio has been named Yorkshire & The North East Radio Station Of The Year in the Radio Academy's 'Nations and Regions Award' for 2006. As part of their decision, judges praised Fresh Radio’s coverage of local issues saying that: “The station successfully combines serious delivery with human personality and appeals to a wide audience in the community.”

    Fresh Radio teamed up with Ling to run a Rallycross competition, giving away 5 x pairs of Croft Circuit tickets and an award-winning OLYMPUS u725SW shock-proof, water-proof digital camera, worth £300!

    The u725 SW is waterproof to a depth of 5m and shockproof to a drop from 1.5m, with 7.1 million pixels and a sharp 3x optical zoom (equiv. to 38-114mm on a 35mm camera). BrightCapture Technology ensures great results are possible even in low-light conditions. Whether it's being taken snorkelling in a rock pool, mountain biking over rough terrain, or put in the hands of a butterfingered four-year-old, you need never worry about the u725.

    The LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series kicks off at Croft Circuit on February 11th 2007.


    LISTEN to the on-air competition - HERE (mp3 780kb)

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    "Autoblog Green"
    World-famous blog about green car issues
    Feb 5th 2007


    Critics say automakers can be greener with better computer programming


    Twenty years ago, hot rodders were buying "chips" for the engines to boost power.

    These E-PROM chips carried the fuel and spark programming codes in the engine-control units (ECU). Instead of manually adjusting the spark advance and rejetting a carburetor, tuners on EFI engines would have to pull the chip and reprogram the fuel and spark maps with a computer. Modern cars have flash memory in the ECUs. Today's tuners going for more power either replace the entire ECU or reflash the program.

    A leading online seller of new cars in England says automakers aren't getting the most green out of their engine-management computers. Ling Valentine says the same engine is spread over a variety of vehicles and programmed for reliability and reduced service intervals.

    Simon Hall, who runs a reprogramming shop for a variety of vehicles, makes the same argument that today's vehicles can be greener with a few changes in the computer code.

    Basically, the two feel that consumers should be allowed to "chip" their cars without fear of losing a warranty.

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    "ENERGY EFFICIENT
    MOTOR SPORT
    "

    The EEMS project will create opportunities for alternative fuels
    5th Feb 2007


    Manufacturers should offer ‘green’ engine chipping


    Ling Valentine, the Chinese female boss of online new car company LINGsCARS.com says manufacturers are hampering the green credentials of many cars because their vehicles are being held back by the engine management system.

    "Today's cars have complex engine computers that are programmed by the manufacturer so they can sell a variety of different models using the same engine. By regulating an engine in this way, carmakers promise reduced service intervals and an increased lifespan of the engine. They focus on different power outputs when they should be pushing the environmental benefits and offering a range of "green" settings. I have noticed a trend of my customers chipping their cars - not for reasons of speed, but to help the environment."

    Simon Hall, who runs the Walsall-based engine management firm e-maps.co.uk says:

    "I totally agree with Ling's verdict. All you have to do is alter the parameters set by the manufacturer, thereby allowing the engine to become greener."

    Using software imported from Germany, e-maps gives engines a small power boost, but also claims that drivers report that they see substantial fuel economy benefits if they stick to the same speeds, and claims many health authorities, for example, are re-mapping ambulances to increase mpg and efficiency.

    Ling Valentine, is campaigning for consumers to have the right to chip their cars and not have their warranty cancelled by what she calls “greedy” car manufacturers.

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    "AUTO INDUSTRY
    - from the DTI"

    Definitive, single point of reference on the web for the UK Auto Industry
    5th Feb 2007


    Manufacturers should offer ‘green’ engine chipping


    Ling Valentine, the Chinese female boss of online new car company LINGsCARS.com says manufacturers are hampering the green credentials of many cars because their vehicles are being held back by the engine management system.

    "Today's cars have complex engine computers that are programmed by the manufacturer so they can sell a variety of different models using the same engine. By regulating an engine in this way, carmakers promise reduced service intervals and an increased lifespan of the engine. They focus on different power outputs when they should be pushing the environmental benefits and offering a range of "green" settings. I have noticed a trend of my customers chipping their cars - not for reasons of speed, but to help the environment."

    Simon Hall, who runs the Walsall-based engine management firm e-maps.co.uk says:

    "I totally agree with Ling's verdict. All you have to do is alter the parameters set by the manufacturer, thereby allowing the engine to become greener."

    Using software imported from Germany, e-maps gives engines a small power boost, but also claims that drivers report that they see substantial fuel economy benefits if they stick to the same speeds, and claims many health authorities, for example, are re-mapping ambulances to increase mpg and efficiency.

    Ling Valentine, is campaigning for consumers to have the right to chip their cars and not have their warranty cancelled by what she calls “greedy” car manufacturers.

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    "THE DARLINGTON AND STOCKTON TIMES"
    North East Weekly Newspaper of the Year
    Friday 2nd Februaury 2007

    "THE DARLINGTON AND STOCKTON TIMES -
    MOTORSPORTS NEWS"


    ...other motorsports news, followed by...

    * A Chinese woman has stunned the rallycross world by buying the title sponsor rights of the 2007 Rallycross Open series, run by Durham-based PSM Motorsport Ltd.

    Ling Valentine, originally from Sichuan in China, runs an award-winning website business in Gateshead and was voted Entrepreneur of the Year - Woman in Retail 2006 in the North-East Business Awards.

    The opening event in the 2007 LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series takes place at Croft on February 11. More at www.RallycrossOpen.com.

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    "CROFT CIRCUIT
    RALLYCROSS PROGRAMME
    "

    Feb 2007


    “So why have we got a mad Chinese bird sponsoring the Rallycross Open Series this year?”

    Because the Chinese are coming, boyz! You’ve just got to accept that within the next 5-years you will be driving Chinese cars and enjoying the cost savings that will bring. Almost everything else you buy is already Chinese, from iPods to condoms, that’s why things are so cheap!

    It’s not often you see Chinese running anything other than take-aways, and I’m hoping that the people who enjoy this brilliant, exciting, cost-effective motorsport will also enjoy my car deals! I bring you brilliant, exciting, cost-effective, brand-new UK cars – to rent for 2 or 3 years. Normal cars – don’t ask me for Evos!

    You never win when you buy a new car with cash. Depreciation, APR, massive new car franchise overheads and margins mean you pay through the nose. Plus, by the time you sell it, you still owe a fortune and a new model is out. At the end of your contract with me, you just hand the car back.

    My advice? Buy a house, not a car – cars just lose money! Or put you cash into Rallycross, at least you have fun!

    It’s fixed-cost motoring. My overheads are tiny; I work from the web and sell over £1.5 million of brand-new cars every month, so my prices are the cheapest in the UK. I make tiny margins from lots of sales. New car dealers don’t like me; I expose the overcharging in this industry. They often say I should go* back to China – they wish, eh?

    You’ve got the teams to blame for me being here! The massive welcome given to Lina and Lulu, my Chinese cheeky girls (copyright 6R4 Online News) means I can’t resist coming back for more. Hope everyone has a great season in 2007 and I hope you don’t freeze to death today in this bloody cold English weather at Croft. You are all quite mental.

    Ling!

    * Actually, they don’t often use the word “go”. Use your imagination.

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    "PARC FERME
    WORLD MOTORSPORT NEWS
    "

    28th Jan 2007

    "LINGsCARS.com ANNOUNCED AS OPEN SERIES TITLE SPONSOR"


    The Chinese host an F1 race in Shanghai, they’ve bought Rover and they are hosting the 2008 Olympics. Now a Chinese woman has stunned the rally world by buying the title sponsor rights of the 2007 Rallycross Open Series, run by PSM Motorsport Ltd.

    Outspoken “mad Chinese bird” Ling Valentine (32), a self-proclaimed “Chinglish” immigrant from Sichuan, China, runs LINGsCARS.com. Her award-winning website business rents over £1.5m of brand new cars to businesses and private individuals for 2 or 3-years, from as little as £99 per month. Ling is the “Entrepreneur of the Year – Woman in Retail 2006”, awarded in the North East Business Awards.

    “The Chinese are coming, you’d better race for your lives” she told the Rallycross drivers.

    Ling said, “The Rallycross Open Series will now become known as the 2007 LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series! Drivers will be provided with a little red Mao book to improve their mental attitude. Free noodles and chopsticks will be available at each round of the championship. Spectators who complain will be shot!”

    Rallycross Open Series organiser, Peter Stott added:

    “As you can see, Ling is a real character and the agreement with LINGsCARS.com completes the package and structure for the 2007 Rallycross season. Combined with the new television deal, which will see a minimum of four channels broadcasting the series both on terrestrial and satellite, the Open Series has all of the elements in place to build on the major success of last years Superprix. With LINGsCARS.com as well as Olympus, K&N Filters, Silkolene and Silverstone tyres sponsorship backing, the series is now associated with five companies that are all leaders in their field.”

    However, Ling was less impressed at the suggestion that she provides contract hire cars to the race teams and drivers.

    “They seem to crash all the time and they drive like idiots. No way are they getting in one of my brand-new cars! I have watched these guys racing last year and it’s just smoke, noise and screeching tyres. I guess they don’t need a driving licence to race these 500bhp cars. I prefer renting to normal human beings.”

    Ling owns a 7.0 litre, V8 6x6 Chinese Nuclear Missile Truck that she says she will “donate” to the clerk of the course for track inspections.

    “If the drivers give Ling any trouble, their cars will get squashed by her giant truck!” added Peter Stott.

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    "2007 RALLYCROSS
    OPEN SERIES
    "

    Jan 2007

    "LINGsCARS.com ANNOUNCED AS OPEN SERIES TITLE SPONSOR"


    The Chinese host an F1 race in Shanghai, they’ve bought Rover and they are hosting the 2008 Olympics. Now a Chinese woman has stunned the rally world by buying the title sponsor rights of the 2007 Rallycross Open Series, run by PSM Motorsport Ltd.

    Outspoken “mad Chinese bird” Ling Valentine (32), a self-proclaimed “Chinglish” immigrant from Sichuan, China, runs LINGsCARS.com. Her award-winning website business rents over £1.5m of brand new cars to businesses and private individuals for 2 or 3-years, from as little as £99 per month. Ling is the “Entrepreneur of the Year – Woman in Retail 2006”, awarded in the North East Business Awards.

    “The Chinese are coming, you’d better race for your lives” she told the Rallycross drivers.

    Ling said, “The Rallycross Open Series will now become known as the 2007 LINGsCARS.com Rallycross Open Series! Drivers will be provided with a little red Mao book to improve their mental attitude. Free noodles and chopsticks will be available at each round of the championship. Spectators who complain will be shot!”

    Rallycross Open Series organiser, Peter Stott added:

    “As you can see, Ling is a real character and the agreement with LINGsCARS.com completes the package and structure for the 2007 Rallycross season. Combined with the new television deal, which will see a minimum of four channels broadcasting the series both on terrestrial and satellite, the Open Series has all of the elements in place to build on the major success of last years Superprix. With LINGsCARS.com as well as Olympus, K&N Filters, Silkolene and Silverstone tyres sponsorship backing, the series is now associated with five companies that are all leaders in their field.”

    However, Ling was less impressed at the suggestion that she provides contract hire cars to the race teams and drivers.

    “They seem to crash all the time and they drive like idiots. No way are they getting in one of my brand-new cars! I have watched these guys racing last year and it’s just smoke, noise and screeching tyres. I guess they don’t need a driving licence to race these 500bhp cars. I prefer renting to normal human beings.”

    Ling owns a 7.0 litre, V8 6x6 Chinese Nuclear Missile Truck that she says she will “donate” to the clerk of the course for track inspections.

    “If the drivers give Ling any trouble, their cars will get squashed by her giant truck!” added Peter Stott.

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    "NATIONAL FARMER'S UNION"
    Actively supporting the countryside community
    13th Nov 2006

    CAR DEALER SHAMES MOTOR INDUSTRY



    A female web-based motor dealer is the first new car sales outlet to publish environmental comparative data on all ranges of cars.

    A female Chinese immigrant is the motor dealer leading the ‘green motoring’ revolution by becoming the first new car sales outlet to publish official government environmental comparative data directly alongside a wide range of over 150 budget-priced new cars from Audis to Volkswagens.

    Ling Valentine is also kick starting a campaign to make consumers aware of the ‘comparative labels’, which are not yet compulsory on websites and she has the support of North East MEP Martin Callanan, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and the Government Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

    Her move comes as the European Commission studies proposals to force car manufacturers to produce smaller, more efficient models to reduce environmental damage.

    The web-based car contract hire boss has taken the unique step of linking each of her new cars to government data so that consumers can easily compare the effects of their new motor on the environment. While government advice is “When you are choosing a vehicle and you have selected the most appropriate class of vehicle for your needs, choose the most fuel efficient vehicle in that group”, apparently no other car dealer allows different car brands’ environmental data to be compared online. The ratings published compare noise emissions and three types of fuel consumption as well as all-important CO2, plus a colour-coding graphic for each car.

    Ms Valentine said: “Other car dealers say I am mad to show environmental data and that it will put off customers. Customers want this information. We have a planet going wrong here and many dealers can only think of their profit margins and sales targets. Ethical businesses are the way forward and I am lobbying the Government to support health warnings on vehicles. Many dealers refuse to display environmental information on line because they say it harms sales. One dealer told me that he wouldn’t let his customers see this information because it might put them off buying a car.”

    Commenting on the campaign, North East MEP Martin Callanan said: “Ling Valentine is giving UK car buyers comprehensive environmental data on all new cars for sale in the UK to enable them to make an informed choice. There is a fantastic amount of green information on her new cars, which the rest of the UK motor industry would do well to emulate.”

    According to the green car dealer showroom dealers only pay lip service to providing environmental information in order to comply with the law – mainly doing no more than minimum legal requirements. If they do not display the comparative labels they are liable for a £5,000 fine.

    The VCA said: “At this time there is no legal requirement for dealers to display this information on their websites and we appreciate the efforts Ms Valentine is making to improving environmental awareness amongst her customers.”

    For further details visit: www.LINGsCARS.com and www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk for comparative label information.


    Who are NFU Countryside?

    NFU Countryside represents 60,000 members in rural communities throughout the UK. We strive towards giving you value for money for your membership and we achieve this by focusing on our four core brand values:

    Enthusiastic – We love the countryside and share our members’ interests
    Considered – We take a well informed, carefully chosen view
    Passionate – We believe in the value of what we do
    Locally focused – Our attention is on the matters close to home as well as nationally

    In addition, NFU Countryside demonstrates a strong affinity with the NFU and its membership. We recognise the importance of farming to the rural economy and we aim to support UK farmers and to promote their produce to consumers, wherever possible.

    Above all, we believe in the future of countryside communities.

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    "NORTH EAST 2007 BUSINESS DIRECTORY AND YEARBOOK"
    Jan 2007
    "Gateshead based web-entrepreneur LING VALENTINE, 'a Chinese, female, online car-sales whirlwind' crashes the stuffy business website model - and walks away unscathed...

    "ORGANIC WEBSITES ARE THE FUTURE"


    I’M Ling and I work from the Internet, I even live inside my website. Most business websites are terrible. Boring and useless.

    I say that a website should be constantly organic – be alive, fluid, evolving and most of all, have a personality. If not, then it’s dead.

    Building a website is one of the easiest skills in the world to learn. You can copy source code from any website. It’s free! Simply add content and stir.

    I maintain my website myself, minute-by-minute. Certainly in my own industry, my website is head and shoulders above any other car sales website. That’s because I feed it all the time, like a pet spider. It is never finished, and never perfect – but everything works and I never upload bland rubbish. Every day it changes.

    The best way to create a successful website is to make it entertaining, useful and accurate. And the best way to do that is to work from it, yourself - because if you can use it, then your customers can.

    If your stock or data database is supplying your website with information (it should be), then work from your website. Make your website your business access point, for everyone. Your staff should find prices or availability from your website and use it for communication with customers. A website is simply a useless and boring sales brochure unless you can do something with it. And websites are SO cheap!

    For example; my customers can browse live car deals on my website and get a live RSS feed, (that’s where I check my own figures and work from) so it’s always 100% accurate and up to date. 99 out of 100 of other websites in the world contain old static information. Plus, they are boring.

    My website LINGsCARS.com gets around 50,000 unique visitors every single month, and many of those interact with me by text chatting as they browse. I monitor the website, constantly. Customers ask questions and it’s a wonderful feeling to be chatting as they browse my website. Using this technology I can also “push” them to pages they might otherwise not see, and close them by answering queries.

    You want website ideas? Well, stop patronising. I treat customers like adults, not idiots – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun while they look at my car deals! There’s a series of “Chop Gear” spoof movies, roadtesting new cars and freely available. I offer free lunch to 10 visitors every day and send them noodle with chopsticks, Chinese Nescafé and a small pudding. They apply online, and this is very popular, even with high-rollers and company directors. As is my “Free Money” promotion – I post out Chinese Yuan banknotes and Chinese Polo mints to applicants... where else can you get those?

    If website visitors enjoy playing my quiz and reading my blog (a blog is SO important for Google to index), then they can send me poetry. I publish it online and send them a genuine 1960s Mao’s Little Red Book as a reward. Many businesses would kill to get this much customer participation. My visitors spend up to one hour browsing my website, and still they can’t “do” it all. Eventually, they may even have a car from me!

    A great idea is to publish every customer letter you get. Visitors can browse over 370 customer letters on my website as well as 55 press articles.Wow! I often wonder why every business does not allow this kind of access to information?

    So go ahead; kill your old static website, grab a lively student, give them £500 and tell them to get on with it. Stop using these flashy corporate web firms. You’ll be extremely happy with your customer’s opinions of the results! They don’t want perfection; they want a useful and entertaining time.

    All this web activity takes time but it’s fun and it pays off. I rent more than £1.5m worth of new cars every month.

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    "DURHAM BUSINESS SCHOOL"
    Rankings: 18th in Europe and 6th in the UK
    21st Nov 2006

    LING WINS AWARD



    Hundreds of female entrepreneurs, their colleagues and business professionals from across the region gathered at the Hilton Hotel in Newcastle/Gateshead on Friday 17th November.

    The North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, developed and organised by Women Into the Network (WIN) of Durham Business School, sponsored by One NorthEast and compered by Julia Hankin of BBC Radio Newcastle, saw over 500 people walk up the red carpet to hear the results and help to celebrate the achievements of the North East’s women entrepreneurs.

    The nine categories on offer were sponsored by a host of organisations across the region – Barclays Bank plc, South Tyneside Council, The Mailing House Group, Sadie the Bra Lady, Arts Council England, The Journal, Northumberland County Council, the New Technology Institute and The Susan Dobson Memorial Fund.

    Christine Mavin of fireplace retailer, Plaster Piece Ltd won the Susan Dobson Award for Entrepreneurship.

    Winners on the evening were:

    Most Innovative Idea – Sara Johnson of Crafters Companion Ltd
    Young Woman Entrepreneur – Victoria Lynch of Additional Lengths
    Woman in Retail – Ling Valentine of LINGsCARS.com
    Woman Social Entrepreneur – Sylvia Hudson of South Tyneside Credit Union Ltd
    Best Cultural and Creative Business - Jacqui Chapman of Spacecraft Events Ltd
    Best Newcomer – Danielle Dunn of Fresh Soap Deli Ltd
    Rural Woman Entrepreneur – Jane Nolan of Shark Group (Shark Sports Ltd T/A)
    Woman in Technology – Siobhan Bales of The bgroup
    The Judges’ Special Commendation went to 17 year old Carly Heddon of Newburn based knitting and craft retail outlet, Glitter Box, who impressed the judges with her entrepreneurial flair.





    CHINA POWER: Lina Liang receives award on my behalf
    - I was in China at a Uni reunion
    - Ling

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    "BIZ/ED" (www.bized.co.uk)
    The primary provider of Internet-based learning materials for the economics and business education community
    12 Jan 2007

    "LING is an A-LEVEL PROJECT!"


    Biz/ed.co.uk has established itself as the primary provider of Internet-based learning materials for the economics and business education community, accounting, leisure, sport & recreation and travel & tourism.

    Biz/ed is targeted at students and teachers in the post-16 education sector, covering schools, FE colleges, universities and beyond. The site offers support at many different levels including AVCE, AS and A2 level, International Baccalaureate, HNC, HND and MBA.

