The Independent Motor Dealers Association (IMDA) is aiming to grow its membership to 500 before the end of 2018 after celebrating its first 12 months in operation.
The ‘not for profit’ association was formed in August last year to represent the interests of independent retailers when dealing with suppliers, politicians and industry leaders, promising “one voice” to represent members’ opinions “for the good of all”.
But while membership stands at just over 300 retailers, founder member David Bilsborough, the boss of Cheshire Cars, said that the association’s first year in operation had already deliver “more than any of us could have hoped for”.
He said: “It’s been a huge success and really helped a lot of independent retailers, which is all we could have hoped for a year ago.
“Now we want to continue our growth and get our membership to 500 by the end of the year.”
Bilsborough updated AM on the progress of the group and said that central to its offering had been the delivery of sponsored masterclass events across the UK.
The events, hosted by trainer Ali May-Khalil, of Sentience International, have visited Birmingham, Watford and Perth in recent months and head to Northern Ireland this week.
“The masterclasses have been a huge source of insight for many retailers,” said Bilsborough, speaking ahead of the group’s AGM, which takes place next month.
“Often independent retailers have to rely on their own experience to develop their digital business, without the support of a manufacturer or funded training, so it’s great that they can access real quality advice at an affordable price.”
The IMDA is now planning social media masterclasses in Derby, West Mayling and a third location yet to be determined.
Bilsborough said that the sharing of advice had also been a central part of the IMDA’s success, with retailers encouraged to join a members’ forum to share their business experiences.
Also on the association’s website is a marketing guidelines document drawn-up by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) specifically for the group in the wake of allegations of widespread used car mis-selling.
“That is a really important asset for us and our members,” said Bilsborough. “It’s fair to say that the mids-selling of former business use vehicles was a hot topic earlier in the years and the reassurance provided by our close working with the ASA was a real source of reassurance for our members.
“Along the same line, so is our list of approved suppliers, all of whom pay a subscription which helps us run the association and have to sign up to an IMDA code of conduct.
The IMDA has been formed by independent dealers Jim Reid, Umesh Samani, Phil Weaver, Stuart Saunders, Chris Roach, David Bilsborough and industry analyst Philip Nothard, from Cox Automotive.
Shortly after forming, Samani told AM that practical considerations would remain at the heart of the IMRA’s areas of concern, with auction fees and the DVLA’s trade plate laws in its sights.
He added: “Too often the independent dealer has been taken for granted, forgotten about. We can help change that.”