Nick Wells, of Alan Day VW, on the challenges of EVs and why apprentices are the future of the business
What are the main responsibilities of your role?
Wells: As brand manager for Alan Day Volkswagen in Hampstead, I am responsible for the smooth running of the showroom and the financial performance of the site as a whole – which keeps me pretty busy.
I like to think we are similar to a Premier League football team, attempting to deliver high-performance results in order to keep our customers and the team happy.
I am also responsible for training, recruitment and selection.
What are the most significant challenges ahead in your field of work?
Wells: I have worked in the motor trade for 27 years and we are responsible for buying and selling new and used cars, and the maintenance and repairs of them.
By far the greatest challenge ahead is electrification, which in my opinion is the biggest change affecting the industry in our lifetime.
To accommodate the change, we are now looking for bright youngsters who are really sharp software programmers and who understand the whole digital thing.
The motor trade is fast becoming a very clean and environmentally friendly place to work and a million miles away from the first generation of mechanics, who were covered in grease and motor oil from morning until night.
How might these challenges be overcome?
Wells: To overcome the hurdles and be ready for the changes, we will need to give current staff lots of additional training, so they will be ready for the journey ahead.
We have already doubled our intake of apprentices at Alan Day Volkswagen, so, in effect, our work force will be getting younger in the future.
Our new recruits, which already include two women, are between 16 and 21 years old.
What attracted you to this area of expertise?
Wells: When I left school, I always wanted to be a mechanic. I started as an apprentice, aged 16, and I managed to work my way up the ladder.
My initial roles were parts adviser, parts supervisor, parts manager and group aftersales manager.
I have always had a passion for the business and wanted to do well. I also care about the staff and I want them to do well, too.
At Alan Day, we value our workforce and nurture them. Having started as an apprentice myself, it is important to remember that apprentices are not cheap labour, they are the future of the business.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career, and how have you made use of it at your company?
Wells: Making sure I have the right people around me, keeping the right people around me and attracting the right people.
If you get this balance right, we can focus on looking after the customers, which is the most important thing in the business. If a customer has been looked after well, whether it is buying a new car or picking up a car that has been serviced, he or she will come back and also recommend us to friends and family.
What drives you?
Wanting to be the best and having the support of my family. I recently received the Gold Pin Award from VW in recognition for my service over the years, which I am very proud of.
What’s your favourite app?
My favourite app is Spotify as I used to be in a band and I like all kinds of music, from indie to pop.
How do you relax?
I love to go cycling and I have recently completed a ride to John O’Groats in Scotland. Normally, I like to get out at the weekends and do a 30- or 40-miler.