    Since its launch in January 1996 the number of visitors to the site has been growing rapidly and it now regularly receives over 3 million page accesses per month.

    The site has been nominated for a number of awards:
    ...the BETT award, the Becta / Guardian Web award, a MERLOT learning and teaching award, and a Webby Awards Honoree.


    In November 2002, Biz/ed became a JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) service. Under service funding, the Biz/ed Web site was able to provide access to high quality Web based learning materials, as well as extend the range of products it offered.

    To assist these advanced students, Biz/ed have created profiles for a range of business organisations.

    These are presented as sets of FAQs, grouped into themes that make sense to BTEC and AS/A2 students, as well as the general reader. The list of companies currently includes BAA, McDonalds, Sainsbury and Boots plus many others... including, now, LINGsCARS.com!

    I am extremely honoured to have my business model represented alongside such well-known and respected companies. I hope it is very useful to the drugged-up students to compare different approaches and that it inspires them to realise there are different ways to achieve success.


    All this information is provided totally free and has taken lots of time and effort to compile and publish, by each business. Biz/ed and I have put a lot of effort into this, I think my information is far more comprehensive than many of the larger organisations have offered - Ling

    See my A-LEVEL project, condensed into one page HERE

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    15th Dec 2006

    LING WINS AWARD



    Outspoken, self-confessed “crazy” entrepreneur Ling Valentine has scooped the Woman in Retail business award as part of the North East Entrepreneur of the year 2006.

    The LingsCars owner, who contract hires new cars via her internet business, was praised for her innovation and strong financial performance. Her website was also recently listed in FHM and Car magazines’ top websites.

    Valentine, whose husband Jon Valentine is a partner in used car supermarket Carshock, has also created environmental efficiency labels on her website based on the official fridge-type system. Customers can compare green credentials based on fuel consumption.



    This is typical downbeat item from Automotive Management who have refused to communicate with me over the "Automotive Management Awards 2007" which I have entered... as I wanted an automotive category for "Environmental Achievement" - which I think I would win! They refuse to create this category, as like the rest of the motor trade they bury their heads in the sand and avoid environmental awareness like mad!

    Wah, it makes me boil; they should set an example!

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    "CHECK MY FILE.com"
    The first UK company to supply consumers with online access to their credit files
    21st Dec 2006

    12 Things to do at your PC at Christmas...


    "3. Have a really good laugh reading the car reviews and find out how to get a free lunch on www.LINGsCARS.com"



    Wow! This is very nice of Check My File .com to give me a mention and a link. I offer their services for free to my customers so that everyone can do a self-credit check. In the Christmas list, I was above Modonna and Bill Gates, "Death Forecast" and www.beer.com. Great, huh?


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    "MOTOR FINANCE"
    The Journal for Car Finance and Leasing
    November 2006

    "WAR OF WORDS"


    No-one could ever accuse Ling Valentine, owner of LINGsCARS.com, of being the shy and retiring type. Valentine - who is very proud of her publicity stunts, including parking a nuclear missile launcher next to the A1, which earned her space on the hallowed pages of the FT - has hit out at car dealers for supposedly adding to the UK's £1.2trillion "debt mountain", saying, "People get into so much debt, buying a depreciating asset. It's crazy. Car dealers add so much profit on to these finance deals and loans, and people simply ramp up their borrowing. Common sense tells me people should rent their new cars at a fixed monthly cost and put their money into their house."
    Tell us what you really think, Ling!

    However, dealers are not taking this lying down, with Andrew Sparshatt, sales Director of Sparshatts of Kent, retorting via AM Online: "I'm sure when customers are unsure of which model to lease from her she suggests they go down to their local showroom and test drive the model in question. Why attack us when we're the people working on her behalf? I'm all for competition, but when will people like Ling realise that she and her customers need dealerships?" Ouch. We reckon this one will run and run.


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    "AUTOWIRED"
    Leading UK motoring news site
    4th Dec 2006

    Valentine causes more stir with waitress prank


    LING VALENTINE, Chinese owner of lingscars.com, has been named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year" and top "Women in Retail for 2006", by One North East, Gateshead.

    The ceremony, organised by the Women Into the Network (WIN) and Durham Business School invited entries from female entrepreneurs from all over the region.

    The judges considered that Ling's attributes of a strong financial performance, a product or store innovation, proven high customer service, as well as excellent brand values beat the competition.

    Ling was in China and unable to personally accept the award, but nominated her Chinese employee, Lina Liang, to accept it on her behalf - but not without some controversy.

    Waitress

    "I planted my Chinese employee, Lina Liang, to work as an insignificant waitress in the Hilton hotel where she served food all night, kow-towing to the guests. The organisers and audience were amazed when she stepped on the stage to join the awards photo session in her waitress uniform among the ball-gowns and high-heels."

    "It's about time someone made the point that Chinese people are not just waitresses and take-away owners and can compete with the best UK entrepreneurs,"
    said Ling Valentine.


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    "TWO MO"
    The word of mouse online
    8th Dec 2006

    "Lings Cars: "Wah!" Contract car hire...!"


    This is just THE best website I've seen in ages. It's a car rental site, but oh boy, is it different. It's funny. It's got loads of information. It's got a great sense of humour. It offers you free lunches. It shows you funny Youtube videos of Ling Valentine, its Chinese owner on her Red London Bus, or her Chinese Nuclear Missile Lorry. It tells you how to build a great website, have fun, make money. Oh, and it does you great contract rental deals (personal or business) on cars. Visit.

    Nominated by: Will King (United Kingdom)

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    "Real Business"
    For entrepreneurs and fast-growth companies
    By Dan Matthews
    Dec 6th 2006

    INTRODUCING LING VALENTINE


    Ling Valentine, a favourite of RealBusiness.co.uk, is the ever-so-slightly deranged owner of lingscars.com, a very successful car leasing business.

    A quick look at the website gives you a good idea of her approach to business (seriously, she’s nuts).

    But at a recent awards ceremony she took it a step further. Unable to attend the do in person, she enlisted a manager to collect the award on her behalf.

    Ling “planted” the employee, also Chinese, as an employee of the hotel where the event was being held. The employee served food and drinks all night, until the Lingscars.com award was announced.

    At that point she broke cover and took her rightful place on the stage. Apparently, this stunt had a serious political point: that Chinese people are not just “waitresses and take-away owners”.

    Whether this lesson registered with the sozzled gathering is another question.


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    "JUST-AUTO"
    The automotive business blog
    by the editorial team
    5 Dec 2006

    "LING VALENTINE MAKES HER POINT WITH 'WAITRESS PRANK'"


    Ling Valentine, Chinese owner of online lease and contract hire website lingscars.com, has been named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year" and top "Women in Retail for 2006", by One North East, Gateshead, according to a report on AutoWired.

    However, Ling reportedly caused something of a stir at the awards ceremony.

    The ceremony, organised by the Women Into the Network (WIN) and Durham Business School invited entries from female entrepreneurs from all over the region.

    The judges considered that Ling's attributes of a strong financial performance, a product or store innovation, proven high customer service, as well as excellent brand values beat the competition.

    Ling was reportedly in China and unable to personally accept the award, but nominated her Chinese employee, Lina Liang, to accept it on her behalf.

    And that's where it gets interesting.

    According to the report, Ling arranged a stunt to make a serious political point: "I planted my Chinese employee, Lina Liang, to work as an insignificant waitress in the Hilton hotel where she served food all night, kow-towing to the guests. The organisers and audience were amazed when she stepped on the stage to join the awards photo session in her waitress uniform among the ball-gowns and high-heels.

    "It's about time someone made the point that Chinese people are not just waitresses and take-away owners and can compete with the best UK entrepreneurs," said Ling Valentine.


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    "Autoblog Green"
    World-famous blog about green car issues
    Nov 21st 2006

    Ling Valentine: I AM BEST! I human being, not robot! Full green data here, a web first!


    In your online travels, do you ever pause and think, "man, this website is just too easy to navigate. I wish there were some website that looked like everything a used car salesman would say, and all those words were on the screen at once. Yeah, that'd be a great site. And what if it had section dedicated to green car stuff. Perfect. Now, if only it could be run by a self-described hotheaded Chinese woman with a penchant for animated GIFs, handwritten notes, and hyperbole, I'd visit that site every day." Well, hotshot, if this unlikely scenario is true, welcome to heaven.

    LingsCars is busy. I don't know about traffic numbers, but visually, it's the busiest site I've seen in a while. The proprietor is Ling Valentine, and she says she lives inside the website every weekday from 9-6 (UK time). Ostensibly a site where you can rent a car or van for a few years, LingsCars also offers opinions courtesy of Ling's Blog and a seemingly endless series of links. The key for AutoblogGreen readers is that each car is listed with a colored environmental scale, so CO2 emissions and fuel economy are easy to know at a glance. Well, as easy as can be, buried in a screen with a zillion other attractions. It's like visiting a used car lot and being taken in by all the sparkling banners. Kind of cool, kind of unsettling.


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    "MOTORBAR"
    The very latest motoring news
    21st Nov 2006

    "Motor dealers slammed for ‘concealing’ green ratings as new EU law looms... "


    A female Chinese immigrant is the motor dealer leading the 'green motoring' revolution by becoming the first new car sales outlet to publish official Government environmental comparative data directly alongside a wide range of over 150 budget-priced new cars, from Audis right through to Volkswagens.

    LINGsCARS.com is run by web-entrepreneur Ling Valentine, who is also kicking off a campaign to make consumers aware of 'comparative labels'. These are not yet compulsory on websites and no other car dealer displays them online — despite the information being freely available for them to do so. Ling has the support of North East MEP Martin Callanan and the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) as well as the Government Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

    Her move comes as the European Commission studies proposals to force car manufacturers to produce smaller, more efficient models to reduce environmental damage.

    The web-based car contract hire boss, who is more than happy with her industry nickname 'the Mad Chinese Bird', has taken the unique step of linking each of her new cars to accurate Government data so that consumers can easily compare the effects of their new motor on the environment. While Government advice is "When you are choosing a vehicle and you have selected the most appropriate class of vehicle for your needs, choose the most fuel efficient vehicle in that group", no other car dealer (or any car manufacturer) allows different car brands' environmental data to be compared online. The ratings published by LINGsCARS compare noise emissions and three types of fuel consumption, as well as all-important CO2 and an easy to follow colour-coding graphic for each car. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) compiles the ratings. The VCA is the Government approval authority for new road vehicles. LINGsCARS.com is the only new-car sales site in cyberspace where consumers can compare this important information.

    Visitors to Ling's website will find they can even print off the approved CO2 'Comparative Label' — like the one on fridges in electrical shops. LINGsCARS is the only website in the World where this is possible. Ironically, to view this environmental label from any other motor dealer in the UK, customers have to DRIVE to their showroom, creating yet more CO2!

    Ling (33) says other businesses should follow suit: "Other car dealers say I am mad to show environmental data and that it will put off customers. I say that they are environmental-mentalists not to do this, as the Government may force them into action anyway. Customers want this information. We have a planet going wrong here and many dealers can only think of their profit margins and sales targets. Ethical businesses are the way forward and I am lobbying the Government to support health warnings on vehicles. Many dealers refuse to display environmental information online because they say it harms sales. One dealer told me that he wouldn't let his customers see this information because it might put them off buying a car. His view was that if he pointed out how much CO2 their brand of car spewed out, his customers would go and buy something else."

    Ling's high-profile campaign has the support of North East MEP Martin Callanan. He says: "Ling and her unique website LINGsCARS.com displays environmental information in a way that leads the UK motor industry. Following my discussions with her about greening the business, Ling has grasped the environmental nettle and is giving UK car buyers compre-hensive environmental data on all new cars for sale in the UK to enable them to make an informed choice. LINGsCARS gives a fantastic amount of green information on her new cars — something the rest of the UK motor industry would do well to emulate. Using the internet is already the most energy efficient way of researching and buying a new car. So well done Ling, for taking the personal responsibility to push this carbon data to the top of her agenda and to push environ-mental awareness a big step further."

    A lot of work went into making the environmental data avail-able on her website — as Ling points out, she coded it all herself. For technical guidance Ling spoke directly to the VCA, who were "extremely pleased someone was using their data comparatively, at last". She says: "It wasn't hard, it just took a bit of time."

    The VCA stated: "We appreciate the efforts Ling is making to improving environmental awareness amongst her customers, and I'm sure that her approach will be of help to them when deciding on a new car." They told Ling: "Your comments and in-depth suggestions on how we might improve the output of the data will be considered alongside any other proposals for change."

    According to Ling, showroom dealers only pay lip service to providing environmental information in order to comply with the law — mainly doing no more than the minimum legal requirement. If they do not display the comparative labels, they are liable for a £5,000 fine. The VCA said: "At this time there is no legal requirement for dealers to display this infor-mation on their websites." Researching cars via the web is the most environmentally friendly way for the public to check information. Ling says she is "astounded" that this environ-mental data is not a legal requirement online. "It costs nothing", she claims. "It's almost criminal that car dealers get away without showing the 'fridge' labels online."

    Christopher Macgowan, Chief Executive of the SMMT wrote to express his thanks for Ling's actions, saying: "Ling, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity at SMMT to look at the impact of the (environmental) label in a different media from the car showroom. We have always been aware that, like the 'white goods' label on which the car label is based, its merits extend beyond the car showroom."

    The outspoken boss of LINGsCARS boss points out that whilst the industry may be aware of uses of this data, nobody is doing anything with it. "Dealers are taking a head-in-the-sand approach," she says. "Many car dealers bury environ-mental information on their websites — if they show any at all. Salesmen have no interest and manufacturers will not compare different brands. It is as if they all deliberately want to hide it from consumers. It's about time car dealers — especially franchised dealers — took their environmental responsibilities seriously, from the top down. Without legis-lation they will probably continue to do next to nothing."

    Ling Valentine is offering her LINGsCARS environmental html website code as 'freeware' online, so that every UK car dealer will be able to integrate and display the data alongside their cars on their websites. She has even published an online 'how to' tutorial for like-minded car dealers on the Automotive Management industry forum website. Up until now, she says, there have been no indications of interest directed to her by any dealer group.

    "The environment is bigger than any of that silly competitive nonsense," Ling says. And, you know what? She is absolutely right.


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    "The Journal"
    Northern Business Daily
    Nov 18th 2006

    LING VALENTINE OF LINGsCARS.com WINS "WOMAN IN RETAIL" - ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR 2006


    Eight female entrepreneurs running businesses across the North-East took away awards in a range of categories. The dinner was hosted and organised by Durham Business School's Women Into the Network. It was sponsored by One NorthEast and compered by Julia Hankin, of BBC Radio Newcastle.

    The Journal business editor Iain Laing said: "The Journal is delighted to have sponsored the Best Newcomer Award."

    Women Into the Network project director Dinah Bennett said: "The North-East has shown one of the highest increases of women setting up businesses in the UK, which in turn is contributing enormously to the GDP of the region. "It's wonderful that we have been able to celebrate such a wealth of success and talent."

    The audience heard from 2005's North-East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Anne Ganley, of Sunderland's Thompson Building Centres.

    The winners

    Most Innovative Idea - Sara Johnson, Crafters (correct) Companion, County Durham.

    Young Woman Entrepreneur - Victoria Lynch, Additional Lengths, Stockton.

    Woman in Retail - Ling Valentine, LINGsCARS.com, Gateshead.

    Woman Social Entrepreneur - Sylvia Hudson, South Tyneside Credit Union, South Shields.

    Best Cultural and Creative Business - Jacqui Chapman, Spacecraft Events, County Durham.

    Best Newcomer - Danielle Dunn, Fresh Soap Deli, North Shields.

    Rural Woman Entrepreneur - Jane Nolan, Shark Group, Northumberland.

    Woman in Technology - Siobhan Bales, The bgroup, Newcastle.


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    "JUNKK.com"
    Rubbish needn't be a dirty word
    14 Nov 2006

    " CAR-LING'S RED/ORANGE/GREEN LABELS!"


    At first blush, it would seem odd that we, defenders of all that is green, would be talking about a car site (though my frequent ability to agree with Jeremy Clarkson gives a hint).

    Well, anyone who knows us will appreciate that we are nothing if not pragmatic, and a quick scope of our recent blogs will show that we accept the blasted things are a necessity until a viable (lots behind that baby, or is it mother, of a word) alternative is found.

    And until it is, we get well and truly perky, not to mention behind those who are trying to make the most of things and DO something.

    One such is Ling Valentine.

    This female Chinese immigrant claims to be the motor dealer leading the 'green motoring' revolution, by becoming the first new car sales outlet to publish official Government environmental comparative data directly alongside a wide range of over 150 new cars, from Audis right through to Volkswagens.

    Her company, LINGsCARS.com, is also kicking off a campaign to make consumers aware of the 'comparative labels', which are apparently not yet compulsory on websites (we're told no other car dealer displays them online despite the information being freely available for the to do this) - and in this she has the support of North East MEP Martin Callanan and the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) as well as the Government Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

    The web-based car contract hire boss, who is "very happy" with her industry nickname "the Mad Chinese Bird", has taken the unique step of linking each of her new cars to accurate Government data so that consumers can easily compare the effects of their new motor on the environment.

    The ratings published by LINGsCARS compare noise emissions and three types of fuel consumption as well as all-important CO2, plus an easy to follow colour-coding graphic for each car. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) compiles the ratings. The VCA is the Government approval authority for new road vehicles.

    Visitors to Ling's website can even print off the approved CO2 "Comparative Label" - like the one on fridges in electrical shops. LINGsCARS claims to be the only website in the World where this is possible. Ironically, to view this environmental label from any other motor dealer in the UK, customers have to DRIVE to their showroom, creating yet more CO2!

    Ling says "Other car dealers say I am mad to show environmental data and that it will put off customers. I say that they are environmental-mentalists not to do this, as the Government may force them into action anyway. Customers want this information. We have a planet going wrong here, and many dealers can only think of their profit margins and sales targets. Ethical businesses are the way forward and I am lobbying the Government to support health warnings on vehicles."

    MEP Martin Callanan says: "Ling displays environmental information in a way that leads the UK motor industry. Following my discussions with her about greening the business, Ling has grasped the environmental nettle, which the rest of the UK motor industry would do well to emulate. Using the internet is already the most energy efficient way of researching and buying a new car, so well done Ling for taking the personal responsibility to push this carbon data to the top of her agenda and to push environmental awareness a big step further"

    A lot of work went into making the environmental data available on her website, Ling points out, as she coded it herself. For technical guidance Ling spoke directly to the VCA, who were "extremely pleased someone was using their data comparatively, at last", she said. "It wasn't hard, it just took a bit of time".

    The VCA stated "We appreciate the efforts Ling is making to improving environmental awareness amongst her customers and I'm sure that her approach will be of help to them when deciding on a new car
    ."

    The LINGsCARS boss points out that whilst the industry may be aware of uses of this data, no one "is getting off their fat industry backside" and doing anything with it. You have to love this girl!

    Ling Valentine is offering her LINGsCARS environmental html website code as 'freeware', online, so that every UK car dealer can integrate and display the data alongside their cars on their websites. She has even published an online "how to" tutorial for like-minded car dealers on the Automotive Management industry forum website. Up to now, she says there have been no indications of interest directed to her by any dealer group.


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    "AUTO INDUSTRY
    - from the DTI"

    Definitive, single point of reference on the web for the UK Auto Industry
    14th Nov 2006

    LINGsCARS.com CAMPAIGNS FOR ECO-LABELS ON CAR SALES WEBSITES


    LINGsCARS.com, the North-East car leasing business run by the non-publicity-shy Ling Valentine, has begun a campaign to make consumers aware of the 'comparative labels', which are not yet compulsory on car sales websites, saying that none besides her own displays them online.

    The ratings published by LINGsCARS compare noise emissions and three types of fuel consumption as well as CO2, with colour-coding graphic for each car. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) compiles the ratings.

    Ling's campaign has earned the support of North East MEP Martin Callanan, who says: "Ling and her unique website LINGsCARS.com displays environmental information in a way that leads the UK motor industry. Following my discussions with her about greening the business, Ling has grasped the environmental nettle and is giving UK car buyers comprehensive environmental data on all new cars for sale in the UK to enable them to make an informed choice."

    Ms Valentine quotes Christopher Macgowan, Chief Executive of the SMMT as writing, "Ling, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity at SMMT to look at the impact of the (environmental) label in a different media from the car showroom. We have always been aware that like the "white goods" label on which the car label is based, that its merits extend beyond the car showroom.""


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    "JUST-AUTO"
    The automotive business blog
    by David Leggett
    13 Nov 2006

    "MAD CHINESE BIRD"


    Towards the end of last week I spotted a press release in my Inbox headed 'Car dealer shames UK motor industry'. A header like that got my attention. Basically, there's an online contract-hire specialist who goes by the name of Ling Valentine (she's a Chinese immigrant to the UK) and works out of her sitting room somewhere in the northeast of England. The press release concerns her publication of official green ratings for cars, something that she claims enable car-to-car comparisons that the industry is loathe to support (bit of a shame the link to that data doesn't seem to be working though).

    Leaving aside that particular question, a look around Ling's website was most entertaining. She has some pretty forthright views and a unique style of presentation. Not quite yer average contract-hire website. Free noodles for lunch anyone?


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    "ENERGY EFFICIENT
    MOTOR SPORT
    "

    The EEMS project will create opportunities for alternative fuels
    13th Nov 2006

    LINGsCARS.com CAMPAIGNS FOR ECO-LABELS ON CAR SALES WEBSITES


    LINGsCARS.com, the North-East car leasing business run by the non-publicity-shy Ling Valentine, has begun a campaign to make consumers aware of the 'comparative labels', which are not yet compulsory on car sales websites, saying that none besides her own displays them online.

    The ratings published by LINGsCARS compare noise emissions and three types of fuel consumption as well as CO2, with colour-coding graphic for each car. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) compiles the ratings.

    Ling's campaign has earned the support of North East MEP Martin Callanan, who says: "Ling and her unique website LINGsCARS.com displays environmental information in a way that leads the UK motor industry. Following my discussions with her about greening the business, Ling has grasped the environmental nettle and is giving UK car buyers comprehensive environmental data on all new cars for sale in the UK to enable them to make an informed choice."

    Ms Valentine quotes Christopher Macgowan, Chief Executive of the SMMT as writing, "Ling, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity at SMMT to look at the impact of the (environmental) label in a different media from the car showroom. We have always been aware that like the "white goods" label on which the car label is based, that its merits extend beyond the car showroom."


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    "GREEN CAR GUIDE"
    How to save money by
    greener driving

    13 Nov 2006

    THE ONLY PLACE TO LEASE A NEW CAR ON-LINE AND COMPARE GREEN RATINGS


    A website exists where you can compare the prices of hundreds of cars online before leasing them, AND see all their green ratings. But the website not only provides a wealth of information such as this, it’s also pretty entertaining in a weird sort of way – check out the nuclear missile truck and comparisons between cars and cigarettes. The press page is particularly good value with a whole bunch of stories from various bemused press reporters about the nuclear missile truck stuck in mud next to the A1(M) near Tony Blair’s constituency of Sedgefield.

    Anyway, onto the more important things. www.LINGsCARS.com is run by ‘mad Chinese web entrepreneur’ (official title) Ling Valentine. The site is claimed to be the first new car sales outlet to publish official Government environmental comparative data directly alongside a wide range of over 150 budget-priced new cars from Audis right through to Volkswagens.

    The company is also kicking off a campaign to make consumers aware of the ‘comparative labels’, which are not yet compulsory on websites (no other car dealer displays them online despite the information being freely available for them to do this) - and Ling has the support of North East MEP Martin Callanan and the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) as well as the Government Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

    Her move comes as the European Commission studies proposals to force car manufacturers to produce smaller, more efficient models to reduce environmental damage.

    The web-based car contract hire boss, who is “very happy” with her industry nickname “the Mad Chinese Bird”, has taken the unique step of linking each of her new cars to accurate Government data so that consumers can easily compare the effects of their new motor on the environment. While Government advice is “When you are choosing a vehicle and you have selected the most appropriate class of vehicle for your needs, choose the most fuel efficient vehicle in that group (see our green-car-guide to do this of course!)”, no other car dealer (or any car manufacturer) allows different car brands’ environmental data to be compared online. The ratings published by LINGsCARS compare noise emissions and three types of fuel consumption as well as all-important CO2, plus an easy to follow colour-coding graphic for each car. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) compiles the ratings. The VCA is the Government approval authority for new road vehicles. LINGsCARS.com is the only new-car sales site in cyberspace where consumers can compare this important information.

    Visitors to Ling’s website can even print off the approved CO2 “Comparative Label” - like the one on fridges in electrical shops. LINGsCARS is the only website in the world where this is possible. Ironically, to view this environmental label from any other motor dealer in the UK, customers have to DRIVE to their showroom, creating yet more CO2!

    Ling (33) says that customers want green information. “Ethical businesses are the way forward and I am lobbying the Government to support health warnings on vehicles.”

    Ling’s high profile campaign also has the support of North East MEP Martin Callanan. He says: “Ling and her unique website LINGsCARS.com displays environmental information in a way that leads the UK motor industry. Following my discussions with her about greening the business, Ling has grasped the environmental nettle and is giving UK car buyers comprehensive environmental data on all new cars for sale in the UK to enable them to make an informed choice. LINGsCARS gives a fantastic amount of green information on her new cars, which the rest of the UK motor industry would do well to emulate. Using the internet is already the most energy efficient way of researching and buying a new car, so well done Ling for taking the personal responsibility to push this carbon data to the top of her agenda and to push environmental awareness a big step further”

    The VCA said; “At this time there is no legal requirement for dealers to display this information on their websites.” Researching cars via the web is the most environmentally friendly way for the public to check information and Ling says she is “astounded” that this environmental data is not a legal requirement, online.

    Christopher Macgowan, Chief Executive of the SMMT wrote to express his thanks for Valentine’s actions. He said “Ling, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity at SMMT to look at the impact of the (environmental) label in a different media from the car showroom. We have always been aware that like the “white goods” label on which the car label is based, that its merits extend beyond the car showroom.”

    So for probably the most entertaining AND greenest car lease information, for individuals or businesses, see www.LINGsCARS.com. You can even lease certain models for 3 or 6 months – another very refreshing idea! WAH!


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    "INFO FOR SMALL BUSINESSES"
    Info brings the headlines direct
    to your email box each month

    5th Nov 2006

    EMAIL SPAMMING CHARTER ANGERS UK WEB RETAILERS


    UK internet retailers have slammed the decision by internet service providers to charge companies for sending bulk emails or "spam" as unsolicited email is known.

    AOL and Yahoo plan to turn spamming into a profitable service by charging fees of up to one cent (US) per message to those businesses that sign up to send bulk mail. Paying the fee means that messages will not go through spam filters, are guaranteed to arrive and will bear a stamp of authenticity.

    Ling Valentine, owner of LINGsCARS.com an internet-based car leasing firm, is furious at the prospect of AOL and Yahoo "prostituting" their services by reclassifying spam as normal mail, as long as they take a cut: "This is a 'spammers charter'. It's clearly aimed at extracting money from bona-fide organisations that send lots of email and don't want their messages mistaken for spam. However, it seems to mean that the internet giants are endorsing these paid for messages by fast-tracking them around their own filters and dumping yet more unsolicited email onto UK mailboxes - and taking money for doing it. This will not protect UK businesses and individuals from yet more spam, it just means that Yahoo and AOL make money from allowing this rubbish through."

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    "BUSINESS CAR"
    BusinessCar incorporates Fleet Week and Fleet Management magazines
    28 Oct 2006



    Ling Valentine's Way

    Flamboyant Chinese-born entrepreneur Ling Valentine, whose internet-based contract hire operation claims to deal with £1.3 million worth of cars a month, is confident that the 70% business car element within her rapidly growing operation will continue to expand.

    While she concedes that local franchised retailers may resent Ling’s Cars cut-price success as a broker, other dealerships, which provide her with cars, are more than happy that she helps them reach manufacturers’ volume bonuses. Valentine, a self-confessed “mad Chinese bird”, says: “Maybe the manufacturers or some dealers are not happy with our business as brokers and contract hire specialists, but we are answerable to the customers, who come to us in growing numbers, including more and more fleet managers.”

    She puts her company’s success – with contract hire rates up to 35% below major companies – down to “minimal overheads, an effective internet system and good direct communication with consumers, including a chat room where I can talk to several different customers at once about their issues”.

    Most of Ling’s Cars’ business car involvement relates to small- and medium-sized fleets, most of whom lease between two and 15 cars. Bigger companies are joining her clientele list as between 60 and 70 predominantly premium brand cars are processed monthly.

    Valentine, who shares management duties with husband Jon, points to growing numbers of cash-for-car customers within the nominally retail sector, who she claims, “find that the allowances provided by their companies generally go a lot further with us”.

    Valentine maintains that business drivers are turning away from “boring, overweight conventional contract hire firms” because Ling’s Cars offers “competitive rates and entertainment”. This extends to the 1966 Routemaster bus, which acts as a combined sales and communication centre while also dispensing free Chinese noodle lunches and Chinese bank notes to fleet managers.

    Apart from the “conventional trade”, Valentine cites un-named “big suppliers” as the willing source of cars, which are underwritten by finance companies including Lombard, Lex and the RBS.
      



    BROKERS
    HEROES OR VILLAINS?

    By John Mahoney

    Brokers have burrowed a niche in contract hire by dealing exclusively with small- and medium-sized business, but do they offer value-for-money, or do they deserve their poor reputation within the industry? The industry has a love-hate relationship with the 3000 brokers estimated to be working within the UK. Unofficially, the majority of car manufacturers are united in their dislike of these double agents who bring financial risk into their business, but because of their united strength have had to reluctantly learn to live with them. Small-to-medium-sized companies on the other hand seem to love them, viewing them as lone mavericks on a mission to bring them better deals on their next fleet of vehicles, while cutting out the hassle of spending hours arranging finance and replacement vehicles.

    Sitting on the fence are the dealers, content to use brokers when shifting volume to meet ambitious sales targets one minute and screaming blue murder the next when brokers step in and steal their custom. So who’s right?

    The beginning
    Brokers first appeared with the emergence of contract hire in the 1980s. Back then they rapidly gained a reputation for, as one charismatic broker put it, “screwing the customer”. Since then, brokers have worked hard to reinvent themselves. They’ve grown up and attempted to separate themselves from the shady wheeling-dealing chancer by taking a more professional, customer-focused approach. But it’s not because they are worried about winning any customer service awards - brokering has become big business.

    Nowadays, multi-million pound turnovers are not uncommon. In fact, some brokers have become so big they have been triggering leasing giants’ radars for years now, leading to considerable investment in companies such as Network which runs a franchise of brokers under the substantial LeasePlan umbrella. Lombard Vehicle Management also manages a network of more than 130 brokers and gains 10,000 vehicles a year on the back of it. Or to put it another way, a quarter of all new vehicles the leasing giant delivers each year – a huge part of the business. Lombard estimates the total small business market to be worth a million vehicles a year.

    Residual damage
    With volumes like these, it’s no wonder carmakers are forced to do business with brokers, with one leading carmaker’s fleet boss declaring brokers as a “permanent part of the industry landscape” and essential to form “good working relationships with.” But the insider, who refused to be named because of fear of a broker backlash, stressed that brokers should not be underestimated in the “significant financial risk they pose to the industry”.

    But what is this “serious financial risk”, and if the small business is happy, why should we care if a large firm presumably makes less money? “Brokers offer a lucrative route to market and have a huge success rate with the difficult-to-target small business,” says our insider. Problem is, they don’t always say what they are going to do with the cars, and the strict terms of the supplying arrangement can be broken, with cars being sent to areas of the market not intended – with knock-on problems to manufacturers.” These “knock-on problems” concern weakening residuals adding cost to the vehicles you run.

    Over the years, manufacturers have developed increasingly sophisticated ways to maintain and manage RVs, but that management relies on being able to control cars through specific sales channels and in measured quantities. (This is called a CARTEL, PRICE-FIXING, MONOPOLISTIC TRADING, MANIPULATING THE MARKET and CUSTOMER SCREWING in any other business - Ling). Brokers take away this control, and since contracts are normally shorter (2yrs/20,000miles) than the average big business (3yrs/60,000miles), they introduce cars prematurely to the market, adding instability on a model changeover. There’s also the brand-destroying risk of cars ending up heavily discounted on car supermarket forecourts. (Aaaaagh! This is NOT "Brand Destroying"! This is letting the market decide the value of things. The "Brand" value is false, too high, if freeing up supply allows it to free-fall. The manufacturers create this situation, and customers are the big losers - Ling)

    But not all manufacturers share these concerns, and some actively benefit from the presence of brokers in the fleet market. “If people choose a company car through their company car list, chances are, because of our relative size, we’re not on that list,” says Mitsubishi sales boss Lance Bradley. “The great thing about brokers is that they allow fleet to act like a retail customer, and we’re more likely to be on their shopping list.”

    Small businesses' friend
    It seems odd in an age of buying domestic products and services through direct channels that this practice hasn’t been adopted by small businesses. Surely introducing a middleman introduces cost – a simple business adage? Brokers especially are no exception, earning healthy commissions for introducing businesses to contract hire firms. (TOTALLY wrong, and so is the French bloke, below. It is the car dealer who is the middleman! I deal directly with the customer, so how can I be middleman? Car dealers cannot do this internally as cheaply as I can do it externally. If you use a dealer, you pay for retail infrastructure - useless - and prices go up to compensate. Work out how much profit a car dealer needs to run "my" department and try to prove me wrong! Desplace, below, talks out of ass, too - Ling)

    Network Vehicles boss, Christophe Desplace, doesn’t dispute that using brokers can introduce cost in higher rental fees, but argues they offer “fantastic value for money”. “Brokers are key to small fleets – you know that you will pay a fee, but they work hard to understand your needs and deserve your business. They’re not afraid to work silly hours and work quickly with great flexibility.” Desplace adds: “They reduce the hassle factor and are experts at constructing a good best deal for their customer.”

    Intimate knowledge of how small businesses operate is where brokers capitalise. Small businesses have neither the resources nor the time to spend valuable man-hours shopping around and organising finance. Money spent on brokers is saved by better deployment of an MD’s time to run their business. Where brokers can fall down with small companies is offering deals that are impossible to repeat, playing havoc with a company’s budgeting two or three years down the line. “Brokers should always be able to repeat the deal, says Desplace. “Beware of a really good deal today - three years down the line a broker may not be able to repeat it.” (I have never heard such utter rubbish. Better not buy ANY discounted goods - ever - because you will never be sure to get the bargain again, eh? CRAZY. What he means is (sorry Christophe), "Network cannot do cars this cheap, so please buy our expensive ones, instead." - Ling)

    Stealing dealers' lunch money
    Dealers live and die by the broker’s sword. Brokers soak up volume and help dealers meet tough sales expectations in difficult times while simultaneously drawing customers away from their business. It's because small businesses act like product-driven retail customers. In many cases a local firm visits its high-street dealer to discuss replacing the company car fleet.

    Bradley, Mitsubishi’s sales boss, explains the potential conflict that arrives when brokers compete with dealers. “Dealers are sensitive to brokers; quite rightly, too – small brokers can come in and eat their lunch. Dealers will have spent time carrying out test drives and putting a deal together, only to be beaten on price by a broker who can undercut since they have no overheads.” However, Bradley highlighted that, if anything goes wrong, those buying through brokers could face difficulties getting support from a dealer that’s been gazumped. To compete with brokers, Mitsubishi has joined together with Spitalgate Contract Motoring to provide dealers with more competitive contract hire rates.

    The call for regulation
    “Only industry benchmarks will provide customers with total confidence and rid any of the attached stigma that follows brokers,” says Desplace from broker franchise Network. The Network boss also expressed his concern at a recent BusinessCar event about the ease of setting up as a broker, which jeopardises the brokering industry's improving customer service standards levels. Desplace is intent in increasing the levels of professionalism of brokers, with the knock-on effect of eventually improving the way they operate and negotiate with dealers and manufacturers.

    Working closely with organisation such as the Financial Services Authority and BVRLA, his and other large broker firms are pushing for an industry approved Kitemark or traffic light system to make sure the broker you choose is professional, delivers the highest levels of customer service, and invests in their infrastructure. Organisations such as the AVFB (Association of Vehicle Finance Brokers - www.avfb.co.uk) has already taken the first step of introducing a code of practice that sets standards of professionalism and best practice.

    The future
    Lombard Vehicle Management and Network Vehicles will argue they are the model for the future of brokers. Basking under the buying-power umbrella of leasing giants, small businesses are given access to a cheap source of cars and competitive rates of finance.

    But never underestimate the small broker. Their unparalleled level of cunning and ability to tailor-make a deal for a customer is difficult to match. Satisfying the rest of the industry will be the proposed level of regulation governing best practice. Only then will dealers and manufacturers be truly reconciled with the small business' champion.


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    "2006 RALLYCROSS SUPERPRIX"
    Croft Circuit, October 28th and 29th 2006


    "2006 RallyCross SuperPrix"



    "Lingscars.com - the UK's hardest-working supplier of Contract Hire and Personal Contract Hire cars and vans. This is simply long-term rental where you commit to term, and mileage. Ling is a sponsor of the 2006 Rallycross Superprix, alongside K&N Filters, Shannon Holdings and Auto Trader.



    SKY SPORTS will broadcast the Rallycross Superprix. SKY television has released a list of transmission times for the 2006 Shannon Holdings Rallycross Superprix at Croft Circuit:

    10/11/06 at 18.30 on Sky Sports Xtra
    10/11/06 at 21.30 on Sky Sports 3
    11/11/06 at 01.30 on Sky Sports Xtra
    11/11/06 at 06.00 on Sky Sports 2
    11/11/06 at 08.00 on Sky Sports 3
    11/11/06 at 09.30 on Sky Sports 2
    11/11/06 at 15.00 on Sky Sports 3
    11/11/06 at 16.30 on Sky Sports Xtra
    12/11/06 at 11.30 on Sky Sports Xtra"


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    "GLASS'S GUIDE"
    Automotive Business Intelligence
    2 Oct 2006

    MOTOR TRADE ACCUSED OF ADDING TO NATION'S DEBT


    AN ONLINE car rental company is accusing car-makers and dealers of ramping-up Britain's debt mountain.

    Last week, research from Datamonitor revealed that the average British resident is currently £3,175 in debt.

    "It's amazing that the UK car industry is geared up to sell cars on HP and personal loans, and that consumers accept this," said Ling Valentine who runs Lingscars, from Newcastle.

    "This means people get into so much debt, buying a depreciating asset. It's crazy. Car dealers add so much profit on to these finance deals and loans, and people simply ramp up their borrowing."

    "Common sense tells me people should rent their new cars at a fixed monthly cost and put their money into their house."

    Ling Valentine rents over £1.5m of new cars every month from her site.

      * The Datamonitor report said that Total UK personal debt, including mortgages, is about £1.2 trillion. Compared with the average UK resident, the average European owed just £1,558 in unsecured debt


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    "NORTH EAST WOMEN
    ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS
    "

    Business Awards for Women
    21st Oct 2006

    "NOMINATIONS FOR
    NE BUSINESS AWARDS"


    Hosted by Women Into the Network, The North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards were established in 1999 by Women Into the Network.

    These North East business awards:

      - recognise and reward the tremendous contribution being made to the regional economy by women.

      - are specifically targeted at women owner-managers running small and medium enterprises.

      - highlight successful women entrepreneurs who have turned a great business idea into a reality or developed an existing business into a thriving enterprise.

      - are aimed at those who have made a difference and made their organisation a success!

    Celebrating our female entrepreneurs:

      - recognising & celebrating those women in business who have shown creativity, determination, dedication, courage and, of course, entrepreneurial skills and talent.

      - creating role-models and raising the profile of our female entrepreneurs in the North East, these women’s business awards help to inspire other women to follow in their footsteps.

    Highly rated business awards for women:

      - the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards have gone from strength to strength and are now seen as one of the most popular business awards for women in the region.

      - receives record numbers of nominations from successful women entrepreneurs culminates in a “sell-out” awards ceremony in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in North East England.

      - attended by those from all areas of the business community, who want to celebrate and recognise the achievements of our female entrepreneurs.


    LIST OF SHORTLISTED WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS

    Most Innovative Idea

    Lucy Bowden - Fishing for Everyone
    Jo Clay - Strange Agency
    Sara Johnson - Crafters Companion Ltd
    Rebecca Jayne Philipson - UR In The Paper Ltd

    Young Woman Entrepreneur

    Danielle Dunn - Fresh Soap Deli Ltd
    Maunika Gowardhan - Starters & Spice
    Sara Johnson - Crafters Companion Ltd
    Victoria Lynch - Additional Lengths
    Rebecca Jayne Philipson - UR In The Paper Ltd

    Rural Woman Entrepreneur

    Gill Burgess - R-evolution Marketing
    Linda Calvert - Three Bears Playthings
    Charlotte Gaisford - Crafty Computer Paper Ltd
    Jane Nolan - Shark Group (Shark Sports Ltd T/A)

    Woman in Retail

    Mel Crowe/Jan Massey - Little Impressions for Little People
    Lesley Hardy - Pinc
    Christine Mavin - Plaster Piece Ltd
    Ling Valentine - LINGsCARS.com

    Woman in Technology

    Siobhan Bales - The bgroup
    Jo Clay - Strange Agency
    Ling Valentine - LINGsCARS.com
    Best Cultural and Creative Business

    Siobhan Bales - The bgroup
    Rebecca Burns - Melting Pot Arts
    Jacqui Chapman - Spacecraft Events Ltd
    Charlotte Gaisford - Crafty Computer Paper Ltd
    Anna Reay - The Anna Reay Band

    Woman Social Entrepreneur

    Carol Ayre - Crimdon Ponyworld Kids Club
    Mary Briggs - Seven Stories, Centre for Children's Books
    Claire Glynn - Atomic Web Solutions
    Sylvia Hudson - South Tyneside Credit Union Ltd
    Carol Metcalfe/Hilary Turner - Musa Fine Art Ltd
    Christine Taylour - Taylour-Made-Care
    Kate Welch - Acumen Development Trust

    Best Newcomer

    Donna-Marie Caldwell - L'Amour Bridal
    Lesley Caster - City Retreat Salon & Spa Ltd
    Danielle Dunn - Fresh Soap Deli Ltd
    Sara Johnson - Crafters Companion Ltd
    Kari Owers - O Communications
    Rebecca Jayne Philipson - UR In The Paper Ltd

    Susan Dobson Award for Entrepreneurship

    Linda Calvert - Three Bears Playthings
    Catherine Handcock - Alfol Ltd
    Sarah Mains - Sarah Mains Estate Agents
    Janet Maitland - Janet Maitland Hair Excellence
    Christine Mavin - Plaster Piece Ltd


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    "Enterprise Quest - Newsline"
    Tips, ideas & know-how, for small business & home business owners
    10th Oct 2006

    LING SHOWS 'EM HOW IT'S DONE


    A Chinese entrepreneur is leading the way with her witty, inventive website.

    Ling Valentine, who moved to the UK after meeting husband Jon, runs Ling's Cars from a room in her house in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

    The car leasing firm puts customers in touch with dealerships and finance firms. But the website itself is something else - with free giveaways such as Chinese money...and baby food for moaning customers.

    Ling told icNewcastle: "With personality, I think people enjoy it more - our customers really enjoy the site. They go to look for a car, but spend the whole day looking at my website."


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    "AUDI PORTAL.com"
    Webpage for Audi owners
    12th Oct 2006

    "LINGsCARS.com
    MONGOL RALLY"


    James Rickwood-Dodsworth and Andy Wallace (both 19), from Newcastle and Gateshead cross Europe and take in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the Mongol Rally 2006...

    We want to drive to Mongolia, but there’s a crazy Chinese woman standing on top of our newly-purchased car, in Gateshead, yelling “Take photos!”



    Ling Valentine, owner of our major sponsor LINGsCARS.com had just finished filming her promotional video for her new-car leasing website and we were all exhausted. She had forced us to drive like rally madmen for her video, and the car smelt hot. As soon as Ling’s boots abandoned our roof and hit the ground, we hit the road.

    Why did we choose a mental Chinese woman for a sponsor?

    Goodbye Ling

    Earlier, Ling had provided our food as she had promised. Eight boxes of identical “Chicken soup flavour” sell-by-date this month, Chinese brand packet noodles had been thrown into our Fiat, along with 100 pairs of chopsticks and two boxes of Chinese tea bags. We stood there and watched, with our mouths open. We were expecting food, not dried chemicals. “Go!” Ling simply yelled after provisioning us, then turned her back and marched off.



    We jumped straight back in the rubbish car we had bought, an R reg Fiat Seicento, and it took us 7 hours to reach London from Gateshead. The rally rules stipulate a “car less than 1000cc”, and when it was sitting and shining at the photo shoot, our black LINGsCARS Seicento had seemed a fine choice. That was before three breakdowns on the way to London; the radiator hose kept falling off the Seicento and eventually the engine seized. We reached the hotel at 2am and it seemed as if our rally was over. We called Ling, to apologise. “You useless! Mend car! Send photos!”, she shouted, and the phone hammered down.

    Hello Toolkit

    The next day, we trekked 3 hours across London to Clapham to find a new radiator hose, under the threat of a Chinese chop-chop gang reprisal.



    Later, with the stupid car fixed-up so it would drive, we rolled into the Mongol Rally car park feeling confident, the triumphal arrival of the LINGsCARS.com team. One of our other secondary sponsors, from Gloucester, (also a Fiat expert) heard our engine and diagnosed a dodgy exhaust gasket. Ling had said, “no problem, all Fiats sound like that”. Oh yeah, right, Ling... continues 4,000 words

    You can read the full story formatted nicely, see lots of pics and watch two different movies HERE


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    "The Journal"
    Northern Business Daily
    Oct 9th 2006

    The Monday Interview:
    LING GIVES CAR MART A ROCKET

    What's the best way to promote your car leasing business? With a wonderfully nutty website, a nuclear rocket truck and a Routemaster bus, of course. Graeme King met the entrepreneurial Ling Valentine.



    It is one of those businesses that needs to be witnessed first hand, to help understand the scale - or rather the lack of scale - at play. Ling Valentine sits at her desk in what used to be the dining room of her three bedroom terraced house in Low Fell, Gateshead.

    With her husband Jon, this is where Ling has built the online empire that is Ling's Cars, or LINGsCARS.COM to its ever growing online fanbase. The room has now been completely taken over by the business, with lino put down on the floor and Ikea tables and shelving lining the walls. Ling sits in front of two PCs, dividing her time between researching deals for her customers, chatting to them via her website, and adding daft - but very funny - new features to the site.

    It is a classic online business in utilising the reach of the world wide web, the vast swathes of information which can be posted on a website, and the efficiency of electronic communications. There is no product as such, despite the millions of pounds worth of cars which Ling deals in each year, for she is simply the conduit between her customers, finance companies and car dealerships - so it's effectively her time that she sells. While the business is clearly a labour of love for both Ling and Jon, and the humour to be found on the site comes from a wacky blend of their two minds, Ling operates the business nearly single handed, though she is looking at taking on a salesperson next year.

    Jon spends most of his time on his "day job" in the real world car dealership known as Carshock, though some of the eccentricity to be found in Ling's Cars can also be found in that business too. What shines through in meeting Ling is that she loves her job, works extremely hard at it, and the personal and professional partnership between she and Jon is at the heart of the business's success.

    Ling, 33, was born in LeShan in China and grew up there until she went off to university in Guangzhou. After her first degree, she made a huge move - taking herself half way round the world to Finland, to continue her studies. She says: "I studied one year in Finland and met my husband while I was there. I was a bit bored of my life in China, and I like the atmosphere of freedom in Finland, so I decided to move away. "My mother's friend's son went there, and recommended the university. It was the best place in the world for wood technology, and it was also free to attend because education was free for everybody in Finland.

    "Jon and I met on the internet in a chat room. I came to England for a short trip, and met him properly while I was here. We fell in love and decided to get married.


    "That was at the end of 1997, and I came to England in 1998 - I have been here eight years now." Ling says it was never part of her plans to come to the UK, mainly because the image she had of the country from growing up in China was not up to date. She says: "I never thought of coming to England. In my imagination I thought the culture was old, and life was a bit boring. But it's totally different to what I thought.

    "I also think people in western countries never really see the real China - the people living in remote parts of the country who never see the outside world. "I did know quite a bit about the US, and it was in my plans to go there to carry on my studies, but then I met Jon." When the couple married, Ling came to live in the UK and having dropped out of her Finnish studies - partly because the course was conducted in Finnish, which proved a little challenging - moved on to get a masters degree in environmental quality at Bournemouth University. She says: "We then went to London when Jon got a job there. I went for a job in insurance or finance, or something, got down to the last 10 out of 200 applicants, but I wasn't really interested. So I got a job in sales admin, which was quite an easy job, but it helped to improve my English. "We moved up here in 2000, and I started selling contract hire cars for Carshock. But quite soon I wanted to run my own business. I could see the future, and I wanted to work for myself."

    Ling launches into a critique of exactly why buying a new car does not make any sense - and why the world should wake up to the joys of contract hire. She says: "With house prices, the values do not go down, generally. But with cars, after two to three years, they can be worth nothing. So I thought contract hire would be the future."

    And despite - or maybe because of - her rather zany approach to her business, Ling's Cars is thriving, and Jon and Ling are forecasting they will have handled deals for cars worth around £16.5m this year, up from around £10m last year. The business gets a commission of around 1% on every deal it does, which gives Ling's Cars a healthy turnover and profit margin, but nowhere near the huge margins traditionally enjoyed by more conventional car dealerships.

    Ling says: "We have had around 380 letters from customers, and we have published a lot of them on our website. "Dealers have massive overheads, and sometimes they are desperate to move cars - and there's always going to be a number of those dealers. They need cash flow." But why has Ling's Cars ended up as the bizarre blend of cheap cars and offbeam humour that it is today?


    Ling says: "Originally we started a normal business. But we had been using computers for a long time, and looked at different websites. "I don't think many businesses understand the web - most of them sold products from a boring site, with a boring attitude. So we thought, why not be different, and do different things? Because I am Chinese, and female, I am different - you don't see another one in this business. I am unique, so why not build that into the website?

    "We started to change the website, with humour, giving away bank notes, the Mao books, and our individually wrapped Polo mints - as they are sold in China. It's just anything we can think of.

    "If customers moan, they get Chinese baby food, and they do usually get the humour of it. Most of my customers come back, and we get a lot of recommendations. "With personality, I think people enjoy it more - our customers really enjoy the site. They go to look for a car, but spend the whole day looking at my website."

    One of the real coups of the Ling's Cars phenomenon has been the publicity generated by Ling's self styled "Nuclear Rocket Truck" - a provocative image at a time when China is emerging as a new superpower. She says: "The nuclear rocket truck has got up people's noses. We imported it from China, and I think it was quite a brave thing to do. "The website was doing well, but we wanted to do something to propel it into the news. It had to work, or it would have been a lot of money spent on nothing. "We got kicked out of Sedgefield, from our site next to the A1(M), so we have now got it on Saddleworth Moor, next to the M62. We get so much business from it, it's amazing. I even got a customer asking if they could rent it for a day, just for fun."

    Another triumph for the Ling's Cars marketing machine is her latest acquisition - a bright red London bus. She says: "We spent £14,000 on buying the bus, and converting it, and now we take it to places like Catterick Sunday market in North Yorkshire, and we get quite a few customers coming to ask about the business - and most people have not heard about contract hire. But apart from the bus and the rocket truck, our costs are very low."

    Alas, despite her valiant attempts to entertain the car driving public, it seems Ling is not universally popular with the motor trade. She has had several run ins with rather po-faced manufacturers and dealerships who like to promote their cars in a rather more sombre, and restrained manner than Ling likes to indulge in. Occasionally they try to exact revenge, but she sees this as a compliment. She says: "I sometimes have people from the motor industry coming on the site trying to annoy me, asking me for quotes for stupid things, and some get quite aggressive. They really hate me, but that means I'm doing good."

    Does Ling have any concerns about playing up to a slightly stereotyped notion of a Chinese woman abroad? Not at all. "It's just our idea of bringing a bit of fun to the business. I see it a bit like that comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, who plays up to being an Indian guy on television, playing a role," she says. "What I do is showbusiness to a degree. It's always good to find some new ideas for the site - if we left it the same, people would get bored."


    'Ling's greatest hits - the best of LINGsCARS.COM'

    - "Free Cash Money - blatant bribery from Ling! Click HERE to receive FREE Chinese money. Everyone always says 'no free money!'. Now Ling gives 10 visitors per day free cash, just for visiting site! Free cash is a real Chinese Ren Min Bi (people's money - also known as Yuan) new uncrumpled banknote. If you look carefully, you see there are actually six different languages on banknote, showing China is more complicated place than you think at first, with many minority peoples."

    - "You should seek truth from facts. Two sayings which match my philosophy are: "It does not matter if a car is black or white as long as it gets you to the shops" (thanks to Deng Xiao Ping). "People of Britain, you can trust me" (thanks to Tony Blair).

    In a comprehensive spotter's guide to different types of speed camera on UK roads, Ling also helpfully includes:

    - KODAK DIGITAL CAMERA

    What are they?
    A device to take photos of friends and family.

    Where will I see them?
    In Dixons and on holiday.

    Who owns them?
    Everyone.

    How do they work?
    You press small button and light enters camera and gets converted to digital image by damn clever Chinese electronic bits. Are you so stupid?

    Will I be fined?
    For having picture taken by Kodak camera, no. For being stupid, yes."

    - "CALLING ALL VISITORS! I am human being, not robot! Office hours: Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm ... after 6pm I drink Baileys!"

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    6th Oct 2006

    DEALER BLAST FOR LINGsCARS


    A RETAILER DIRECTOR HAS SPOKEN OUT against LINGsCARS founder Ling Valentine, saying that all members of the automotive community need to work together.
    Ling: Absolutely not work together. There should be open and aggressive competition. This industry is like a controlled, consumer-unfriendly cartel. I totally disagree with this attitude, so do my customers.

    Andrew Sparshatt, sales director at Sparshatts of Kent, was retaliating to Valentine's statement in the last issue of "AM" when she claimed that car retailers are too expensive.
    Ling: Maybe Mr Sparshatt thinks car retailers are too cheap? They have massive overheads, staffing, stock and utility costs. These are passed on to the customer. I think it is obscene that customers should pay for glass palace showrooms. They remind me of Saddam's Palaces in Iraq. Useless and costly. Burn the showrooms down.

    Sparshatt says: "I'm sure when customers are unsure of which model to lease from her, she suggests they go down to their local showroom and test drive the model in question."
    Ling: Why not? If dealers are daft enough to allow this. Actually, most of my customers know exactly what they want and simply pick a car from my list. They can see every type of car in Tesco's car park. They do not need to "test" it. If they did, they would need to "test" every car in each class - a solid month's work! Dealers and car makers deliberately do not allow back-to-back car comparisons, eg: Renault against Citroen in the same dealer.

    Sparshatt believes that dealerships provide customers with a service that entrepreneurs such as Valentine can't compete with. "We have trained staff as well as all the proper tools to deal with customers and their cars," he says.
    Ling: Trained monkeys, often, in this industry. The "proper tools" will include a cash register the size of a Transit van to stash all the cash from the high prices they charge.

    "Why attack us when we're the people working on her behalf? I'm all for competition, but when will people like Ling realise that she and her customers need dealerships?"
    Ling: Competition means relentlessly attacking, challenging and improving the status quo to provide a better service for customers. Not cosying up to dealers to encourage higher costs to dominate this industry. Customers need service points, not multi-million pound car greenhouses with all the associated costs.


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    "FASHION VIDEOS"
    Fashion Video Site
    3rd Oct 2006

    FASHION VIDEO SITE


    It's not often that I am accused of leading the world of fashion!

    I like to think I am one of the best suppliers in the car industry, but me (?) making a FASHION statement???

    The coat was from TK Maxx, if you are interested.

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    "AUTOWIRED"
    Leading UK motoring news site
    2 Oct 2006

    MOTOR TRADE ACCUSED OF ADDING TO NATION'S DEBT


    AN ONLINE car rental company is accusing car-makers and dealers of ramping-up Britain's debt mountain.

    Last week, research from Datamonitor revealed that the average British resident is currently £3,175 in debt.

    "It's amazing that the UK car industry is geared up to sell cars on HP and personal loans, and that consumers accept this," said Ling Valentine who runs Lingscars, from Newcastle.

    "This means people get into so much debt, buying a depreciating asset. It's crazy. Car dealers add so much profit on to these finance deals and loans, and people simply ramp up their borrowing."

    "Common sense tells me people should rent their new cars at a fixed monthly cost and put their money into their house."

    Ling Valentine rents over £1.5m of new cars every month from her site.

      * The Datamonitor report said that Total UK personal debt, including mortgages, is about £1.2 trillion. Compared with the average UK resident, the average European owed just £1,558 in unsecured debt

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    "FLEET NEWS"
    Targeted at fleet decision-makers within UK companies
    1st June 2006

    "TAX PROPOSED ON EMAILS AND TEXT MESSAGES"



    THE European Union is looking at introducing a tax on emails and text messages as a method to provide funding for its operations.

    The move is being looked at by a European Parliament group, run by Alain Lamassoure, a French MEP and member of Jacques Chirac's UMP party. He wants to tax each SMS by 0.8p and have a £0.000005 levy on every email.

    If the tax went through, it would bring huge financial implications for businesses.

    Ling Valentine, the flamboyant owner of LINGsCARS.com, the online new-car leasing business, says: "Businesses like mine use the internet heavily to increase speed and efficiency and to improve communication and customer service. To tax efficiency is a ludicrous concept".

    "Communication is the lifeblood of any economy. It is always a mistake to stifle communication"

    "If the EU plans go ahead, legitimate businesses will be hit. How are they going to levy the tax from the spammers who send thousand of emails everyday?"

    What do you think? Email fleetnews@emap.com.

    "Most of them come from outside the EU. It is another example of useless legislation that makes life harder for entrepreneurs like me who try their hardest to increase electronic communication, not restrict it," says Valentine.

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    "MOTORTRADER"
    The only weekly newspaper for the motor trade
    11th Sept 2006


    "DING A LING"

    Maverick entrepreneur Ling Valentine (hahahaha, they think I am TOPGUN! "Maverick" indeed! All I need to do is find Iceman now... - Ling) has hit the road with her online car leasing firm by turning a London bus into a travelling office and showroom.

    Valentine, who runs the Gateshead-based www.lingscars.com business, spent £14,000 on her mobile office from which she plans to target events all over the country. Other marketing techniques employed by the China-born businesswoman include giving away free Chinese money and copies of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.

    She also has a fully liveried Ling Cars promotional nuclear missile truck.
    (snigger - Ling)
     

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    1st June 2006

    "TAX PROPOSED ON EMAILS AND TEXT MESSAGES"



    The European Union is looking at introducing a tax on emails and text messages as a method to provide funding for its operations.

    The move is being looked at by a European Parliament group, run by Alain Lamassoure, a French MEP and member of Jacques Chirac's UMP party. He wants to tax each SMS by 0.8p and have a £0.000005 levy on every email.

    If the tax went through, it would bring huge financial implications for businesses.

    Ling Valentine, the flamboyant owner of LINGsCARS.com, the online new-car leasing business, says: "Businesses like mine use the internet heavily to increase speed and efficiency and to improve communication and customer service. To tax efficiency is a ludicrous concept".

    "Communication is the lifeblood of any economy. It is always a mistake to stifle communication".

    "If the EU plans go ahead, legitimate businesses will be hit. How are they going to levy the tax from the spammers who send thousand of emails everyday?"

    "Most of them come from outside the EU. It is another example of useless legislation that makes life harder for entrepreneurs like me who try their hardest to increase electronic communication, not restrict it," says Valentine.

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    "COMPUTER ACTIVE"
    Popular IT consumer magazine
    "UK VENDORS ATTACK EMAIL CHARGES"
    Vendors say AOL and Yahoo 'will make money letting rubbish through' at the expense of legitimate emails


    A move by service providers AOL and Yahoo to charge companies for delivering promotional emails has been attacked by some UK online vendors. The charge will allow messages to bypass the service providers' spam filters after being authenticated by a company called Goodmail.

    Ling Valentine, owner of Lingscars.com, an Internet-based car leasing firm, said: 'This will not protect UK businesses and individuals from yet more spam; it just means that Yahoo and AOL make money from allowing this rubbish through.'

    Jason Zemmel, owner of online health and beauty retailer, halfpriceperfumes.co.uk, said the system could anger both vendors and users.

    'Responsible web retailers who send legitimate messages only to people who have asked to receive them are likely to suffer… especially if order confirmation and tracking emails are also affected.'. AOL and Yahoo plans to charge up to one US cent per message, but stress that users will not pay anything.
     

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    "LETRAZ.mus.br"
    Brazil Music Site
    3rd Oct 2006
    Some bloody Brazilian music site

    "Ling's new Routemaster London bus - Ling at LINGsCARS.com"

    Here we go again, on my way to World domination!

    First a Japanese site sends hordes of visitor to LINGsCARS, now a Brazilian music site has picked up and run with my London bus video!

    I quite like having some visitors from all over the world, but when they start asking for quotes on alcohol-fuelled old shape VW Beetles and Microbuses, it gets a bit much. As if I don't have enough work to be doing.

    Still, better Brazilians than Japanese, even though my Portugese is as rusty as my Japanese (a bit like an old model Beetle, hehehe). Still, being Top of The Pops in Brazil is nice, plus I am meeting a whole lot of new friends along the way! Kewl, huh?

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    "MOTORBAR"
    MOTORBAR.com
    2 Oct 2006

    THE WORLD SUCKS!


    News that Swiss food giant Nestle SA is moving production of several famous confectionery brands out of the UK came as no surprise to the owner of Britain's maddest and fastest growing car leasing company — LingsCars.com.

    Revolutionary online car leasing company LingsCars.com sends individually wrapped Polo mints to its thousands of private UK customers on a regular basis. Ling uses them as quiz prizes and gifts. But her company has sourced Polos directly from China for the past two years because Nestle in Britain couldn't compete.

    As Ling explains: "Although it is sad to see some of Nestle's best-loved brands being taken outside the UK, I took the decision to source our Polo mints from China because the prices I was quoted were much more competitive than buying directly from the manufacturer here in the UK".

    It seems that Chinese workers make Polos cheaper than Brits.

    "Also, Nestle here wouldn't supply me with individually wrapped mints, which was important to me as I use them for customers all the time. Without the wrapper, they suck!"

    Ling, who was born in China and who has built her unconventional online car leasing company into a healthy business that rents £1.5 million of new cars each month to individuals and businesses, says one of her earliest memories of Chinese childhood was going into a bank with her father that had Polo mints on the counter for its customers.

    "The hole in the middle makes them easy to pick up with chopsticks. I was amazed you could buy a sweet that was circular and white in China — they'd all been red and star-shaped before!"



    Hehehe, I made up the bit about picking up Polos with chopsticks (and red star-shaped sweets in 1970's China) to see who was daft enough to print it - Ling

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    "CROOZ.jp"
    Kamikase Banzai Sushi Sayonara Tokyo Rose
    Some bloody Japanese You Tube site

    "Nuclear Rocket Truck/Financial Times photo shoot with Ling"

    Well, here's a thing! Just got a bloody Google Alert from Japan (of all places) saying that I am quite popular over there with lots of hits on one of my Nuclear Truck video. Not that I am at all pleased with hordes of Japanese idiots wetting themselves and invading my website. Maybe I will disable access for .jp domain.

    Still, it is nice to know I have worldwide reach even if it is to the arsehole of the world.

    For those of you who are unaware, there is unfinished business (due to Japanese denying their war crimes) between China and Japan. All Chinese get instructed as children to hate Japanese. They show us film of Nanjing massacres at school. Note that I can't understand a word of the Japanese Swahili on this page, either. Boo hoo. Not.

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    September 22nd 2006

    LING'S LEASE OFFENSIVE BEGINS



    BATTERED BUS TO LEAD ASSUALT ON DEALERS' BUSINESS

    By Tim Rose

    Gateshead entrepreneur Ling Valentine is pitching her battle bus against the region's franchised dealers in a bid to win custom for her LINGsCARS.com business.

    She has bought a £7,000 double-decker bus and invested another £7,000 equipping it with flat-screen TVs, DVD systems, computers and wireless internet connection to enable prospective customers to view her product offerings. She plans to visit supermarkets and public events to promote her contract leasing deals.

    "It beats car dealers hands-down because my lower overheads enable massive savings", she says. "Which part of 'you are too expensive' don't dealers understand?"

    The cars are sourced through manufacturer and dealer contacts, or through major leasing organisations.

    Valentine claims sales of £16m per year already, but wants to boost this to £25m by the end of the year.

    She promotes LINGsCARS using wacky marketing techniques (pardon me? - Ling) such as offering free Chinese noodles and Chairman Mao red books. She also has a disarmed Chinese missile truck parked in a field alongside the M62 at the Lancashire/Yorkshire border, branded LINGsCARS.com to attract the attention of passing motorists.

    All this has won her huge PR, with features in national magazines and newspapers.

    "My business has never been better because people now understand how to liquidize their financial assets", she says.

    "Buying a car outright or borrowing the money makes no sense because cars depreciate in value. Why invest in something that decreases in value?"

    "Renting means no depreciation, no loan, and fixed costs. People like a flat monthly rental, which includes road tax and delivery. The public also likes to compare my 100 different cars on a level playing field."

    "Traditional dealers just don't allow this; they like to keep everything confusing with loans, APRs, made-up offers and deals, which cannot be compared because these all disguise high profit margins."

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    August 23rd 2006

    LING TELLS DEALERS
    TO "STUFF IT!"



    Retailers and finance companies should abandon the "dubious and immoral daylight robbery" of documentation and arrangement fees or face more consumer defections to High Street and direct lenders.

    The warning comes from Ling Valentine, the intentionally controversial founder of lingscars.com, a growing internet contract hire operation. She claims that some dealers and loan providers encourage her to "pocket the charges as pure profit".

    Valentine calls on consumers to tell dealers to "stuff it" and threaten to arrange finance elsewhere when asked for acceptance or option to purchase fees.

    She adds: "The fact that some finance companies charge fees and others don’t proves how dubious they are."

    In April, David Johnson, group F&I manager for Perrys, told AM that rising fees were obstacles to selling point of sale finance.

    David Johnson's article is below... - Ling

    Escalating documentation fees charged by finance providers are playing a significant role in pushing car buyers into the arms of direct lenders, according to a major multi-franchise retail group’s F&I specialist.

    David Johnson, group F&I manager for Perrys Motor Sales, says: "Documentation fees are seen by many people seeking point of sale finance as an initial or final hurdle in sorting out their funding."

    He claims that the sums charged, particularly by captive manufacturers' lenders have grown "out of synch" from respective "front and back end payments" of £75 and £25 to current equivalent fees of £150 for acceptance and an £80 option to purchase levy.

    Johnson, who oversees 44 outlets, adds: "I feel passionately that franchises that are not finance friendly and cannot support a business manager struggle to overcome documentation fees in the current competitive environment."

    He maintains: "The customer is seeing a substantial increase and this has become a significant factor in them going elsewhere. They are considered to be obstacles rather than spread across an agreement's term. The charges vary dramatically and have got out of control."


    In my opinion, what David says is a bit wishy-washy, and is gobbldegook management-speak and semi-Swahili. They all seem to talk like that, to me. Step in right direction, though. I would call finance fees "rip-off, theft and misappropriation", but if I told them that, they wouldn't print it - Ling

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    "IT SECURITY"
    IT SECURITY.com

    EMAIL SPAMMING CHARTER ANGERS UK WEB RETAILERS


    UK internet retailers have slammed the decision by internet service providers to charge companies for sending bulk emails or "spam" as unsolicited email is known.

    AOL and Yahoo plan to turn spamming into a profitable service by charging fees of up to one cent (US) per message to those businesses that sign up to send bulk mail. Paying the fee means that messages will not go through spam filters, are guaranteed to arrive and will bear a stamp of authenticity.

    Ling Valentine, owner of LINGsCARS.com an internet-based car leasing firm, is furious at the prospect of AOL and Yahoo "prostituting" their services by reclassifying spam as normal mail, as long as they take a cut: "This is a 'spammers charter'. It's clearly aimed at extracting money from bona-fide organisations that send lots of email and don't want their messages mistaken for spam. However, it seems to mean that the internet giants are endorsing these paid for messages by fast-tracking them around their own filters and dumping yet more unsolicited email onto UK mailboxes - and taking money for doing it. This will not protect UK businesses and individuals from yet more spam, it just means that Yahoo and AOL make money from allowing this rubbish through."

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    "Martin Lewis; Money Saving Expert Forums"

    "I ordered the new car!"

    "First and foremost - many thanks to Burbs for his advice from the original thread here.

    I've decided after much thought and discussions with the OH, that now I have gained a promotion and save £3000pa coming out the company car scheme that I should get a lease car. There were many models to choose for but none quite so appealing as the Mazda RX-8!!

    Original quotes to lease ranged from £500pm to £330pm, until Burbs advised me to speak to Ling at lingscars.com

    She managed to secure me the exact model and colour I wanted today at only £270pm!! A massive saving of £60pm over the next best quote and almost halve of some other quotes.

    Now not everyone will see this as moneysaving as I am still spending £270pm, but we have discussed this thoroughly and have decided since I'm doing well - got a good pay rise as well - and it'll be my only chance to have a sports car since we'll be more settled in the future, life isn't all about scrimping & scrounging so let's enjoy ourselves for a couple of years. We will of course still be keeping a tight reign on the cash!!"

    Post by anonymous Money Saving Expert User "ZincOxide" with 760 posts to her name - Ling
     

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    "Things that make you go OOO!"

    September 2006
    "Lings Cars.Com - Ling Valentine's Incredibly Funny Car Hire Website"

    ...and she does some pretty good deals on car hire to boot. This Chinese whirlwind has founded her, (very successful), business on a huge dollop of humour both 'tongue in cheek' and direct, honesty and great service. You HAVE to visit this 'quirky' website because it will make your day reading some of the very funny items in there. To say it is 'Busy' is being economical. Don't be put off because once you start to hop about it's as slick as a Greek Waiter!

    Have a click around, her work mantra, her advice on 'Car Flu', involve yourself in her Ideas Machine and win a 'Ling Shirt', see her advice on the evil Speed Camera, share her views, get yourself a 'free lunch', see her rocket truck, read her blog or simply hire yourself a damn good car! All with a 'china vibe' it is well worth visiting just for the entertainment value and if you want to hire a car the she's your woman! Coming soon to a town near you in a Big Red Bus! She doesn't suffer fools so if you're a fool engage at your own risk!
     

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    "The Journal"
    Northern Business Daily
    Sept 6th 2006


    LONDON BUS A TRAVELLING OFFICE FOR ONLINE CAR LEASING FIRM


    Entrepreneur Ling Valentine has hit the road with her online car-leasing firm - by turning a London bus into a hi-tech travelling office and showroom. Chinese-born Mrs Valentine has previously promoted her business using a rocket launcher carrying her logo, parked next to the A1 in County Durham, but is now branching out.

    Ling, 33, who runs Gateshead-based LINGsCARS.com, spent £7,000 buying her bus on eBay and a further £7,000 painting, renovating and kitting the bus out with flat-screen TVs, a DVD player, computers and wireless internet connection so her customers can surf the web and find car prices. She said "My new London bus is the best mobile office in the world. I can work as I move. It beats car dealers hands-down because my low overheads enable massive savings for my customers".
     

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    "FHM Magazine"
    100 Greatest Websites
    October 2006




    "100 GREATEST WEBSITES"


    Of the estimated 80 million websites on the internet, 79,999,900 didn't make it onto this list.


    We said au revoir to Amazon, ejected eBay and renounced Napster as our experts hand-picked these hidden gems of the web just for you...

    LINGsCARS.com

    cars, takeaways, fags...

    "Fortune cookie philosophies and a feature equating your daily lease payment to the price of fags. Oh, and a free chow mein for ten readers a day."



    I really must say a BIG thank you to Paul Horrell, top motoring journalist and award winning writer for nominating me. Also to Phil McNamara, and to CAR Magazine. CAR has transformed itself back into the best possible motoring mag. It is now head and shoulders above the rest, quality-wise. Gone is most of the dumbing down, it now treats its readers like adults, not idiots... wow, that sounds familiar. This follows a rant from me, in my blog. Maybe they read it? Anyway, thanks again, boys! - Ling
     

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    "BEST MAGAZINE"
    Your BEST week ever!

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    "WEB ACTIVE MAGAZINE"
    The web in your pocket!
    by Clive Akass

    "UK VENDORS ATTACK EMAIL CHARGES"

    Vendors say AOL and Yahoo 'will make money letting rubbish through' at the expense of legitimate emails


    A move by service providers AOL and Yahoo to charge companies for delivering promotional emails has been attacked by some UK online vendors. The charge will allow messages to bypass the service providers' spam filters after being authenticated by a company called Goodmail.

    Ling Valentine, owner of Lingscars.com, an Internet-based car leasing firm, said: 'This will not protect UK businesses and individuals from yet more spam; it just means that Yahoo and AOL make money from allowing this rubbish through.'

    Jason Zemmel, owner of online health and beauty retailer, halfpriceperfumes.co.uk, said the system could anger both vendors and users.

    'Responsible web retailers who send legitimate messages only to people who have asked to receive them are likely to suffer… especially if order confirmation and tracking emails are also affected.'. AOL and Yahoo plans to charge up to one US cent per message, but stress that users will not pay anything.
     

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    "MOTOR TRADER"
    The only weekly newspaper for the motor trade
    10th July 2006

    DEALERS ACCUSED OF PAINT PROTECTION SALES 'RIP-OFF'



    Dealers have come under fire for the margins they make on car paint protection products.

    A web-based car retailer labelled the sale of the materials a "complete rip-off".

    Ling Valentine, owner of LINGsCARS.com, claimed dealers could make a 900 per cent profit on selling paint protection and customers were only being offered the service so dealers could boost showroom profits.

    "I'm sick and tired of dealers offering (me) this type of product," Valentine said. "I'm not suggesting these products do not do a job, but I am claiming they are hideously overpriced by dealers."

    According to Valentine, cost price of a paint-protection treatment is £30-£40. However this figure rises dramatically to £200-£300 when dealerships carry out the work.

    "They claim it takes time to apply but in reality it takes half an hour maximum", she claimed. "If it really made a difference the finance companies I work with would demand it is applied to all my contract hire cars, but they don't," she added.

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    "AUTO INDUSTRY
    - from the DTI"

    Definitive, single point of reference on the web for the UK Auto Industry
    21st June 2006

    ONLINE CAR RETAILER COMPLAINS OF DEALERS' PAINT PROTECTION "RIP OFF"


    Adding a car paint protection product to a new car can be a waste of money, according to Ling Valentine, who runs www.lingscars.com. She has denounced as a "rip-off" the pricing of new car paint protection products by car dealers. "I'm not suggesting these products do not do a job", she said, "but I am claiming they are hideously overpriced by dealers. They should be priced with a normal 25% profit margin".

    According to ‘an insider at a large car supermarket chain’ quoted by Ling Valentine, the cost price of a paint protection treatment is "around £30 to £40", yet the typical retail price at a car dealership is anything between "£200 and £300, depending on how brave the dealer is."

    "I am sick and of car dealers offering this type of product and making up to 900% profit margin. They claim it takes time to apply, but in reality, it takes half an hour, maximum"
    , added Ling.



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    "DIM SUM"
    The British Chinese Community Website
    July 4th 2006

    MEETING LING, A NEW CAR SALES FEMALE CHINESE WHIRLWIND EXPERT

    An interview by Shane Coughlan


    I was downloading my email one day and a message appeared with the subject "I am Ling Chinese Human Female UK Car Expert." I almost assumed it was spam until I noticed that underneath the lunacy there was a serious business ticking. It seems that Ling helps businesses and individuals lease cars. She's also the only Chinese person doing this in the UK.

    I have to admit that I was curious. The marketing approach was quite unusual. Ling embraced stereotypes applied to the Chinese and turned them into a wry marketing tool. To call her approach over-the-top might be an understatement. She certainly has the ability to cause controversy. I decided to contact Ling and find out more about her business, her philosophy, and the nuclear missile truck she parked on the A1.


    Q: Ling, who are you and why did you email me?
    A: That WAS a kind of spam email! Just directed at UK businesses. You must be a successful business to be on my list! I am Ling, as in "clever", in Chinese. I am a (the only?) UK new-car sales female Chinese whirlwind expert. I live in Gateshead, I run www.LINGsCARS.com and I contract-hire or long-term rent new cars online. I sold over £10m of cars in 2005, but this year is running at an 80% growth so far. You want new car? You talk to me online. You have got to pass finance, so no cockle-pickers, please.

    Q: You studied in Finland in 1997, got married and came to England. How on Earth did you end up running a business?
    A: Well, hehe, Helsinki University was free, and it was an escape route from the trap of China. Chinese ARE good at running businesses. It’s a shame that most are bloody terrible take-aways. I often ask my customers if they want boiled or fried rice with their car… they always laugh. If they moan at me, I send them Chinese Heinz baby food. I learnt from two people, my husband Jon (who I met online in 1997) and a guy called Mike Porritt who runs CarShock. Both are white, middle-aged EBIs (English Born Idiots).

    Q: I confess that the slight insanity of your email encouraged me to visit your website. Once there I discovered a series of videos you have made with your 'red guard' friend to compete with the Top Gear TV show. You guys test a bunch of cars and give your opinions. How did this come about?
    A: Only slight insanity? That's my sister Shan in the movies! She really WAS a red guard back in the early 1970's – kicking teachers, stoning doctors, denouncing capitalist-roaders and ruining innocent peoples’ lives, that sort of fun stuff. She’s in the UK at the moment on holiday from Chengdu, so I roped her in. She brought a Chinese PLA uniform and her red-guard armband from 1970. I think she does a fantastic job of imitating Jeremy Clarkson in my ChopGear series. In one, she even sees how many Chinese takeaways you can load into a BMW 7-series! There’s more to come. Good job she has grown out of kicking people to death, huh?

    Q: Do people ever suggest that you are playing to British stereotypes of the Chinese? I mean, do you ever run into problems with the BBC (British Born Chinese) regarding your light-hearted and rather self-depreciating approach to your culture and country?
    A: I generally find that Chinese do this stereotype thing to themselves, very well. It is as if they are "owned" by a Chinese-ness and they subjugate themselves to it. In my view, the UK Chinese community is very backward, quiet and timid even. They cluster in communities, almost ghettos. A bit like the Amish, or the Orthodox Jews. Is there inbreeding? Why not assimilate? I prefer KFC (Kentucky Fried Chinese) to BBC. It’s still yellow, but tastier.

    What is all this BBC rubbish, anyway? Do we have British Born French? Or British Born South Africans? What a bloody chip (or prawn cracker) on the Chinese communities shoulder to think they need to classify themselves. Why not break free of this shit. I am just human, born in China with slanty eyes and a shit Government. Bollocks to what others think. Many Chinese send me stupid "loss of face" emails when I pull a Chinese-piss-take stunt. All I can say to them is… bollocks. Crawl out of your Chinatown ghetto and face the UK on equal terms!

    Q: On your website it says you bring a free lunch to people. Can you tell me more about that? What's this choice I see with the dessert?
    A: Yes! I thought I would take the piss out of Chinese takeaway stereotypes (they deserve it), so I send out fast noodles, chopsticks, dessert and (real Chinese branded) Nescafe. I supply dried plum dessert for constipated British people. I specially chose FUKU brand noodles (geddit?), and I tell the people who apply for them that the MSG and Chinese "C" numbers will poison them. Probably true, eh? It is a very cheap and unique marketing stunt. Customers seem to like to be tortured. Not one person has ever complained (except some Chinese).

    Q: Do you really send polo mints to people who ask you for a quote?
    A: Chinese Polo mints, and Cola flavoured Polos too. My sis buys them in China and posts them over. My customers just LOVE these individually wrapped Polos, as they think they are a British sweet. People pass them around, in their Chinese wrappings. I also send out RMB notes, everyone adores them, as they are not available here. They have a picture of Mao with the big spot on his chin. Not many current banknotes have an image of a killer in the league of Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin or (lately) Saddam or Mugabe. Very popular!

    Q: In your email to me there is a picture of you with what appears to be a mobile missile launching truck. Can you tell me a little bit more about this rather bizarre image?
    A: Ah, yes. I own a Chinese Peoples Liberation Army nuclear missile truck, complete with missile. It is always pointed west, towards America! It does not have the range to reach Taiwan, you see (like most other Chinese missiles, hehe). I painted my website and face on it. For fun, I parked it next to the A1 in Tony Blair’s constituency of Sedgefield. Bloody 2-shags Prescott made me move it in the end, after 1-year of wrangling. I made the truck from a real 1970 nuclear decontamination truck. It has been in lots of newspapers including the Financial Times and Daily Telegraph, and on the BBC. It is fantastic. My baby. I also have a 1966 London bus and a 1976 Beijing Jeep. Oh, and a Land Rover and a BMW RT bike.

    Q: You're clearly a driven person (no pun intended) and you have goals. Where do you want to be in five years?
    A: Oh, retired on a beach! My business is cumulative – most people come back after 2 years for another car, so my growth is fantastic. Everyone else selling brand new cars in the UK is so boring and conventional. I fight them like mad. Mazda banned me from selling their cars, but they gave in, in the end! No one, especially not a trumped-up employee Managing Director of a Japanese company dictates my actions. Like I said at first, I am Ling! And frankly, if the Chinese “community” don’t like me, or if some traditional old Chinese crow moans at me, I don’t care! I’ll sell my cheap new cars to some other race.  


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    "THE MARKETING BLOG"
    It's all about results...
    30th June 2006
    Is the pricing of new car paint protection products by car dealers a "rip-off"?

    "Adding a car paint protection product to a new car can be a waste of money, according to Ling Valentine, who runs www.lingscars.com. She has denounced as a "rip-off" the pricing of new car paint protection products by car dealers. "I'm not suggesting these products do not do a job", she said, "but I am claiming they are hideously overpriced by dealers. They should be priced with a normal 25% profit margin".

    According to ‘an insider at a large car supermarket chain’ quoted by Ling Valentine, the cost price of a paint protection treatment is "around £30 to £40", yet the typical retail price at a car dealership is anything between "£200 and £300, depending on how brave the dealer is."

    "I am sick and of car dealers offering this type of product and making up to 900% profit margin. They claim it takes time to apply, but in reality, it takes half an hour, maximum," says Ling Valentine.

    Despite a degree in chemistry, Ling Valentine does not pretend to understand how these paint protection products work: "Their fantastic claims are beyond me. But it’s the outrageous profit margins involved that offends, plus the fact that I do not see new cars being hideously scarred by the environment. Neither do I ever see an industry bible like Glass’s Guide advising higher residuals for cars that have had this protection applied. If it really made a difference, the finance companies I work with would demand it is applied to all my contract hire cars - but they don’t", added Ling."

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    "MANX RADIO"
    The sound of your life
    June 22nd 2006

    ISLE OF MAN RADIO INTERVIEW



    Manx Radio's Stuart Peters interviewed me for a piece on their "Mandate" programme on 22nd June. Mandate is Manx Radio's flagship morning and lunchtime current affairs programme, bringing a wide range of national and international news, relevant discussion, analysis and local and international sport.

    The Isle of Man seems to be a small principality off the coast of Sellafield. I think that they are semi-autonomous in the same way that Taiwan is with China. Maybe if the Manx people (3 legs - Sellafield again?) declare full independence then the British Government will invade, just like China will invade Taiwan?

    Stuart kindly interviewed me about the paint-protection product rip-off overcharging from car dealers. Between the salty air and the radioactivity, I would think that they need more than Supagard to protect their cars in the Isle of Man!

    Note that some of my cars may need to be collected from Heysham (another nuclear power station!) if you live in the Isle of Man 

    LISTEN to my Manx Radio interview mp3 1.4Mb HERE

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    "LIFE STARTS AT.com"
    Something for the wiser generation
    12th June 2006
    ARE YOU PAYING TOO MUCH FOR PAINT PROTECTION?

    "New-car sales website boss, Ling Valentine (33), who runs LINGsCARS.com has slammed the "rip-off" pricing of new car paint protection products by car dealers. According to Ling, customers are offered these products by car dealers to boost showroom profits, rather than with a genuine interest to help them protect their new car. She says:

    "I'm not suggesting these products do not do a job", said the LINGsCARS boss, "but I am claiming they are hideously overpriced by dealers. They should be priced with a normal 25% profit margin". An insider at a large car supermarket chain admitted to Ling Valentine that the cost price of a paint-protection treatment was "around £30 to £40", yet the typical retail price at a car dealership is anything between "£200 and £300, depending on how brave the dealer is."

    "I am sick and of car dealers offering this type of product and making up to 900% profit margin. They claim it takes time to apply, but in reality, it takes half an hour, maximum," says Ling.

    One leading car protection company, Supagard, claims on it's website that: "The whole idea behind the Paint Sealant is to protect your vehicle's paintwork from the harsh environment that surrounds it; namely UV rays produced by the sun which can fade paintwork. Fallout from trees, tree sap and salt on the roads are other contributors to fading and corrosion." Another company, Eurochem claims: "Nanotechnology is probably the most exciting development in modern automotive paint sealant chemical science. Nanoparticles are miniscule in size and it is by combining these that we can now create products that perform better than we had ever imagined."

    Despite a degree in chemistry, Ling Valentine does not pretend to understand how these paint protection products work:

    "Their fantastic claims are beyond me. But it's the outrageous profit margins involved that offends, plus the fact that I do not see new cars being hideously scarred by the environment. Neither do I ever see an industry bible like Glass's Guide advising higher residuals for cars that have had this protection applied. If it really made a difference, the finance companies I work with would demand it is applied to all my contract hire cars - but they don't", added Ling. To visit the LINGsCARS web site go to www.LINGsCARS.com. Even if you do not need a new car, make sure the web site as its great fun and very entertaining as well as professional"

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    June 19th 2006

    ENGLAND FLAG/CHOPSTICK WORLD CUP OFFER



    'Publicity shy' car broker Ling Valentine, who regular AM users will remember for free noodle lunch offer, is now offering an England flag/chopstick combo kits to football supporters on her website lingcars.com.

    The email movie, in which her sister, Shan – formerly in the Chinese Army (actually they are wrong. Shan was a Red Guard. Killed teachers, stoned doctors, that sort of thing. Quite different to Army. Chinese army crush with tanks - Ling) - promotes her free DIY England car flags to the tune of Tony Christie's 'Is This The Way To The World Cup?' shows web-users how to create an England car flag - using a pair of chopsticks. It has been downloaded an estimated two million times in just four weeks.

    Ling is giving away 500 DIY flag/chopstick kits.

    Reacting to widespread condemnation and concern about the St George Cross being attacjed to cars from the police, councils and motoring organsiations, Ling said: "It's a joke so much effort has been made to ban the use of flags. My email movie is an attempt to inject some humour into the debate. My sister in China is the star of the movie. I send a free flag and a pair of chopsticks to applicants, and they have to staple it all together, IKEA-style. No doubt, my flags will collapse in the first light breeze they encounter. After all, they are made in China."

    Opposition to the flags includes...

    - Some police forces have called on football-supporting motorists to take care when flying England flags from their vehicles.

    - In Hampshire, drivers have been warned that they could face an assault charge if a flag was to fly off and hit a pedestrian.

    - The RAC has warned drivers that if they want to show their support for England's football team they must make sure their flags are specially designed for car use and secured safely.

    - Some employers have already taken the step of banning their use. Construction workers at Heathrow's Terminal 5 have been told that flags are a health and safety risk because they might get caught in the wind and fly on to a runway 

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    "CREATIVE MATCH"
    THE UK creative community website.
    12th June 2006
    Email movie waving banner for England car flags goes cult.

    "A Newcastle woman has produced a worldwide cult 'viral email movie' mocking claims that England car flags are dangerous;- An email movie debunking the danger of England car flags, created by Ling Valentine, the Chinese born boss of a Gateshead-based online car leasing firm, has achieved viral status. The video, in which her sister promotes her free DIY 'Chinglish' car flags to the tune of Tony Christie's 'Is This The Way To The World Cup?' has been downloaded an estimated 2 million times in just 4 weeks.

    It is circulating the globe and popping up in office in-boxes everywhere, shows web-users how to create an England car flag - using a pair of chopsticks. Ling is giving away 500 "DIY flag/chopstick kits" from her website: http://www.LINGsCARS.com

    Some police forces have called on football-supporting motorists to take care when flying England flags from their vehicles. In Hampshire, drivers have been warned that they could face an assault charge if a flag was to fly off and hit a pedestrian. Meanwhile, the British Motorcyclists' Federation (BMF) and the RAC have warned drivers that if they want to show their support for England's football team they must make sure their flags are specially designed for car use and secured safely. In a joint statement the organisations warned of the danger of the flags, which are often clamped into closed windows, coming loose. A spot check of the A-13 dual carriageway east of London showed an average of three fallen flags per mile according the RAC.

    Ling says: "It's a joke that so much effort has been made to ban the use of flags. My email movie is an attempt to inject some humour into the debate but I never imagined it would spread like wildfire across the world".

    "I originally sent it to all my customers and friends and it has been forwarded to places as for as New Zealand, China and even to squaddies serving in Iraq. My sister in China is the star of the movie. I send a free flag and a pair of chopsticks to applicants, and they have to staple it all together, IKEA style. No doubt, my flags will collapse in the first light breeze they encounter. After all, they are made in China!"

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    "AUTOWIRED"
    Leading UK motoring news site
    8 June 2006

    E-MAIL TAX IS STUPID



    E-mail tax is stupid says online entrepreneur; GATESHEAD INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR, Ling Valentine, has described plans by the European Union to tax SMS messaging and email, as stupid.

    The idea was proposed by the European Parliaments Committee on Budgets to raise funds for future EU technology. The tax would levy 1.5 cents (0.8p) for every text and 0.00001 cents for every email sent.

    "This is an idea from the French because of their hatred of communication in English, which is the electronic language of the world," said Valentine of lingscars.com. "The proposed tax is an absolutely, completely, stupid idea. What are they going to tax next on our behalf? Post-it notes? It's ludicrous. Businesses like mine use the internet heavily to increase speed and efficiency and to improve communication and customer service. To tax efficiency is a ludicrous concept."

    The tax proposal is led by French MEP Alain Lamassoure, who sits on the European Parliament's Committee on Budgets.

    Ling Valentine (33) is Chinese, and leases over £10m of low-cost new cars each year to businesses and individuals in the UK from her website.

    "Communication is the lifeblood of any economy. It is always a mistake to stifle communication. If the EU plans go ahead, legitimate businesses will be hit. How are they going to levy the tax from the spammers who send thousand of emails everyday? Most of them come from outside the EU. It is another example of useless legislation that makes life harder for entrepreneurs like me who do their damndest to increase electronic communication, not restrict it."

    Before setting-up her own business, Ling ran all the contract hire for Porritt Motor Holdings which is now Carshock. 

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    "COMPFUSED.com"
    World-famous viral video site.
    10th June 2006

    cR@zY sI5teR PLA flag movie (14Mb) HERE
    cR@zY sI5teR PLA flag movie (4Mb) HERE

    TO HELP THE F.A. AND F.I.F.A. PROMOTE THE FOOTBALL WORLD CUP, UK car sales expert Ling Valentine asked her sister Shan (42) in China for assistance. Luckily, small England car flags are made in China, so her sister found an easy supply.

    Shan said, "I help my sister in small country of England and David Beckerham. I wear my Chinese Army clothes and my Red Guard armband, and use power of PLA to help England FC promote during World Cup. If you apply on bloody Ling's website, she will ask me to send England car flag to you, free! Because plastic flagpole is too big for envelope, I swap for chopstick flagpole. It's now a DIY England flag! Watch my video!"

    The email movie, in which Ling's Chinese Army sister promotes free DIY England car flags to the tune of Tony Christie's 'Is This The Way To The World Cup?' is circulating the globe and popping up in office in-boxes everywhere, shows web-users how to create an England car flag – using a pair of chopsticks. It has been downloaded an estimated two million times in just four weeks. Shan is giving away 500 “DIY flag/chopstick kits” from Ling's website www.LINGsCARS.com.

    Some police forces have called on football-supporting motorists to take care when flying England flags from their vehicles. In Hampshire, drivers have been warned that they could face an assault charge if a flag was to fly off and hit a pedestrian. Meanwhile the British Motorcyclists' Federation (BMF) and the RAC have warned drivers that if they want to show their support for England's football team they must make sure their flags are specially designed for car use and secured safely. In a joint statement the organisations warned of the danger of the flags, which are often clamped into closed windows, coming loose. A spot check of the A13 dual carriageway east of London showed an average of three fallen flags per mile according the RAC.

    Ling Valentine, who commissioned the viral video, is the Chinese born boss of Gateshead-based online car leasing firm LINGsCARS.com. She says it's a joke that so much effort has been made to ban the use of flags: “My email movie is an attempt to inject some humour into the debate but I never imagined it would spread like wildfire across the world. I originally sent it to all my customers and friends and it has been forwarded to places as for as New Zealand, China and even to squaddies serving in Iraq. My sister in China is the star of the movie. I send a free flag and a pair of chopsticks to applicants, and they have to staple it all together, IKEA style. No doubt, my flags will collapse in the first light breeze they encounter. After all, they are made in China!”


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    "FLEET NEWS NETWORK"
    Leading UK car Fleet Management online
    May 2006

    REPORTER POISONED BY LING!



    "Tom Seymour, Fleet NewsNet’s online reporter, received a noodle lunch from Ling Valentine (www.LINGsCARS.com) after writing his review for her contract hire website (Fleet News, January 26). He said: ‘They were translucent and possibly the oddest thing I have ever tasted.’

    A label on the lunch said: ‘I hope you enjoy free lunch. Noodles very healthy (except chemicals). To eat, use chopsticks. Chew. Swallow. If small child dies because swallow chopstick, that is unfortunate.’

    You can get your free noodle lunch by visiting Ling’s contract website and leaving a nice comment."
     

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    "PAN ASIAN BIZ"
    Doing business in Asia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Russia.
    12th May 2006


    "Have you visited Ling Valentine at LINGsCARS.com and partaken of her view of her home country and Google (radio and TV rants)? You ought to. It's very funny and very brave. According to Amnesty International there are over ten thousand executions a year in mainland China. Seems a little inconsiderate, don't you think?"

    - Margaret Stead

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    "DAILY RECORD"
    Motoring Section
    19 May 2006

    MAN, THAT'S ANNOYING!



    SEXIST car salesmen are the biggest turn-off for women buyers, according to a new survey. LINGsCARS.com quizzed 500 women to establish what turns them off when dealing with franchised car dealers. Sales assistants who assume the man will test-drive the car came top, but cost-conscious females were also irritated by hidden extras. The results were as follows:

    Sales assistant offering their partner the test drive. (32%)
    Misleading prices with hidden extras. (26%)
    No area for children to play. (17%)
    The sales assistant automatically talking to the man. (14%)
    Stewed coffee from vending machines. (11%)

    Ling Valentine, who produced the study, said: "It's a myth that women are happy to stand on the sidelines. Dealers need to drag themselves out of the dark ages."  

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    "AUTO EXPRESS"
    PREMIER WEEKLY CAR MAG
    16th May 2006

    WOMEN CAR BUYERS ANGRY


    The top two things that annoy women car buyers are sexist salesmen who assume the man will take test drive, and paying for extras they don't want, according to survey by leasing firm LINGsCARS.com.

    ...and also...

    He's an actor in real life, but EastEnders star Sid Owen is still the nation's favourite car mechanic. Owen, who played Ricky Butcher in the BBC soap, won more than a third of the votes in a poll by LINGsCARS.com, an online vehicle lease firm. Coronation Street's Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) was second; EastEnders' Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) came third.

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    "BIZ/ED" (www.bized.co.uk)
    What's new! Ling on Ebay!
    25 May 2006

    Biz/ed is a free online service for students, teachers and lecturers of business, economics, accounting, leisure and recreation and travel and tourism.

    Since its launch, in January 1996, Biz/ed has established itself as the primary provider of Internet-based learning materials for the economics and business education community in the UK. The number of visitors to the site has been growing rapidly and it now regularly receives over 2 million page accesses per month. The site has been nominated for a number of awards including the BETT awards in 1999, the Becta / Guardian Web awards in 2002 and in July 2002 the Virtual Factory on the site was awarded a MERLOT learning and teaching award.

    "After receiving notice that her advertising medium at the side of the A1 near Newcastle had to be taken down because it was 'proving a distraction for drivers', entrepreneur Ling Valentine decided to put the rocket truck on which the mobile advert was placed on eBay - the item was sold for over £4,000 but for Ling, the publicity surrounding the whole thing meant it was worth very much more to her!"

    From Ling... ...as a footnote, the sale of my truck fell through due to stupid buyer - but Biz/Ed are right about the publicity value... over 7000 people viewed my ebay listing, all for £25. I have been contacted by Biz/ed with the following request:

    I recently heard you interviewed on Radio 5 Live regarding the rocket truck advertising issue. I subsequently visited your site and have been very impressed with the vitality and honesty that comes across from what you do. We have a section on the Biz/ed site called 'Business profiles' where we feature a series of FAQs about different types of businesses like EasyJet, CarPhone Warehouse, MacDonalds and Sainsbury's. We have some very large businesses and also some smaller ones.

    Many students studying for GCSE and A' level courses have to access information about businesses of different types and also to get a greater insight into the nature of enterprise and entrepreneurial skills. Biz/ed is trying to provide students with a source of access for this type of information to help their studies. I guess you know what is coming - would you be in a position to spare a couple of hours to answer some questions which would allow us to feature LINGsCARS.com as one of our business profiles?


    WoW! I am quite honoured to line up next to such big names. Wait for feature, eh??? - Ling 


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    "NORTHERN ECHO"
    This is the North East
    4th May 2006

    LING MOVES TO DEFUSE ROW OVER MISSILE


    A Gateshead businesswoman is selling a mock nuclear missile and a 1970 Chinese nuclear decontamination truck on Ebay. Ling Valentine has been threatened with court action unless she removes the vehicle and the replica rocket from beside the A1 Motorway, near Sedgefield.

    She put it there to advertise her online contract-hire car sales company. It has been there 10 months and has been seen by hundreds of thousands of passing motorists. The final bid on ebay was for £4,400.

    In November 2005, Sedgefield Borough Council planning department ordered Ling to remove it, but she has not. Ling, from Gateshead, was forced to hide it out of sight after being threatened with court action.

    She faced a £2500 fine, plus an extra £250 for every day it remained. Ling Valentine, 32, said: "I had the missile pointing west, across Sedgefield towards George Bush so I think they made me remove it for political reasons as it is in Tony Blair's backyard.

    "I am very disappointed because I have put a lot of effort into it and I thought it looked really good. The Council said it was distracting drivers and could cause an accident, but what about the Angel of the North?" Ling has promised to give 20 per cent of the sale price to a charity in China that helps deaf and dumb children acquire artistic skills.

    The next publicity stunt is almost as wacky. Ling has bought a double decker London Bus and plans to refurbish it and attend markets and car parks promoting her business (using it like a mobile LINGsCARS display bus - put the fear of the Chinese God into local car dealerships, hehehehe - Ling).

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    "BBC RADIO FIVE LIVE"
    Live interview with Peter Allen
    05 May 2006

    RADIO TALK! WOW!



    I got a call about an hour before the BBC wanted to talk to me on the drivetime prog on 5 Live. I had to jump in car and rush to BBC Newcastle to do interview with presenter Pete Allen in London. My God, I was out of breath!!!

    I think my joke about the cockle pickers was a bit too politically incorrect for the BBC, but what the hell, I only live once, eh? After the interview, my webstats went through the roof! It is amazing the difference radio can make!

    What's next? TV? - Ling
     

    Lo-Q BBC radio FIVE Live movie (5 Mb) HERE
    Hi-Q BBC radio FIVE Live movie (17 Mb) HERE

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    "NEWCASTLE CHRONICLE"
    Heart and Soul of the North East
    15th April 2006

    EVERYONE THINKS WE'RE MAD!!



    It's an 8,000 mile race full of dangers. But these two lads are tackling a rally to Mongolia in a nine-year-old Fiat without a handbrake. James Rickwood-Dodsworth, 19, of Constable Close, Ryton and Andy Wallace, 19, of Arden Avenue, Gosforth set off on July 22 from London and will take in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the Mongol Rally. "Everyone thinks we're mad." said James.

    "Last year 17% of the participants were robbed during the rally. My mum's dead against it, but I'm more scared of all the injections we have to have before we go. I hate needles." The rally is run by a group called the Institute for Adventure Research and takes in "five mountain ranges, two deserts and roads ranging from bad to non-existent". According to the rules drivers can only use cars with one litre engines or less. James said: "We've got a car, a Fiat Cinquecento 1997. It needs a bit of work, the hand brake doesn't work but people have made it in the past on a scooter."

    James and Andy have already raised their £1,000 entry fee
    (this £1000 my sponsorship - Ling) and they intend to add to it. "Now we're aiming for about £2,500 because the Northern Rock Foundation have agreed to double anything we get. It would be great to raise £5,000 for charity (these two boyz aiming too low! In my view, with some work, in 3 months they could easily raise £25,000! - Ling). Most of the money we raise will go to the Send A Cow campaign. They send families in Africa a cow to feed their families and to sell surplus milk. Some of the money we raise is sent to help Mongolian farmers too."

    The route is divided up into five treacherous parts and takes between four and eight weeks. At the end of each leg the teams can find a hotel and rest for the night. Otherwise they are expected to drive in shifts and sleep in their cramped cars. "We'll probably end up living on sheep's eyeballs or something," added James
    (RUBBISH! I send boxes of noodles for them! I am generous sponsor! - Ling). "We will take some food but the car is so small and we have to take cans of petrol because there are large stretches where there are no petrol stations. And we need to take four spare tyres because the roads are so bad."

    Andy Wallace is studying Engineering at the National College of Construction, Cambridge, and James is studying Geography at Bristol University. Anyone interested in sponsoring James and Andy should contact Ling on sales@lingscars.com.


    WATCH Mongol Rally - FUN PROMO MOVIE (Lo-res 5Mb, Hi-res 16Mb)

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    "NEW WOMAN MAGAZINE"
    Money Tricks Even Your Dad Doesn't Know
    May 2006 issue

    MONEY TRICKS:
    EVEN YOUR DAD DOESN'T KNOW



    Dad's advice: Buy a reliable, low-cost car

    The NW way: Hire a Porsche, pimp-style.

    The method in our madness... The Stateside trend of renting cars is heading here, and it could save you up to £4000 a year, Ling Valentine of www.LINGsCARS.com says:

    "Cars go down in value, so buying one is pointless."

    (New) Rented cars come with breakdown coverage, tax and MOT included in the hire fee. Fancy an upgrade? Just trade it in for a swankier model.



    Ling comment: As ever, there are inaccuracies. New cars do not need MOT, and you must allow contract to finish THEN you can swap for swankier (or wankier) model. Up to you. And Porsche VERY expensive rental! 

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    "ITV.com"
    ITV 1,2,3 & 4 Online
    19th March 2006

    TOP MECHANIC:
    RICKY BUTCHER!



    Ricky Butcher - yes, the gloomy bloke from Eastenders - has been named as the UK's favourite car mechanic in a poll organised by online car leasing firms LINGsCARS.com. 500 people were asked for their votes, the only rule being that the mechanic had to be a character in a soap opera.

    Butcher (played by actor Sid Owen) took first place with 36% of the votes, but it was a close-run thing, since Kevin Webster of Coronation Street (Michael Le Vell) scored 34%. Phil Mitchell of Eastenders (Steve McFadden) was a distant third on 12%, and enough people remembered that Kylie Minogue used to play the part of mechanic Charlene Mitchell in Neighbours to place her fourth on 7%.

    Elsewhere in the top ten, Coronation Street was represented by characters Tyrone Dobbs, Chris Collins and Brian Tilsley, Emmerdale by Scott Windsor, Neighbours by Drew Kirk and Hollyoaks by Dan Hunter.

    A good result generally for Corrie, then, but top marks to Ricky Butcher nonetheless. "I think the nation has a soft sport for the unlucky dimwit," says LINGsCARS.com founder Ling Valentine, charitably.


     

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    "THE DAILY TELEGRAPH"
    The Daily Telegraph business section
    14th February 2006 (how appropriate!)

    SECRETS OF SUCCESS:
    £1M MONTHLY NEW CAR SALES FOR CHAT ROOM ENTREPENEUR



    Packets of Chinese noodles, banknotes worth 8p and Communist Party red books are unlikely sales incentives, but the success of Ling Valentine is even more improbable.

    The flamboyant 32-year-old entrepreneur was born in Chengdu in China and met her husband Jon Valentine in an internet chat room, before moving to Gateshead in 1998. She now uses fun chatroom principles as the key differentiator for her website LINGsCARS.com. The only advertising for the website is on a fake missile mounted on a Chinese military truck beside the A1, but the site attracts 1,000 visitors a day.

    Pointing the missile towards Washington DC may be contentious but Mrs Valentine’s business growth is certainly on target. Over the past 12 months she has arranged contract hire for £10.8m of cars and now she earns £10,000 per month working from home (Whoa! That’s GROSS income, before everything – Ling).

    “Stop regarding your website as a ’thing’,” she advises. “Think of it as a living creature. You need to feed your website every day just like a pet spider.” For the other secrets of Ling Valentine’s online success, visit our website (or better still look around this one, hehe – Ling).

     

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    "THE I-KEW"
    Tech news and insider stories for the IT industry
    9th February 2006

    BOYCOTT GOOGLE! AND AOL! AND YAHOO!



    I've never met Ling Valentine, [left] but she seems determined to become known as an informed commentator on email! - and more to the point, an activist. After a call to boycott Google's advertising services, she's now attacked AOL and Yahoo! for trying to charge extra for "premium" email.

    Valentine runs an Internet-based car leasing company, not an email service provider. Her ire was first provoked by Google's decision to censor Chinese web content. She lives in Gateshead, but she's a Chinese native
    (does this mean I wear grass skirt and have chopstick through nose? - Ling), so that wasn't going to make her happy: "This sort of thing is exactly why I decided to set up my business in England. Here, you can make a success of a business without the Government breathing down your neck," she said.

    And, she added: "I find it ironic that Google is happy to protect American pronography enthusiasts and not Chinese users."

    And then, a couple of days later, she was complaining again: this time about AOL, Yahoo! and Goodmail. She has a point: "This will not protect UK businesses and individuals from yet more spam; it just means that Yahoo and AOL make money from allowing this rubbish through."

    Indeed, it does. The deal with Goodmail simply means that you pay to bypass normal spam filters. It's not what the Penny Black project originally envisaged.

    At least Valentine is putting her money where he mouth is - or at least, moving her money. She's pulled all her Google adverts. Since she sells a million pounds worth of cars each month on the Internet, this won't upset Google, much; but if others follow suit...


     

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    "SILICON.COM"
    Online Business Publication of the Year
    10th February 2006

    WEEKLY ROUND UP



    You probably won't have missed news this week that AOL and Yahoo! are expected to launch a system to charge third parties to email their users, in return for guaranteeing the mail passes unhindered through their spam filters, complete with a stamp of authenticity. Some consumers and even industry experts have reacted badly to this development suggesting the companies are actually looking to make money by letting spammers reach their users...

    ...While silicon.com fails to see sense or practicality in such a service, others went far further in their criticism of AOL and Yahoo!. One press release received in the silicon.com mail box this week declared "Email 'spamming charter' angers leading UK web retailers". And who are these 'leading web retailers?' the Round-Up hears you ask. Good question, because we're talking about no lesser force in the world of retail than LINGsCARS.com and halfpriceperfumes.co.uk.

    That's right; 'The Big Two'. Move aside Amazon and eBay; Ling's Cars and Half Price Perfumes are in the house.

    Or, to put it another way, 'Who?'. The founders of both companies had something to say on the matter but the Round-Up had stopped reading by that stage.

     

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    "INTERNET WORLD"
    UK's largest Business to Business event for Internet professionals
    9th February 2006

    INTERNET WORLD NEWS: TOP STORY

    Businesswoman slams Google's self-censorship of China site


    Gateshead businesswoman Ling Valentine has slammed Google for censoring web content in her native country of China. According to Ms Valentine, she has already pulled all her online advertising from Google in protest at what she says is 'Google's support for a violation of human rights'. She is urging others to do the same.

    Google has launched a Chinese version of its search tool that excludes information censored by the government. Search results omit independent websites from searches about human rights, Tibet and other topics sensitive to Beijing. Instead, users are directed to websites espousing the government's views on such issues. This comes at the same time as Google's refusal to bow to pressure by the US government to release details of individual search queries.

    Ling, who lives in Gateshead, has created a successful online car leasing business, LINGsCARS, and sells £1m worth of cars every month in the UK. She said Google's decision was 'a good example of why doing business in the North East of England was 'far easier than in China'. 'This sort of thing is exactly why I decided to set up my business in England,' she said. 'Here, you can make a success of a business without the Government breathing down your neck. My website would be shut down in China. Over there, it's difficult to be outlandish and become a creative entrepreneur. By bowing to Beijing, Google is holding back China's economic development. Google is helping the Government to suppress embarrassing economic or political stories. It is a backwards step for entrepreneurs in the country.

    'I find it ironic that Google is happy to protect American pornography enthusiasts and not Chinese users,' she said. 'I'm disappointed in Google for wimping out to a repressive regime. Unlike the UK, the internet in China is becoming more and more isolated from the outside world and freedom of expression is shrinking not growing.'

     

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    "TELEGRAPH BUSINESS CLUB"
    The Daily Telegraph business section
    February 2006

    LOVE IT, HATE IT

    By Dave Sumner-Smith, MBA

    Love It


    Stoneless dried plums with a strong laxative effect hardly seem the best of sales incentives. Nor does the 'blatant bribery' of a Chinese Yuan banknote worth 8p. But they helped Ling Valentine achieve car sales of £10.8m last year through her wacky website www.LINGsCARS.com.

    Ling Valentine originates from Chengdu in China and arrived in the UK in 1998 after meeting North East-born Jon Valentine in an internet chatroom and marrying him in Helsinki. Now her Gateshead-based car leasing business is booming thanks to this website. "My target for 2006 is £25,000,000 of cars!" she writes on the site. "Ambitious? Maybe, but what the hell; I aim for stars, miss moon, accidentally hit Taiwan, eh? Ooops."

    I'm happy to overlook the deplorable grammar because it is such a refreshing change. The content is all controlled by Ling herself, and her flamboyant, off-beat character comes through loud and clear. "Website is like an extension of you, person behind business," she writes in pidgin English. "Are you alive? Then website should be alive. Do you change, have emotion, get angry, get happy? Then website should do all these things."

    Not only is the website fun. It is also informative. Take a look at the home page and you will find some valuable advice under Building a Good Website. Her final point is a good one. "Don't let one day go by without changing or feeding or petting website, even tiny thing. If you don't feed website it will die. Like pet. You think I'm wrong? Look at your website, look at my website. When last time you even visit, never mind change?"



    Hate It

    Oh... This story is about something else entirely! - Ling

     

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    "IT WEEK"
    UK IT industry newspaper
    8th November 2006 by Clive Akass

    "UK VENDORS ATTACK EMAIL CHARGES"

    Vendors say AOL and Yahoo 'will make money letting rubbish through' at the expense of legitimate emails


    A move by service providers AOL and Yahoo to charge companies for delivering promotional emails has been attacked by some UK online vendors. The charge will allow messages to bypass the service providers' spam filters after being authenticated by a company called Goodmail.

    Ling Valentine, owner of Lingscars.com, an Internet-based car leasing firm, said: 'This will not protect UK businesses and individuals from yet more spam; it just means that Yahoo and AOL make money from allowing this rubbish through.'

    Jason Zemmel, owner of online health and beauty retailer, halfpriceperfumes.co.uk, said the system could anger both vendors and users.

    'Responsible web retailers who send legitimate messages only to people who have asked to receive them are likely to suffer… especially if order confirmation and tracking emails are also affected.'. AOL and Yahoo plans to charge up to one US cent per message, but stress that users will not pay anything.
     

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    "CHINESE FINANCIAL TIMES.com"
    Chinese edition of world famous newspaper
    7th Feb 2006


    Due to copyright laws which have been used to force me to pay money for showing and describing this article in the FT, despite the fact that I am subject of article, and that it is in bloody Chinese, I have to remove it. The FT want to charge me £1,455+VAT!!!. This would have to be passed on to my customers and I refuse to do this. The article included loads of stuff about me, and would have been quite interesting if a) The FT would let me show it, and b) You could read Chinese. It is shame I cannot show it, eh? - Ling
     

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    "THE FINANCIAL TIMES"
    FT Companies and Markets section
    4th Feb 2006

    "ASK THE EXPERTS; LINGsCARS"
    - by Jonathan Moules

    Due to copyright laws which have been used to force me to pay money for showing and describing this article in the FT, despite the fact that I am subject of article, I have to remove it. The FT want to charge me £1,455+VAT!!!. This would have to be passed on to my customers and I refuse to do this. The article included various experts including David Bradshaw from Ovum PLC discussing the potential of my business model, compared to more traditional businesses. It is shame I cannot show it, eh? - Ling
     

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    "NEWCASTLE JOURNAL"
    Today's Voice of the North
    2nd February 2006

    VALENTINE FALLS OUT OF LOVE WITH GOOGLE

    by Howard Walker

    Flamboyant Gateshead businesswoman Ling Valentine has declared war on internet search giant Google for censoring web content in her native China. Mrs Valentine has pulled all online advertising for her online car leasing company, LINGsCARS.com from Google in protest at what she says is "Google's support for a violation of human rights". She is urging others to do the same.

    Google launched a Chinese version of its search tool that excludes information censored by the Chinese government. Search results omit independent websites from searches about human rights, Tibet and other topics sensitive to Beijing. Instead, users are directed to websites putting forward the government's views on such issues.

    Mrs Valentine's car leasing business chalks up £1m of car sales a month and she thinks the decision by Google is a good example of why doing business in the North-East is far easier than in China. She said "This sort of thing is exactly why I decided to set up my business in England. Here you can make a success of a business without the government breathing down your neck. My website would be shut down in China. There, it's difficult to be outlandish and be a creative entrepeneur."

    "By bowing to Beijing, Google is holding back China's economic development. Google is helping the Chinese government supress embarrassing economic or political stories. It is a backwards step for entrepeneurs in the country."

    Mrs Valentine (PLEASE, call me Ling! - Ling), 31, first came to the North-East seven years ago when she married Jon Valentine, co-founder of North car supermarket CarShock. She warns that continued censorship of the internet in China is cutting down on freedom of expression there and believes other Google users may follow her lead in boycotting the business.

    Mrs Valentine (tch..) said "I wouldn't be surprised if Google suffered a backlash from the consumers it's so keen to reach when they realise the company is helping China's censorship ministers. Google revealed yesterday (1st Feb 2006 - Ling) that its profits had risen by 82% to £210m in the last 3 months of 2005; however, that failed to meet forecasts on Wall Street, sending the company's shares tumbling.

    Shares fell 12% in after-hours trading in New York on Tuesday night - Google's biggest one-day drop since its flotation in August 2004 - as it also told investors it had been hit by a slowdown in advertising spending in the UK. (Good - Ling)
     

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    "THE FINANCIAL TIMES.com"
    Financial Times - online edition
    3rd Feb 2006

    "DRIVING THE INTERNET SALES MODEL"

    by Jonathan Moules

    This is an online version of my (nearly) full page FT newspaper artcle. It you visit The Financial Times site, you can search for it. Due to copyright laws which have been used to force me to pay money for showing and describing this article in the FT, despite the fact that I am subject of article, I have to remove it. The FT want to charge me £1,455+VAT!!!. This would have to be passed on to my customers and I refuse to do this. The article included a full discussion of my successful business and the potential of my business model, compared to more traditional businesses. It is shame I cannot show it, eh? - Ling

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    "CAR KEYS.co.uk"
    The Car Information Service Station
    16th March 2006

    TOP MECHANIC:
    RICKY BUTCHER!



    Ricky Butcher - yes, the gloomy bloke from Eastenders - has been named as the UK's favourite car mechanic in a poll organised by online car leasing firms LINGsCARS.com. 500 people were asked for their votes, the only rule being that the mechanic had to be a character in a soap opera.

    Butcher (played by actor Sid Owen) took first place with 36% of the votes, but it was a close-run thing, since Kevin Webster of Coronation Street (Michael Le Vell) scored 34%. Phil Mitchell of Eastenders (Steve McFadden) was a distant third on 12%, and enough people remembered that Kylie Minogue used to play the part of mechanic Charlene Mitchell in Neighbours to place her fourth on 7%.

    Elsewhere in the top ten, Coronation Street was represented by characters Tyrone Dobbs, Chris Collins and Brian Tilsley, Emmerdale by Scott Windsor, Neighbours by Drew Kirk and Hollyoaks by Dan Hunter.

    A good result generally for Corrie, then, but top marks to Ricky Butcher nonetheless. "I think the nation has a soft sport for the unlucky dimwit," says LINGsCARS.com founder Ling Valentine, charitably.


     

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    "BUSINESS 550 MAGAZINE"
    for Decision Makers in £5 -£50m Companies
    January 2006

    ARE THEY STILL RISING?


    Curious to know whatever happened to our Rising Stars of 2005? We were too, which is why we sent STEPHEN WRIGHT to catch up with our "ones to watch" and find out how they have fared since he last spoke to them...



    There's no stopping the whirlwind that is Ling Valentine, the scourge of car contract hire companies up and down the land. As she says, she "may be a woman from Chengdu city in China with a population of 20 million, living in Gateshead comprising 20,000 Geordies and me!", but it hasn't stopped her generating over £10m in car sales in 2005.

    Integral to her success is her website; www.LINGsCARS.com, which is worth visiting if for nothing else, for her blogs. They are the stuff of legend. Valentine, dubbed "the crazy Chinese housewife" by the media puts her success down to one thing only. "More and more people are becoming aware that car prices have been a rip-off for decades and are definitely shopping around for better value - and finding it. They are happy to rent a car for a fixed period at low monthly cost; it makes fantastic financial sense! No loans, no HP, no depreciation. Fixed cost motoring!"
     

    2005 saw Valentine import and re-build a Chinese Army Zil six-wheel-drive rocket launcher and park it in Tony Blair's constituency of Sedgefield to whip up interest. She is also converting a London bus (red of course, being the Chinese national colour!) into a mobile, online, contract hire, car sales tour bus (ready Easter, pics soon - Ling).

    All this, she hopes, will enable her to turn £25m of car sales by this time next year (and she'll still continue to send out her free noodle lunch in the post to anyone interested). "Britain is one of the richest countries in the world," explains Valentine. "If you can't make it in busness here in this climate of prosperity, they you're in the wrong business, not in the wrong country!"

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    "BBC Radio Interview"
    Live BBC Radio Newcastle
    Saturday January 28th 2006

    LING SLAMS GOOGLE


    FLAMBOYANT Gateshead businesswoman Ling Valentine has slammed internet giants Google for censoring web content in her native country of China.


    Google has launched a Chinese version of its search tool that excludes information censored by the government. Search results omit independent websites from searches about human rights, Tibet and other topics sensitive to Beijing. Instead, users are directed to websites espousing the government's views on such issues. This comes at the same time as Google’s refusal to bow to pressure by the US government to release details of individual search queries.

    Ling sells £1m worth of cars every month. As she celebrates the Chinese New Year, she says the decision by Google is a good example of why doing business in the North East of England is far easier than in China: “This sort of thing is exactly why I decided to set up my business in England. Here, you can make a success of a business without the Government breathing down your neck. My website would be shut down in China. Over there, it’s difficult to be outlandish and become a creative entrepreneur. By bowing to Beijing, Google is holding back China's economic development. Google is helping the Government to suppress embarrassing economic or political stories. It is a backwards step for entrepreneurs in the country. “I find it ironic that Google is happy to protect American pornography enthusiasts and not Chinese users. I’m disappointed in Google for wimping out to a repressive regime. Unlike the UK, the internet in China is becoming more and more isolated from the outside world and freedom of expression is shrinking not growing. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Google suffered a backlash from the consumers it's so keen to reach when they realize the company is helping China's censorship ministers.”

    BBC interview movie (7.5 Mb) HERE
    Full Google rant from Ling HERE

    UPDATE!


    As seen in The Independent on 2nd Feb 2004, news that Google's shares have dropped by $13,000,000,000!! Wow!

    The Independent said:
    "The past few days have been an unrelenting stream of bad news for Google, beginning with its controversial agreement to submit to Chinese government censorship, which prompted the first stock plunge a week ago. It is believed that a Chinese businesswoman from Gateshead has been instrumental in this $13 billion loss." Hmmmm - Ling

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    "PERSONAL COMPUTER WORLD"
    UK best-selling computer magazine
    8th November 2006 by Clive Akass

    "UK VENDORS ATTACK EMAIL CHARGES"

    Vendors say AOL and Yahoo 'will make money letting rubbish through' at the expense of legitimate emails


    A move by service providers AOL and Yahoo to charge companies for delivering promotional emails has been attacked by some UK online vendors. The charge will allow messages to bypass the service providers' spam filters after being authenticated by a company called Goodmail.

    Ling Valentine, owner of Lingscars.com, an Internet-based car leasing firm, said: 'This will not protect UK businesses and individuals from yet more spam; it just means that Yahoo and AOL make money from allowing this rubbish through.'

    Jason Zemmel, owner of online health and beauty retailer, halfpriceperfumes.co.uk, said the system could anger both vendors and users.

    'Responsible web retailers who send legitimate messages only to people who have asked to receive them are likely to suffer… especially if order confirmation and tracking emails are also affected.'. AOL and Yahoo plans to charge up to one US cent per message, but stress that users will not pay anything.
     

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    "FLEET NEWS"
    Targeted at fleet decision-makers within UK companies
    24th January 2006 by Tom Seymour

    "WEB WATCH: WE REVIEW WHAT'S HOT ON THE NET"

    BIZARRE TRIP TO CONTRACT HIRE'S RYANAIR


    The internet is home to all things weird. There are websites floating around in cyberspace dedicated to some rather obscure concepts (see kittenwar.com or hatsofmeat.com). However, car rental is not usually a subject associated with the bizarre.

    Visitors to www.lingscars.com will set sail on a bizarre journey through the mind of Chinese entrepreneur Ling Valentine, who uses a rather ‘unique’ sales banter with her customers. She considers herself the ‘Ryanair of contract hire’, and gives away Chinese meals, Chinese money, poetry and communist books among other incentives. It sounds odd and it is. While one part of the logical brain is screaming ‘how could I possibly trust the handling of my new car to this website?’, the other is admiring the way trust is created through this highly personal service.

    The 249 letters thanking Ling also help. Customers can talk to Ling live using an instant messenger function. I tested this out, and she replied to a message within seconds in an extremely professional manner. Conversations can be saved and sent to your inbox at the click of a button. The latest car prices for business and private users can be found on the homepage links on the top menu. Each car comes with lots of additional details and Ling’s ‘car v fags’ feature, which pits the cost of renting the car against the cost of cigarettes. In this case, the daily cost of renting a Lexus IS is the same as two packets of cigarettes.

    As Ling points out: ‘Smoking 39 fags bad – car good!’

    Navigating the site can be a little confusing – there are links all over the place – and the text has some controversial opinions. For example, here is Ling’s comment on her free lunch offer. ‘Noodle now in date! (Following unreasonable complaint by Trading Standards, I now supply in date product for poor soft English customer who cannot defend body against six-month -old noodle!).’
     

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    "BUSINESS 550 MAGAZINE"
    for Decision Makers in £5 -£50m Companies
    November 2005
    RISING STAR
    Turning the contract hire market on its head with LINGsCARS


    Chinese businesswoman Ling Valentine makes her competitors eat their words. Turning over £1m plus per month from her spare room, Ling Valentine, founder of LINGsCARS is determined to break the mould in the contract hire business. STEPHEN WRIGHT went to meet her.

    Why have people dubbed you the "crazy Chinese housewife"? - I am Chinese and I've a crazy attitude, a crazy website, I rent contract hire cars at crazy prices and I have a crazy nuclear rocket truck. Does this make me crazy? And why do you say I am a housewife? I have never done any housework, and I am proud to say I have never ironed any clothes in my life. Life is too short for that rubbish. The closest I have come to housework is flushing toilet.
     
    How have you managed to undercut your competitors by up to 35%? - Ah, this is secret. I tell you, then I shoot you (and charge your family for bullet in traditional Chinese way. Please to supply family's address!) I work like coolie, have virtually no overheads, am extremely efficient, use computers to do the donkey work and I am twice as good as my competitors. They by contrast have lots of staff, big offices to run, even bigger wage bills, and top it all they are inefficient and greedy. They sell useless things like maintenance when cars hardly ever need an oil change!

    What's the thinking behind your "different" website? - I am amazed more people don't get this "amazing website" thing. Why not make a "different" website, one that customers will enjoy? Websites should be alive. That's why I rant against the normal UK business practice of looking "professional". What does this mean? A happy customer is what counts, nothing else...
     
    From a happy customer everything else follows - success, profit and growth. The web is like TV. It is very powerful but most companies ignore this. In China, people are arrested and shot for writing on websites, but I am in UK so I can do what I want, and I do. Most businesses in UK should be ashamed for the drivel on their websites.

    What's the plan for LINGsCARS? - To beat everyone else. Like China's atheletes and most Chinese businesses, I fight relentlessly. Always attack! Mr Churchill, Mr Patton and Mr Mao were right. Read their words! My competitors will be beaten, made to look stupid and inefficient, and I will put them out of business one by one. Companies like mine are champions of customer. I will get attacked for saying this stuff but it is all true. I am Ling Valentine and I tell truth!

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    "AUTOMOTIVE MANAGEMENT"
    Market Intelligence from the Experts
    January 13th 2006
    "CHAT ROOM ENTREPENEUR SELLS £1M NEW CARS A MONTH - WITH A FREE LUNCH"

    A chat room run by female entrepreneur Ling Valentine, has helped to make more than £1 million a month for her web based contract hire company LingsCars.com.
    (Note: to clarify, I don't MAKE £1m a month - I wish! - I SELL over £1m new cars a month; Ling)

    Chat room entrepreneur sells £1m new cars a month – with a free lunch. She says much of her success is based around her unique ‘sales patter’ conducted in her online chatroom from her house in Gateshead. "I'm the first motor retailer to use live chat room technology to drive sales. Customers can type and chat in real time to ask questions about the cars I sell or talk to me. There are serious business benefits. In a chatroom I can chat to several people at once, whereas I can only make one phone call at a time. It also enables me to show pictures of the cars, discuss prices and make deals online," said Valentine.

    Ling says she has sold over £10m worth of new cars on contract hire agreements (actually £10,800,000 in 2005 - Ling). By undercutting the big car leasing companies by as much as 35% she has seen her fledgling business grow fourfold in the past year. Her unique marketing offers customers free Chinese takeaways (noodles by post), wrapped Chinese polo mints, Chinese banknotes (worth 8p), genuine 1960's red Mao communist books and other collectibles.

    Ling is also the owner of a Chinese military truck, complete with a giant rocket, parked in a field by the A1 motorway. Thousands of people drive past it everyday and she says it has been a great marketing tool. "It's a genuine Chinese Nuclear Army vehicle. I imported it from Shanghai and built a dummy missile to go on to,” she said. “I get texts, emails and phone calls from people every day who see it. I think it will become a landmark as iconic at the Angel of the North. I may even fix it with a webcam so that the whole world can see how great the North East people are."
     

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    "THE DAILY TELEGRAPH"
    Business Section
    January 16th 2006

    TARGETING TONY


    Going down a bomb: Ling Valentine and her missile truck


    Ling Valentine, a colourful Chinese-born entrepeneur, has been causing havoc in Tony Blair's constituency of Sedgefield with her nuclear missile truck. She's parked it next to the A1 to publicise her car leasing website.

    Ling, who came to the UK in 1998 after marrying her Wakefield-born husband Jon, says happily: "I am giving planners the nightmare at the moment pointing my missile towards America. They are very stupid and cannot find out how to stop me. Bush must be complaining to Blair when the American spy satellites see my truck. Maybe there is a dodgy dossier about me?"

    Her next idea is to tour the area in an old London bus - so keep an eye out.

    sophie.brodie@telegraph.co.uk

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    "NEWCASTLE JOURNAL"
    Today's Voice of the North
    November 30th 2005
    DRIVING AHEAD IN CAR LEASING

    By Graeme King


    An offbeat car leasing company in Gateshead is beating off competition from its larger rivals with a combination of low costs and quirky humour.

    LINGsCARS.com, managed by Chinese-born Ling Valentine, is already turning over £100,000 in fees for it's services as it arranges to lease cars worth more than £10m to its clients. By undercutting big leasing companies by as much as 35%, Mrs Valentine has seen her fledgling business grow four-fold in the past year (Ling note: I have been operating since year 2000! Fledgling indeed!).

    Ling operates the business from the dining room table (Come on, dining room is converted to office! - Ling) of her Gateshead home - and plans to expand. Although she does not intend taking on staff just yet, Ling has just spent £7000 on a former London bus, which she intends kitting out like an estate agency for cars - and will drive round Sunday markets in the North-East, to allow her to keep selling at weekends, instead of just through the week. The business is already promoted using a "rocket truck" parked next to the A1, in a farmer's field near Darlington.
     
    Ling, 31, first came to the North-East seven years ago, when she married husband Jon Valentine, co-founder of North car supermarket CarShock. She had been studying in Helsinki, Finland, for a masters degree in wood chemistry, but struggled to complete it as she was studying in Finnish, her third language (sixth actually, after Mandarin, Cantonese, English and of course Chinglish, and now after living in Gateshead; Geordie! heh - Ling). After meeting and marrying Jon, she did a masters degree in environmental quality (I can tell everyone environment is officially shit - Ling) in Bournemouth, learning about data and information processing which would later help her in running LINGsCARS.com.

    I cut loads because it gets boring, eh? - Ling

    She said, "The key to this business is efficiency. I'm able to give very good personal service. I have very few overheads to add to the cost of the car. My system and finance mean that I'm able to offer better service than large, posh businesses because I have virtually no overheads. The end result is that people can get exactly the same cars for less"

    Mr Valentine said some dealerships are content to strike a deal with Ling for almost no margin, since they have sales targets to meet from their suppliers, and if they meet the target, they earn bonuses - and Ling's ability to find homes for their cars helps to earn those bonuses.

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    "THE DARLINGTON AND STOCKTON TIMES"
    North East Weekly Newspaper of the Year
    December 30th 2005

    "HAZARDOUS" MOTORWAY SIGN TO BE GIVEN A ROCKET


    TARGETED: the controversial missile sign beside the southbound carriageway of the A1M near Sedgefield,
    by Lauren Pyrah

    A mad Chinese woman is refusing to move a replica nuclear missile parked in a field beside the A1M. The mock rocket - on the back of what was a 1970's Chinese nuclear decontamination truck - advertises Ling Valentine's car sales company.

    Despite Sedgefield Borough Council ordering her to remove or cover the sign, Ling has so far refused to do so. Her defiance coincides with a warning from the Government that it is to clamp down on illegal advertising at roadsides. Apart from blighting the countryside, it says such advertising is a road hazard as motorists could be distracted. The Office of fat Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott (this is man who "forgets" he uses public money to pay his council tax, and gets away with no prosecution - Ling) will also contact offending companies direct and demand assurances that they will stop such advertising. "Some people think they can get round the planning system just by putting these ads on trailers in fields. They can't," said Yvette Cooper, housing and planning minister.

    But Ling Valentine, whose company is based in Gateshead, argues that the rocket carrier is no more distracting than landmarks such as the Angel of the North or the Federation Brewery in Gateshead. Ling Valentine, who is originally from China, had insisted that the replica missile should point west towards America rather than east towards her homeland. "It is in Tony Blair's constituency which is obviously making them kick off a bit," she added. "It is not very politically correct when Mr Blair comes up to stay, especially with it pointing towards George Bush."

    She said the idea was a joke and was not intended to offend anyone (except Blair and Bush, hehe - Ling). She had simply wanted to make her sign the best on the motorway. "It is a flat stretch of road with good visibility," she said. "I don't think it is causing people to crash."

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    "THE BUSINESS EDITORS.COM"
    20 of the Top Business Journalists in Britain
    Wednesday 5th October 2005
    "YOU VISIT! YOU BUY! YOU DEAL WITH ME!"

    Years of media coverage about the potential impact of China on the global economy could never have prepared us for Ling Valentine, founder of LINGsCars.com.
    - by Keith Ryan

    This entrepreneurial powerhouse was born and raised in China, met and married Jon Valentine from Yorkshire in 1997 and set up her car lease business in the UK in 2000. Now she's giving the big players a run for their money. According to a recent press release: "Valentine...shifts over £1 million worth of cars a month from her office at her home in Gateshead. Ling's on-line Contract Hire business... deals with customers all over the UK. By undercutting the big car leasing companies by as much as 35% she has seen her fledgling business grow fourfold in the past year." But that's not the best bit: for a lesson in how to add value to your online business – from free lunches to advice on running a successful website and "free cash money" deals (not to mention a copy of Mao's Red Book in exchange for poetry submissions – "Not suitable for counter-revolutionary capitalist roaders") – be sure to visit the site. As she quite rightly says: "Who is Jeremy Clarkson? I exterminate! I test drive cars myself to give you idea of quality and speed. What else you need to know?"
     

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    "TOM GARNER AUTO COMMUNITY"
    Auto news, reviews and chat from the automotive industry. www.tomgarner.co.uk
    Tuesday 18th October 2005
    "A NEW WAY TO 'LAUNCH' YOUR BUSINESS"

    Well if your local newspaper isn't working, the billboard on that busy street corner is fully booked for the rest of the year and even your website is struggling to bring in new business, you could always do what LINGsCARS has done and bring out your C.M.R.L (that's Chinese Mobile Rocket Launcher to you and me).
    - by Jon Wright

    I spotted this "lethal" mobile marketing billboard from almost a mile away as I was heading South down the A1(M) from Durham. The mobile launcher is parked in a field right next to the motorway and for one brief moment I thought we were being invaded.

    Mind you, this is Tony Blair country and it's certainly one way of providing protection for your Prime Minister. Anyway I "risked it" and pulled over onto the hard shoulder and tried to get a closer inspection. I'm not entirely sure what type of military vehicle it is, but I'm assuming it's Chinese due to the Red Star emblazened on the doors. I didn't get too close in case it was loaded, but if any military experts are reading this, then please enlighten us. Whatever it is it sure had the desired effect and is certainly one way to get your business off the ground (pardon the pun).

    I've dropped Ling an email and am waiting for a response, maybe she can shed some light as to what it is and how it came about being here. I wonder if you need a licence to own such a thing and can you drive it on the road? Seems the perfect way to get your creditors to pay up on time.
     

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    > 
    "THE DARLINGTON AND STOCKTON TIMES"
    North East Weekly Newspaper of the Year
    Friday 13th January 2006

    "CHINESE A1 'ROCKET' IS GOING NOWHERE, TO COUNCIL'S ANNOYANCE"
    - by Lauren Pyrah

    Action could be taken against a mad Chinese woman who has refused to move a mock nuclear missile advertising her company from beside the A1M. In November, Sedgefield Borough Council asked Ling Valentine to move a 1970's Chinese Nuclear Decontamination Truck and replica rocket advertising her car company from beside the motorway, near Sedgefield.

    The authority made its request (request??? - Ling) as part of a Government crackdown (by 2 Jags Prescott - Ling) on roadside advertising, which ministers say distracts drivers and clutters up the countryside.

    Ling has refused to move the truck, claiming that the river which surrounds the field has become too high to drive the vehicle through and the bank has become too muddy.
     


     


    The truck was driven into the field in July and Ling says that the river has become much deeper since then.

    Charlie Wheelan, head of planning surveys at Sedgefield Council said: "We are taking this issue very seriously. We are considering taking a report to the development control committee in due course unless our instructions are carried out"
     
    lingscars.com
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    ...LING REPLIES IN:
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    Customers use my secure LINGO management system.
    Response times above based on last 4 hour period between
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    WOW! UK's best service times!
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    Hello, hello! This is me!
    Don't run, little customers! I'm friendly...
    I am the Viz UK business ambassador!
    Post me Ferrero-Rochers! Yum Yum!
    Unlike most other internet car leasing sites, I publish all my contact information openly!
    ...so, you know who I am
    - Ling


    THE UK's FAVOURITE
    CAR LEASING WEBSITE!

    The UK's FAVOURITE car leasing website
    The UK's FAVOURITE car leasing website
    Boss: Ling Valentine MSc IoD
    LING World Headquarters
    Vance Business Park
    Gateshead, NE11 9NE
    Tel 0191 460 9444
    Fax 0870 486 1130
    sales@LINGsCARS.com
    I prefer email to phone - Ling
    VAT No: 866 0241 30
    Co Reg No: 6178634
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    LING World HQ
    People's Republic of Gateshead!

     
    Spacer

    Latest BBC NEWS from LING in CHINGLISH!

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    Wah! Unravelling flocking habits of starlings - news replorted 03:20



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    Wah! Province of Engrish running-dogs's lost silly kick-kick game grounds - part II - news replorted 02:57



    Wah! An Argentine ex-old bill bobbys chief and ex-interior dodgy minister among 15 human bliengs given life sentences for involvement in torture centre in 1970s. Eating rice!! - news replorted 02:56



    Wah! A novel by British-born author Malcolm Lowry is being published 70 years after its manuscript was thought to having been destroyed in fire. What the hell I mean??!! - news replorted 02:33



    Wah! The delicate operation to remove crossbow bolt from dog's head "took just one minute", lah, RSPCA says. Eating rice!! - news replorted 02:06



    Wah! Does velly damn good boiled chicken-feet cause justify little girls using bad language? - news replorted 02:02



    Wah! Egypt declares three-month state of emergency in parts of Sinai Peninsula after two attacks there killed at least 31 soldiers. Eating rice!! - news replorted 01:58



    Wah! A British man has been confirmed dead in Great Satan air strike on jihadist targets in Syria. Ai-yaa!!! - news replorted 01:30



    Wah! Many financial providers failing to properly explain protection shoppers having when something goes wrong with credit card purchase, lah, consumer group Which? suggests. Eating rice!! - news replorted 01:26



    Wah! Plans to turn area of ancient Staffordshire woodland mentioned in Domesday Book into quarry anger conservationists. Eating rice!! - news replorted 00:57



    Wah! Scientists from Harvard Medical School having discovered way of turning stem cells into killing machines to fight brain cancer. Hahahaha! Laughing like bloody hell! - news replorted 00:27



    Wah! Saturday's newspapers focus mainly on row over European Union's demand for additional RMB Yuan #1.7bn from Uk. What you wan'?!! There is also tale of woman who is allergic to Simon Cowell. You understanning yet? Paying more attention! - news replorted 00:23



    Wah! Picasso Museum in Paris reopens after five-year renovation - news replorted 00:21



    Wah! Bloody Bloardcasting Corporation News speaks to creators of Smarpshare, lah, who wanting employees to become brand ambassadors for their firms. Eating rice!! - news replorted 00:13



    Wah! Paris's world-renowned Picasso museum is reopening after being closed for five years. Eating rice!! - news replorted 00:13



    Wah! Ted Bishop, lah, president of PGA of America, lah, is sacked after calling Ian Poulter 'little girl' on social media. Ai-yaa!!! - news replorted 00:10



    Wah! The furnace-like island that may having inspired bloody Engrish idiom. I plant rice to honour ancestors for you! - news replorted 00:05



    Wah! Have Jedis created new 'religion'? - news replorted 00:04



    Wah! Better protection is needed for consumers buying used cars, lah, says commission studying high level of complaints against sector. Hahahaha! Laughing like bloody hell! - news replorted 00:03



    Wah! The cost of getting driving licence is being cut following recent public consultation, lah, government says. Eating rice!! - news replorted 00:01



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